Smiles and Tears–EarthBound and the End” – The Well-Red Mage



Serialized specially for The Well-Red Mage, based on the podcast by Wesley Schantz



bookwarm “The following is a contributor post by the Bookwarm Mage.”

Welcome. We return today to the Cave of the Past, traveling back to an indefinite time for the final confrontation with Giygas. Generally, I’ve tried try to keep the episodes to sections of the game which can be completed in a half-hour or so, but if you’re playing along, you’ll want to set aside a little more time for this. I’ve also tried to avoid simply singing the game’s praises, but I have to say, as a video game experience, the final boss fight of EarthBound, and what comes after, is unique and mesmerizing, a fitting end to this long journey, so it’s well worth the time to play it. And so our discussion of the ending will likely carry over into the next episode, where I invite you to question and comment one more time. Send questions about the game as a whole and this series, and I’ll do my best to wrap up any loose threads from earlier conversations as well.

So from Saturn Valley we warped to the Cave of the Past, where the wreckage of the Phase Distorter I has been visible since you passed through the Lost Underworld. Remember what the Sphinx said: A place out of time is beyond the Dark, and is even farther beyond the Lost Underworld. I’m not so sure about the relative distances involved, but one mystery at least is cleared up at this point–it was Pokey who stole the device and crashed it there. Ness and his friends arrive in the Phase Distorter II, finding a Mr Saturn, kidnapped once again, and a Horn of Life among the machinery, but beyond the crooked metallic tentacle, there’s no way forward. Nor can you go back, though, as Dr Andonuts has warned you, and he seals this with his arrival in the Phase Distorter III, ready to transport you back in time once you’re transferred into your robot forms. As he tells his son,

Activate the Phase Distorter III by your own hand, thereby following your own destiny.

As we’ll see, this attitude towards destiny taken by the party and the player, freely choosing to follow it, encouraged by its promise and by the support and relationships of role models like Buzz Buzz and others, is the opposite of Pokey’s attitude and his situation with respect to the destiny foretold by the Apple of Enlightenment. Dr Andonuts’ speeches throughout this part of the game are elevated, glorious, and somewhat ludicrous, like the quick succession of Phase Distorter models and the abrupt switch to robotic bodies, but once you’ve crossed this threshold, the point of no return, things hurtle to their conclusion.

The Horn of Life and the crooked metal cone are echoed aurally as soon as you arrive in the past by random blasts of distorted sound, accentuating your loneliness in the emptiness. The main source of noise is your party clomping around like medieval knights in full armor, indistinguishable from one another aside from Ness’ baseball cap. If you choose to save your progress at this point, your dad notices that you sound as though you have a cold, and hopes you get well soon–poignant, and touching in a very different way from Dr Andonuts’ eager heroics, though they both attest to the love which they have for their sons.

Beyond this last save point, where you can also recover freely as many times as you need, leveling up as necessary or reaping dropped items from enemies if you like, there extends a kind of black-and-white landscape painting, though instead of meditative scenes of mountain peaks and forests in the mist of blank paper, the grey-green negative space of the screen outlines a jagged but unmistakable path onward. The enemies here are nothing new: Shamblers fire beams and Flash B, Ghosts of Starmen and Final Starmen exude technological superiority and launch Starstorms and smiles, Octobots steal, and the Atomic Robots replenish their fuel until they explode like bazookas on expiring. Beyond several turns you can get the Legendary Bat from a final gift box, and there’s several clearings where magic butterflies flutter reassuringly, the only hints of color in the void. Orbs floating at the end of the path, reflecting like fun-house mirrors the eerie wastes, warp you deeper into the time and space of the cave. You can toil at finding and defeating the Bionic Krakens in one of these areas if you’re after the Gutsy Bat, but much like the Sword of Kings, getting one is more of a testament to luck or bloody-minded stubbornness than skill, or even vanity and acquisitiveness and compulsive completionism and, in short, you don’t need to worry about it. But it would be cool. I’ve never managed it.

Coming to an upthrust wall at the dead end of the cave, what looks at first like a spotlight of shadow is actually a doorway. Through the narrow slit in the wall, the ambient music turns ominous, expectant. Within, your party treads the worm-like, intestine-like path, pulsing underfoot, where stray veins go branching and rejoining the main channel over the blackness. It is red-pink and organic, yet feels more like a cave at last than the vast emptiness outside. There are no enemies here, which is part of the tension. This is what they have been guarding, all the enemies throughout the game have been sent or manipulated by this terrible mass of life using the evil in their minds for its goal of universal devastation, but they avoid its presence, whereas you inexorably direct your steps towards it.

At the end of the living road is a wall or womb of tissue. On touching it, the central pinhole like an eye opens and Ness’ face emerges, regarding you. This shakes the screen and another exception to the rule appears where no one else dares approach–Pokey, wearing a flashy suit and operating a spider mech, materializes and drops down to confront you. His dialogue here is instructive:

Ness, are you surprised? It’s me, Pokey. I only assist the strong and able. That’s Pokey. You guys look pathetic. The Apple of Enlightenment has already made a prediction… But I won’t let what it predicted take place. You guys will be beaten by Giygas. Giygas will be stronger, a more powerful entity than any other! Why? ‘Cause of me. I was led by Giygas, and now I’m here. The Apple of Enlightenment couldn’t predict this. Master Giygas. No, Giygas is no longer the wielder of Evil. He has become the embodiment of Evil itself…which he cannot control on his own. He is the Evil Power.

If you are surprised, it might be from seeing your own face at the center of the universal cosmic destroyer, rather than from encountering Pokey at his side. Pokey has attached himself to the strong all along, from Carpainter to Monotoli and now Giygas, and he has accompanied the Mani Mani statue, hitherto the embodiment of evil whether standing behind Liar X Agerate or Carpainter and motivating or representing their creepy interest in Ness and Paula, or creating the illusion of Moonside which deranged Monotoli and led Everdred to his death-wound in the alley, and finally appearing as Ness’ Nightmare in the Sea of Eden. Pokey also first of all accompanied Ness on the night the meteorite fell, even before Buzz Buzz instigating the adventure, and that reminder, as well as the point about Ness’ Nightmare, might also make us less surprised to see Ness’ face on Giygas. So perhaps the most surprising thing after all is not that Pokey is there, but that he will finally stand and fight. Despite knowing about the Apple of Enlightenment’s prediction, and despite all that has happened on your adventure–presumably he is not privy to all of it, though, like the coffee and tea breaks and the insights of Magicant–Pokey believes he can control the Evil Power and overcome the heroes. He thinks he is on the stronger side, never mind that it’s wrong. He thinks freedom is defined in opposition to fate, by the chaotic destructiveness of the monster wearing his neighbor’s face.

Throughout the battle, Giygas manifests as the background art itself, embodying the which has been in the background of the violence and strife all along. In the first stage of the battle, he is accompanied by the heavily-armed Pokey, who in turn stands as the epitome of all the of the people Ness and his friends have faced, whose desires and meanness have been worked upon by Giygas. Only Pokey, it seems, has done them one better by betraying all of the universe to aid Giygas knowingly. His face looks blue behind the glass of the spider-mech cockpit. Ness’ face looms huge in the center of the screen. Traditional video game boss music plays, starting out 8-bit style before raging with rock guitar stylings and futuristic production, a musical wave of awesome which echoes Giygas’ use of Ness’ own Rockin’ PSI. Pokey emits stinky gas to lower your party’s defense, then charges forward, the same move Buzz Buzz, your dog King, and your courage Flying Man used to attack, connecting for heavy damage. Attacking Giygas at this stage only causes an eerily pure chime sound and deals the damage from the attack to Ness, for somehow he is Ness. The psychic link between the hero and the villain makes sense given Giygas’ obsession with the Apple of Enlightenment’s prophecy, and how just as deep within Ness stood the figure of the nightmare, so here at the heart of Giygas, by Ness’ presence brought to the surface, is the heroic potential in the shape of Ness himself. The way Giygas can win, he seems to think, is by becoming the hero of the prophecy. It would show a sophisticated if cynical understanding of the workings of fate, the sense of humor of the Weird Sisters, so to speak, to win through such a technicality. Ironically, Pokey undoes this. In his desire for power at all costs, for self-aggrandizement, no matter who that self is, he shows a catastrophic ignorance of the sort of story he is in. Once you deal enough damage to his spider carapace, he escapes from the battle; still taunting Ness, he turns off the Devil’s Machine. This reveals Giygas’ true form or rather formlessness, an empty black hole where Ness’ face had been, surrounded by the wavy menacing lines of the battle background, beginning to blur into still more unsettling patterns of red fever dreams. Though Pokey is no longer a target in the battle, it seems he remains somewhere close by throughout the battle, off to the side, observing it with mounting alarm, not unlike the player, yourself. 

I understand you guys are already claiming to be heroes. Well, it is a gazillion years too early for you to oppose Giygas! You must feel pretty stupid to keep fighting without even knowing what Giygas looks like! If you were to ever see Giygas, you’d be so petrified with fear, you’d never be able to run away! …That’s how scary it is! So, do you want me to turn off the “Devil’s Machine?” Well, prepare to be amazed! 

[Here Ness’ face disappears, and things grow murky.]

So, isn’t this terrifying? I’m terrified, too. Giygas cannot think rationally any more, and he isn’t even aware of what he is doing now. His own mind was destroyed by his incredible power. What an all-mighty idiot! Yep, that’s what he is. Heh heh heh heh…and you…you will be…just another meal to him!

There’s so much there! Those last trailing future tenses echo Ness’ own doubts on the wall of Lumine Hall. The image of a meal projects Pokey’s own obsession with food and the body–his name is Porky in the original. He highlights the contrast with Ness, whose self-knowledge unlocked his latent powers in the big level up after Magicant where the Sanctuary Spots lent their gifts to his own, by saying Giygas’ mind was destroyed by his power. The epithet all-mighty idiot makes him sound like an atheist’s idea of God, and the idea that seeing the raw power of the unknown will petrify even a hero without the intervention of art or technology hearkens back to the myth of the Medusa.

Immediately after Pokey’s taunts, the battle goes on, Giygas’ red swirlies having wholly pervaded the background. Giygas’ attacks from this stage on are, so the game says, incomprehensible. Their escaping cognitive categories or names seems to be part of their power. Effectively they seem to be varieties of lightning, freeze, paralysis and the like. Despite his amorphousness, however, Giygas can now be damaged directly. After several turns, Pokey will reappear:

Heh heh heh heh. You must really be at the end of your rope. In this bizarre dimension, you four are the only force fighting for justice… And here you stand, waiting to be burned up with all the rest of the garbage of this universe. Haaaaah! That’s so sad, I can’t help but shed a tear. You know, my heart is beating incredibly fast…I must be experiencing absolute terror! Do you want to scream for help here in the dark?! Ha ha ha ha ha! Why not call your mommy, Ness? Say, “Mommy! Daddy! I’m so frightened! I think I’m gonna wet my pants!” I know you have telepathy, or something, so just try and call for help, you pathetically weak heroes of so-called justice! No one will help you now! Ha ha ha haah…Don’t worry, your pitiful suffering will be over soon!

Pokey again gives you just what you need: the hint that you need to pray. Presumably a player would also eventually stumble upon this solution from sheer desperation. Incidentally, as you go through each of the friends’ special commands, Pray, Spy, Mirror, you might ask, what does Ness have? Auto-fight, Run Away (but whoever is first in the party will have these if Ness falls). Some of his PSI, though the other party members don’t learn them, are shared by bosses like Ness’ Nightmare and Giygas. Ness is unique in at least one respect: Only he can become homesick. Getting a craving for his favorite food, and to hear mom’s voice, would be akin to the player longing to come back to the real world, as your dad also reminds you to do when you call him. This idea of privation, of a lack, is a critically important one, because it puts a name to that which is not. Giygas is a way to conceptualize evil, even if it does not fully grasp how terrifying it is. This is like the way the number zero is very different from, and much more sophisticated than, the concept of no, one of the first words kids learn; zero is the not, naught, absence, nothingness. Pokey is the no, Giygas the null. Zeros radiate out from Giygas’ empty core, striking at your mighty party, while he speaks words of woe: calling to you by name, drawn out or repeated, panting, groaning, crying out it hurts, that he’s sad, that he’s happy, telling you to go back, that is, to do the impossible. All along, he’s also talking to himself, the form of himself which is irrevocably lost now due to Pokey’s spiteful sabotage. This is all to say that the Giygas fight is a surreal dramatization of the concept of evil, representing the privation of the good in Giygas himself: evil as the lost, the nothing yearning for the good which it cannot by its nature be, and representing in Pokey the willful choice to be evil by claiming to possess and wield that which is evil, implying that evil is, that it has being in itself, and that that being is powerful, rather than the self-defeating perversion of being.

How do you fight against such nothingness? The game suggests that adventures inspired by wisdom, courage, and friendship will take you through smiles and tears to confront it, that you must overcome it in yourself through the power of memory, imagination, and understanding your place (or rather many places) in the world, and that doing so unlocks your true potential. But all this still brings you up against seeing the truly incomprehensible nature of evil, the mystery more inscrutable than the physics of time travel or the bio-tech transfer of mind and spirit to a robot body–both potent images in a meta way of what it is to play this old video game. To do the impossible, to beat it, as we say, and to beat the game, takes the miracle, the prayer of the past reaching people praying in the future, as Buzz Buzz returned from the future to set you on your way, as Paula called to Ness and then Jeff, as Poo overcame the spirit of the ancestors at the Place of Mu, of non-being, through making himself open to it, to acceptance and love of the other, the completely and essentially other, to love and to relate to which is a paradox, for it is the eternal in time. And it turns out the love, the prayer, the miracle is mutual, a relationship and activity rather than an entity, too. The opposite, if you like, of Giygas; the infinite over against the zero, the light in the darkness.

Prayers come from Paula first each round against Giygas’ wavier form, and the first to respond is the team of scientists at Saturn Valley, with the Saturns gathered around. It seems they feel something new, and respond with prayers. Giygas’ defenses become unstable, his swirly scary red faces in the background multiply still more and move in patterns across the screen faster. Next the prayer reaches the Runaway Five, who take a moment from chatting up the bathers and hanging out in Summers to pray for their friends. Third the oval scene opens on Polestar Preschool, where the kids and Paula’s parents pray. Fourth are Tony and the Snow Wood crew. Each time the damage dealt to Giygas mounts, along with his protestations. Fifth are the ladies of Dalaam. Sixth, Frank at the burger shop in Onett. Seventh the view opens on Ness’ house, where his family gathers in the dark room with a familiar song beginning to play. The music of the battle returns, the background grows still closer to pure static and the music more discombobulated. In the next prayer, the eighth, Paula says she can’t think of anyone else–perhaps she’s been seeing more visions than these, and the seven we’ve seen are representative of others like the Tendas and Dungeon Man praying, too–and her call is absorbed in the darkness. Maybe this is a way of showing how Giygas responds to prayer, then. Throughout the battle, after all, his supplications are to Ness, and are accompanied by incomprehensible attacks which deal some damage to your party, as the prayers do to him. If he is the darkness absorbing the desperate eighth plea, perhaps some of his non-being is being brought into being. Wouldn’t the destruction of nothing be the creation of something? He is, if nothing else, the experience of that terrifying nothing, and the miracle of something coming from it: There is a ninth prayer, if you don’t lose hope (or your metaphysical footing) but keep trying, a prayer that reaches someone whose name gradually is revealed: the player, you. The one Tony asked after for his project, and the name which the game, when you’re back in Tenda village after beating Stonehenge, confirms. And in a way this is also true, that the player surely acts as though they are touched to the heart, praying for the kids whom they have never met, prayers repeated fourfold, whose efficacy is four times dramatized by staggering hit points of damage to Giygas. The music swells like a storm. The end is nigh; Pokey appears one more time:

Ness…Now I…well, it’s going to seem like I’m running away. But perhaps I’ll just sneak away to another era to think about my next plan. It’s a good bet that we will see each other again…All right, I’ll be seeing you! So now which one of us do you think is the cool guy?!

The opposite, then, of wisdom, courage, and friendship, without which we have much less understanding of what these qualities really are, and a much less interesting story–this is what Pokey and Giygas provide and play out. Paradoxically, their doomed venture occasions the miraculous prayers which are the only thing that can beat Giygas and end the fight. That prayer could affect the game, that miracles could enter into something so trivial, seems counter to logic, like all miracles, or maybe suggests that logic is greater than we, like the scientists in Saturn Valley, yet understand. Love is stronger than death… something the Apple of Enlightenment seemingly accounted for, whereas Pokey did not. Even in the cast credits his sprite will go sneaking off the side of the screen, leaving an absence above his name. Fittingly, Giygas does not appear in the credits, which attests to his being a kind of non-entity, ultimately, a name for those drives and desires and passions in people which lead them to evil acts. But the credits don’t roll right away!

The screen freaks out and dissolves more and more back into the red static that opens the title screen, longer and longer stints of it with loud painful wails and harsh explosions. Until finally it’s over. If you look away, you’ll miss a brief glimpse then of Ness’ family again, as if they’ve been playing the game in their living room right along with you in yours.

The war against Giygas is over, the game text reads when the screen opens again over the fallen bodies of the robots outside the narrow cave. Lights like those which illuminated the Sound Stone arise from each of the still forms in turn and fly away, and the scene shifts back to Saturn Valley where the chosen four lying on the grass one by one become ensouled once more. Poo, Jeff, Paula, and Ness, somehow still wearing his cap, revive, come to, and look around as the music softly plays. 

There is a pun or two I’d point out here as we get into the discussion of the music one more time. It has to do with Giygas’ name in Japanese and in translation. In Mother, the game EarthBound is the sequel to, and for which a translation was made although the game never saw release in the US, the final boss is called Gi(e)gue, spelled variously in English. It’s like the sounds Belch makes–and he speaks of the contradiction inherent in defeating evil, which I think is a much better way of approaching the question of what Giygas is than the most elaborate discussion of the plot:

Gyork! Gyork! Gyork! There’s a prophecy that a boy will destroy Master Giygas. Heeg!  Heeg! Heeg! You make me laugh so hard…If Master Giygas is scared of someone…he would have to be worse than the greatest evil…Garg!  Ga! Garg! Ga! Ga! Ga! I’ll take you down big time, so get ready for the worst fight of your life!

 With that said, you can find artful theories and nitty-gritty arguments on such matters as Giegue/Gyeeg’s relation to Giygas, their motivations to destroy the world, and how they’re related Darth-Vader-esque to the heroes in Mother and EarthBound, etc. But I think the letter from Ness’ mom sums it up beautifully: 

(Dear Ness, How are you? Since you left home on your journey, things have changed around here. For example, I don’t have as much laundry. Also, we don’t seem to eat Steak as much as we used to. I heard that you defeated some universal evil character–what was it, Googi, or something like that? Well, that sounds really great!  I want to hear all the details, so hurry home, okay? Tracy, King and I are waiting for you. Love, Mama) 

She takes the name Itoi thought so horrifying as to stand for ultimate evil and to evoke his traumatic glimpse of the adult movie he mistakenly saw as a child, and renders it as baby talk, that baby Ness was, which Giygas was not. Baby talk, imitation of sounds, and the nature of being…see Augustine on this:

The next stage of my life, as I grew up, was boyhood. Or would it be truer to say that boyhood overtook me and followed upon my infancy–not that my infancy left me, for, if it did, where did it go? All the same, it was no longer there, because I ceased to be a baby unable to talk, and was now a boy with the power of speech. I can remember that time, and later on I realized how I had learnt to speak. It was not my elders who showed me the words by some set system of instruction, in the way that they taught me to read not long afterwards; but, instead, I taught myself by using the intelligence which you, my God, gave to me. For when I tried to express my meaning by crying out and making various sounds and movements, so that my wishes should be obeyed, I found that I could not convey all that I meant or make myself understood by everyone whom I wished to understand me. So my memory prompted me. I noticed that people would name some object and then turn towards whatever it was that they had named. I watched them and understood that the sound they made when they wanted to indicate that particular thing was the name which they gave to it, and their actions clearly showed what they meant, for there is a kind of universal language, consisting of expressions of the face and eyes, gestures and tones of voice, which can show whether a person means to ask for something and get it, or refuse it and have nothing to do with it. So, by hearing words arranged in various phrases and constantly repeated, I gradually pieced together what they stood for, and when my tongue had mastered the pronunciation, I began to express my wishes by means of them. In this way I made my wants known to my family and they made theirs known to me, and I took a further step into the stormy life of human society, although I was still subject to the authority of my parents and the will of my elders. (Confessions I.8)

Others, like Rousseau, Wittgenstein (who cites Augustine in his arguments about language), and more recently McGilchrist, disagree. The neuroscientist thinks the origins of human speech lie in music: 

What is strange is that, when examining the fossils of the earliest human skeletons, from long before we believe language arose, it reveals canal sizes almost indistinguishable from those of modern humans. The most likely explanation is that there existed some kind of non-verbal language, one in which there was intonation and phrasing, but no actual words: And what is that, if not music? (The Master and His Emissary)

The musical pun I meant comes from the gigue, which is the movement at the end of each of the Bach cello suites. I never knew how to pronounce this until I listened to Yo-Yo Ma’s tiny desk concert. It’s the same as the musical word jig. And for Giygas, the jig is up!

The prayers, including the player’s, emphasized the connection between the world’s peoples, and EarthBound’s extended coda after defeating Giygas gives you the chance to revisit nearly all of the places and people you saw on your adventure. The end of the world has been averted, the good has won out, and many characters you can return to talk to reflect on what this means.

The first to depart home is Poo, using PSI Farewell, which drops gift boxes containing letters from the sky. Then Jeff appears to hug Paula and Ness and says goodbye as sappy as anything, since he wants to spend some time there in Saturn Valley with his dad. It looks like a Saturn comes in for a hug, too. Paula asks you, Ness, to escort her home, sounding a note that will be repeated: it’s time to go back to just being a regular kid. You can read the letters from Tony (though he asks you not to), Ness’ mom, and the preschool kids, and talk to everyone around, all saying something worth hearing, which should give you the idea to explore.

There are exceptions, places you can’t return to, of course, like Moonside and Magicant. Once you drop Paula off, who as she leaves says she had something to say but has forgotten it for now, but that she’ll remember it for next time, you can’t ask her to rejoin you again or tell you what it was. The next time you see her, like the next time you’ll see Pokey or the Runaway Five, is just something you’ll have to imagine. It’s not in this game. Having saved the world, it turns out something is lost, and within this world’s confines, far from everything is possible. After you save the world, you can no longer save the game; instead, your dad says he’s looking forward to seeing you on your birthday. You can never get to it by staying in the game, though. No more time passes. You can go nowhere new. You can gain no more levels. It’s time to go home, with all that means.

In an echo of Dr Andonuts’ warning before taking the Phase Distorter, your mom asks if you’re sure you’re ready to look at the photo album, which will be yet another sort of time travel. There’s many more people you can talk to first and some fun things you can do, and maybe we’ll mention some of them next week, but I’ll close this episode with just a few remarks on the credits.

First up is the cast list, the way actors come out to take a bow after the play. While a new hit song from the Runaway Five plays, characters scroll by, grouped by their locations and relationships. As mentioned, Pokey is the first who doesn’t stay still, but leaves his family and shows up next to Carpainter and Monotoli. The Mani Mani statue appears by them and by Liar X Agerate, yet never moves. The Mr Saturns stand in the pattern of the star in front of the Sphinx, though the Sphinx isn’t there, and the Phase Distorter materializes in the middle. The Flying Men rise from their graves. The townspeople gather without caption; the ringing phone is your dad, and Ness has the name you gave him–likely your own. He remains when the others have all gone by, holding up the peace sign/ victory V of photo fame.

Here the rock and roll sax trails off, the screen fades to dark, and the photo man spins down to the center. He brings out his old-fashioned camera, hesitates, then snaps the final photo. It’s of Ness, posing for it, but also of the player, who stands between Ness and the photographer on the threshold of the world of the game and the world outside it. In this liminal space, the staff credits roll and the photos taken throughout the game slide below the names of real people who made it. The theme song playing from here begins by reprising the Sound Stone melody, then moves into a clear sweet rendition of the home and town theme. Taken together, this is “Smiles and Tears.” It’s fully orchestrated, with dramatic key changes and everything, and Itoi even wrote lyrics for it, though only three words of them made it into the game: (I miss you), in English. The rest are transcribed and translated here, by Clyde Mandelin:

I haven’t lived even half as long as adults have,

but I do have plenty of memories in my backpack

My favorite baseball cap, my sneakers with worn-out heels

Deep in my pocket is my worn-down guitar pick

There were some things sad enough to make tears come out,

but you were always by my side

I thought of the two of us as just friends the whole time

I probably loved you without ever realizing it

We walked while we laughed, played, and got hurt

I realized it as we took shortcuts and went in circles:

that even if you can’t believe in everyone

you can’t cast aside a heart you do believe in

You made me stronger just being who you are

Like a gentle wind blowing and swaying the grass

you always walked with a smile

Yes, the two who shared smiles and tears one after the other…..

(I miss you)

…..are now far apart…..

And with that the final name in the credits, yours, the player, scrolls by right at the end of the song! So that you are recognized as an integral part in making the game anew each time you play, far apart as those times may be.

And then, for a moment, it looks as if the game is caught in a circle: It’s nighttime again, and again there’s an annoying knock at the door. Ness in his jammies goes to open it and Picky pops in:

A letter arrived from my brother, Pokey…it is addressed to Ness. There’s no stamp, and it’s not time for the mailman to come…Anyway, I brought it over. It says, “come and get me, loser! Spankety, spankety, spankety.” …I wonder where he is?


So that’s the end…? The frieze by the front door, pondering his taunt in this final letter delivered to Picky but addressed to Ness, wondering where your neighbor is… We’ll fill in some of that enigmatic ellipse and that intriguing question mark next week!


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