A Long, Strange Trip Comes to an End

February 12th, 2007 by Benj Edwards

Benj Finishes EarthboundJust a few hours ago, I completed an epic journey that I began over ten years before.

I finally finished the game EarthBound for the Super Nintendo.

I know, I know. Usually, completing a game is no big deal, and most people probably finish EarthBound in the span of a week. But in this particular case, the accomplishment meant something much more to me. I began playing the game in 1996 when I first acquired my copy of EarthBound used from a local Blockbuster store (a video rental chain in the US). I have slowly played through the same saved game a little bit at a time, usually about once every year. There might have been a period or two over the last decade where I didn't play it for a few years straight, which would partially explain why it has taken so long. Picking up the game again every year was always a challenge because I'd have to spend hours just reacquainting myself with what was going on in the game's storyline at the point of my last save, and I'd also have to figure out what to do next. Sometimes, I'd get too overwhelmed and just give up figuring it out…and promptly put off the task until the next time I picked up the cart.

Benj Finishes EarthboundWell, just this month, I felt my yearly EarthBound cravings coming on again (they usually hit sometime during the first two months of the year), so I pulled out the 'ole SNES and fired it up. This time would be different, though: I dedicated myself to finally seeing the game through — all the way to the bitter end! 2007, I figure, is a good enough year to finish a game that came out in 1995. I'm usually a traditionalist about these things, but my original SNES wasn't feeling quite right on my fancy new TV, so I figured I'd put a little modern technology on my side to aid me in my quest.

I've recently been playing a number of SNES games on an old iMac that I have more or less turned into a dedicated SNES emulator machine. I thought it would be nice, for a change of pace, to play EarthBound on there. Using my Super WildCard DX2, I transferred my EarthBound cart's SRAM data to a file (which contains all the game's save information) and Benj Finishes Earthboundloaded it up on my emulator. I played through the rest of the same game I started in 1996 on the emulator with an authentic SNES pad (via a Super SmartJoy USB adapter, which I've been meaning to review for a year or so now). I'm not going to lie to you; save states are the Emulator God's gift to gaming, and without them, I probably would have completed a few bosses as usual and put off finishing the game until next year. The save states made playing through the game an absolute joy over the past few days, removing all sorts of time-wasting save-related hassles and just generally smoothing out the experience. Screw the purists — it was incredible fun, not a logistical pain in the neck, like playing a game should be.

Now that the journey is over, I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. In one way, I'm ecstatically happy to have finally accomplished something by playing my way through such a masterful game, and in another way, I'm heartbroken that it's over, as EarthBound is probably one of my favorites of all time. But if it's one of my favorite games ever, why did it take me ten years to complete?

Maybe I'm just weird like that. Or maybe I didn't want it to end.

Benj Finishes Earthbound



14 Responses to “A Long, Strange Trip Comes to an End”

  1. Jurgi/Atari8.Info Says:

    Damn. I hope, I'll finish Price of Magik somewhen… :>

  2. Mark Says:

    I feel for you brother. every time you picked it up it seemed like christmas, now that it's over, it feels like santas dead.

  3. Nick Says:

    I hate that feeling. It only happens to me with a handful of really great, typically long winded RPGs, games that just seem to have so much going on you just want to keep playing. I remember the last time that truly happened to me was a couple of years ago when I decided after putting entirely too much time into sidequests and item gathering that I would actually finish the last quest of Elderscrolls 3, Morrowind. The final boss wasn't even that fun to beat. You could keep playing and doing as you please of course, but it just wasn't worth it. Something changed after I beat the final boss.
    It was that feeling that you are describing. It is unfortunate but I can still think back to good memories and remember why I played, and why I want an X360 and HDTV so that I can play Oblivion. You will gain that feeling again with another game. You just gotta keep playing.

  4. KitsuneDarkStalker Says:

    Never been a big fan of Earthbound, but I have played through like 50%.

  5. Bjorn Nitmo Says:

    I wish I had a Super WildCard DX2 or any console copier really because I've kept my SNES and an N64 along with a few games I haven't finished. If I could extract my games I could unload the last of my consoles and cartridges and go 100% with emulation.

  6. SonicGT Says:

    Thats it. I'm gonna force myself to finish Final Fantasy 4 & 6. Thanks for giving me the insparation to finally begin this endeavour.

  7. Donald Says:

    Hey, well I'm glad for u cuz since the beginning of this year i'm trying to get this game… Like in 1996-8 i played this game and for me, in that time, it ruled… i could never finished it, and finally i lost the game i don't know where. Now i had been seeking for it and i never get close to find it, until i thought unloading it from the web but i don't know from where…

    I really loved this game and i hope playing it again, i like its mystery and its long history.

  8. narF Says:

    Don't worry. It's pretty normal to feel this way after playing Earthbound. That game just play with emotion in such a strange way. Its creator is kind of a genius for this.

  9. Samba Says:

    I still have no idea why that game was so popular. It's easily the worst game I've ever played. I doubt that'd change even if I played E.T. Seriously. >:C

  10. The Dave Says:

    Haha. This guy sounds like me and Final Fantasy I.

  11. Jerson Naval Says:

    I really love this game! I played this game in an emulator when I was young. This game brought tears in my eyes especially when the "Fondest of Memories" Kicks in at the end of the game. Brought so much memory within the game, the characters you've met the enemies you beat the friendship among the four, and family. Even though it's 2d and characters are virtual they seem to brought so much expression and I as a gamer salute this game among any other games out there. This one has my deepest respect to the game devs for this game.

  12. Mark Says:

    A tip for everyone (like me) who loved Earthbound and does the whole emulator thing: Earthbound is actually a prequel to a game called Mother in japan. I just call it Earthbound 2. If you look hard enough you can find a version fully translated into english, and the battle system has been improved by adding a bit of a musical flare. Every enemy (or group of enemies) has a different melody playing in the background, and if you hit the button repeatedly on the beat, you get in multiple hits. All in all, great game, highly recommended.

  13. Kris Says:

    Actually, Earthbound is known as "Mother 2″ in Japan.

    There is an NES game called "Mother" (named after the John Lennon song) that preceded Earthbound. Nintendo translated it into English but never released it. Fan's have named it "Earthbound Zero". You can find roms online. There's a leveling patch at starmen.net that makes EB0 more balanced because otherwise you have to grind a lot.

    After Earthbound comes Mother 3 for the GBA. It was never released in English but a (surprisingly well-made) fan translation patch can be found
    online. Mother 3 is probably the best of the 3. It's storyline is both hilarious and tragic.

  14. Paul Says:

    I am the same way with the original first (not 2nd or 3rd) Bard's Tale. Love the game but never finished due to changing from Amiga to PC, upgrades etc. Now I have it from GOG.com, and still have the desire although I am on Might and Magic 3 for my RPG's at this time,…but as I age it seem,s like I don't have as much patience. Let me point out I have also been more of a wargamer. I can't stop playing Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord right now.
    I feel a little overwhelmed by all the RPG's I own also. I own over about 25 of the old school games and it can seem a little bit too much as each one takes so long to complete and one must also work for a living, do family stuff, etc. Yet I do love theses games also. Kind of a paradox I guess…

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