3. Earthbound (1995)
Another classic RPG that arrived too late into the SNES lifecycle for many of its original adopters to have played, nor was it ever released in the PAL region. Known as MOTHER 2 in Japan, Earthbound begins with you as Ness, a young boy who finds a Meteorite that has bought an evil alien to Earth. You are tasked with assembling a band of children who must collect melodies which are the only hope of defeating the alien.
It sounds whacky, and that’s because it is. Earthbound is a game that had almost no chance of success in the West, it was marketed in bizarre fashion and even its visuals looked barely 16-bit, so it was a hard sell to anyone casting their eyes on it in magazines of the age. It sold incredibly poorly in the US and only modestly better in Japan, making it one of the harder to come across titles in the SNES library as so few were produced, resulting in the US version being incredibly expensive to obtain.
But revisionist history has been kind. Players looking deep into the SNES back catalogue discovered it, championed it and now it is widely regarded as one of the SNES’s very best and most unusual games. It’s definitely not a game made to appeal to the masses, and that is what makes it so special, it’s a true labour of love.
Once you overcome the basic visuals and realise they are a style choice rather than a limitation, and you embrace the game for it all of its quirks, you begin to unravel the hidden gem within. Given that this will be a first time play-through for many gamers in Europe, and even in the States due to its scarcity, Earthbound is almost a brand new game amongst a tried and tested familiar line-up of games and as such deserve its high placing on our rundown.
Be prepared for one of the most goofy, but ultimately emotional gaming experiences of your 16-bit life.