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Missing EarthBound is my biggest gaming regret

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Sorry, Ness

Every so often on Destructoid, we publish a post celebrating EarthBound and, right on cue, I come away impressed. Whether it's Chad recounting an emotional, fourth-wall-breaking moment, Jonathan explaining the game's greatness, or Darren sharing a heartfelt animation, I'm left in awe at the raw passion, talent, and near decades-long commitment of its fans.

I also leave those posts feeling a hint of sadness. For as much as I know about EarthBound, I don't *know* EarthBound. Not personally. I would say I've never experienced it before but that's untrue. I have tried and failed to play it a couple of times now, as recently as a few years back. That last attempt wasn't painful so much as it was a little depressing.

"Why can't I get into this?" I remember asking myself. "I'm sure I'd adore it if only I could!"

It's frustrating to hear people list off their favorite games only to find yourself unable to relate. The same names pop up, too. Each one another reminder that you missed out; that it's too late to get into this cool thing and fully appreciate it the way these folks do.

That's EarthBound, for me. A huge regret. My biggest in all of videogames.

How did this happen?

I technically grew up with an NES but my formative years were spent playing Super Nintendo. Yoshi's Island, Mega Man X, Donkey Kong Country -- platformers and action titles, mostly. I'd stick with them for months, sometimes years, until I hit full completion even if that meant reaching 103 percent. Then I'd start over and do it all again because I was still entertained. Why stop?

What I didn't play as a kid was role-playing games.

No Chrono Trigger.

No Secret of Mana, Ogre Battle, or Breath of Fire, either.

Not even a single Final Fantasy.

I could go on but my grave is deep enough as is, thank you very much.

Truth be told, I often liked the idea of 16-bit RPGs. While their graphics might be crude by today's standards, they were grand adventures back then -- or so I was told. Some still are. I also liked looking at RPGs in magazines where illustrations would bring their characters and worlds to life.

To be clear, this genre avoidance wasn't intentional. It just happened. I naturally gravitated toward a certain type of game back then and I'd get to own a select few titles each year while the rest would enter our home as Blockbuster rentals. RPGs simply weren't on my radar as something I was curious enough to try, at least not until Super Mario RPG came into my life.

Yes, those sly dogs at Square got me and I'm not alone. They eased me in with a familiar setting, characters, and story before branching out into territory that was wholly new to me. Geno? Such a badass. I adored Super Mario RPG at the time -- still do! -- but for whatever reason my affection stopped there. It was exclusive to this one specific game, this outlier in my SNES library.

I would go on to buy a Nintendo 64 -- not a PlayStation, as many friends did -- and once again spend my gaming time on anything but RPGs. (Until, haha, you guessed it: Paper Mario.)

Perhaps I was exposed to EarthBound in the mid-'90s, but I don't recall; there are so many things about my childhood that have left my memory. If I was, I must've glossed over the game -- I remember not really knowing who this Ness kid was when Super Smash Bros. rolled around.

Had I given it a chance back then, my shortlist of sins against RPGs wouldn't be up there. Playing EarthBound on or around its release would have put my interest in videogames on a much different trajectory. Opened my eyes to what else was out there. Gotten me comfortable with more passive, slower-paced games featuring rich stories that couldn't be experienced elsewhere.

I can't celebrate EarthBound, not in the way you can. I can hear your fond memories and try to put myself in your shoes but, at the end of the day, they're still your memories, not mine.

The game is within easier reach than ever before now that it's available on Wii U, so there's hope. I genuinely believe it's not too late for me to get into EarthBound. It can't be.

[Image credit: The Spriters Resource, Hardcore Gaming 101, Secret of Evermore Wiki, and Starmen.Net]

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Jordan Devore
Jordan DevoreCo-EIC   gamer profile

Jordan is a founding member of Destructoid and poster of seemingly random pictures. They are anything but random. Disclosure: I backed Double Fine Adventure and Awesomenauts: Starstorm on Kickst... more + disclosures


 


 



Filed under... #Destructoid Originals #EarthBound #Editorial #Nintendo #Role-Playing Games #Super Nintendo #Top Stories

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