June 5 marks the 25th anniversary of the classic Super Nintendo role-playing game Earthbound.
While underappreciated in its time, the game has since gone on to attain cult status for its goofy character designs, genuinely funny dialogue, and sharp metacommentary on gaming conventions. Earthbound directly inspired the 2015 indie hit Undertale, along with countless imitators. Earthbound's protagonist, Ness, has long been a staple of the Super Smash Bros. franchise. Nintendo devotees' quest to localize the game’s sequel, known in Japan as Mother 3, has gone on for decades, and was at one point the bane of ex-Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime’s existence.
To mark the auspicious occasion, we’ve rounded up 25 of our favorite unforgettable oddities from one of the best games ever made. Happy birthday, Earthbound!
25. Pokey’s poop — Shortly after you arrive in the desert town of Scaraba, one of the townspeople will caution you that “some fat kid just did his business over there.” Search a spot near a palm tree, you’ll find a trace of your nemesis: “Pokey’s stink still hangs in the air.”
24. Bubble Monkey — When you first meet Jeff, your nerdish third party member, he’s all by his lonesome... until he recruits a gum-loving monkey to join him. Bubble Monkey helps Jeff take a ride on Tessie to join the rest of the party in Threed.
23. Trout Yogurt — Earthbound has a lot of normal food items that Ness and his pals can use for health recovery, but it’s got some really gross edibles too. One of the weirdest and most memorable is the corrupt Fourside mayor’s favorite snack: Trout Yogurt. Nothing says nausea quite like fish and fermented dairy.
22. Overcoming Shyness — One of the many strange realms you’ll visit in Earthbound is an underground space full of dinosaurs and little green dudes called the Tenda. The latter won’t talk to you — at all — because they’re too bashful. You’ll need to fetch a book called Overcoming Shyness from your hometown library to hear what they have to say.
21. Eraser mania — Twoson’s second-best child prodigy, Apple Kid will give Ness some pretty handy gadgets throughout their adventures, but one you’ll use often is the Pencil Eraser, a device that removes iron pencil statues that block access to dungeons and caves. Late in the game, those iron pencils are replaced by — wait for it — eraser statues, prompting Apple Kid to invent the Eraser Eraser.
20. The Stoic Club — A bunch of old people sit around and ask some of life’s toughest questions while eating cake and staring at a giant rock in the back of the room. I think there might be something in the cake...
19. The Death of Buzz Buzz — While this time-travelling bug from the future gives Ness his call to adventure and seems like an important character, he dies faster than Sean Bean, leaving Ness to solve things on his own. Even worse, Ness’ own mother kills him. Great parenting there.
18. Happy Happy Village blue cow — The inhabitants of Happy Happy Village, a blue-loving cult, even painted their poor cow blue, and it might be the saddest inhabitant of the hidden enclave. Do you think this is where Luke Skywalker gets his blue milk from?
17. Beating up hippies — If you’ve ever wanted to beat up a groovy beatnik, Earthbound will finally give you the chance to do so. You run into these enemies in cities fairly early on, so it’s not much different than real life. They have a fantastic battle theme too!
16. Scalding coffee cup — Earthbound lets you literally fight your addiction, pitting you against a hot cup of coffee in the Fourside Department Store and Dungeon Man. This enemy can be annoying to deal with, which is why I’ve vowed to never drink coffee.
15. Elevator etiquette — In a game full of dozens of chuckle-worthy NPCs, this aide at Fourside’s Monotoli Building might be one of the best. When Ness enters the lift, she scolds, “don’t stare at my hips!” Ness looks away in shame. Poor lad.
14. Barf-O-Rama — While deservedly regarded in the years since its release as a massively innovative game, Earthbound’s also full of giggle-worthy adolescent humor. You’ll have to fight a big pile of slime called Master Belch several times throughout the game, as well as tinier
13. Off-brand Blues Brothers — In order to get to Threed, you’ll need to get the help of the Runaway Five, who totally aren’t the Blue Brothers. Unfortunately, they aren't on a mission from god. Earthbound is full of music references (yellow submarine, anyone?), but this one's probably the most memorable.
12. Autograph on a banana peel — To get into a secret room in Fourside’s museum, you’ll need to get an autograph from a singer named Venus to progress. Of course, the most obvious thing to get the autograph on is a banana peel. Definitely try this next time you are getting an autograph from someone.
11. Adamant — Like any ‘90s RPG worth its salt, Earthbound features a sequence where Ness gets split up from his teammates and explores his own subconscious mind. Here, Ness encounters old friends like Everdread and adversaries like Pokey, but every time you talk to an NPC, the color palette of the environment changes.
10. Becoming a homeowner — Before the PS1 Suikoden games let you build your own castle and fill it with 108 of your best pals, Earthbound let Ness buy a beachside bungalow right near his hometown of Onett for a cool $7,500. It’s a fixer-upper, to say the least.
9. Magic cakes lady — Even though Nintendo censored a lot of “mature” references to alcohol and smoking in Earthbound’s English localization, you don’t need to be a die-hard Cheech and Chong fan to pick up on the subtext of the trippy pink cloud that washes over your party when you sample these homemade delights.
8. A bath in Saturn valley — A steamy soak with your oddball pink buddies is the perfect moment of respite from Ness and pals’ globe-trotting adventure. It’s a nice moment to reflect on all the things you’ve seen and done in Earthbound’s goofy world.
7. Zombie paper — When the town of Threed gets overrun by a horde of shambling ghouls, the ingenious inventor Apple Kid comes to the rescue with this sticky solution. Eat your heart out, Walking Dead.
6. Waiting Under a Waterfall — In one of gaming’s earliest meta moments, Ness and co. have to wait until a Saturn Valley waterfall for 3 minutes in order to get into the Belch Base to fight a pile of garbage. Have we mentioned that Earthbound is weird?
We’re giving our top five wonderfully weird Earthbound moments a bit more love in a more visually scintillating format. If you want to check them out, head here!