EarthBound (sometimes referred to as Mother 2) is a 1994 role-playing game developed by Ape Inc. and HAL Laboratory. Nintendo published EarthBound for the Super Nintendo (SNES). It is the second game in the Mother series. EarthBound is a direct sequel to 1989’s Mother and it also received a Game Boy Advance port. The game received a Japanese release first and then a year later, in Summer 1995, it got a North American release. Today, getting ahold of an original copy of this classic RPG might be difficult, but gamers still have options.
Like many classic games from the 1990s, EarthBound can be found online. Retrogames.cz offers players the option to play the game right on their browser without having to download it. RetroGames is a great source for classic games like The Lion King 1994 and Super Bomberman 1993. Any gamer who wants to try out some retro video games without the commitment of a download should check out retrogames.cz. This isn’t the only place that players can access EarthBound though. Any gamer with access to a Nintendo Switch and a Nintendo Switch Online account can play EarthBound. EarthBound is just one of dozens of playable games available on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System™ pack. This bundle, along with others like it, is free to play for anyone who has a Nintendo Switch Online membership.
The public perception of EarthBound was overall positive. The game received great reviews and sales from its Japanese release, which sold over 500,000 units. Unfortunately, the North American release sold less than half that at around 140,000 units. The game was not considered a success in the West, but the reviews for the game were overall positive. Today, the game is still held in high regard. IGN rates the game a 9 out of 10 and its top review says it “has aged well, and remains one of the most innovative and unique JRPG experiences around.”
EarthBound takes place in Eagleland, a fictional version of the United States of America, in the 1990s. A specific year is never specified, as the only indicator of the time period that shows up in the game is a date that reads “199X”. The player controls Ness, a young boy who decides to check out a meteorite crash site with Pokey, his friend who lives next door. The kids are searching for Picky, Pokey’s brother, who recently went missing. While searching for Picky, Ness and Pokey come across an alien force known as Giygas. This is where the game’s plot gets a bit odd.
The Giygas have corrupted the world with hatred, which has turned any life form exposed to them into dangerous beasts. Humans, animals, and even objects become lethal under the Giygas’ influence. Ness eventually meets Buzz-Buzz, a beetle creature from the future who seems to have good intentions to help. Buzz-Buzz tells Ness that he needs to collect eight melodies from eight Sanctuaries and store them in a Sound Stone. With these melodies, Ness may be able to stop the Giygas force. Sadly, Buzz-Buzz’s help is short-lived because Pokey and Picky’s mother kills him, believing him to be nothing more than an insect.
Ness sets out on a journey to visit all 8 Sanctuaries. He meets some interesting individuals along the way. Several people join Ness’ party throughout his journey, including Paula, Poo, and a few others. Ness’ journey takes him through various strange and dangerous areas, including Threed, a zombie-infested town. This quest brings the party face-to-face with many different creatures. Fortunately, this endeavor results in Ness filling the Sound Stone. With the Sound Stone filled, Ness and his companions can travel back in time to face down Giygas before it takes over the planet.
EarthBound Main Characters
EarthBound features a cast of several main party members who travel with the player and assist on their quest to defeat Giygas. Players control Ness as the party’s main leader and the rest of the prominent characters join Ness along his journey.
- Ness: Ness is EarthBound’s main protagonist and playable character. At the beginning of the game, Ness is a young boy who decides to investigate a crashed meteorite with his neighbor, Pokey. Ness and Pokey are looking for Pokey’s brother, Picky. Unfortunately, the boys find themselves in way over their heads when they’re confronted by the Giygas, an alien force that’s corrupted the world. Ness eventually learns of a way to defeat Giygas and takes it upon himself to do so. According to a beetle creature from the future, if he collects melodies from all eight Sanctuaries, he can use them to defeat Giygas once and for all. Ness sets out on a quest to visit the Sanctuaries and makes new friends along the way. Once he collects the melodies, he and his friends transfer their souls into robots and travel back in time to face Giygas. They use robot vessels so their human bodies will be unharmed by the time travel.
- Pokey: Pokey (called Porky in the original version of the game, but was changed to Pokey due to a translation issue) is Ness’ neighbor and friend. He’s also the first person to join Ness’ adventure. Pokey joins Ness as he sneaks out to explore the meteorite crash site in search of Picky, his brother. Pokey doesn’t have any friends outside of Ness and his relationship with Ness is complicated because Pokey’s parents hate Ness’ family. Early in the game, Pokey seems like an average young boy, albeit somewhat socially awkward. Once Ness and the group time travel back to face the Giygas, Pokey’s true identity as one of the main antagonists of the game comes to light. It turns out that Pokey has been working with Giygas all along. Pokey taunts Ness at the end of the game by challenging him to find him, hinting at a third game. He goes on to become the main antagonist of Mother 3.
- Picky: Picky is Pokey’s little brother. Although Picky is younger than Pokey, the game goes out of its way to emphasize that Picky is the more mature brother. Early on, Picky goes missing, which prompts Ness and Pokey to go out and find him. When Ness finds Picky, he temporarily joins Ness’ party and even helps him in combat. Once Ness takes him home, Picky stays in his room for the rest of the game.
- Paula: Paula is the only girl in Ness’ party and she’s a playable character. Paula usually uses a frying pan in combat, but she also has PSI abilities that include telepathy and Pray. Pray allows her to summon random effects during battle. Ness meets Paula in Twoson, where she’s from. Her parents own the Polestar Preschool. Ness needs to visit the “Your Sanctuary” before he can meet Paula. After the Your Sanctuary, Paula reaches out to Ness through his dreams the next time he goes to sleep. She’s calling for help after she’s been kidnapped. Ness has to save Paula, which results in her joining his party. Many characters in EarthBound believe that Paula and Ness are dating.
- Poo: Poo is another playable character in the game and he’s skilled in both offense and defense. He’s resistant to PSI Fire and PSI Freeze. Poo has a few specific requirements in terms of what equipment he can use, but he does have an interesting ability called Mirror. Mirror allows him to transform into any enemy in the game except bosses. Poo is the Crown Prince of Dalaam and he’s been studying martial arts since he was young. He becomes Ness’ good friend and joins his cause.
- Jeff: Jeff is also a playable character, but he has no PSI abilities. He’s the only member of the party who can’t use PSI, so he has other talents instead. Jeff can repair and use broken objects for new machines and weapons. Jeff specializes in guns during combat and uses various gadgets that he’s made like the Hungry HP-Sucker and the Shield Killer. He also has the Spy ability, which allows him to look up enemy stats and steal their items. Jeff is a genius from the Island country of Winters. Paula manages to reach out to him telepathically, which aids Ness’ group in rescuing Jeff from Threeds, the zombie-infested town.
- Buzz-Buzz: Buzz-Buzz is a beetle-like creature from the future who travels back in time to meet with Ness. He’s the one who tells Ness about the eight melodies that can defeat the Giygas. Without Buzz-Buzz, Ness and his party would never know what they needed to do, let alone where to go, or how to do it. Sadly, Buzz-Buzz meets his untimely demise when Pokey and Picky’s mother mistakes him for a pest and kills him.
EarthBound Titles in the Series
EarthBound is the second installment of the Mother series and is sometimes called Mother 2 instead of EarthBound. The 1994 Japanese release called the game Mother 2: Gīgu no Gyakushū. There are several games in the franchise, with the most recent installment hitting shelves in 2015. Shigesato Itoi, the creator of the series, has reaffirmed that he has no desire to pursue Mother 4, so the future of the series is up in the air. After EarthBound Beginnings, fans may not see another installment. There are no current plans to continue the franchise.
- Mother (1989)
- EarthBound (1994-1995) – EarthBound came out in Japan first in 1994 under the name Mother 2: Gīgu no Gyakushū. It received a North American release in 1995 under the name EarthBound. The game is often called Mother 2 instead of EarthBound.
- Mother 1 + 2 (2003) – A release that included Mother and EarthBound in one game.
- Mother 3 (2006)
- EarthBound Beginnings (2015)
- The Super Smash Bros. Series – Ness has been in Super Smash Bros. since the beginning of the series.
EarthBound Cheats, Tips, & Exploits
While the original EarthBound release likely had usable cheats built into the game, the Nintendo Switch version does not support cheats. That said, there are still some helpful tips and tricks that will benefit anyone taking on this classic RPG. It’s important to keep in mind that EarthBound is an old game, so some exploits and tricks may have been patched out in more recent versions.
Use Rock Candy Infinitely
Players can make their characters immortal with this Rock Candy exploit. Put Rock Candy and all condiments (Sugar Packets are highly recommended for this exploit) into the player character’s inventory. While in battle, use the Rock Candy to increase the character’s stats. The character will pour the Sugar Packet onto the Rock Candy and consume it. This will take a Sugar Packet from their inventory, but not the Rock Candy. They can continuously use the Rock Candy as long as they have a condiment to pour on top of it. The game will only take the condiment, not the Rock Candy itself. This makes the player character practically invincible.
For the best results, it’s recommended to put the Rock Candy in one of the two bottom spaces of the character’s inventory. Players shouldn’t use this exploit once the character’s stats reach 255. If they try to increase their stats even higher, it’ll roll over back to 0. Any item, including healing items, can work with this glitch. This method saves the item as long as it’s compatible with condiments.
Potentially Avoiding Battles
If the player enters a room with enemies inside, they can turn around and exit immediately. When they re-enter, the game’s RNG will change how many enemies are inside. Sometimes, the game will get rid of the enemies completely, which helps players avoid confrontation altogether.
Earn $50 in Twoson
There is a man sitting at a table outside of the hotel in Twoson. Talk to him repeatedly. He will say something different every time the player speaks to him. Eventually, he gets so tired of the player character pestering him that he will give them $50 to leave him alone. On average, it takes about 20 initiated chats.
Play Without the Sound Stone
The Sound Stone is one of the most important items in EarthBound. Ness needs to fill it with eight melodies that he’ll use in the fight against Giygas. Unfortunately, the Sound Stone takes up a slot in Ness’ inventory for the entire game. Unless, of course, he doesn’t have it. Before Buzz-Buzz gives Ness the Sound Stone, players can farm Spiteful Crows to fill their inventory with dropped items. When Buzz-Buzz tries to give Ness the stone, he won’t be able to because Ness’ inventory is full. Buzz-Buzz will give the stone to Ness’ sister, Tracy. When Ness talks to Tracy, she’ll give Ness the Sound Stone. The game, however, doesn’t force the player to take it from Tracy. They can go the entire game without the Sound Stone in their inventory, which frees up an inventory slot in their pack.
Heal the Teddy Bear
Players can heal their Teddy Bear or Super Plush Bear by sending it to their storage with the Escargo Express. Once their bear has taken damage, storing it and pulling it back out will completely heal it.
Fight the Criminal Caterpillar
In the Scaraba Desert, players can walk around until a small red bug spawns. Once players catch sight of it, they should chase the bug down. This bug is the Criminal Caterpillar and it’s an extremely weak enemy, so it will run. If the player chases it, eventually they’ll be pulled into combat with the Criminal Caterpillar. Defeating the Criminal Caterpillar is easy, but it’s worth a lot of XP. Players will gain anywhere from 28,000 to about 30,000 points of XP, which results in quick level-ups. The Criminal Caterpillar will respawn, so players can find and fight him as much as they want. In later sections of the desert, players will come across a more powerful variant called the Master Criminal Worm. Fighting this version will also reward high XP.
Players can regain all their health without an item by returning to Ness’ home, the hotel, or other rest locations. Once the player sleeps in one of these rest locations, they’ll regain all of their health instantly.
Use the Insignificant Item
After players defeat Belch in Threed, they can find the Insignificant Item in Threed Hospital on the second floor. It’s in one of the drawers. This item seems to have no purpose, but players can use it for something valuable. Go to the second floor of the Twoson Hospital. In the first room, players will find a balding man wearing black. If they stand in front of this man and use the Insignificant Item, the man will take it. In return, he’ll give the player a magic truffle.
EarthBound Cheats FAQ
What is the maximum money in EarthBound?
The most money a player can carry is $99,999.
How do you get a lot of money in EarthBound?
There are a few ways to get money quickly in EarthBound. One method is to pester the man in the hotel listed above. Players can also earn money by buying, making, and selling items. For example, players can buy eggs, wait for them to hatch, and then sell the chickens. An egg costs $12, but a chicken sells for $110. There are a few places to get free eggs too, including Happy Happy Village and from a monkey in Tarah Rama’s Cave. Players can also buy Broken Cannons and let Jeff fix them up. Go to Twoson and sleep at Paula’s house. Keep sleeping until Jeff turns them into Spectrum Beams and then sell them.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©NintendoComplete / Ape Inc. / HAL Laboratory / Nintendo.