“Haaack! That’s enough!” Belch stuck out a small edge of his goopy body and, as if snapping a finger, began to click it—snap, snap—and establish a rhythm. “♪ Perse is Worverse, says the human…Oh, gutter gunk, bloodstain, gangrene… Gahagaha, soundin’ good, soundin’ good! I’m gettin’ my groove back, this song is hot! Burrrurrghrup!”
“…Wow, is he… some kind of poet?”
“Ness! Don’t talk like that nasty thing is some kinda person!”
“I ain’t no lousy poet! I’m Belch the Great, galaxy-renowned Karaoke King! I plan to globe-trot all over the vast universe—well, I don’t have legs, so, I’ll—sashay—and make my glorious debut as a singer-songwriter!” Belch stuck out his chest—no, the general center area of his sticky body—puffed it up like a roasted marshmallow and smirked proudly. “How ‘bout it? Wanna hear my ballad?! I’ll give you a show in a special arena!”
Ness, Paula and Jeff’s eyes widened, their mouths turned into tildes, and as they shook their heads as quickly as they could they pushed their arms in front of them, hands opened and waving, like No—no—! We’re good, we’re good!
Nintendo of America plans to market his debut release as This Album Stinks!! in the states; we’ll see how it goes. In general EarthBound the game tries to elicit its emotional response from the player, with the characters acting as his surrogate, but one place it can’t quite get visceral enough is in its 16 bit depiction of a boss disgusting enough to make even the ever-polite Messrs. Saturn suggest Ness + co. wash up.
In that sense the novel has an easier job; Kumi makes it clear that Paula, who loooooves the Saturns—
“Oh they are all so cute~!♡” Paula’s eyes glistened as she stared in a trance. “I want one! Maybe I’ll snatch one.”
—can’t deal with Belch, whose entrancing voice and chiseled body leaves her “whimpering and on the verge of tears.” But after all is said and done, she turns back into an Innocent Japanese Heroine in time to wonder whether there wasn’t something hauntingly beautiful in his song after all:
“I… feel kinda bad for him.” Paula hesitantly removed her nose plug and let out a deep breath. “His appearance and his stench, and his singing tune were all awful, but I can’t help but feel like he had a certain innocence somewhere inside him.”
What. A. Pushover.
There was the sound of some absurd footsteps, and then a strange pink creature appeared from the other side of the black tree.
It had a big round head. Its eyes, the size of sesame seeds, looked like tiny buttons. Its nose was plump and dignified. It didn’t have anything that looked like a torso because by the time you got to the bottom of its face you found it was already attached to its charming little feet. An antennae-like, stick-like thing stuck out from the top of its head. Its height was about half of that of Ness, and it was carrying a bucket in one hand. Boing, boing, boioing! The thing wandered out from behind the shadow of the tree, toddling its little body heavily.
Ness and friends inadvertently cried out in surprise; the small pink thing noticed Ness and friends and jumped up in surprise at the exact same time.
The translator’s assistant cried out in surprise; the novel noticed him and jumped up in surprise at the exact same time.
Generic TV drama computers expert, zoom in on that sentence and enhance!
An antennae-like, stick-like thing stuck out from the top of its head. Its height was about half of that of Ness, and it was carrying a bucket in one hand. Boing, boing, boioing!
carrying a bucket in one hand.
Is that what I think it is, generic TV drama computers expert? Could it be?
In true Kumi fashion, our heroes find themselves proceeding along their adventure on paths that only have this scent that vaguely resembles what we experienced in the game. No, seriously.
“Hey, look! It’s a cave!” Paula pointed up ahead. “There’s some kind of sign… ‘Shortcut to Saturn Valley’.”
The cave looked like any old cave. Damp, dead leaves that had been pulled inside by the wind lined the floor, leaving a gross sensation when it absorbed their feet as they walked through it. The darkness was unnerving, so Ness took out his mini maglite and turned it on.
“Stay together, guys. Let’s hang on to each other.”
The three kids huddled tightly together as they shuffled through the deep, winding paths of the twisting cavern. Water gathered in puddles on the ground and the rocky stone walls around them were wet and covered in sticky mold. When the light of the flashlight shone onto the walls, it looked like spooky monster faces glaring menacingly at them. Once in a while, a droplet of water would fall on them from the ceiling.
“Hey, is it just my imagination, or… do you smell something funky?” Paula plugged her nose. “It’s you, isn’t it?”
“Why are you looking at me?!” Ness cried. “It wasn’t me!”
“No way! It wasn’t me either,” Jeff said. “I don’t conduct myself in such an ungentlemanly way!”
“But that’s definitely a…H-hey, of course it wasn’t me!”
So now we find ourselves in a cave so deep it twists like a honeycomb pattern. Thank goodness we didn’t have to walk through an enemy-ridden trap like that in the game; Dungeon Man Redux was enough. But wait! What’s this doing outside of Threed?!
Jeff muttered incomprehensible calculations as he paced in a circle, deep in thought until he suddenly stopped in place, sighed in defeat and scratched his head. “Uhnnn—logically it can be done, but I can’t quite specify the numerical figures. If I were to do the calculations in my head, it’d take at least 37 days. If only I had a computer with enough processing power…”
In EarthBound part of the joke you and the game seem to be in on is that characters who are completely tangential to the plot happen to come up with narrowly useful, incredibly convenient inventions and solutions to problems they don’t even know exist. In lieu of that, Kumi passes the responsibility for inventing Zombie Paper along to her boy Jeff.
“What calculations?” Ness asked.
“Frequency. If you emit sound waves at a certain specified wavelength, the zombies and the ghosts get sucked in like moths to a light, no matter how far away they are. Once we attract them, we can round them all up and trap them. Think of it like Fly Paper—except, well, ‘Zombie Paper’.”
“Zombie Paper?!” All the people in the tent stared at Jeff in disbelief. “Is that even possible?”
“Why not?” Jeff shrugged. “If we trap all the ghosts and zombies into one single area, you guys can all go home in peace, can’t you?”
Everyone in the tent began to shout.“Please, please, please make it!!”
“Like I saaaid, if I can’t figure out the calculations—” Jeff began to say with a guilty look on his face. But he was interrupted.
Brrrring! Something behind Ness’s back began to ring.
Perfect storm of onomatopoeia: put a language that loves them—Japanese, with its doki-dokis and giri-giris—into the hands of an author who also loves them. I could be wrong, but I don’t see how a phone could ever just ring in this novel. The stirring conclusion—after the jump!