EarthBound

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"Three things are of utmost importance: courage, wisdom, and friendship."

There are games that are underappreciated. There are games that are cult classics. There are games with fanbases devoted enough to go to any lengths necessary to spread the word for anyone with an ear to listen.

And then there's EarthBound.

EarthBound is a SNES game about Ness, a seemingly normal boy in Eagle Land who is awakened by a meteorite landing outside town late at night. The meteorite brings a bee (or not) from the future, who tells of its devastation at the hands of an indestructible being, Giygas -- a being Ness is destined to defeat. Ness' journey to stop Giygas will take him through time and space to meet the remainder of the Chosen Four (Paula, Jeff, and Poo) and collect the Eight Melodies for his Sound Stone to unite the power of the Earth as his own.

EarthBound is the second of a series of Japanese role playing games known as Mother, an experiment in storytelling in a different medium by Japanese essayist Shigesato Itoi. It's known as MOTHER 2: Gyiyg Strikes Back in Japan and serves as a loose sequel to MOTHER 1, since the setting of MOTHER 1 and MOTHER 2/EarthBound are essentially the same (an affectionate homage to 1950s America). EarthBound is the only game in the series to receive an official release in North America (as Nintendo has no plans for a North American release for Mother 3).

MOTHER 1 was originally planned for North American release and was originally titled Earth Bound, but Nintendo of America scrapped release plans after work on its translation was completed since the Super Nintendo had already launched (making it Nintendo's major focus). A prototype of the translation game surfaced years later in the hands of a collector; this ROM was dumped and eventually released as Earthbound Zero.

EarthBound is best known for its unusual gameplay: fantasy monster-slaying gives way to a modern-day urban setting, with slingshots, frying pans, and baseball bats taking the place of swords, axes, and magic staffs. Rather than goblins and orcs and other fantasy creatures, Ness and his friends battle drunks, hippies, angry taxicabs, a cult dedicated to worshipping the color blue, and a giant circus tent. Most of EarthBound's humor focuses on how the West is viewed by other countries (Asia/Japan in particular), with references to The Beatles and The Blues Brothers scattered throughout the game. EarthBound's level of Nightmare Fuel is perhaps more famous than its quirky humor; amongst the major sources of terror are a profoundly disturbing final dungeon and a final boss whose genuinely chilling Mind Screw horror has led to tons and tons of Memetic Mutation.

The North American release of EarthBound is notable for including an official Strategy Guide with every copy despite costing as much as other games of its day (a sign of how much faith Nintendo had in the game's ability to sell). Due to an odd -- and failed -- advertising campaign, a simplistic visual style (considering this is when everyone was fawning over Donkey Kong Country's advanced graphics), and a general lack of interest in RPGs (at the time), EarthBound didn't sell anywhere near enough copies to pay back Nintendo's significant advertising investment. In the intervening years, however, EarthBound has become a Cult Classic (to say the least) which is fondly remembered (and recommended) for its diverse soundtrack, unique gameplay, and undeniable charm -- aspects covered by The Happy Video Game Nerd's half-hour EarthBound review (which can be watched at Retroware TV or YouTube).

As a side note: Ness and Lucas (the protagonist of Mother 3) are probably best known to Western audiences via their appearances in the Super Smash Bros. games.

EarthBound is the Trope Namer for:
And the former Trope namer for:
Tropes used in EarthBound include:
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The sewers under Fourside.
  • Abusive Parents: In the Japanese version, Porky and his brother are spanked off camera by their father after you bring them back home at the start of the game. In the American version, the sound effect was changed to the one later used when enemies use "speaking attacks", the idea being that he's just scolding them.
    • Also, when you talk to Porky after that off-camera incident, he'll say, "My butt hurts!" in the original version, while in the U.S. version he says, "My dad really got after me. He said I get no dessert for the rest of the decade..."
  • Aerith and Bob: Ness, Jeff, Paula and...Poo? Heck, even Ness may qualify.
  • AI Roulette: More striking because there are multiple AI moves that do nothing, and still more that inflict bad status effects on the enemy that uses them. Much of this, though, serves to enhance the game's odd world and contribute to the Rule of Funny.
  • All Cavemen Were Neanderthals
  • Almost-Dead Guy: Buzz Buzz and debatably Everdred.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: in every battle.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: It's the YAWAИUЯ van when facing left.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: So many enemies. This is a game where stop signs, possessed garbage cans, and anthropomorphic molecules are likely to try and kill you.
  • Another Dimension: Both Moonside and Magicant are sort of Another Dimension-Phantom Zone hybrids.
  • Anthropomorphic Food: The coffee cups.
  • Anyone You Know: Used in one of the most emotional boss battle endings ever.
  • Ash Face: Colliding with a person or obstacle when attempting to teleport causes the user to turn black with soot and a smile.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: When you get to the lost world, your size shrinks thanks to how huge everything (including the enemies) are compared to your normal size.
  • Autobots Rock Out: Pokey's battle music starts out 8-bit and simple, reminiscent of Dragon Warrior, the series which inspired this one. A minute in, the instrumentals revert to heavy metal.
  • Awesome but Impractical: The Casey Bat.
    • The Casey Bat becomes Awesome Yet Practical when trying to find the Sword of Kings as quickly as possible. But there are plenty of other relatively useless items covered under this trope, like the Pair of Dirty Socks.
    • The higher levels of PK Rockin' can feel like this, due to it requiring significantly more PP than any other PSI move in the game and, unlike Paula and Poo, Ness doesn't have access to PSI Magnet to replenish PP. It does have its uses, like when you REALLY need to kill something fast, or when all the enemies are on separate "rows", making it impossible to hit everything with PK Fire.
  • Awesome Yet Practical: Bags of Dragonite, the Bottle Rockets, and Jeff's Heavy Bazooka are among some of things.
  • Bad Future: According to Buzz Buzz, this was the state of the future under Giygas's control. It was presumably averted with Giygas's defeat.
  • Because Destiny Says So
  • Better Than a Bare Bulb: Brick Road's dungeon and Dungeon Man has tons of signs that lampshade many dungeon cliches.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Giygas and Porky Minch, or so it seems; no-one can be completely sure if they're equals, or if one is pulling the strings of the other.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • "All of a sudden, some guys rushed into the room! It was the Runaway Five!
    • Poo!
    • Jeff is this to Ness and Paula, although not the player; you actually have to go save Ness and Paula while playing as Jeff.
    • And the player.
  • Bizarro Universe: Moonside.
  • Blinding Bangs: Porky's and Picky's.
  • Book Ends: That red static on the title screen sure looks like the unstable Giygas being destroyed at the game's end.
    • The second scene of the game and The Stinger open with one of the Minch brothers pounding on your door in the middle of the night.
  • Books That Bite: See Everything Trying to Kill You.
  • Boss Corridor: The organic tubing of the Devil's Machine leading to Giygas.
  • Boring Return Journey: Subverted. It's entirely possible to have one after defeating Giygas, but since you can teleport by that point, there's really no reason to.
  • Bottomless Bladder: There are washrooms, but they're always occupied.
  • Bowdlerization: As one would expect from a game localized in the nineties, there are quite a few of these; EarthBound Central compares and profiles them here.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The fourth wall is a bit soft in this game.
    • In the First Town, a dog tells Ness that he's been possessed by the spirit of the game designer to explain something.
    • Those good moles who give you game advice. "Oh, I mean in front of you!!"
    • You, the player, enter your name multiple times throughout the game, under the guise of Jeff's friend Tony contacting you via phone.
    • Finally, the player helps to destroy Giygas, and is thanked by name, as per above.
  • Broken Bridge: Lampshaded - the Onett police department is famous for closing roads, and are reportedly going for the world record of most roads closed due to emergency.
    • Also played straight, in that there is also a literal broken bridge in Peaceful Rest Valley. When you first enter the dungeon, you must take the long way around the bridge, but after you complete the dungeon, it gets fixed and acts as a shortcut back through.
  • Bumbling Dad: Paula's.
  • But Thou Must!: When Pokey wakes Ness up in the middle of the night, he asks him to help find his younger brother, Picky. If you refuse to help him, Pokey says he will say something that will "cut you like a knife", and then bring up the Yes/No choice again. If you refuse again, he will say that he was just kidding, and won't actually say anything like that, and then asks you again, keeping you in a looped conversation until you say Yes.
  • Carnivore Confusion: One of the healing items in the game is the Hamburger. Later on, you have a conversation with a cow.
  • Celebrity Endorsement: In Japan, EarthBound was heavily promoted by Takuya Kimura (who is still the ideal man of most Japanese women today) of the boy band SMAP. He was on the advertisements and commercials — granted that the game was also advertised towards young women, there's a likely chance that many women started playing the game because of him. Not only that, but all the nameable characters could be named after the members of SMAP using the "Don't Care" option!
    • Similarly, one of the biggest selling points for the series as a whole in Japan was that Itoi is a popular celebrity and the games were something he made, to the point where tagging his name onto the ads was a big part of the campaign.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The meteor that kicks off the adventure is used much, much later to provide what you need for time travel.
  • Church of Happyology: The Happy-Happyists, who are dedicated to painting everything blue, to the exclusion of all else -- including spouses, children, and even their own needs.
  • Circle of Friendship / Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Giygas is ultimately defeated by people all around the world joining in prayer... including the player.
  • Combined Energy Attack: The way to defeat Giygas.
  • Continuity Nod: Ness's eight Sanctuaries, the places where he finds the Eight Melodies, use for background music a remix of Queen Mary's Lullabye, aka the original Eight Melodies.
    • The first time you leave your house during the day, "Pollyanna" (the outdoor theme from MOTHER 1 before you get any other party members) plays for a few bars before segueing into the Onett theme.
  • Copy Protection: Legendary for its unusually fiendish brutality. If you ran the game from a copied cartridge or cartridge-copying device, bad things would happen. Like the game suddenly crashing and all your saves getting deleted during the final boss fight, for instance.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: After the Genre Shift from comedy, occurring roughly around the Stonehenge base assault.
  • Covers Always Lie: On the cover, Ness is reflected in the Final Starman's visor. By the time you do encounter the Final Starman, you'll be in The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. The offense? You're in robotic bodies at that point, so Ness' face is not visible.
    • It is possible that the face is Giygas's and not Ness's; Giygas can and does have Ness's face at one point, and Final Starman can be directly taking its orders. The face seems to be inside a sphere, as well.
  • Cult: The Happy Happists. Blue, blue...
  • Cut the Juice: How the Clumsy Robot is defeated.
  • Damage Over Time: Whenever a character receives damage or healing, their Life Meter rolls down or up to the new value over time (rather than instantly), the speed of which is governed by the character's individual "Guts" stat. Side effects like Critical Existence Failure do not trigger based on the raw damage a character has received, but the value that's currently shown on their meter instead.
  • Damage Sponge Boss: The Clumsy Robot - your party is incomplete for this fight, and the Robot can take a lot of punishment. Worse, sometimes it eats a bologna sandwich (somehow) and maxes out its HP again . . . Except it doesn't. The sandwich does nothing, and the battle dialog actually lies to your face about it.
  • Dark World: Moonside, though it's a hallucination caused by the Mani Mani Statue.
  • Death Is a Slap on The Wrist: While you lose half your money when your party is defeated, the ability to keep your money in an ATM basically means that you never need to lose ANY amount of money. A game over is more or less an inconvenience, rather than any sort of peril to avoid.
    • However, near the end of the game the ATMs are replaced by people that charge ridiculous handling fees, which encourages you to carry your hard earned cash on you at all times.
    • It's worth it to note that dying and continuing leads to only your front character being alive (and with no PP). In certain areas, this leads to some difficult situations.
  • Degraded Boss: The Kraken.
  • Desert Skull: You can actually have a conversation with a cattle skeleton in the Dusty Dunes Desert.
  • Determinator: Any character, if their Guts stat is sufficiently high, will hang in there through repeated mortal blows for a very long times - enough, usually, to heal them completely.
    • The Hit Points in this game rolls down, much like a odometer in your car. When a character takes enough damage to be knocked out, it will say "X has taken Y points of mortal damage!" but they won't actually die until the meter rolls down to zero. This will lead to you rushing to heal the party member or end the battle before their HP counter rolls down to zero and they die. There's a chance that the game will omit the "mortal" part in the message and the meter will stop at one instead of zero, the chances of this happening depends on the character's Guts stat.
    • There's also an item called the "Sudden Guts Pill" that, when used in battle, will temporarily double the character's Guts stat for the duration. However, it's incredibly rare, and the one shop that has it sells it at a ridiculous price.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Ness didn't, Paula didn't, Jeff didn't, Poo didn't, but you, the player, sure as hell did!
  • Don't Explain the Joke: In the Japanese version, the welcome sign for Twoson tells you that it is the second town and asks, "Did you notice?" The English version handles this by saying, "We got this name because we weren't first."
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: The Plague Rat OF DOOM.
  • Dronejam: The Happy Happyists' hideout contains a maze made of cultists; you have to talk to them or battle them to get them to move.
  • Duel Boss: Ness's Nightmare. Also, the bosses encountered before meeting Paula - Frank Fly, Frankystein Mk. II, and the Titanic Ant.
  • Easily Angered Shopkeeper: In Happy Happy Village.
  • Easter Egg: Early in the game, the police chief will explain that "...kids like you should be at home playing Nintendo games in a time like this!"
    • Then again, if you go back to Onett later on, you'll find the police chief talking about how he's having a hard time playing this game called EarthBound.
    • There's also a planning meeting for EarthBound 2 in Fourside.
    • One of the Sharks, a local gang Ness fights early in the game, asks if you'd like to join. The correct response in order to continue the plot is "no". Answering "yes" will prompt the gang member to tell you to come back after completing EarthBound.
  • Eccentric Townsfolk: Hippies, Angry Ladies, Drunks...
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Giygas's army has one at Stonehenge.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Giygas.
  • Eldritch Location: Moonside. Also, it's entirely possible that Giygas is sufficiently large and amorphous that once he's released from the Devil's Machine, he is one of these of his own accord instead of being just an Eldritch Abomination.
  • Enlightenment Superpowers: This is how Prince Poo gets two critical level ups. Coupled with a Journey to the Center of the Mind, it's also how Ness gets his biggest level up of the game going into the Grand Finale.
  • Escape Rope: The Exit Mouse.
  • Epileptic Flashing Lights: Moonside.
  • Everyone Join the Party: While fighting the Big Bad, the only way to beat him is to use the up until then useless skill "Pray," which causes all the NPCs in the world, plus the player, to pray together, which destroys him.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Animals, stop signs, hippies, robots, animate cups of coffee, and a hundred other weird monsters, including those god-damn exploding trees!
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The Monotoli Building.
  • Expy: Ness, Paula and Jeff are near-identical to their original Mother counterparts Ninten, Ana, and Loid, and even hold many of the same abilities. Frank Fly appears to be an expy of Teddy, but he's not playable.
  • Fan Sequel: Cognitive Dissonance. - or Fan Prequel, rather.
    • Not to mention it heavily inspired Homestuck; the name of which is intended as a Shout-Out to this game.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture
  • Fight Woosh: There are four different kinds. The gray woosh means that the battle will go on as normal. Sneak up behind an enemy to get a green woosh and a surprise attack. Don't let the enemy sneak up behind you or you'll get a red woosh and they'll get a surprise attack on you! The fourth kind is the spiky one used for bosses.
  • First Town: Onett.
  • Four Man Band
  • Foreshadowing: "Ness! Now, I...well... It's going to seem like I'm running away, but perhaps I'll just sneak away to another era to think about my next plan."
  • Follow the Leader: The Tengi Makyou/Far East Of Eden, which shares this series offbeat humour, with hilarious writings, taking place in a fictional Japan based on exagerrated conceptions by the west. The fourth one even takes place in a fictional America, with hilarious results. The first game appeared after Mother 1, in 1989. It unfortunately shares its No Export for You status.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Inverted; the fourth wall doesn't protect Giygas from you.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: "You will be gone, and you'll be burning in... Well, you'll go to heaven!"
    • "You strange, unmasked fellow! Don't go to heaven!" Actually, this line was left intact from the Japanese version.
    • One grandma ask Ness if he has grand-children. If he answers "Yes", her answer is hilarious. Also, when you control Jeff for the first time, Tony's attempt to help you escape is rather... um.
    • On some occasions, they had literally got the word "Crap" past the radar.
  • Girl of My Dreams: Can happen with Ness -- if he sleeps in inns before he battles the Happy Happyists, he will receive psychic pleas from the imprisoned Paula.
  • Global Currency: Slightly more acceptable here. Sure, the world only uses one currency, but it's dollars. And stuff in other countries is more expensive, but this may be because of the Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness, and one of the last towns is a tourist resort. The signs for stores in other countries also make a point of stating that they do indeed accept Eagleland currency, something real foreign stores would do to promote tourist spending.)
    • It starts to get ridiculous though when a FLOATING KINGDOM only accessible by teleportation is seen to accept them...
  • Go Back to the Source: Ness and the others must fight Giygas at a point in time when he was much weaker.
  • Good Hurts Evil: How Giygas meets his end.
  • Good Morning, Crono: Justified Trope by the fact that the game begins in the middle of the night. The main character is wide awake by the time the sun rises.
  • Guest Star Party Member: Quite a few, ranging from Porky, his brother Picky, Ness's dog King, an alien insect from the future, Jeff's friend Tony, to an Invisible man with a unibrow and a gold tooth, a giant animated tower, to inanimate teddy bears, demonic ghosts that can possess you, and manifestations of Ness's subconscious. Some of them are more useful than others.
    • In the last moments of the final battle with Giygas, the player -- as in, the one holding the controller -- as in, YOU join the party. And it is awesome.
  • Guide Dang It: Figuring out that you're supposed to pray in the final battle can be tough without checking a guide, as the game only drops a few subtle hints.

Porky: Do you want to scream for help here in the dark?! ... I know you have telepathy or something, so just try and call for help!

    • Buzz Buzz does somewhat tell you even from the start. His final words are of you having to "unite with the Earth's power". This can be seen as both having to find all Eight Melodies and as uniting all as one in prayer.
    • Possibly making it even tougher is when, the eighth time you pray, you get a message saying "Paula's prayer was absorbed by the darkness." This can make players think that prayer no longer works and you're supposed to return to simply beating Giygas up again. Actually, you're supposed to pray AGAIN, one last time, to finish the battle.
    • Original copies of the game were bundled with the complete strategy guide at no extra charge. So if you must shout "guide dang it!" you need not shout too loudly.
  • The Heartless: Many of the enemies in the game are influenced to fight Ness through Giygas's control over their inherent evil. Right before Ness gets charged with a great deal of power, he has to fight Giygas's influence over the evil in his mind via a boss battle.
  • Heel Face Revolving Door: Pokey seems to like trying to pretend he's ready to repent of his misdeeds for just long enough to make a getaway. And boy, does he ever run fast for a little fat kid.
  • Heroic Mime: Whoever the player is controlling at the time. As soon as they meet up with the main group, they start talking and introduce themselves. The only exception is at two points in the game, where a special wall displays Ness' thoughts, and where Ness talks to himself telling him where he needs to go next near the end of the game.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Saturn Valley.
  • A Homeowner Is You: You can buy a "house" (or rather, a hovel) in Onett for $7,500. It contains a photographer location, so you'll need it for One Hundred Percent Completion. But more importantly, there's the hilarious magazine excerpt...
  • I Know Kung Faux: Onett police force Cpt. Strong uses Super Ultra Mambo-Tango-Foxtrot Martial Arts.
  • Improbable Weapon User: From yo-yos to frying pans.
  • Impossibly Delicious Food: Delisauce is an impossibly delicious condiment, which goes with all foods and maxes out their recovery potential.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: The bag of dragonite, which turns the player into a dragon temporarily, has no explanation where it comes from or how it is made.
    • Although a monkey wonders, "is it really made by dragons?"
  • Insurmountable Waist High Fence: Parodied - at one point your path is blocked by a statue of a pencil. In the original Japanese, it was of an octopus.
    • Later on is another parody, where the blockade is an eraser statue. Originally, it was a statue of a type of doll (the item to remove it forms a play on words in Japanese).
      • Granted, the English version retains that sort of pun--the pencil statues are removed using a Pencil Eraser. No prizes for guessing what removes the eraser statue.
  • Interface Screw: In Moonside, yes means no, and no means yes.
    • Also, if any player character gets mushroomized, the game's interpretation of D-pad inputs will rotate 90 degrees clockwise every thirty seconds. This can only be cured by the healer in the hospital.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Everdred, boss of Burglin Park.
  • Joke Character: The worthless protoplasm, fobbies, and foppies are joke enemies, and Porky amounts to a joke ally for the short time he travels with you.
  • Joke Item: The Insignificant Item, among others.
    • Ruler: "It can be used in battle! Can be used many times." Ditto the Protracter.
    • The Super Orange Machine, or Suporma for short. It plays an "Ode to Orange Kid" and immediately breaks down after that.
  • Karma Houdini: Pokey Minch. Naturally, he returns as the Big Bad in Mother 3.
  • Kid Hero: All the main cast. Lampshaded in Ness's case - he randomly suffers homesickness as a status effect. This is cured by calling or visiting his mom.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Parodied, when the protagonist Ness can get items from trash cans. And this includes food items. He also gets the chance to properly steal food items, but will be attacked for it.
    • There is also an NPC (in Summers, if memory serves) that lampshades the use of this trope in "other" games.
  • Leitmotif: The Runaway Five, Pokey, and Paula all have theme music - the latter's doesn't play all that often, though.
    • Paula's theme is actually a Shout-Out of the theme of Youngtown, a place where only children live because all of the parents were abducted by Giygas. So it's saying that she's tied down to a place with no adults to guide her and she's scared, helpless. Its only major appearance was in Paula's cell. Get why now?
  • Lampshade Hanging: Everywhere.
  • Lethal Joke Character: You wouldn't think that the mystical record or that animate cup of coffee wouldn't be that deadly, would you?
    • The Smilin' Sphere!!
    • Yeah, they're all over the place. Floating lips, electric guitars, phonograph records, angry ladies, hippies, surfer dudes...
    • Territorial Oaks...
  • Let's Play: Not called Let's Play, but Starmen.net's Funktastic EarthBound Gameplay Summer is basically a bunch of people playing through the game together, with the site having one person playing live over streaming video.
  • Lighter and Softer: The story is taken with arguably less seriousness than in MOTHER 1, and it often becomes simply for humor's sake...until the end, when it's just Nightmare Fuel.
  • Literal Junk Food: Ness could pick up hamburgers from trash cans early in the game.
  • Look What I Can Do Now!: Poo returns from training to demonstrate new power on a boss obliterating it with PK Starstorm.
  • Loss of Identity
  • Lost in Translation: Several puns make more sense in Japanese.
    • And it's Porky Minch, not Pokey Minch.
    • The Apple of Enlightenment, mentioned several times throughout the game, is revealed towards the end to be a future-telling machine used by the evil forces. In the English translation, this line is removed, and as a result fans speculated for years about what the Apple was meant to be.
    • Also, Pokey's motive. After rescuing Paula the first time, Pokey says "Let's be friends again. Just kidding!" and is pretty much the bad guy for the rest of the game and the next game. In the original Japanese version, it wasn't because Pokey was a jerk, but because Ness was. Pokey asked Ness if they could be friends again, but Ness refused to answer, causing Pokey to storm off angrily.
  • Made of Explodium: Trees!
    • The Smilin' Sphere!!
    • Nuclear Reactor Robots too.
  • Madness Mantra: Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness...
  • Magic Meteor: The meteor that starts Ness' adventure. Not only was the time traveler Buzz Buzz riding in it, but the meteor contains a material needed for time travel.
  • Mayor Pain: Mr. Monotoli. Or so it seems at first.
  • Meet Cute
  • Mind Screw: Oh, that's putting it lightly.
  • Mirror Boss: Ness's Nightmare.
  • Money Spider: Averted Trope. As with the previous game, money is not dropped by monsters, but is instead received through transactions with your father. However, enemies will still drop... odd items at times.
  • Mood Whiplash: One of the most memorable examples in gaming. It's nowhere near as sudden as many assume and there's a good deal of buildup to it, but it's there.
  • Mooks: Including enemies literally called "mooks".
  • Muck Monster: Master Belch, Master Barf, and the Big Pile of Puke.
  • Multinational Team: Four kids from three continents.
  • Musical Pastiche and Sampling: It's used so frequently that the resulting legal muck is the most common theory behind why this game is not going to see an international re-release. This video shows the nearly insane amount of sampling that's gone into the soundtrack. It's amazing how being a small unheard-of RPG that's a commercial disaster in the USA allows this sort of Getting Unlicensed Sampling Past The Radar. Most notably:
    • The almost surely lawsuit-inducing Beatles Suspiciously Similar Song version (the Saturn Valley music is supposedly inspired by "Wild Honey Pie", the "waking up in a hotel theme" starts with a short quote from "Good Morning, Good Morning", and the shop theme resembles "When I'm Sixty-Four") and samples (the Dungeon Man theme samples the beats from "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)", entering Giygas' lair gives a short sample from the opening Marseillaise bit of "All You Need Is Love").
    • The "Sky Runner" theme uncomfortably resembling the opening synth from The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again", one of the battle themes being an outright rip from The Champs' 1956 hit "Tequila", the naming screen theme using a short sample from the Monty Python's Flying Circus theme, "Moonside Swing" sampling from Ric Ocasek's song "Keep On Laughing"
    • The Jackie's Cafe song sampling the Our Gang theme and interpolating "The Star-Spangled Banner"
    • The Runaway Five's final performance resembling The Doors' "The Changeling"
    • "Belch's Factory" a Suspiciously Similar Song version of "Welcome to the Machine" by Pink Floyd
    • One of the most widely-remembered ones is the passing resemblance the Frank / New Age Retro Hippie theme bears to Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode", but they're not even close to identical as so many assume
      • Ironically, it's been said that it isn't music that's problem for re-release in the United States... it's the fact that one of the monsters is based on a real-life painting that's currently surrounded in legal red-tape.
    • The Cave of the Past is made entirely out of manipulating the opening to Beach Boys' Diedre.
  • Nerf Arm
  • Never Say "Die": The Dept. Store Spook in Fourside goes out of his way to avoid pronouncing "hell":

You will be gone, and you'll be burning in... Well, you'll go to heaven!

    • Enemies don't "die"; they:
        • "become tame" (animals)
        • "stop moving" (Animate Inanimate Object)
        • "snap back to their senses" (angry/brainwashed people)
        • "return to the dust of earth" (zombies, mummies, etc)
        • "melt into thin air" (gases/ghosts)
        • "are defeated" (everything else)
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Probably one of the most severe cases; the ads tried to make it look like a Grossout Game from beginning to end. There's maybe two parts of the game with any kind of Toilet Humor, and even then it's never too over-the-top.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Herod: Giygas receives a prediction of his defeat and begins his invasion early in an attempt to reverse this. This likely would've worked, except that Ness is visited by an alien bee from the future and the two events end up canceling out.
  • Nintendo Hard: Especially early game and during the Zombie part of Threed.
  • Noble Shoplifter: In Happy Valley, there's a food cart with a sign saying they trust you to take what you need and leave the money. However, in this case, the player does have the option to leave without paying, so this trope depends on the player.
  • "No" Means "Yes": Moonside.
  • Non-Lethal KO: Somewhat justified by the fact that the message you receive depends on the type of enemy defeated -- wild animals turned evil by Giygas' influence "become tame," inanimate objects like vinyl records and coffee cups "stop moving," mobile plants also "stop moving," human enemies possessed by Giygas "return to normal," and so on. When you encounter the undead and ghosts of past enemies, it's pretty clear some of them do die. Undead enemies "return to the dust of the earth," and ghosts "melt into thin air." Other enemies simply get "defeated" or "disappear" when beaten in battle, so it's tough to tell what really happens to them.
  • Non-Linear Sequel
  • Nostalgic Music Box: The final rendition of the Eight Melodies, just before entering Magicant.
  • Official Couple: Ness and Paula. They're so cute together!
  • Older Than They Look: Most of the main cast, thanks to the graphics style. Word of God says that Ness is 13 years old, but based on his appearance in the Super Smash Bros. series, you'd think he was between eight and ten.
    • Only the American guide says he's 13. Although that is a reasonable age (since he is supposed to be the same age as Jeff, who is in boarding school and has been separated from his father for around ten years), it's not actually his official one.
  • Only Idiots May Pass: Advanced to an art form!
  • Outside the Box Tactic: Continuing the series-wide trend, the Final Boss, Master Giygas cannot be defeated via normal tactics. You must use Paula's Pray command ten times before you, the player, defeat him.
  • Palette Swap: Several enemies are like this, including a stronger version of the Territorial Oak, Foppies and Fobbies, and the Mani Mani Statue/Ness' Nightmare.
  • Parental Abandonment: Ness' father communicates over the phone often enough, but is never home. Jeff's father hasn't seen him in ten years despite living fairly near his boarding school (and this is a twelve to fourteen year old boy) and seems to think nothing of it; his mother is never mentioned. Poo's parents are nowhere in sight--affairs of state, perhaps? Paula is the only one of the four protagonists to have parents that are both alive and present.
  • Parental Bonus: Oh God. Too many to list. A yellow submarine, the Runaway Five, the New Age Retro Hippie's battle music...
  • Photo Montage: The ending credits.
  • The Player Is the Most Important Resource: In the final battle, your faith in the characters is what defeats Gigyas.
  • Police Brutality: When Onett's police force is asked by a little boy to remove a roadblock and help him get to the next town, they decide it'd be fun to take him to the back room of the station and beat him up. They quickly learn challenging Ness to a fight is a bad idea if you don't want your butt kicked.
  • Power of Friendship: How Giygas is defeated. In some way or another, isn't this trope the lesson learned in every Mother game?
  • Power-Up Food: Ramen noodles bring back the dead.
  • Psychic Powers
  • Punny Name: By the bushelful.
    • The first four towns are called Onett, Twoson, Threed, and Fourside.
      • And what are those numbers added up? NinTendo! Although that might not have been intentional.
    • And then there's Summers and Tenda (possibly also a pun on "tender"). Think about that for a while.
    • The main character, named after the NES. Alternately, the main character's name is an anagram of the system he first appeared on (SNES).
    • The bicycle shop in Twoson is called "Punk-Sure".
    • One removed from the American version: the third town was originally named Threek, combining both the numerical theme along with a scream of surprise and alarm. Perfect for a haunted town. Nintendo had it changed to "Threed" out of fears that some stupid parents would think it was a reference to the KKK.
  • Random Effect Spell: Pray, on the occassions when it's not used outside of the final battle.
  • Randomly Drops: The infamous 1/128 items.
  • Raygun Gothic: The style of the Starman and the robots seems to be based around this.
  • Recurring Traveler: the photographer who descends from the sky in certain places.
    • "Say 'Fuzzy Pickles'!"
  • Recursive Canon: One NPC wonders if the new video game EarthBound has been released yet.
  • Recursive Translation: The script for MOTHER 2 in the MOTHER 1+ 2 Updated Rerelease shows signs of being a Japanese retranslation of the English EarthBound script, at least according to Clyde Mandelin.
  • Retraux: Giygas and Heavily Armed Porky's battle theme starts out with some NES Chiptune-sounding music (ironically not something from Earthbound Zero, though, where Giygas actually just had an incessant screech as his "battle theme) before spontaneously jumping into a rock version of the same tune.
  • Rising Cost of Health Insurance: Practically the Trope Namer (though not its supertrope).
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: The Plague Rat of Doom.
  • Rule of Three: Inside the mines, you'll fight the third-strongest mole, followed by the third-strongest mole, and then the third-strongest mole, and then...
  • Say My Name: One of Giygas's attacks has him saying the hero's name over and over.
  • See You in Hell: Amusingly subverted where a villain starts to say this trope, then admits that the heroes will probably go to Heaven after he kills them.
  • Shave and a Haircut: When banging incessantly on Ness' door doesn't work, Porky tries this.
  • Shout-Out: Many, a good majority of them to The Beatles.
  • Single Palette Town: The Happy Happy Village.
  • Skippable Boss: Many players don't even realize they can just not fight Everdred.
  • Song Style Shift: Porky's battle theme, Cease to Exist, starts out as an 8 bit tune and then shifts into hard rock/metal one minute in.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Mostly played straight, but for a moment at the beginning when Giygas, in a moment of being Dangerously Genre Savvy, decides to just kill Ness before he becomes a nuisance by sending a Starman Jr. at them at the start of the game. Thankfully, the good guys were equally smart and sent in Buzz Buzz too, thus canceling each other out.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Some of the (great) music in this game is so out there, it is hard to tell what kind of mood the composer is trying to evoke.
  • Spikes of Villainy: The Starman Deluxe and the Final Starman are respectively stronger versions of the Starman and the Super Starman WITH SPIKES!.
  • Spinning Out of Here: Like in MOTHER 1, teleporting requires rapid, uninterrupted acceleration before zooming off to the destination, so areas with limited space to build speed require moving in circles to avoid crashing. One teleport ability requires the player to turn manually, the other one automatically makes the party move in a tight spiral.
  • Standard Status Effects: as well as many non-standard ones. Characters can be affected by sickness, heat stroke, ghostly possession, homesickness (in Ness' case -- this happens at random, and it's cured by calling Mom), mushroom growth, the common cold, uncontrollable crying...
  • Sudden Downer Ending: Its horrifying final level is probably what it's best known for. The actual ending once Giygas is out of the way definitely doesn't fall into this, though.
  • Surprise Creepy: Most of the game is a gloriously strange and funny romp through childhood, and then you enter Giygas' Lair.
  • Terminator Twosome: Gigyas apparently destroys the universe, forcing Buzz Buzz to go back in time to find someone who can stop him, and Starman Junior goes back in time to stop Buzz Buzz. Starman Junior fails although Buzz Buzz ends up dying anyway.
  • Theme Naming: The towns are named by numbers, for their climate, or for musical references. Also, in the Japanese version, the "Don't Care" preset names for the main characters were grouped by the following themes: The Beatles, Super Mario Bros., primates, the Japanese band SMAP, the character's signature head ornament, and dog commands, in addition the starting "Ness, Paula, Jeff, etc." Of course, those sets, like some other things, got Lost in Translation.
    • Parodied with Slot Machine Brothers -- Pincho, Pancho, and Tomás Jefferson.
    • Some fans have noticed the following in the town names: Onett + Twoson + Threed + Fourside = Tenda Village. It probably wasn't intentional given that the Tenda were originally called "Gumi" in Japanese.
  • Time to Unlock More True Potential: The massive powerup Ness gets at the end of Magicant.
    • Or the one Poo gets in the form of a 'Message that has stat gains written on it.'
  • Subtitle Drop: "The war against Giygas is over."
  • Too Awesome to Use: Bags of Dragonite, of which there are only 6 in the game.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Exactly why does Buzz Buzz hover over to Lardna after Pokey and Picky are sent to their room?
  • Tortured Abomination: Giygas. "...It hurts, ...it hurts... Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness..."
  • Trauma Inn: Subverted; hotels restore HP and MP, but don't heal status effects -- you have to go to a hospital for that.
  • Two Decades Behind: Although it takes place in "199X", pay phones are still widely used, there are no household computers (but they do appear to have Nintendo games), and a lot of the slang is Totally Radical.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Although in fact it would be three guys and a girl, for a long part of the game this is the basic formation.
    • It even goes back to Two Guys and a Girl later in the game, as Poo leaves temporarily in order to learn PK Starstorm and re-joins them later.
  • Undisclosed Funds: Played straight in MOTHER 2, but not in EarthBound. During localization, for some reason a couple of vague references meaning roughly "a bajillion dollars" were changed to real numbers (Ness' family's debt to Porky's family is "a hundred thousand dollars or more" and the Diamond "could pay off a million dollar debt easily").
  • Unobtanium: The Phase Converter runs on this--it's called Zexonyte and you get it backtracking to the meteorite.
  • Updated Rerelease / Compilation Rerelease: It got one in the same GBA cartridge as MOTHER, dubbed MOTHER 1+2, but the series' standard fate ensued.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Take care of those Flying Men. You don't really want to use them all up.
  • "Wake-Up Call" Boss: Frank Fly and his robot, Frankystein Mk II.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: When you first take control of Jeff at the boarding school, opening all the presents a fellow student has recently wrapped will elicit a similar response.
  • When All Else Fails Go Right: A sign in the Dungeon Man points this trope out. In this case, there's an inn to the left just out of sight.
  • When Trees Attack: Exploding trees, as a matter of fact...
  • Where It All Began: To enter the final dungeon, you need to get a piece of the meteorite that started everything in Onett. Of course, it has been taken over by aliens at that point.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Universes: See Tear Jerker in the YMMV tab. If you've played the first game, Giygas' lines come off very differently. This doesn't make him any less terrifying.
  • You All Look Familiar: a few NPC sprites, including what some gamers call "Mr. T".
  • Younger Than They Look: Frank Fly is said to be about 20 years old in some of the literature based off the games.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Happens in the town of Threed. Sort of.