Logo from EarthBound.
|Developer(s)||APE, HAL Laboratory, Brownie Brown, Nintendo|
|Genre(s)||Platform, puzzle, racing, RPG, party, sports, edutainment|
|Platform(s)||Famicom, Super Famicom/SNES, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo GameCube, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U|
|Platform of origin||Family Computer Disk System|
|Year of inception||1989|
|First installment||EarthBound Beginnings (1989)|
|Latest installment||EarthBound (2013 - Wii U)|
The EarthBound universe, known as the MOTHER universe (マザー) in Japan, refers to the Super Smash Flash series' collection of characters, stages, items, and properties that hail from Nintendo's obscure cult-classic Super Nintendo game EarthBound, which itself was the second game in a three-game Japanese RPG series titled Mother 2 and is the game starring Ness. The series was created by Shigesato Itoi for Nintendo. The franchise's symbol is the Earth, a recurring theme in the EarthBound series.
In 1989 there was a game released for the Famicom in Japan an RPG named MOTHER, which constituted an unorthodox take on the genre thematically; whereas most RPGs depict knights and wizards in pseudo-medieval settings such as FINAL FANTASY, the game is set in a suburban area in America in 1988. It depicts a young, psychically gifted boy named Ninten as a silent red-capped protagonist who must journey across the planet to save it from an evil race of mind-controlling extraterrestrials. Along the way he is joined by a pink-dressed psychic girl named Ana, a bespectacled and gadget-minded boy named Lloyd, and a street gang leader named Teddy who is skilled in fighting abilities although he replaces Lloyd for as long as he is in the party), and together the four meet many unusual characters and visit strange settings before ultimately confronting the leader of the aliens, the entity Giegue. The game was a smash hit in Japan, and Nintendo of America fully localized and translated it for a planned U.S. release under the name EarthBound, but the game was ultimately deemed unprofitable for a US release because the Super Nintendo was already released and the NES was becoming outdated, so it was canceled. However, in 1998, a Beta cartridge of the game was found on eBay by a fan Translation group called Demiforce. They organized an effort to get enough money to buy the game and they succeeded and bought the cartridge for about $1000. Soon after they dumped it into ROM and circulated around the Internet. Demiforce appended "Zero" onto the title to retroactively discern it from its sequel, EarthBound.
The distant sequel to the game, MOTHER 2, did see an North American release, however, and it received the name EarthBound in its forerunner's place. It takes place sometime after the first game and depicts Giygas (the American form of Giegue from MOTHER) returning to defeat humanity, and the rest of the full cast of characters are new but extremely similar to the characters of the first game, enough that they may be considered spiritual counterparts. The main character is a young, psychically gifted boy named Ness as a silent red-capped protagonist who must journey across the world starting in the continent of Eagleland, a parody of the US, to confront Giygas as he was instructed to by an insect-like alien named Buzz Buzz. Starting from his hometown of Onett and traveling through cities such as Twoson, Winters and Fourside, Ness is joined by a pink-dressed psychic girl named Paula, a bespectacled and gadget-minded boy named Jeff, and an oriental prince and martial arts master named Poo. The game was immensely successful in Japan, but it did not sell well in the U.S. because it was released at a time when graphically superior and highly hyped RPG titles for the SNES such as FINAL FANTASY VI (released as "III") and CHRONO TRIGGER (widely considered to be one of the best RPGs of all time) were being released as well. However, the game has since developed one of the strongest cult followings in North America, a community which is still thriving even today.
While EarthBound became a cult classic in the years after its release, it was still undeniably obscure in the gaming community by 1999. To the intrigue of the community worldwide, Masahiro Sakurai decided to include Ness as a secret playable character in 1999's Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 64, and Ness and additional EarthBound properties were featured in its 2001 sequel Super Smash Bros. Melee. This inclusion in the popular fighting-game series may have driven EarthBound's strong cult following in the United States many years after its old release. In addition, during this time Nintendo was developing the series' third and final installment for N64DD, but the N64DD was ended up being a commercial failure in Japan, so the game wound up being canceled. In Japan in 2003, a compilation of the two existing games, MOTHER 1 + 2, was released for Game Boy Advance.
After a multi-year hiatus, in Japan in 2006 the third and apparently final installment in the series was finally released. MOTHER 3 for Game Boy Advance is indeed EarthBound 64 retooled for the hand-held, and it was released to critical praise and success as before. It is a multi-chaptered story with far darker and more emotional elements than the previous game, although the player will no longer be controlling multiple characters in a group like the previous game, but of course it still retains many humorous and bizarre elements that are common to the series. The various playable characters are made to be main characters of different chapters, unlike in previous games when a foursome of children would be consistently controlled throughout. The game revolves around a boy named Lucas and the trials and tribulations of him and his family and friends as they fight against the threat of a mysterious group called the "Pig Army" at his home of Nowhere Island. The game was never released outside of Japan due to the fact that the last installment did not sell that well in the U.S as it did in Japan, and in response, EarthBound's cult fanbase has translated its ROM image entirely into English and released it on the Internet for emulation players in October 2008. In 2013, following Ness' appearance in Melee's follow-up Super Smash Bros. Brawl in 2008 (alongside Lucas), EarthBound was released on Japan on March 20 for the Wii U's Virtual Console service, the game would later had its worldwide release on July 18, it was the first time EarthBound was officially released in Europe. Ness would later return as a playable fighter in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, with Lucas also returning later as downloadable character.
The series is known for spectacularly defying the thematic conventions of most other Role-Playing Games in that games take place in postmodern settings, weapons consist of baseball bats, frying pans, yo-yos, and toy guns, in-game currency is measured in dollars, and the fact that the series is among the most bizarre, psychedelic, self-referential, and satirical game franchises ever created. With enemies ranging from evil hippies, scalding cups of coffee, and runaway pooches, dialogue and situations serving as social commentary on modern life (that sometimes breaks the fourth wall), and a race of strange little creatures called Mr. Saturn whose in-game text dialogue is presented as kindergarten scrawl, the series, at least EarthBound in particular, is known for its offhandedness. The only thing seemingly down-to-earth about it is that its battle screen is based on the old battle screen layout of Japanese DRAGON QUEST RPGs.
In the Super Smash Flash series
In Super Smash Flash 2
Super Smash Flash lacked the appearance of the EarthBound series, due to the lack of available sprites to use at the time. However, it makes an appearance in its reboot Super Smash Flash 2. Many things are unknown since the game is still under development. As for now, only Ness, Mr. Saturn and three stages are confirmed while the rest is subject to change.
- Ness: A boy living in the town of Onett, Ness is gifted with psychic powers. Chosen by the alien, Buzz Buzz, to save the world from the evil Giygas, he must travel to eight sanctuaries and record the eight melodies there in his Sound Stone, then combine those melodies and make the "Sound Stone melody", which will give him the power of the Earth necessary to defeat Giygas. Being a fighter since v0.7, he uses a variety of PK, or PSI, attacks such as the remote controlled PK Thunder or the energy absorber PSI Magnet. His Final Smash, PK Starstorm, involves Ness using his PSI powers to summon comets from the sky, sending them down to the foreground.
- Devil's Machine: The Devil's Machine is the place where Ness and Co. Fought against Porky and Giygas, the stage has a very long platform, featuring no bottomless pits, the Devil's Machine is seen on the center and multiple Giygases are seen in the background of the stage.
- Fourside: The urban metropolis from where battles occur on skyscrapers in the nighttime, originally appearing in Super Smash Bros. Melee. The layout of the stage allows for bottomless pits in between buildings, so this is the most conceivable stage where the wall jump technique can be used to save oneself from a fall. In addition, from time to time a UFO will materialize above the city and serve as an extremely slippery platform.
- Saturn Valley: A small village home to most of Mr. Saturn creatures. Ness and his friends once go through it in order to reach the third "Your Sanctuary" location. Found on top of cautious mountain, it features a slope-like design with two wooden platforms on both side. The most notable attribute, however, is the pink hot spring that lies in the middle of stage, by simply standing on it, players can recover their damage almost by 2% every second.
- Mr. Saturn: A race of odd little creatures with big noses, whiskers, and the ability to talk, Mr. Saturns are encountered as friendly NPCs by Ness in EarthBound. When they speak, the text in the game is presented as hard-to-read kindergarten scrawl, and they often mix the words "boing", "ding", and "zoom" into their speech for unknown reasons. As an item coming from the original Smash game, it is most likely that Mr. Saturn walks around on its own, and it can be picked up and hurled at opponents for minor damage, but it can be reused this way because it does not disappear after one use.