No Right Explanation

Scott Pilgrim vs Earthbound


Last week, Chris and Kyle discussed which fanbase missed out the most with Scott Pilgrim vs. Earthbound. Since the debates you see are only a small slice of the discussions and decisions that make up an entire episode. With that in mind, we’re allowing Chris and Kyle and Dan the chance to bring a bit more context in a new(ish) follow-up feature, No Right Explanation. Enjoy!


Chris: Man, Scott Pilgrim vs Earthbound. I’ll freely admit, this was one I was excited to debate and really stir the pot with. I’m a fan of Earthbound about as much as one can casually be, so I wanted to find some debate that made logical sense, but in developing the core debate here I failed to make something very clear: When we say “fans who failed to show up,” we aren’t talking about the fans that did. If you bought Earthbound/Scott Pilgrim when it came out, you weren’t part of the problem. If you couldn’t afford to play/see them when they came out, you were not the problem. Raise your carts/Blu-Rays high and proudly exclaim, “I am a true fan and I did my job right!”

Everyone else, myself included for Earthbound (and eventually Xenoblade Chronicles), this was about you.

With that said, I know I put Kyle in a bit of a bind here seeing as how I know plenty about Scott Pilgrim but most everything he knows about Earthbound probably came from this debate. That means that I can’t really fault him for keeping a lot of his arguments exclusive to the Hipster Supreme, but I can still ding him for failing to mention what a handful of other commenters were quick to remind us: Del Toro’s Mountains of Madness. Because Scott Pilgrim vs The World flopped in the theaters, Del Toro and all of us missed out on something far greater. Nintendo will always be protective of their right to deny niche games in the US; Hollywood gave geeks a chance and we didn’t turn up in the numbers we were supposed to.

If Kyle had known more about Earthbound (and I wasn’t about to give him added ammunition), I’d also harangue him for letting me give out my damning lecture about us not buying Earthbound, even though the game itself was priced at $70 (more in other countries), a price well above the standard game at the time. This played a huge part in its failure, again something commenters explained, and Kyle would have had quite the argument if he had known this.

Withholding facts is just a part of debating sometimes. Also, picking a topic can give you such an advantage. Can’t say you didn’t learn something today! Some may say that’s sneaky and unfair, but I’d like to think it’s perfectly valid. Besides, I very much wanted a win and an excuse to weird my Ness shirt and hat. Can you really blame me?

Don’t answer that.


Kyle: First things first, Chris should have pointed out that “Scott Pilgrim” does not have any more story to tell or fun to be had. It was great in my book, and I can watch it as many times as I want. But there will be no more of them because the story is over. So, we don’t have to suffer the disappointment of missing out on any future films.

Earthbound, on the other hand, could always come back. But will it come back in America? Probably not. So there’s a possibility that we could relive the frustration all over again. And that possibility alone would have Chris shaking in his Ness get-up.
And a big added flaw to my arguments for “Scott Pilgrim“: One could argue that the niche audience that failed to show up was not so niche. The movie was marketed to general audiences as a romantic comedy with cheeky gamer-hipster shenanigans. No wonder it did poorly, the vast majority of people who saw the ads wouldn’t have gone in the first place. It’s a very polarizing concept for a film and anyone not interested in it will pass. Plus, anyone rendered nauseous by “indie” stuff will be the first to naysay.

Meanwhile, “Earthbound” is just wonderful. Even if you haven’t played it, you hear about a game’s reputation as a modern classic. You wouldn’t know what it was if you weren’t interested in RPGs and the only polarizing element might be how damned odd the game is. But despite the fact that the aim was truer for an audience, that audience still didn’t show up.

Chris also failed to really highlight the difference in consequences, as well. For “Scott Pilgrim,” by not showing up we all might have banished ourselves to unoriginal rehashes of other films, but we still have the film “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” to watch. If you didn’t show up then, you still can now.

On the other hand, do you know how hard it is to find a cartridge of “Earthbound“? And even if you could find one, you have to have a console in working order. And we won’t get the other games in the series, so in this case if you missed the boat, then your boat is just plain gone.


Dan: It amazes me how many people felt the need to defend their financial involvement with our two choices. I think the hypothesis that can be pulled from these data points would be that geeks are few and vocal. They make a big noise when they want something but once it comes their way, even the full support of their entire numbers can’t amount to what the studios would consider monetary success. Rest assured, we weren’t pointing any fingers. Well, maybe Chris was…

So, points-wise this one was a low scoring match. The reason for this was mostly because it took a long time to explain what the heck these two properties were, and so there wasn’t much time left to make arguments about them. I personally had never heard of Earthboundprior to this debate, which was cool because I got to learn about it.

Chris got the first point by illuminating the loss of Mother 3 (Earthbound 2?) because Earthbound 1 did so poorly. To get a crappy game is much better than knowing that a good game exists, but not getting to play it. Don’t tease us!

Kyle gets a point because of my wife. You see, my wife for reasons I forget and she is asleep right now otherwise I would ask her, got to go to the premier of Scott Pilgrim in our neck of the woods. She was actually given a branded guitar pick keychain that is super cool and she still has dangling from her key ring to this day. Couple that with my enjoyment of all the characters in the movie and my love of videogames, I should have been there with her. But I wasn’t. I didn’t see it until it was on video. I will repeat, to drive this point home; My wife has a Scott Pilgrim keychain guitar pick, and I still did not go to see it in theaters. Point…Kyle.

Chris gets a point by bringing up the music, an oft forgotten part of any game. There are many things in classic movies and games of years past that if you tried to do them today, it just wouldn’t work for one reason or another. See The Honeymooners constant threat of spousal abuse if you don’t believe me. So for a game to have music from the Beatles, and then not do well, it makes gamers of present day ache with missed opportunity. The Beatles don’t just throw their music to any franchise, and when they do you’d think they were launching an Apple product or something.

Kyle mentions sequel-itis, a rare but deadly disease that Hollywood has bad at the moment, and I had to give him a point for that. It’s a pretty cut and dry formula; Any movie that does well gets sequels until it gets old, then it’s rebooted. Any original movies that don’t do well in theaters get squashed to make room for the prior loop. Sad, but true.

I almost didn’t give Chris a point for his final argument, but it really spoke to me. We never had Mother 2 but we did have the Scott Pilgrim comics. So just starting out we get exposure to the content without relying on a film or game being made. Then we did get a game and movie, but while Scotty’s movie was self-contained, we only got one installment of the Mother saga. Earthbound will always feel incomplete because we know there is another installment that we will never get, whereas Scott Pilgrim will always have the comics as a conduit for us to flow through.

And so, Chris pulls out a win with Earthbound, a game that I started out knowing nothing about and ended up longing for and never getting. It’s a bittersweet ending, but at least the Giants won. Take that, Patriots…maybe next time you won’t block my Ravens from getting another ring. Jerks.

About the author

Daniel Epstein
Father, filmmaker, and writer. Once he won an Emmy, but it wasn't for being a father or writing.