EarthBound is slated to come out in December, and I’m hustling to get it done early. In the meantime, here’s a peak at my process & progress with the book.
One of the book’s main threads is my experience replaying the game as an adult. I first played EarthBound when I was five, switching off with my older brother Scott. We sat on the floor in front of our analog TV, looking up at the screen while we played, so I’m trying to recreate that craning neck pain.
I’m two play sessions ahead of myself, right now—meaning I’m about 6 hours further into EarthBound the game than I am the book. Those 6 hours might equate to a chapter or so. As I play, I make notes in one of these notebooks.
They’re often shorthand—little fragments meant to jar my memory and push me into some tangent I’m interested in exploring, like utilitarian architecture, religious myths or the empirical picture of how video game violence affects its player.
I’m writing the first draft in OpenOffice’s Writer app, and I generally bounce between writing chunks of text, referencing my text file full of notes and sources, and reading up on something (or watching walkthrough videos or examining character sprites) in Chrome.
Nothing too exciting, but the work is coming.
And, lastly, here’s a rough paragraph from chapter 3:
Onett, Ness’s hometown and the starting place of your journey, is infested with punks. Members of Onett’s local gang—The Sharks—roam around town and sprint at you to fight. The Sharks have a cohesive gangland aesthetic, albeit a weird one: the Yes Man Junior wears a purple full-body stocking accented with a skeleton design and a harmful hula hoop; the Skate Punk sports a workmanlike combo of drab gray stripes, suspenders and brown trousers while popping an eternal wheelie on a sharpened skateboard; the Pogo Punk, well, attacks you with his pogo stick; and they all wear white gloves, huge grins, and a mohawk-esque spike on their heads. And appropriately enough to the me that grew up in Texas in the 90’s—surrounded by country crooning and malicious mullets—the gang’s ringleader and Ness’s first solo boss fight, Frank, has a greasy looking, blonde mohawk/mullet combo. But you’re only graced by Frank’s pugilism after kicking the butts of all the local encounterable teens and busting your way through Shark HQ—the arcade. Surprisingly, the arcade doesn’t house the game’s first written instance of meta-awareness (“I got a lot of info about EarthBound.”) because a little blond’s programmed with that line outside Onett’s library, which feels nice and Borgesian. And if, as Ness, you express interest in joining The Sharks to a lackey in the arcade, you’re told to “Come back after you finish EarthBound!”, which feels like a little gesture of utopia, of gamelike infinity—even after you “beat” the game, you can still live within it—as well as a dangerous quicksand for my own nostalgia—“Come play with us Danny. Forever… and ever… and ever.”—but you push on anyway because you need to defeat the bad guys to get the key to the gate that guards the first melody, so now you’re fighting Frank while a Johnny B. Goode knockoff anthem wails out in treble, and if you’re lucky, you beat Frank the first time, but then you have to jump straight into a fight with his tank-like robotic underling, Frankystein Mark II—implying there was a Frankystein Mark I, which maybe exists in EarthBound’s unwritten prelapsarian prologue, just out of reach of the cartridge-constrained story, and maybe some altered version of you played through this version or is playing through it now, but only in the Platonic fantasia animated by all artistic characters and possibilities that rhizome out into endless potential combinatory universes, so so many, the characters playing with each other in a timeless, boundless ether, in the sweetest stakeless game—and funnily enough Mark II’s got gloves too, making Frank the only guy without white gloves in the whole gang and the type of guy that makes his robot wear gloves, so it’s good you just beat him, because you’re a kid, and there’s a world to save, and fuck that guy.