Written by Angelo M. D'Argenio   
Tuesday, 28 August 2007 digs deep into another Earthbound conversion, read all about Jonbound.


Hacking and modifying games has been a pastime of bored coders ever since pong was remade to use different colored paddles instead of just white ones.  But certain genres of game are harder to modify than others.  Warcraft 3 and other RTS and FPS PC games have been including editors in their gaming package for decades, but other more traditional games, such as the original platformers on your good old SNES took a lot more knowhow to rip apart and put back together. However, redoing stages and sprites seem to be old hat for game hackers, but a challenge still remains, hacking an RPG.

RPG hacking is more difficult than traditional game hacking.  First of all, in a platformer or other such game, all you have to do is make sure it is possible to get to the goal or beat the boss.  Not so much for an RPG.  From beginning to end RPGs are intricate webs of triggers and calls to make the story progress from town to town and dungeon to dungeon.  No matter how much you change a dungeon or fiddle with the sprites, any meaningful alteration has to be performed from the ground up!  The classic SNES game Earthbound, has been the subject of these ground up hacking attempts ever since it came out in ROM format.  Though many attempts failed, and several petered out into nothingness, one finally stepped up… sort of… Jonbound.

Jonbound modifies earthbound down to its bare bones… sort of…  Let’s start from the beginning.  First of all Jonbound changes the sprites in Earthbound to custom sprites.  This is actually quite refreshing if you have already played the original.  The story is changed too, and every character has something new to say.  There is no gap in programming and it’s tight from beginning to end.  Some battle mechanics have been changed as well but of course combat still takes place in basic front facing earthbound style.  Some dungeons are also changed, which really give the game its replay value, along with the changed sprites and story… sort of.

The reason I keep saying sort of is simple.  Though an impressive amount of work has gone into Jonbound and line after line of code has been changed, the hackers that made it were good writers but… lacked a certain sense of originality, no offense of course.  The hack follows the Earthbound story rather closely even though it didn’t need to.  The game was made before any intense map hacking or compressed graphics editing was available so its pretty bare bones, but even so, it is largely regarded as the measuring stick that all other EB hacks need to live up to.

Overall that’s about the end of what you can say for Jonbound.  Its creator, Blue Antoid says himself that he hopes one day a greater hack will come by and outdo himself.  “It was also pretty much made up on the spot, with no real plan” he says, “just an accumulation of random ideas and plot threads gleaned from a forum topic, and tied together with minty dental floss.”  For a game held together with dental floss and made by forum goers, this game does kind of stand up and rise to the occasion.  I recommend a play through if you are a fan of the original Earthbound but otherwise, you can probably skip it.

”Screenshot” ”Screenshot” ”Screenshot” ”Screenshot”

Related: Super Metroid: Redesign, Hard Hat 3
Blue Antoid
Website for Game: N/A
Publisher: N/A
O/S: Emulator such as ZNES.
Cost of Full Game: Free
Where to get:
Year of Release: N/A

Tested on:
Intel Core2Duo 1,86 GHz, 2 GB RAM, Windows Vista


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