22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (2024)

Earthbound

22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (1)

By Blaise Santi

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Earthbound

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22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (5)

Highlights

  • The Mother series influenced many RPG games, including Earthbound, with its unique gameplay, humor, and world-building.
  • Games like GLITCHED and Kyoto Wild draw inspiration from the Mother series, offering modern takes on classic gameplay.
  • Games like Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass and Melon Journey cater to Mother fans by delivering quirky adventures with familiar RPG elements.

Most video game fans probably know the Mother series through the appearance of its protagonists, Ness and Lucas, in the Super Smash Bros. franchise. However, with the release of Earthbound: Beginnings and Earthbound on Nintendo Switch Online, gamers can play through this wacky RPG adventure at home or on the go.

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Despite the lack of Mother series installments beyond re-releases, the franchise has had a huge influence on game developers. Many recent RPG releases of the past ten years have cited Earthbound, or the Mother series entirely, as inspirations. These games are perfect for die-hard fans of the long-dormant Nintendo franchise.

Updated April 3, 2024 by Blaise Santi: Although the last installment in the Mother series was released nearly a decade ago, the franchise has remained one of the biggest inspirations for independent video game developers. In particular, the 1994 game Earthbound remains one of the most influential JRPGs in the history of the video game genre.

While Nintendo seems unlikely to do anything other than port the existing games to their newer consoles, there are plenty of games that have taken a lot from Earthbound. Even Earthbound's sequel owes a lot of its design to the game that blazed the trail for RPGs set in the modern day.

1 Mother 3

Earthbound's Successor Didn't Flip The Script

22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (7)
Mother 3
Platform(s)
Nintendo Game Boy Advance

Released
April 20, 2006

Developer
Brownie Brown, HAL Laboratory
Genre(s)
RPG

It may seem obvious that Mother 3 took inspiration from the previous entry in the franchise, but the game went through many iterations during its development. The follow-up to Earthbound was meant for the Nintendo 64, but after the project fell through, it was revived for the Game Boy Advance. Rather than re-invent the franchise's wheel, the developers stayed closer to its roots.

As a result, Mother 3 and Earthbound share more DNA graphically than Earthbound and Earthbound: Beginnings even do. Obviously, the games share many gameplay similarities in their turn-based battle system, as well as their sense of humor and world-building. Mother 3 even features Porky, who originally debuted as a villain in Earthbound.

2 GLITCHED

Glitches Take The Place Of Earthbound's Aliens

22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (8)
  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows, Linux, Mac
  • Release Date: TBD
  • Developer: En House Studios
  • Genre(s): RPG

At first glance, GLITCHED would seem like an obvious Earthbound clone. The game is set inside a video game, in which an NPC gains sentience through a glitch and must uncover the mystery of why this has happened by exploring his own world. While the game doesn't feature randomized battles, it takes many cues from Earthbound in its turn-based combat system.

Currently, only a demo is available on Steam, but the full game will certainly transport players into a very clear Earthbound homage. It also contains a lot of gameplay elements that are absent from the Mother series but hail from similar JRPGs, from romance options to customizable character clothing. Those interested can also follow its development updates on TikTok!

3 Kyoto Wild

It May Never Release, But Its Earthbound Influences Are Subtle

22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (9)
  • Platform: TBD
  • Release Date: TBD
  • Developer: Teddy Dief
  • Genre(s): Fighting

Upon first glance, Kyoto Wild wouldn't immediately read as a game inspired by Earthbound. It's an upcoming four-person fighting game by Teddy Dief, developer of Hyper Light Drifter where each player controls a samurai battling in Japanese villages. The game was influenced by its creator's time spent living in Japan, as well as the locales of games like Earthbound.

Sadly, the side project has been shelved for the moment due to Dief's concerns with cultural appropriation. However, the door is still open for it to be revisited and finished sometime in the future. Though it may not have the same feudal Japan theme when it does eventually get released, it will certainly be a unique and cozy take on the multiplayer brawler.

4 YIIK: A Postmodern RPG

Suburban Fantasy Taken To A Whole New Level

22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (10)
YIIK: A Postmodern RPG
Platform(s)
Switch

Developer(s)
Ackk Studios
Genre(s)
RPG

YIIK: A Postmodern RPG doesn't share that many similarities with Earthbound when it comes to its presentation. For one, it's got 3D graphics, and its battle system, while turn-based, hinges more on mini-games than combat. However, it's clearly inspired by Earthbound in its content, taking place in the '90s and featuring a lot of strange, absurd characters and situations.

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Its narrative is incredibly personal to its creators, the Allanson brothers, who were inspired by the passing of their mother to tell a story about a hometown loner who becomes obsessed with tracking the disappearance of a missing woman. It owes a lot to many other RPGs as well, including Persona and Final Fantasy, but its modern aesthetics feel very Earthbound-esque.

5 Jimmy And The Pulsating Mass

If Magicant Was Its Own Game

22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (12)
  • Platform: Windows, Mac
  • Release Date: August 7, 2018
  • Developer: Kasey Ozymy
  • Genre(s): RPG

This JRPG, released on Steam in 2018, wears its Earthbound influences on its sleeve. The story centers on an 8-year-old boy's journey through a dream world. The game puts its unique spin on the Mother formula, however, allowing players to imagine themselves as various characters and monsters to explore and interact with the world in new ways.

Although the game pales in comparison to other Earthbound clones in terms of content (it was created by a one-man team), Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass remains a solid, breezy adventure. It's perfect for fans of the Mother series who want a new experience, but something that invokes the classic battle system they're familiar with.

6 Melon Journey: Bittersweet Memories

All The Charm, None Of The Grind

22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (13)
  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Windows
  • Release Date: April 6, 2023
  • Developer: Froach Club, Poppy Works
  • Genre(s): Adventure

Melon Journey: Bittersweet Memories was released early in 2023 for PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S. Like the Mother series, it emphasizes small-town mysteries as players control an anthropomorphic bunny searching for her missing friend. The exploration and story-driven aspect of Melon Journey will ring quite a bell with Mother fans.

Although the graphics might invoke GameBoy-era pixel art, its jazzy soundtrack, and charming characters will remind video game fans of their experiences playing Earthbound on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The only thing this game doesn't share with Mother is a battle system, offering a more casual gameplay experience for non-RPG fans.

7 Why Am I Dead At Sea

A Pretty Dark Game, Even By RPG Standards

22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (14)
  • Platform: Windows, Mac
  • Release Date: May 11, 2015
  • Developer: Peltast Software
  • Genre(s): Adventure

While it doesn't take place in an urban setting like the Mother games, Why Am I Dead At Sea will satisfy video game fans looking for lovable characters. In the game, players control dead ship residents, investigate their causes of death, take advantage of ghostly powers, and forge bonds with each other that will last...well, not a lifetime.

Like Melon Journey: Bittersweet Memories, Why Am I Dead At Sea emphasizes adventure and exploration aspects that are similar to Earthbound. However, its dark subject matter and eerie tone will at times make the Mother franchise seem light-hearted. As some fans have alleged, it's a memorable RPG experience that Earthbound fans will adore.

8 Eastward

This Modern RPG Paints A Grim Future

22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (15)
Eastward
Platform(s)
PC , Switch , Xbox One

Released
September 16, 2021

Developer(s)
Pixpil
Genre(s)
RPG

Released in 2021, Eastward has some pretty obvious connection to Earthbound due to being an RPG set in the near future. However, the game also incorporates elements from other RPGs, with the developers specifically citing titles like Dragon Quest and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as inspirations.

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The game takes place in a world almost eradicated by a toxic plague, with the remaining cities almost overtaken by nature. After its release, reviewers specifically gave acclaim to its RPG similarities to Earthbound, while also crediting the game for its more involved action gameplay. Plus, the game has enough lovable characters to appeal to Mother fans.

9 Night In The Woods

What Seems Charming At First Hides A Dark Secret

22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (17)
Night In The Woods
Platform(s)
Android , iOS , PC , PS4 , Switch , Xbox One

Released
February 21, 2017

Developer
Infinite Fall

Genre(s)
Adventure

Night in the Woods is a unique entry on this list, by virtue of not being an RPG. The adventure game doesn't even have that much intricate gameplay, instead featuring a laid-back gameplay style that encourages players to become more engrossed in the characters and dialogue. However, it takes a big lesson from Earthbound when it comes to its setting.

In Night in the Woods, players control Mae, a college dropout who finds herself investigating strange happenings in her hometown after returning. The game, like the Mother series, puts a lot of effort into making this rural American setting seem both lively and unnerving, which certainly might have drawn inspiration from the social satire of Earthbound.

10 South Park: The Stick Of Truth

Bringing The Earthbound Treatment To Colorado

22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (18)
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Platform(s)
PS4 , PS3 , Xbox One , Xbox 360 , Switch , PC

Released
March 4, 2014
Developer(s)
Obsidian Entertainment
Genre(s)
RPG

It was unexpected for the gaming world when South Park: The Stick of Truth debuted at E3 2012. For a long-awaited video game adaptation of the hit animated series, no fan expected a fully-fledged RPG allowing players to explore the titular Colorado town. However, this idea wouldn't have been possible without Earthbound.

According to Trey Parker, co-creator of South Park along with Matt Stone, Earthbound was a huge influence on the adaptation. Other influences included the original Paper Mario, as well as Skyrim. However, the small-town feel of Earthbound with rising, cosmic stakes were helpful to keep the game feeling like an episode of South Park.

11 Omori

Kickstarted Into A New Dream World

22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (19)
OMORI
Platform(s)
PC , PS4 , Switch , Xbox One , Xbox Series X , Xbox Series S

Released
December 25, 2020

Developer
Omocat
Genre(s)
Horror , RPG

These days, many games find their success via Kickstarter campaigns. For Omori, that's exactly how this webcomic became a successful creation of RPG Maker. The game was initially released on PC in 2020 but has seen further releases on Nintendo Switch and Xbox One, with a planned release for PlayStation 4 in the near future.

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Like Earthbound, the game finds players controlling a party of four characters. However, the urban setting of the Mother franchise is traded in Omori for an exploration of the main character's subconscious dream world. Even the battle system makes use of the game's themes of mental health and depression.

12 Costume Quest

Trick Or Treat, Smell My Feet

22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (21)
Costume Quest
Platform(s)
PC , PS3 , Xbox 360 , Android , iOS

Released
October 19, 2010

Developer(s)
Double Fine Productions
Genre(s)
RPG

Costume Quest was first released for PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade in 2010. The game incorporates RPG elements reminiscent of the Mother series, especially when it comes to its adolescent characters. Players find themselves exploring a small town on Halloween, trick-or-treating, and fighting monsters.

The merging of RPG mechanics with a modern-day setting, according to the developers at Double Fine Productions, was inspired by both Earthbound and Pokemon. Overall, this is the perfect game for fans of old-school RPGs who want to try something new. Plus, there are tons of costumes to try on!

13 Undertale

Love Or Hate, It's Your Choice

22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (22)
Undertale
Platform(s)
PS4 , PS Vita , Xbox One , Switch , PC

Released
September 15, 2015

Developer(s)
Toby Fox
Genre(s)
RPG

One of the biggest games to follow in the footsteps of Earthbound is Undertale, an indie game released in 2015 by developer and composer Toby Fox. The art style and gameplay are directly inspired by the Mother franchise, featuring a childish main character who explores a vast, underground world underneath the Earth.

What makes Undertale a spiritual successor to Earthbound, however, is its charm. The game's become a cult phenomenon for its soundtrack, characters, and story. It's also praised for its multiple endings, based on choices the player makes throughout the game. Undertale is a must-play for anyone who enjoys the Mother series.

14 Deltarune

Undertale Continues In Chapters

22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (23)
Deltarune
Platform(s)
PC , Nintendo Switch , PlayStation 4 , macOS

Released
October 31, 2018

Developer(s)
Toby Fox
Genre(s)
RPG

Several years after Undertale's initial release, Toby Fox put out the first chapter of Deltarune. The game has a loose connection to Undertale's narrative, though the gameplay has been completely overhauled. This time around, the turn-based combat system resembles that of Final Fantasy rather than the Mother series.

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Deltarune still incorporates a lot of the tone and charm it shares with its predecessor. However, it serves as more of a continuation of Undertale than its own separate game inspired by the Mother series. The game's last three chapters have yet to be released, so perhaps players will find even more connections to Earthbound in those.

15 Citizens Of Earth

Saving The Planet Has Never Been So Friendly

22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (25)
  • Platform: Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Windows
  • Release Date: January 21, 2015
  • Developer: Eden Industries
  • Genre(s): RPG

Citizens of Earth was released in 2015, the same year as Undertale, though it features a much brighter tone. In Citizens of Earth, players take control of the Vice President of Earth on a quest to save the planet. However, unlike Earthbound, the Vice President does not participate in turn-based battles. That job is left to his constituents.

Citizens of Earthworks like a cross between Earthbound and Pokemon. Players journey through the planet collecting various citizens, whom the Vice President controls during combat. This game is perfect if Earthbound fans are looking for a goofy, satirical adventure that gameplay-wise resembles the Mother series.

16 Knuckle Sandwich

This Game Combines Earthbound and WarioWare

22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (26)
  • Platform: Windows, Mac
  • Release Date: November 22, 2023
  • Developer: Andy Brophy
  • Genre(s): RPG

Knuckle Sandwich is a game created by Andrew Brophy that recently became available on Steam. The game shares a lot of similarities with the Mother franchise: a sense of humor, a top-down perspective, and a mystery that unfolds in a small town. However, the turn-based combat system is more unique than the one in Earthbound.

In Knuckle Sandwich, players engage in turn-based combat by completing WarioWare-esque mini-games specific to the enemy they're facing. The game was featured in PAX East's 2020 Indie Mega Booth Showcase. Plus, thanks to its extended development period, it has a fairly active Discord community and has a lot of fresh updates on the horizon.

The Main Characters Aren't In Control This Time

22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (27)
  • Platform: Nintendo DS
  • Release Date: March 30, 2006
  • Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
  • Genre(s): RPG

Contact may be a good reason for diehard Earthbound fans to return to the Nintendo DS. The game surrounds a Professor who crash-lands on a mysterious planet and enlists the help of Terry, a young boy, to explore the terrain. The role-playing game is notably similar to Earthbound due to its humor, though the combat is wildly different.

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Players take on neither the role of the Professor nor Terry in Contact. Instead, they assume the role of an omnipotent force in Terry's life, guiding him throughout the world and during battle without the boy's knowledge. Even the traditional RPG combat is controlled by Terry, with players simply influencing it by giving the boy abilities.

18 OFF

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (29)
  • Platform: Windows, Mac
  • Release Date: May 14, 2008
  • Developer: Unproductive Fun Time
  • Genre(s): RPG

OFF was released worldwide for PC in 2008, becoming a cult classic over the years. In the game, players assume the role of "The Batter," a baseball player fighting ghosts and monsters to "purify" the world. Already, it's easy to see how the absurdity and frequent horror in this top-down RPG have drawn comparisons to Earthbound.

However, the game's designer, Martin Georis, has stated that the connection between OFF and the Mother series is purely coincidental. Furthermore, he listed the Final Fantasy franchise and PC classic Myst as inspirations for the game. Nevertheless, its similarities to the Mother series may be enough to satisfy fans.

19 Yume Nikki

This Horror Game Makes Earthbound Seem Friendly

22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (30)
Yume Nikki
Platform(s)
PC

Released
June 26, 2004

Developer
Kikiyama

Genre(s)
Adventure

Yume Nikki was created by Japanese developer Kikiyama, and released for PC in 2004. The game was notably designed using RPG Maker 2003, which has spawned many Earthbound spiritual successors over the years. However, Yume Nikki is unique, as it features no battling or leveling-up mechanics common in RPGs.

The game shares a lot of inspiration with Earthbound and the rest of the Mother series thanks to its dark visuals and suspenseful dream world scenarios. Players control Madotsuki, a girl whose dreams offer a large, horrific world to explore. The game has garnered a cult following akin to Earthbound, with manga adaptations and fan games.

20 Lisa: Definitive Edition

Not An RPG For Kids

22 Games Inspired By Earthbound (31)
LISA: Definitive Edition
Platform(s)
PC , PS5 , PS4 , Switch , Xbox Series X , Xbox Series S , Xbox One

Released
July 18, 2023

Developer(s)
Dingaling Games
Genre(s)
RPG

This franchise has three installments, starting with Lisa: The First in 2012, then Lisa: The Painful in 2014, and ending with Lisa: The Joyful in 2015, which were all re-released as Lisa: Definitive Edition in 2023. The trilogy's developer, Dingaling Productions, has cited Earthbound as a central inspiration for the game's mechanics, comic relief, and art style.

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The second installment in the series, Lisa: The Painful, is the most critically acclaimed of the trilogy. Players control Brad Armstrong, the older brother of the titular Lisa, in search of his adoptive daughter, Buddy. Diehard Earthbound fans simply must check out the Lisa trilogy in full, as they offer dark, compelling stories with an absurd twist.

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