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EarthBound: What Did the Critics Say in 1995?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on May 12, 2014   |   Episode 41 (Show Archive)  

EarthBound (Super NES)
Ever wonder what Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other popular magazines thought of your favorite 8-, 16- and 32-bit games? Now you can find out, thanks to Review Crew! This is the only show on the internet that is willing to go back in time to find out what old school critics thought of retro games at the time. Did they pan your favorite game? Did they love something terrible? Find out every week as Defunct Games presents Review Crew!

While not one of Nintendo's biggest sellers, EarthBound has become one of those cult classics that everybody tells you to play. It's actually the middle chapter in the Mother trilogy, and the only game in the series released outside of Japan. Were critics into this funky RPG back in the 1990s or did they dismiss it out of hand? We turn to GamePro, Nintendo Power, Die Hard Game Fan, Game Players, Super Play and other classic magazines for the answer.

(NOTE: Although we occasionally cut for length, no other edits are made to the review. Defunct Games does not change any of the wording, grammar or punctuation use. Also keep in mind that our score is the average of all critics at the time, not just the sample that is reprinted on this page. If you still have more questions, I recommend you check out the Review Crew FAQ, where we address the review guidelines, converting scores, magazine covers and more.)

EarthBound (Nintendo)

DIE HARD GAME FAN (August 1995)
92% out of 100%

"This game justifies the old adage "Don't judge a book by its cover" At first glance, Earthbound seems like an RPG for children with its dinky Playschool-like graphics and youthful main hero. In reality, this game has one of the most coherent, sophisticated and funny storylines of any RPG. EB is downright hilarious. What's even better is the further that you venture into this game, the more you get addicted to it. A must buy for all die-hard RPG fans." -K. Lee

SUPER PLAY #35
88% out of 100%

"Earthbound: An All-American RPG that could only have been written by the Japanese. An RPG that's very much more than the sum of its parts. If you've got the patience to suffer its cruder elements then prepare to be boggled; there's simply nothing like it on the SNES." -Zy Nicholson

DIE HARD GAME FAN (August 1995)
85% out of 100%

"At first glance I said to myself, no way! These graphics are just to [sic] fruity. Then, (after much coaxing) I finally sat down with Earthbound for awhile [sic]. I must say, this game has a great story-line, lots of humor, and is highly addicting. While I still maintain it will appeal most to younger players, I recommend Earthbound to anyone who enjoys an RPG for content over visual stimulation." -Skid

NINTENDO POWER (June 1995)
4 out of 5

"EarthBound comes packaged complete with Ident-a-Smell scratch-and-sniff cards and a Nintendo Power Player's Guide to help you through the toughest standoffs. Plus: A great story, fun graphics, good sound effects. Minus: Frequent, sometimes tedious battles. Poorly designed inventory system limits how many items you can carry."

GAMEPRO (July 1995)
3.5 out of 5

"EarthBound can be amusing if you know where to look for the funny parts. Otherwise, the humor is too mature for little kids, and the gameplay is too immature for older gamers. This one is bound to fall to Earth sometime soon." -Sir Scary Larry

GAME PLAYERS (July 1995)
69% out of 100%

"Nintendo's latest entry into the wooly world of RPGs is a port-over of the Japanese game Mother 2. It ain't bad, but it ain't real exciting either. Combat is handled through static display screens that look like throwbacks to 8-bit Dragon Warrior days. Under its original title, this was a pretty big hit in Japan. RPG addicts looking for a quick fix (like me, for instance) could do worse, but without a doubt, the younger you are, the more you're gonna like it." -Jeff Lundrigan
REVIEW CREW AVERAGE: 81% - While many feel that EarthBound is one of Nintendo's greatest adventure games, these critics from 1995 disagree. With the exception of K. Lee's enthusiastic recommendation, most reviewers complained that the game was too childish for the modern player. GamePro said the gameplay was "too immature for older gamers," while Game Players noted that the adventure wasn't real exciting. Even Super Play, who gave the game one of the highest scores, complained that players had to "suffer" through the cruder moments.

Most curious is Skid's reaction. While he eventually came around, it's surprising to hear a game critic be so reluctant to play a fairly standard role-playing game. He called the game "fruity" and needed to be coaxed into playing it, and then decided to mention this in his write-up. Not to get on my soapbox or anything, but isn't he getting paid to play games? Who cares how fruity the game looks, getting paid to play games sure beats the heck out of flipping burgers at McDonalds for minimum wage. Be more open minded and play the damn game.

ON WEDNESDAY'S EPISODE: Rise from your grave!! That's right, on Wednesday we'll spend time with a couple of half-naked men with a weird ability to turn into animals. Did critics like Altered Beast when it launched with the Sega Genesis? Find out on Wednesday when we dig through more magazines to find the answer. Make sure and check out the Review Crew archive for more old school reviews, and don't forget to tweet me @DefunctGames to let me know what games you want to see next!

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