EarthBound is a strange game, one still best described in this since-deleted piece by Tim Rogers. That strangeness has given it a special place in the hearts of many people who played it as young gamers, at strange points in their lives.
Over at Zeal, Rafael Montero relates the story of why EarthBound holds that special place for them, thanks to the profound impact it had at a time when faith and family weren’t enough.
I simultaneously isolated myself from the world offline and exploded into it online — if you’ve ever known an overzealous fan of anything, that was me. I flooded the fictional worlds I inhabited with feeling, drank all the sunshine and joy I could from them, trying to fill myself up.
Whenever I wasn’t online, I was dead. I was a functional robot in day to day life — I existed only between lines of text in books and games, in RPGs where I could live other lives and online on forums dedicated to them.
But then, at some point, a friend got me to play EarthBound.
In its code and sprites, I found something unexpected: Hope. The promise that the world did not have to be so grim and dark forever. The possibility of a future full of love. A feeling, somewhere inside me, of something warm and bright.
It’s a moving piece, one that deserve a full read. EarthBound gave Montero something to believe in when that was sorely lacking–a testament to the power of games to change our lives for the better. Or maybe just a testament to this one strange, sprawling game that changed a lot of lives on its own.