Earthbound – Week 02

–Day 06–

In the yard behind the arcade, we finally come face to face with Frank, leader of the Sharks. Not only that, but he seems to have some sort of robotic battle tank at his disposal. No doubt I’ll have to fight this monstrosity as well before the day is done.

Frank does look much more dangerous than his underlings, especially considering he’s brandishing 2 knives at once. If this were real life, undoubtedly poor Ness would be killed before the battle even began. However, thanks to the laws of video game logic, Frank isn’t really that much tougher than any of the other Sharks and he goes down pretty easily.

Just as I expected, Frank doesn’t take the defeat lightly and sends in “Frankystein Mark II” to finish the job he couldn’t. Frankystein Mark II is definitely a bit tougher than Frank was, but it handicaps itself with not being able to attack every turn. On top of that, Ness managed to get a nice Smash hit in early in the battle. It didn’t destroy the machine, but it took a huge chunk out of its health. Thanks to that, we managed to beat it without too much difficulty.

After the victory against Frankystein Mark II, Frank finally accepts his failure. As a reward for beating him, Frank tells me what he knows about Giant Step. Apparently news spread quickly that I was interested in getting there. According to Frank, there is some kind of special power stored at Giant Step that allows certain people to perform wondrous feats.

On top of this, it would seem a monster sucked up all the energy there. He also tells me that it’s difficult to get to, and that it is located behind the Touring Entertainers’ Shack. Unfortunately, the Mayor has locked it up, and we’d have to get the key from him if we ever want to go to Giant Step. So it looks like we know where our next stop is.

Once again, news travels fast in this town, and the Mayor has already been informed that I have rid the town of the Sharks. Hearing this, he’s more than willing to hand over the key to the shack, as long as he isn’t responsible if anything bad happens to me. He is a politician after all, nothing can ever be their fault. Politics aside, we now have the key to the Entertainers’ Shack, and it’s time to make our way to the Giant Step.

Once we arrive at the shack, we find out why it was locked up in the first place. Apparently it’s all Frank’s fault. At some point, Frank must have broken in and trashed the place, so the Mayor locked it up for safety reasons. Honestly, “trashed” is perhaps a bit harsh of a description for this level of damage. Other than the giant hole in the wall, the shack is actually quite tidy.

Then again, who am I to be a Grammar Nazi? What I can plainly say though is that I was not prepared for the fight ahead of me just getting to the Giant Step. The enemies in the cave look like they should be weak, but they are actually as strong as or stronger than the Sharks. The Rowdy Mice for example seem to have an unnaturally high chance of getting Smash hits on Ness. If it weren’t for this fact, they’d actually be quite easy.

Death Count: 2

However, it was the Black Antoid enemies really took me by surprise. For starters, they are so small you barely notice them while walking around. On top of that, they usually attack in groups, and are surprisingly strong for ants. I underestimated them and paid the price for it as they quickly killed me.

I’ll have to proceed cautiously if I plan to make it all the way to the Giant Step. Thankfully these new enemies give relatively high amounts of experience, so a little level grinding might just do the trick. Sure enough, Ness levels up to level 8 and in the process learns a new ability “PK Gaming α”. This psychedelic looking attack hits all enemies for some massive damage. However, the 10pp cost is a bit steep and I’ll have to use it sparingly.

We’re so close to the Giant Step now, but it would appear Ness simply isn’t strong enough yet. So join me next time as we train and press forward towards our goal!

–Day 07–

At this point, there’s really nothing more I can do other than train, train, and train some more. Stock up on hamburgers if I need them, and just press on. Eventually I manage to push my way up to the top of giant step where I encounter this odd glowing star thing blocking the path.

Frank did mention a monster that sucked up all the energy, and sure enough this is that monster. The Titanic Ant and its cohorts are blocking the path, and we must defeat them before we can claim the Giant Step as one of My Sanctuaries.

This battle is definitely the hardest one so far, and even after all the training I don’t feel I was ready for it. I opened with a PK Gaming α to clear out all the regular enemies and leave only the boss. A good strategy I think. However, I wasn’t prepared for the Titanic Ant’s PSI Magnet α attack. Every time it used this, it would drain away the precious few PP I had until they was completely depleted.

With my PP gone, that put me in a very bad situation. Currently, PK Gaming α is my only offensive ability, so I wouldn’t be using that much more this battle. However, PK Lifeup α is my main healing ability. Without access to that, I need to rely exclusively on my hamburger stash, which disappears fast against the Titanic Ant’s strong attacks.

Eventually, I’m forced to eat even my skip sandwich, which is the last of my healing items. I was hesitant, because I was certain I would lose and it would have been a waste. However, I just barely managed to beat the Titanic Ant, and in doing so gained an amazing 759 exp, as well as instantly leveled up to level 11.

With the Titanic Ant gone, I can now make my way to our goal. With the sound stone in hand, Ness manages to record the sound of the Giant Step. Before that however, the game goes out of its way to point out that Ness sees “A small, cute puppy.” I’m not sure why this is relevant, but I have a feeling it will have some deeper meaning later.

I honestly feel accomplished finally making my way up here. However, I’m a bit scared I may yet have bitten off more than I can chew. While I did manage to beat the monster, I used up all my items in the process. Now I need to make my way back through the caves to get back to town with no items and half health. One again, the game shines in its attention to detail. Not only is my HP and PP restored after the fight, but nearly all of the enemies in the cave are now fleeing from Ness, making the trip back much easier.

As I make my way back through the caves towards town, I have another stroke of fortune as I encounter another magical butterfly. I’m still not sure what these little guys do, but for some reason it makes me happy just to encounter one. What doesn’t make me happy however is the police officer waiting at the cave entrance below for me. No good ever comes from police waiting for you at the only exit.

Sure enough, the officer scolds me for ignoring the “Do Not Enter” sign posted on the fence. Go talk to the mayor, I have special permission to be here right now. Permission of not, the officer tells me to come down to the station later. I found this a little odd. If I’m in trouble, take me to the station yourself. Don’t make me come down there just to turn myself in.

If the officer isn’t going to drag me down to the station himself, I’m going to take a well deserved nap at the hotel before I go see him. In a way, I’m glad I did, because I’m treated to a mysterious cut scene in my sleep. It would seem I am being contacted telepathically by Paula, the girl I got to name before the game began. Other than telling me her name, there wasn’t really much to the message. However, I remember one of the locals mentioning her living in Twoson, the next town over. Too bad the roads are blocked.

Now that I’m well rested, I guess I had better head over to the police station and get chewed out by the police chief. Even when being scolded, you have to love the games humor, substituting in line after line of “Blah blah” in place of an actual scolding. Not to mention the shameless self promotion by the other officer. We’re the hero of this game, we know we didn’t do anything wrong.

After the scolding, the other officer questions if I really want to go to Twoson. I have nowhere else to go at the moment, so yes, I would like to go there please. Little did I know the police would test my strength in battle before they would be willing to open the road back up. I wish I had known this ahead of time, I would have stocked back up on hamburgers first.

So one by one, the police officers fight me, and one by one they are defeated. None of them were very difficult fights, but without any extra healing items, I still had to be careful not to run out of HP or PP.

Four officers down without too much difficulty, only one left. This last one was apparently the smartest of the 5 as he gave up instantly without fighting me. With all of the cops defeated, it was now Captain Strong’s turn to fight me with his “Super Ultra Sambo-Mambo-Tango Marital Arts”!

Captain Strong was no joke of a fight. He hit incredibly hard. Harder in fact than the Titanic Ant we fought earlier. It looked like I would really regret not stocking up on food first. Luckily, Captain Strong didn’t have a whole lot of HP, and he was defeated before the situation went critical.

Having defeated the entire police force myself, Captain strong is satisfied that I can handle myself on the road to Twoson. And so, he radios ahead and tells the other officers to allow me through the barricade. With that obstacle out of the way, it’s time to pack our bags full of food and leave Onett behind.

Join me next time as we head for Twoson and hopefully encounter Paula along the way. It would be really great to finally have another member in the party.

–Day 08–

After finally restocking my pockets full of hamburgers, it’s off to the next town. Just as Captain Strong instructed, the other officers have removed the barricades leading to Twoson. Let’s see what dangers await us ahead.

Well, I can’t really say anything about dangers, but there is a funny little house along the road. And in this house is a family of exit mice. These little guys will come along with me as an item, and if I use them, they will help guide me out of any caves I’m in. I figured that could be useful, so I’m willing to give up an inventory slot for that.

Honestly, the path between Onett and Twoson was rather uneventful. I am a bit happy though, because I think I figured out what those magical butterflies do. It looks like when you catch one, they restore a bit of your PP. now that I know that, I can make better use of them.

Well, now that we’re here in Twoson, it’s time to start exploring. By chance, the first spot I end up in is Burglin Park, a sort of open air flea market by the looks of it. It looks like there’s quite a bit of stuff to buy here.

Among the other things for sale in the market, I want to point out two things in particular. First is the “For Sale Sign”. This item will summon a random crazy person to you who will buy any of the items your carrying but don’t want anymore. This could come in very handy on longer cave runs to free up inventory space.

The other thing I want to point out is the condiment stand. Apparently you can buy different condiments like ketchup or hot sauce to put on your food. Doing so will apparently enhance the healing effects it has when you eat it. For lack of inventory space, I only purchased ketchup. I’m curious to see what it ends up doing to my hamburgers.

During my shopping spree, I start talking to the various people in the park, and I come to find out there’s a somewhat dark presence watching over the whole thing. Apparently a person named Everdred is in charge of the park. If I’m to believe what I’ve heard about him, he has ties to many burglaries and kidnappings in the area. But he does offer his protection to the park, so I’m not sure if I should fear him or not.

That question is answered for me rather quickly when I actually encounter him. As soon as I get close to his house, he jumps down from the roof and attacks without warning.

Going into this fight, I have max HP and PP as well as a pocket full of hamburgers. So needless to say, I’m not too worried about this fight. On top of that, his attacks aren’t anything worse than what the Titanic Ant or Chief Strong were doing. So there’s no real cause for concern.

However, Everdred does one thing that the others didn’t, and that is stealing from me. Every few turns Everdred will try to steal one of the items in my inventory. Thankfully, this theft attempt usually fails, but he does manage to sneak off with one of my burgers before the battle is done.

After coming to his senses, Everdred mentions finding out about the girl Paula. It would seem she has gone off to a secret hideout in the Grateful Dead Valley. Unfortunately, a chubby boy and a weird guy in a blue outfit have kidnapper her.

If I don’t save her soon, they’re going to make her into a human sacrifice. In fact, she may already be dead. But if I do manage to save her, I need to be sure to come back and tell him. Well, that sounds like good enough motivation to go save her. Of course without an actual ticking clock, we are free to finish exploring the town before we even think to go look for her.

I was going to head to the hotel and quit for now, but along the way something weird happened. Once again, the photographer guy from before fell from the sky to take my picture. What is his deal? Just like last time, as soon as the picture was taken, he floated back into the sky and was gone again. I really hope the game explains what he’s all about.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Join us again next time as we finish exploring Twoson and see what this new town has to offer.

–Day 09–

After a nice rest at the hotel, our first stop today is going to be the Twoson Dept. Store. This multi floor store has nearly all of the stores Onett had, but all in one convenient location. First floor is reception, second floor has the burger shop and bakery, and finally the top floor has the drug store. I’m well stocked up on food for now, but it never hurts to buy new equipment.

That was going to be the only thing I bought, but someone mentioned that the Teddy Bear the drug store sells can be helpful in battle. I’m not really sure what that means, but I guess I’ll give it a try. To my surprise, the Teddy Bear actually follows Ness around as if it’s a party member. I can’t wait to get into a battle to see what it actually does.

Next stop on our list is the Chaos Theater, currently featuring the Runaway Brothers. They look like a parody of the Blues Brothers, and no doubt that was their inspiration. I’d love to see their show at some point, but I can’t manage to get a ticket.

I thought maybe I could get a ticket inside, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. I did however meet with their manager in his office. Apparently the Runaway Brothers owe him a lot of money and they’re being forced to work for him until they pay off their debt. Of course, he’s a crooked manager, and is paying them so little they will almost never be able to pay him back what they owe. I wish I could help them, but there’s nothing I can do at the moment.

We continue to explore the town until we come upon the houses of the two local inventors, apple kid and orange kid. First we visit apple kid, who keeps his house rather dirty, and hasn’t bathed in quite some time, so he’s kind of stinky. He also hasn’t eaten in a while and asks if we have anything to give him. Sadly I don’t at the moment, I stored all of my hamburgers before I went on my shopping spree at the Dept. Store. I don’t have any food to give him at the moment. We’ll have to come back later with something for him to eat.

Orange Kid’s house it much cleaner than apple kid’s. After a brief introduction, Orange kid mentions that he’s currently working on an invention that will help me in Grateful Dead Valley. He’s just running a little short on funds before he can complete it. For a small $200 investment, he can finish his invention which will, I hope, help me rescue Paula.

So of course, I give him the funding he needs. In return, he gives him his new “Super Orange Machine” or “Suporma” for short. I’m not sure what it does, but he said it would help me in Grateful Dead Valley, so I just have to believe him for now.

Our final stop for today is Polestar Preschool, the school where Paula helped out. The kids inside all seem to really love her. One goes so far as to say she’s “Like a Mother” to them. With her gone, it looks like Paula’s mother is watching over the class for her.

In the back rooms of the school, the person I imagine to be Paula’s father is standing around apparently stopping people from bothering his daughter. After convincing him I’m NOT from the TV station trying to interview his daughter, we learn that Paula already warned him we would be coming.

What’s surprising is that he seems to have no idea Paula is missing. He even went and checked her room expecting her to be there. Paula being kidnapped is the talk of the town at the moment. Even one of the kids out front knew Paula was gone. What kind of father are you that you’re the last person in the whole town to find out your daughter has been kidnapped?

Now that the town is mostly explored, it’s time to head out to Grateful Dead Valley. But that’s going to be tomorrow’s adventure, so join me then as we go to rescue Paula!

–Day 10–

The journey to Grateful Dead Valley from Twoson isn’t a very long one. In fact, it’s right on the other side of a rather short cave system. Saving Paula is going to be a piece of cake.

On second thought, maybe this is going to be a bit difficult. We aren’t too far into the valley, and already there’s an inconvenience. The bridge is out, so it looks like we’re going to have to take the long way around to the Happy-Happy Village at the other end.

Also, I don’t want to alarm anyone, but there is a lot of UFO activity in the area, making this a rather dangerous place to be. On the plus side, we found out how the Teddy Bear actually helps during battle. While fighting, occasionally the enemy will attack the Teddy Bear instead of Ness. The Teddy Bear actually does have quite a bit of health, but unfortunately it will eventually break and be gone forever. It’s a cool mechanic, but I don’t think it’s something I’ll be wasting my money on. Those Teddy Bears were actually kind of expensive.

Today simply doesn’t seem to be my day for saving Paula. Just a little ways upstream from the broken bridge is another obstacle blocking the path. This time, it’s an “Iron Pencil” statue. Maybe this is what the Suporma is for, I don’t think it will work, but I’m not really sure what else I’m supposed to do to get around this thing.

And just like I thought, no, that didn’t do anything to help me. In fact it doesn’t seem like it did anything at all. After playing a little song, the whole thing just broke. A lot of good that did, I want my $200 back!

Nothing else with me does anything good, so we head back to town to regroup. I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to do right now. We’ll just have to ask around and see if we can pick up some clues. In the meantime, Ness took a bit of damage in the valley, so we’re going to take a quick nap at the hotel to recover. Coincidentally, this looks like it might have been the right thing to do. While sleeping, Paula reaches out telepathically to Ness again. So that’s good, we at least know she’s still alive, but she doesn’t really give us any new information to help her.

As soon as we leave the Hotel, Paula’s dad goes running by calling out to her. He really is the last person in town to realize she’s been kidnapped, isn’t he? Once again, it seems like this is a good lead, but after catching up to him in front of the Preschool, we really don’t gain any new information. He directs us to Everdred, but Everdred already had nothing new to say to us.

Maybe one of the inventers can make something to help. Orange kid is of no use right now. He doesn’t even offer to fix the Suporma that broke after one use. How about if we give Apple kid some food like he was asking for earlier? Maybe if he gets some food he’ll actually invent something to help us.

After getting some food in his stomach, Apple Kid is quick to ask Ness to invest some money in his inventions. I’m a bit hesitant though, I kind of regret the last $200 I invested, but I don’t have many options at the moment. So once again I invest $200 into the mystery creations of these inventers.

Unlike Orange Kid, Apple Kid has nothing to immediately offer me. However, the mouse living with him blocks the exit to give us a “thank you” present for being so nice to his master. He hands us a Receiver Phone, a device which functions similar to a pager. It can receive messages, but it’s incapable of making any calls itself. That sounds useful in general, but not really all that helpful for our current problem.

Maybe I’m not supposed to go save Paula right away. Maybe I’m supposed to take the bus to Threek first and find help there. Wait a second, One-tt, Two-son, and Three-k? I see what you’re doing game, don’t think I wouldn’t notice. Anyway, let’s take the bus to Threek and see if we can recruit some help over there.

Once again, this is a task which is easier said than done. Apparently the tunnel between Twoson and Threek is full of ghosts. They don’t seem immediately dangerous, however, they have magic ghost powers which turn the bus around and make it impossible to make it to Threek yet. So it looks like we’re stuck here in Twoson for the moment. It also means SOMEONE here in town knows how to help us, we just need to find them.

Join me next time as we comb through Twoson looking for whatever it is we need to get past the Iron Pencil statue. Hang tight Paula, We’re still coming to save you!