Welcome back to another edition of Nintendo Showdown! This is a weekly series at Nintendo Enthusiast, and it requires some audience participation. Every week we’ll compare two (or more) Nintendo games and pit them against each other in a poll. Your votes decide the winner, so choose wisely. For several weeks now, we’ve been matching up Nintendo favorites with indie games that drew inspiration from them. Does the original keep the crown, or did a newcomer do it better? This week it’s a battle between EarthBound and Undertale!
EarthBound is one of the best RPGs on Super Nintendo, and that’s no simple accomplishment! Although it went largely unappreciated in its time, it became a cult classic thanks to its hilarious dialogue, zany characters, and satirical take on 90s American culture. Tossing aside RPG tropes like wizards and warriors, EarthBound arms its protagonists with baseball bats, frying pans, and yo-yos. Toss in an engrossing story, and you’ve got a memorable game for the ages. It’s no wonder many of today’s devs cite it as inspiration.
Undertale creator Toby Fox grew up playing (and modding) EarthBound, and eventually, it led him to create his own original game world. Sure, there are some similarities, but Undertale does plenty to stand apart. It trades out standard RPG battles for a mixture of bullet hell combat and dialogue-based puzzle-solving. Will you dodge an attack and return fire, or will you try to reason with the monsters? Rather than a large, grand adventure, it’s more like a bit-sized fairy tale. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll quickly run out of things to do. Its unique morality system leads to multiple endings, each revealing more of the cryptic story. It’s a game that challenges you to think about the consequences of your action, all the while compelling you to keep digging deeper.