EarthBound (Review) (1995)
The SNES was strong on so many fronts: side-scrolling platformers, puzzle games, tournament fighters, action-adventures… If you lived in Europe, you were deprived of all RPGs bar the more action-oriented ones, but otherwise SNES players who appreciated slower paced story-driven games were enjoying games like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 4 and 6, Super Mario RPG, Lufia 2: Rise of the Sinistrals and Breath of Fire II.
They’re all strong games, some of them being favourites even among people not overly enamoured with the whole JRPG genre. Though not generic, they all tend to conform to the usual RPG settings and tropes – i.e. they are all “medieval”, with heroes and heroines slaying dragons, elves and imps with swords, staves and maces, and with magical power and other fantasy elements commonplace. Transport and technology Is usually limited – ships ferry you from continent to continent, and often later in the game you’ll get an airship or other flying craft of some sort, usually considered to be on the cutting edge of technology.
They’re all well and good. But have you heard of many RPGs with bent town mayors, attacks from the works of Salvador Dali, numerous references to the Beatles, devices used to get rid of troublesome steel pencil and eraser statues, baseball bats and Yo-Yos being used as weapons against big piles of puke, sunstroke and homesickness as status ailments, trashcans being used as pseudo-treasure chests and actual bathrooms being used by NPCs? Where critical hits are known as SMAAAASH attacks, where secondary characters can ring you and inform you of crucial updates on a special phone which only receives calls, where running really quickly in expanding circles allows you to instantly teleport to places?