May 11th, 2010

Mark!

Have you played EarthBound

I'm sure you have, if you're one of the majority of my internet pals who are or were at one time associated with smnet. So I'll skip the usual gushing about how great the game is and get on with the anecdote.

I have a weird relationship with the part where the game asks for my name. The first time I beat it, I had genuinely forgotten that it asked me earlier, so I was surprised and elated when it popped up at the end. Then the next few times through, I put in funny or weird stuff, so it looked like popular celebrities or really random phrases were helping out with the final sequence. Now I find myself trying to recover that original sense of delighted discovery. I had a file going, it was fairly near the end, but I didn't want to finish it until I'd forgotten the name I'd given for the "player." I knew I'd saved somewhere towards the endgame; the Lost Underworld, or maybe Magicant, but not necessarily further. But the name was always in the back of my mind, every time I glanced past the SNES towards one of my other systems, so I kept holding off.

Until last night. I was a little tired and a little out of sorts, and sometimes a bit of EB is good for getting me out of a funk. I loaded up and took the controller in my hands. The first thing I noticed on the loading screen was that all three files looked to have levels in the low seventies. Huh? What I was expecting was one to be lower, the one with "Nate" as the main character, the one where I still remembered the final player's name. I selected the file anyway. The screen came up with a small white house and my party standing on a ladder, facing a phone. I know this save point all too well. It's the hotel in Saturn Valley, the closest place you can save your game to the literal point of no return, the absolute edge of the cliff you leap from to reach the last showdown. My inventory was already filled with EB's version of an ascension kit, lots of Brain Food Lunches, Super Plush Bears, and Multibottle Rockets, as well as a few odds and ends like the Hand-Aid and a Magic Truffle. All the best equipment piled onto Paula, who I'd named "Celia," and then the second-best handed down to "Isac." The royal armory incomplete on "Cobra" as I hadn't bothered seeking out the Sword of Kings this time. And Nate with his gamebreaking post-Magicant stats, buffed up and ready to save the universe. In my desire to forget the name at the end of the game, I'd somehow forgotten that I'd already reached the ending and had only to slog through the last dungeon to Giygas' lair.

And slog I did -- I'd come this far, so why not? Plowed through the enemies, allocating my resources along the way, generally keeping out of trouble. Unleashed my attacks on Pokey and Giygas. I switched off the game once I was done; I didn't really need to see the whole ending, just wanted to make sure I was right about the name. And I was, sort of. I'd forgotten that I'd padded out the end of it with extra spaces so I could use up all the room.

"Fight this generation!  "

I named myself after a Pavement song and accidentally saved the world sooner than I meant to. I guess that's okay, though? It's not as if there's a chip in the game that can decide if you've taken too long and lets the bad guy win if you haven't played for a while. As long as I didn't turn on the machine, the world stayed in stasis, perpetually on the brink of the victory of good over evil. And, since you can't save after beating the game, it's reverted to that state again even though I won. True of many games, of course. I watched a bit of TV after shutting down and then went to bed and felt pretty bad when I finally got up because I'd overslept my alarm even though I'd gotten to sleep in good time to get plenty of rest.

(My profile says this is my 1000th LJ entry. A thousand stories and anecdotes and strange ideas over six and a half years of my life. Seemed fitting to come back to the main reason I've stuck with this superhighway for so many kilometres.)