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EarthBound

(Boss Fight Books #1)

by
3.73  ·  Rating details ·  411 ratings  ·  60 reviews
An RPG for the Super NES that flopped when it first arrived to the U.S., EarthBound grew in fan support and critical acclaim over the years, eventually becoming the All-Time Favorite Game of thousands, among them author Ken Baumann.

Featuring a heartfelt foreword from the game's North American localization director, Marcus Lindblom, Baumann's EarthBound is a joyful tornado
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Paperback, 191 pages
Published January 15th 2014 by Boss Fight Books
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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Tom Hechel
Dec 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
I am a kickstarter backer for this project and was really excited on what could happen one of my favorite childhood games, EarthBound. Unfortunately, it ended in slight disappointment.

The book can be broken into 3 parts; synopsis or analysis of the game, childhood and adult memories from playing the game, and memoir of the author that at the best of times vaguely connects with the game. This story suffers from too little of the first and WAY too much of the last.

Much more could of been done. Cri
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Peter Derk
Sep 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Just finished this one, which is the last book I had left from season one of Boss Fight Books.

I thought what might be useful is to put down a short thing about each book and a reason to recommend each, or to list a type of reader that might enjoy each one. Because I enjoyed all of them, but in different ways.

Earthbound: Possibly my favorite. I think this book, more than the others, made me really want to play the game. It's a nice balance of explaining how weird the game is while also not spoil
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Brian
Aug 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Whereas ZZT was an exploration of the community that grew up around a quirky ANSII game and the tools that let its fans build their own worlds, EarthBound is a much more focused text. It's primarily about Baumann's life: his relationship with his seven-years-older brother and how they played EarthBound together as children; his early acting career and the way that his family spent most of the year separated, like how Ness's father is only a voice on the phone and an improbably-large bank account ...more
Ken
Dec 13, 2013 marked it as abandoned
Never have I come across a more fractured narrative. I thought EarthBound would be about the titular video game, the Super Nintendo RPG released in 1994. But the author can't stick to a single topic for more than a page. Within a single chapter, he ruminates on not only the game, but his relationship with his brother, the 2009 book Bluets by Maggie Nelson, kidnapped and murdered American girls, his choice of college, the encoding of digital information onto DNA, the kinds of purses popul ...more
Paul Jessup
Feb 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: favorites
Earthbound, by Ken Baumann is a fantastic piece of non-fiction. He uses a childhood video game to explore his own life, his own sickness, his own health, his own mirror to the game world. This is an extremely awesome bit of writing. I was expecting something other than this- was expecting some mediocre writing in a plain jane journalistic tone, like most pop culture based non fiction I've read lately.

And this absolutely not that. It reminds me of Soft Skull's Deep Focus series. Like the wonderfu
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Caleb Ross
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shadow of the Colossus book review
Click the image above to watch the video review.

I expected this book to be just a collection of self-important memories artificially strung together to capitalize on shared nostalgia to satisfy the author's ego. An “I'm so smart and my life so interesting that I can bring 200 pages of life to a single 16 bit cartridge” proclamation that would be hell to slog through. But that's not all all what I got.

Instead I get an articulate, poignant, and incredibly enjoyable homage to the cult classic S
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Dan Berends
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
*As a disclosure to all, I got this book from the Kickstarter*

An excellent book about the SNES game, Earthbound, plus the author's personal experience with the game as well as how certain parts of the game related to him. I thought the structure of the book was odd at first (it is normal chapters, but the paragraphs are broken up more than a standard book's) but it grew on me as I read the book. I learned a bit more about the game, plus the author himself as well. I would highly recommend checki
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Jamie Perez
Dec 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
A great read -- the blend of gameplay and memoir and game-making history -- from the first few pages through to the end. I found myself jumping around Google searches for screenshots and would detour into fan art and wiki entries and so on. This is a kind of reading experience I have more and more -- especially with books centered around a piece of art or a cultural moment. I'm looking forward to what future Boss Fight books bring -- I'm looking forward to a diversity of approaches and subjects ...more
David LeGault
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Longer review coming soon, but basically I want to say that you shouldn't turn away from this because it's a book about a video game. It is so much more than that, and it does everything we want good nonfiction writing to do. I love how he takes a fictional story of the game and uses it to enhance his own, and more interestingly, how he uses personal experience to put this game on the life-changing level that it deserves to be.
Logan
Dec 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
It's hard for me to get over how awful this is in execution.

I had high hopes for the series, but in retrospect, when you ask a bunch of people with no writing experience (e.g., a TV actor) and no experience in journalism, what you get is someone who says "Hmm, I don't know what to write about here so I'll just write some random things".

So if you're curious to know how many years and days are between him and his older brother, or how many hours it would take to play each copy of Earthbound, or wh
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Ken Baumann
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
When I reread EarthBound, I'm not disappointed.
Michael Williams
With full disclosure that EarthBound is the first in a series of books of which I am an author, I offer you an incredibly self-interested but equally honest review of Ken Baumann's soon-to-be-published book.

Early in EarthBound (the book), Baumann reveals how he was spooked by the "tight synchronicity" of the resemblance of the logo of Halken, one of the game's development companies, to that of the ultramodern but now outmoded-for-retro-appeal's-sake Warner Bros. monogram. Moments like this under
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Matt Lewis
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: small-press
What I most loved about this book was that it completely blew away any preconceptions I had of a book about a video game. I expected a very technical breakdown of the game's content, with a few metaphorical comparisons and inside humor sprinkled throughout. Instead, EarthBound is a beautiful interweaving of the author's life with the bizarre mark that the game left on the world.

EarthBound was an SNES game that was popular in Japan but never gained much traction in the US. For most, the game rem
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Gaelan D'costa
Feb 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Gaelan by: anyone who likes earthbound
This book is the first in a series that attempts to be the 33 1/3 equivalent for music. For those that are unfamiliar, this means that people write about a game that was deeply significant to them, discussing both its history and the author's relation to the book.

It's very likely that nostalgia is talking, but this book rekindled my love for Earthbound. My friends were playing Earthbound for the first time at a sleepover party, and I spent the entire night playing it after they went to sleep. In
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Dan Acton
Dec 13, 2013 rated it did not like it
The majority of the book (about 4/5ths) is a sort of celebrity memoir, which fans of The Secret Life of the American Teenager may enjoy. Occasionally, Earthbound (or another video game the author once played) is name-checked, but only as a skipping stone to some tangential thought or impression.

For example, after briefly mentioning a two-hour conversation the author had with one of the creatives behind Earthbound, he suddenly diverts to how he didn't like the movie Cloud Atlas. I'd rather read a
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Kimberly
May 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
I don't think any book on a particular video game experience will ever be THE defining book, and of course this book didn't claim to be.

It is an exploration of how the game and the author interact with each other, and the connections the author makes between his playthrough, his history and his view of the world. In this, it's a success. I found quite a few passages funny and it was a tight narrative overall.

Of the books that I've read in this genre it's the best so far. If you've played Earthbo
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Tyler Crumrine
Dec 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
EarthBound is a game that literally requires you to insert yourself into the narrative, and in this book Ken Baumann has done exactly that. An honest and deeply personal recounting of a return to an honest and deeply personal game, this first release is a great sign of things to come from Boss Fight Books. To quote my 2nd's favorite RPG's most EarthBound-esque villain, Booster: "Mmmmmm... Delicious! It's so good it makes me want to cry!"
Ryan Bradford
Mar 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is awesome. So much emotional weight given to a game that probably exists better through nostalgia anyway (watched a few youtubes of EarthBound play, and didn't see the appeal). I've always admired the lengths (sometimes heartbreaking) Baumann goes to divulge emotional honesty, even from a point of self-aware privilege. He's certainly a man using his power for good, and a lot of that comes through in this earnest book. Lovely.
Gabe Durham
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I edited this book and am as far from objective as you can get. But it's moving and hilarious and its sharp observations have micro-changed the way I see the world. (Tiny example: I will never again look at a Super Nintendo without thinking, "Pallid tank.") I'm proud that EarthBound is the first book in our series.
Randy
May 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
So nostalgic! This book brought back so many fond memories of my all time favorite video game. It's cool to read about how EarthBound brought out such strong feelings in another fan of the game. Now I want to play it again...
Jonathan
May 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A great book albeit random at times; the spontaneity of the writing added to the sense of nostalgia the author felt as he replayed the game. Needless to say after the read i dug up my copy of the game and found my own nostalgic experience sitting cross-legged on the floor.
Dorothy
May 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015, 4-stars
review on my blog link below:
http://thedairyofabookholic.blogspot....
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Vaettur
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting book which combines the story of Earthbound with an autobiography of the author himself, Kenn Baumann. This is both a good and a bad thing; in all honesty, the life of this fairly unknown actor wasn't exactly thriving and interesting, but is definitely made interesting by referencing and comparing points in his life to happenings within Earthbound's story. It matches almost perfectly (although often in a different context), making it a very enjoyable read.

I do think that this book is
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Mr Anderson
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Demystified View Of Earthbound Through The Author's Life's Experience

Earthbound and the author's memories and life's experience are intertwined. We are taken on a journey through the game's story in a generally linear way with connecting flashbacks into Ken Baumann's youth as he reflects on his relationships with family members, most notably his older half brother Scott. Through his success, love, and bout with illness, Earthbound becomes a force for reflection and catharsis. Touching and inform
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David
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another solid entry from Boss Fight Books. I recommend any book in this series to anyone who's played the titular game. You'll get some background info on the game--little-known facts and history of development--plus of course a flood of nostalgia and associated feelings. Also, the Boss Fight Books tend to be short, quick reads--all the better to let you get back to your console or emulator and relive the magic!
Scott Sparr
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Earthbound has always been more than my favorite video game. Through its storytelling, exploratory world and childhood-esque top-to-bottom design, it has long since cemented itself as a token of my childhood.
Earthbound, by Ken Baumann recants a similar scenario--Baumann, an actor, relates his lifestory with that of Earthbound. An Eye-opening, heartwarming analysis of the game and how it has affected and embodied his, at times, turbulent life.
B
Jan 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed
This grew on me as I read it. I was really only into for the blow-by-blow description of Earthbound, but Baumann's memoir takes up a pretty large chunk of the book.

Maybe I'm a dummy but I've never heard of him and a lot of the stories in the first half of the book feel like they would be interesting to *somebody* but not to me. By the end, I changed my tune and felt like it was a worthwhile and coherent package.
Brady Finnie
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing. Manages to capture the feeling of the game I had and put it in print. I'll keep going back to this game and flip through the book time to time to bring back the feeling of wondering what about it has stuck with me and the effect it has had on my life.
Avedon Arcadio
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
An interesting if not wordy essay of growing up with a game that draws more parallels to our lives than first imagined. But not much history on the game itself and more about the author which, while entertaining is still filler.
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News & Interviews

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79 likes · 17 comments
“The Runaway Five's obvious influence is The Blues Brothers. During localization, their black and white suits were made more colorful to avoid legal action from Universal Pictures or the film's producers. When I told my wife Aviva about this, she admitted she had never seen The Blues Brothers film. Having grown up on a steady diet of Saturday Night Live-spawned movies, I told her that her innocence here was blasphemous. That night, we marveled together at James Brown's hair.” 3 likes
“If we were to take EarthBound's early hours as material evidence of Shigesato Itoi's impressions of American culture, we would have to consider cruel parents, small-town gangs, abusive cops, weak-willed politicians, usurious property owners, and murderous religious cults as the case.

This does not seem inaccurate.”
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