a yelling skull presents: 90 SECOND MANIFESTO


EarthBound is a postmodern videogame, and it is good.

The kids stand inside a building, talking with an NPC. The NPC says: You guys can't envision the final collapse of capitalism? Incredible!

EarthBound is a Japanese RPG that is set in Eagleland (Definitely Not America), starring a bunch of kids who become Unlikely Heroes to take on the threat of an Evil Alien Invasion.

It’s weird and goofy and full of wonderful imaginative setpieces, like:

This uniquely bizarre take on the daydream of American suburbia— and the daydreams of various other cultures that you encounter along the way— is immersive, innovative, hilarious, and surprisingly emotional. It blends mundane real-world mechanics and videogame logic in a delightful way. Call your dad from a pay phone to save your progress. Order pizza delivery to restore HP. Talk to some incredibly unhelpful NPCs.

Ness and Jeff are in a strange building in Moonside. An NPC that looks like Mr. T says: I have no patience when people interrupt me while I'm busy doing nothing.

EarthBound's cleverness isn't limited to the writing, either: the gameplay itself is wonderful. The combat is challenging and intense without being arcade-hard. The level designs are thoughtful, diverse, and reward exploration. And the soundtrack is a jam.

In addition to being an all-around great gaming experience, EarthBound is also an exploration of what it means to be a videogame. It examines the relationship between the game designers and the game player, as well as the relationship between the game player and the game itself.

All of which is to say, EarthBound nudges pretty hard at the fourth wall— when it’s not smashing straight through it.

An enemy battle in Earthbound. The background undulates with violet and magenta. It's very vaporwave. Ness and Jeff are ready for combat. A strange painting inside a gilt frame hovers in front of you. The header reads: You confront the Abstract Art.

This isn't the kind of postmodern metafiction that exists soley to get up its own ass about how clever and funny it is, either (although it is very clever and funny). EarthBound nudges you in the side with a wink and a smile to ask more important questions.

Questions like:


EarthBound came out in 1994, revolutionized the genre, directly inspired Undertale and a bunch of other terrific and boundary-pushing games, and it still holds up today.

Do you want to eat some pizza?  •Yes  •No

It’s absolutely great. It's postmodernism with a full and shining heart. Play it.