Though it was immensely popular after its 1994 release in Japan, EarthBound's 1995 release in North America only managed to produce a small (if curiously devoted) cult following. For the most part, the gameplay followed the traditional RPG formula, but it differentiated itself from other games of the time with its lack of an overworld map and its semi-infamous "rolling" hit point counters. It also featured a unique style that fell somewhere between a bizarre parody of American culture and an all-out drug trip, as well as one of the best and most varied soundtracks on the Super Nintendo.
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Single-segment: 4:11:02 by '_sdfg'.
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Hey, everyone! This is a speedrun of EarthBound for the SNES in the glitchless category. "Glitchless" in this case means that you are not allowed to exploit the bugs in the game's movement engine that allow you to clip through walls or go completely out of bounds. Because of this restriction, glitchless runs cover most of the plot points one would see in a typical playthrough. If you've played EarthBound, but haven't seen an EarthBound speedrun before, runs in the glitchless category will look the most familiar. If you'd like to see how the game looks when you can take advantage of those glitches, please check out the any% major-skips run on SDA. It's quite a bit different from this run.
I want to thank a bunch of people who've worked on speedrunning this game (both realtime and tool-assisted) over the years and I don't want their names to get buried way down the page, so I'm gonna thank them now. Going alphabetically:
If I missed anyone, I do truly apologize! Those were the names that came to mind when I wrote this up, but I know many other people have been involved. Even if I forgot to list you, your contributions are no less appreciated! Feel free to PM me on the SDA forum and complain, though. >_>
I also want to thank everyone in my stream chat for keeping me company — and reminding me of stuff — while I was recording attempts. Names redacted to protect the innocent. KappaChamp.
Now that we're deep in tl;dr territory, I suppose I should talk about the run itself. The most noteworthy thing about this run, and the reason I decided to submit it to SDA, is that I believe it is the first single-segment, glitchless run of EarthBound to beat the game faster than the segmented run I submitted way back in 2008. The reason I was able to get such a time in one segment despite needing forty-two segments to do it five years ago is that modern EarthBound speedruns are based on a much better understanding of the game's design and mechanics than my old run. Also, the route has gotten more aggressive and skips a bunch of equipment and consumables that I got in the old run (yes, I just said that people now use more aggressive routes in single-segment runs than I used in my segmented run — speedrunning has come a long way in the past five years).
I don't want to cover my route in detail here because there's already a better place to go for EarthBound route info! The SDA Knowledge Base page for this game has complete route notes for glitchless and other categories. If you'd like to know what I'm trying to do at a given point in the run, you can pull up the notes there and follow along. Depending on how much the route has changed since I recorded this, though, you might have to use the history feature to look up the notes as of January 29th, 2014. :P
I do, however, want to give my opinion on each of the different segments of the run, so everyone has an idea of what they should expect from this run and from future runs.
You probably noticed that I said much of the run went worse than I wanted it to. As it turns out, it's extremely unlikely that every part of an EarthBound speedrun will go the way the runner wants it to. Running this game is all about managing the bad luck you get and taking advantage of the good luck when it comes, and I think I was able to do that for the most part. I did lose a healthy (unhealthy?) chunk of time to mistakes, but I still feel this is a good representation of what an EarthBound speedrun should look like as of early 2014, and it's certainly a better representation than the segmented run it obsoletes.
I have no doubt that this run will be improved, and likely soon. For now, though, break out the eggnog and enjoy! :)
Single-segment with resets and large-skip glitches: 1:25:31 by 'nemi'.
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This is a speed run of EarthBound using the stairs glitch. The stairs glitch causes your party to enter a "ghosted" state in which your party is able to walk through almost all solid objects, including walls, NPCs, trees, cliffs, etc. This allows for major skips and sequence breaks because every location in this game is laid out on a single large map. Normally, the party is unable to walk directly between adjacent locations because each area is surrounded by an impassible boundary of some kind, but entering a ghosted state allows the party to walk unimpeded by these boundaries.
I first got interested in this category after watching Mickey Mage's AGDQ 2012 run. Before watching his run, I had no idea EarthBound was so broken for speed running. The route I use is based on one devised by the Japanese runner ピロ彦 (Pirohiko), as shown in his 1:48:52 run (Nico timing) on the Japanese version. I also made use of a Lua script written by Pirohiko to devise the luck manipulation methods I used in this run.
Overall, this run has pretty good luck but has more menu navigation errors than I'd like. The amount of time saved due to luck more than makes up for the time lost from silly menu mistakes, however, and the run is definitely faster than what I can get on average.
4:58 - During nighttime Onett, I used luck manipulation to avoid unnecessary fights and ensure a 4-round Starman Jr. fight. Opening and closing the main menu and talking to no one for seemingly no reason were done to adjust the RNG.
12:59 - Frank fight: I accidentally selected "auto-fight" at the start...and I was lucky to get away with it. Frank can 2-hit KO Ness with his knife attack, so recovering after each hit is the safest strategy. The fight against Frank was about average, but I got a lucky SMAAAASH!! hit against Frankystein.
16:02 - First Sanctuary cave: This is the only part of the run were grinding is needed. The Titanic Ant is accompanied by 2 Black Antoids that use only Lifeup, so Ness should learn PSI Rockin α at level 8 before that fight.
In terms of time, this is also probably the most luck-dependent part of the run. Fighting Attack Slugs is the most efficient way of earning experience points, but they aren't the most common enemy in the cave. A couple of minutes can be gained or lost depending on how often they appear. This run actually had good luck in this regard.
Titanic Ant luck was below average. Ness's second PSI Rockin was blocked by PSI Magnet, and the Titanic Ant used Shield once. It also got a SMAAAASH!! hit, which has only a 5% chance of happening per hit. The risk of death is pretty high in this fight, so I'm just glad Ness survived.
25:52 - Police: There is some risk of death against the police, but it's not as bad as the Titanic Ant. Police luck was about average.
29:38 - I discard everything I can from Ness's inventory and buy 8 Salt Packets and 3 Skip Sandwiches at Burglin Park. The Skip Sandwiches are used to skip Twoson and trigger the stairs glitch in Summers; the Salt Packets are used to exploit the condiments glitch to dupe a Brain Food Lunch later in the run. The condiments glitch can be used with any condiment, but a Brain Food Lunch with a Salt Packet recovers full HP/PP.
30:38 - Twoson skip: the walk-through-cliffs glitch is used to cross the cliffs south of the bus station. Crossing the cliffs leads to a road section that connects Threed and Dusty Dunes Desert.
One of the biggest time losses in this run occurs at the third cliff. I can usually cross this cliff after a few tries, but it ended up taking about 30 seconds in this run.
32:08 - I buy a Cup of Coffee to prepare for the first use of the stairs glitch. Coffee works well because it doesn't recover too few or too many HP and it doesn't consume a Salt Packet.
32:36 - My luck in the graveyard wasn't very good. More enemies appeared than usual, and it took about 30 seconds before I could proceed.
40:10 - With Jeff at level 1, the first Worthless Protoplasm is actually pretty dangerous. I have no use for the Big Bottle Rocket later in the run, so I use it here.
40:36 - It's possible to skip the Mad Duck, but setting up the skip can take more time than the fight itself depending on where the Mad Duck spawns.
41:16 - If I had waited for the Bubble Monkey to catch up to Jeff before walking past the second Worthless Protoplasm, I might've been able to skip this fight.
41:57 - Fourth Sanctuary cave: my luck with enemy spawns was quite bad in the second and third rooms. I spent almost 2 minutes trying to de-spawn enemies.
45:13 - I save and reset the game in Dr. Andonuts's lab to reset the RNG and set up for luck manipulation.
48:21 - Luck manipulation is used to enter a fight with 2 Urban Zombies and leave the fight with Ness at critical health with a cold and Paula and Jeff at 0 HP. Having Ness at 10 HP with a health-draining status effect triggers the critical health warning used to activate the stairs glitch. Having Paula and Jeff at 0 HP makes it possible to set up the stairs glitch later in the run.
After glitching to the museum in Summers, I save the game, reset, and make a copy of the save file. The second file is used as another way to trigger the glitch. Using a second file might seem questionable, but I think it's reasonable as long as the file is made during the course of the run. It's possible to have a file prepared beforehand, but I avoid doing that.
Once the glitch is activated, it's possible to go straight to Giygas, but the game will hang up during the first prayer. This is because each area that appears in the prayers needs to be "prepared" to run the scenes.
This preparation occurs when the party travels back in time with the Phase Distorter. Two events are needed to initiate the Phase Distorter quest:
49:57 - After the second file is made, the first file is loaded and the glitch is triggered again to go to Lumine Hall.
50:55 - While in the Lost Underworld, I get a Brain Food Lunch, a Horn of Life, and a Sea Pendant. The Brain Food Lunch is used with the above-mentioned Salt Packets to maintain Ness and Paula's PP during the Ness's Nightmare and Giygas fights. The Sea Pendant is used to protect from Ness's Nightmare's glorious light attack and Giygas's attacks.
53:00 - The second file is used to activate the glitch. Before leaving the museum, I wait a bit because this makes the RNG less active.
Luck manipulation is used until the end of the first Kraken fight because enemies spawn very frequently otherwise. I also need the experience from the Kraken to let Paula learn PSI Shield Σ after defeating Ness's Nightmare.
57:59 - Luck manipulation ends once Ness levels up because the stats he gains depends on how he levels up throughout the run, which introduces randomness. That means I have little control over how the last 2 Krakens move. My luck with these Krakens was below average, and I lost about 30 seconds before they moved out of the way.
59:24 - My Ness's Nightmare luck was pretty good. I try to put it to sleep before using a Bag of Dragonite just in case Ness's Nightmare uses Shield β.
1:14:08 - My luck against Giygas was the best I've ever had, and I ended up saving a minute over how long this fight usually takes me. Two SMAAAASH!! hits by Ness in the first phase is rare, and Poo managed to stay alive through the second phase. Paula also never fell since Giygas used his electrical shock attack only on the last round.
The only hiccup was Poo feeling strange during the second phase. This rarely happens, and I wasted a round before realizing Ness can use Healing β.
Single-segment with uber-large-skip glitches: 0:09:58 by 'nemi'.
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This is a speed run of EarthBound using the "check area" glitch, which can give you access to the debug menu. The debug menu has an option to instantly warp you to certain events, one of which is the epilogue after the credits. Details on the glitch and how to exploit it to access the debug menu can be found at TASVideos (1, 2) and on SDA's Knowledge Base.
For a while, this glitch had been used only in tool-assisted runs, but a Japanese runner named 脳 (Nou) found a way to complete this run on console with the Japanese version of the game. His run can be found on Nico video.
The "check area" glitch took a while to open the debug menu. I've seen the glitch open the debug menu after only 3~5 checks, but I never got that lucky in a successful run. If the glitch had behaved more optimally, this run could've been nearly 30 seconds faster.
Additionally, there are a couple of major tricks I excluded from the run: with a technique called "Stutter Walking", it's possible to skip the Starman Jr. fight and Buzz Buzz's final words. When I attempted these skips, however, I found my success rate was very low and ultimately decided against including these skips.
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