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EarthBound and its troupe of characters have become some of the most influential gaming personalities among hardcore fans.
Developed by Ape Inc. and HAL Laboratory, EarthBound is actually the second installment in the Mother series exclusive to Japan, but was redesigned during the localization process to avoid alienating new audiences who had never seen the first game.
If you love this parody of the RPG genre and want to re-connect with Ness, Paula, Poo, and Jeff, then ROM hacks are a natural way to go.
So let’s have a look at the most amazing EarthBound ROM hacks for a renewed experience. There’s a little something here for everyone.
10. EarthBound Randomizer
These days, it seems there are randomizers for every well-known classic game.
And EarthBound is no exception.
Developed by Stochaztic, this easy-to-use application takes a vanilla ROM of EarthBound and randomly switches around several variables such as item placement, enemy spawns, and even the characters’ sprites (the program offers several, including some weird ones like MegaMan and ProtoMan).
It can even turn your game into Ancient Cave mode, which creates a multi-leveled maze out of all the game’s rooms and doors, offering a downright bizarre experience.
But it can’t possibly be more bizarre than this My Little Pony-themed ROM hack released back in 2015 by creator Rydel.
The Spirit of the Nightmare Moon has come back to Equestria.
And it’s up to the equine ladies to gather the Elements of Harmony and defeat her once and for all.
Other than a new script, the game also features custom-made sprites, an original soundtrack, and many exciting events any fan of MLP, or weird ROM hacks, is sure to enjoy.
8. Hallow’s End
While not the most famous Halloween-themed hack for EarthBound (more on that in a bit), Hallow’s End by creator H.S. certainly provides a less… extreme experience than its more celebrated counterpart.
Somewhat inspired by Costume Quest, the game has you helping Sally, Craig, and Clyde survive a Halloween night full of danger, obtaining plenty of candy and solving some mysteries before school starts the next day.
Besides a new storyline, the hack also includes new enemies, new items, and even new music explicitly made for the game.
If you’re in a Halloweeny mood, this is a great option.
7. EarthBound: Enhanced
For many longtime fans, a modern remake of their classic favorites sounds like a fairytale.
It’s too good to be true in a world where game production is often entirely subjected to profit margins and corporate calculations.
Independent creators like Howisthisaname often give us the next best thing in the form of improved versions of these titles, like EarthBound: Enhanced.
This remarkable enhancement changes every battle sprite for sharper ones while remaining true to the game’s original aesthetic.
It also fixes some bugs and localization errors, and even updates a couple of iconic tunes too.
6. Mother 2 Deluxe
Developed by creator Messianic, Mother 2 Deluxe aims to freshen-up the EarthBound experience by updating its graphics. Like total update.
It redraws many sprites and tiles and optimizes their color palettes for a more vibrant look.
The translation is also altered to be a more accurate recreation of the original Japanese script.
And it removes most of the censored bits from the official EarthBound release.
This version of the game also features a couple of new gameplay mechanics and some new items, so don’t be surprised if you find something you weren’t expecting in this updated adventure.
The fanbases of classic Final Fantasy and EarthBound have a sizable overlap, due to both game’s timeless nature and the consoles that saw their release.
For this very reason, it’s no surprise someone eventually decided to bring both worlds together.
This is basically like pouring gallons of Final Fantasy content into EarthBound’s original ROM.
The result is an incredible Final Fantasy experience that celebrates everything that’s good about FF3-FF6, featuring Final Fantasy fonts, menus, playable characters, and enemies.
The ROM hack even has an original storyline parodying both FF3 and EarthBound, but it includes characters from all over the FF franchise. Because multiverses or something.
4. Halloween Hack – Earthbound
Back when he was stll known as “Radiation”, Undertale creator Toby Fox worked on this unique EarthBound hack to hone his skills as a game creator.
Coming from the guy who made one of the most positive and heartwarming games in recent memory, this absolutely savage ROM hack is a ball out of left field.
Instead of inclusion and tolerance, this game is full of offensive jokes, crass language, and horrible situations with a disturbingly “real” feel.
That said, the game’s storyline is actually well-written, if extreme.
And it features the first appearance of Sans’ iconic BGM – Megalovania.
3. EarthBound: Capsule Quest
If it exists, it’ll eventually be turned into Pokémon one way or another.
In this case, it was creator AtomicReactor who did it for a Game Jam back in 2017.
EarthBound: Capsule Quest consists of three towns and five catching areas where players can battle and, of course, capture enemies.
It’s a short demo with around four hours of gameplay, but perhaps that’s for the best.
Sometimes, it’s about the journey not the Poké league… er, destination.
So as most fans already know, EarthBound is the localized version of the second installment in the Japan-only Mother series.
As such, it features some changes in presentation and a modified script.
This is a hack developed by ShadowOne333, MaternalBound seeks to restore Mother 2 by de-censoring the script, changing the title screen and credits sequence, and touching-up some other aspects of the localized release.
It’s absolutely the best way to go if you really want to play a more authentic Mother 2.
1. MaternalBound Redux
While the original MaternalBound comes pretty close to what I think as the perfect English Mother 2 experience, MaternalBound Redux brings some Quality of Life improvements and bug-fixes without detracting from the game’s authentic feel.
Among the changes are unique overworld sprites for every enemy, improved sprites for both playable characters and foes, a bunch of bug-fixes, and full hardware compatibility (meaning it can be used with reproduction cartridges).
This is probably the closest to a “Definitive Edition” we’ll ever get, and it’s a great one.