I ain't afraid of no Phantasmaburbia
It’s long been my opinion that indie developers should latch onto an obscure but happily received classic and run with its ideas. The indie platformer community has done this with Super Mario Brothers 2 (or Doki Doki Panic) and I’ve long held that the indie RPG community should do the same with Earthbound. Unfortunately, Earthbound is an easy mark to miss. There’s a combination of wistful and wonderful that make it ever so tricky to emulate; the closest anyone’s come in recent years has been Space Funeral, which was wonderful and weird.
And now we have (or we will soon have) Phantasmaburbia, a game about suburban ghosts where two clicks on the “Don’t Care” button in character creation lets you name yourself Venkman. It’s being developed by the man behind both indie RPG hit Dubloon and the highly appreciated by me Assassin Blue, and it hits that Earthbound spirit perfectly.
Available now in demo form only, the game follows a teenager whose town is attacked by ghosts. Tasked by his ancestor to defend his family, his friends, and his world from ghosts, he goes busting with a samurai sword. It’s delightfully absurd, and it hits all the right notes: it’s absurd, it’s atmospheric, and it’s funny. There’s the feeling of Earthbound to it, and that’s a great game to emulate. Mechanically it’s simple but interesting, aided by some kicking tunes and pretty, non-RPG Maker graphics (it’s always lovely when independent RPGs don’t look like they were made with RPG Maker).
It’s scratched exactly that happy RPG itch I was having (don’t worry, it’s non-transferable) in its twenty minutes and you should definitely check it out! It’s estimated for a release when it’s done, and it’s moved onto my master list of indies to check out.