The first time I played through EarthBound I was interested in seeing what Paula was like, myself, but in the MOTHER 2 novel, perhaps because Ness does not have the player’s guide to look at, such speculation is given a much wider scope, viz. this conversation between Ness, Apple Kid (“a chunker about one-and-a-half times the size of Pokey”), and his genius mouse, who in the novel is literarily named Sir Algernon.
“Say hi to Paula for me,” Apple kid said with a smile. “I used to go to their Preschool when I was a child. Paula was still just a baby, but she was absolutely beautiful.”
“Whoa,” Ness tried to respond casually, but his cheeks turned red. “Really. Paula’s cute?”
Apple Kid reassured him. “People say she’s going to be the next Miss Twoson. Maybe even the next Miss Eagleland. No guarantees for Miss Universe, but—”
“Good news, eh Ness?!” Algernon said with a hoot. “You gotta go save her either way, but it’s still a lot better to run off and save a girl who’s cute than one who’s not!”
Algernon, you scamp, you.
Meanwhile, back in Happy Happy Village (“Blue birds soared across the blue sky as a blue cow chewed on the blue grass at its feet. Beyond a row of blue houses stood a smooth row of blue mountains, and a blue river, sparkling shining lights of blue, curled like a ribbon and wove into a blue forest.”), Carpainter, who’s a little worried about Pokey’s whole sociopath thing but still reliant on him to make the Happy Happiests mainstream, has Paula captive.
There’s a lot of cool stuff going on in this chapter—we briefly meet the terrifying Mani Mani statue, Carpainter has second thoughts about going into business with Fatso when all he wanted was to help other shy people make friends… Ness actually meets Carpainter first, in this version, inadvertently teleporting to Paula’s cell when he’s struck by the Crashing Boom-Bang attack. And then—then things get goopy.
White People Look the Same watch, Day Two:
He ran up to her and instinctively grabbed her hands. Ness stared at Paula’s face. It’s just like they said. She was beautiful. She looked like a younger version of Tracy’s Barbie doll.
Ness and Paula have been communicating telepathically all this time, but now that goofy embraces are on the table they are taking advantage of it:
Paula let out a giggle. She began laughing as if something were tickling at her. “So you’re Ness! My dear friend Ness!
“That’s right,” Ness replied, but when he nodded earnestly, he was suddenly overcome with embarrassment and a shy laugh escaped his lips. “Thank goodness. Finally! Finally, Paula, I found you!”
The two exchanged giggles for laughs, their relief bringing on a fit of laughter that went back and forth like a ping-pong match. In their happiness they dug elbows into sides and squeezed hands, enjoying the moment so much they could fall over in laughter.
Get a room! I mean, another one! Ness comes back to Happy Happy Village just in time to watch the presentation of the Faith Awards, handed out to people who best spread blueness.
Mr. Chin from Buriha Town! Amazingly, Mr. Chin rewired every single traffic light in town so that aaaaall of them would always display that lovely color of blue-green at all times! This is clearly a display of deep devotion in practicing our principle of ‘Turning the World Blue.’ Thank you! And congratulations!”
They don’t appear to be very strict about what’s blue and what’s not blue. After this scene, another of Kumi’s effective inventions, Ness defeats Carpainter, Pokey escapes Ness and co. by farting, and Ness busts Paula out and gets really uncomfortable around her. Ah, now he’s 13.
Ness readjusted his hat and started marching onward. If he just stood around, he’d probably end up saying something else really stupid.
Paula dashed to catch up with him. “Ness! Stop apologizing so much.” She giggled. “I get it. You’re embarrassed to walk next to a girl. You probably think it looks like a date if we walk with each other.”
“T—th—that’s not it—”
“Then hold my hand.” Paula stuck out her right hand. Her small, cute, soft-looking hand. Ness’s face turned beet red. “Is it gross or something?”
“N—n—no! It’s—it’s not gross—but, but—uhh… Yeah! Y’know! Like, if we’re holding hands, if we come across an enemy, that would be really dangerous! I’ll be caught off guard, and we have to be ready to strike, y’know?”
“Is that right?” Paula cocked her head to the side. “It doesn’t look like that dangerous of a road, but… whatever.
She hasn’t played through Peaceful Rest Valley before, so I can’t blame her for not understanding. In Chapter Three, one of the longer ones in the book, Ness and Paula stop back at Polestar Preschool and then high-tail it to Threed, where they meet the same fate they do in the game.
Coming up next it’s time for Jeff, whose story is perhaps the most embellished and changed of any of the characters in the game. Saori Kumi makes some really interesting choices, and I’ll try to do the best I can, tomorrow, to tell you about them without spoiling the whole thing.