This year’s Summer Games Done Quick speedrunning marathon finished with Earthbound. In part a charity event raising funds for Doctors Without Borders, viewers were allowed to bid on naming stuff at the beginning of the game. Ness’s favorite thing, for instance, was almost Bepis, beat out just barely by R.N.G. instead thanks to $25.12.
The game’s protagonist couldn’t have had a more fitting name either given the nature of an Earthbound speedrun. The game has a ton of RNG, from how characters level up to where and when enemies spawn and NPCs decide to cross a player’s path. In Happy Happy Village for instance, a blond woman standing outside the cult mansion can sometimes block the player’s path, keeping them from entering the building and furthering the game on time.
Fortunately, UltimoIce hit relatively few RNG based obstacles during his 4:27:53 run (just under an hour behind his world record of 3:47:41) last night. But viewers also bid on the everything else that can be named at the outset of the game, ranging from the protagonist’s favorite food to the names of each member of the party. Anime beat out Pesto for the cuisine your mom feeds you whenever you return home by nearly double, while the dog that accompanies the player early in the game was narrowly christened FrnkrZ over Becky. Here what the full selection turn out to be:
- Dog’s Name: FrnkrZ — $3,872.37
- Favorite Food: Anime — $5,946.02
- Favorite Thing: R.N.G. — $4,595.49
- Ness’s Name: Sans — $3,786.96
- Paula’s Name: Jestr — $5,620.00
- Jeff’s Name: Morty — $2,327.20
- Poo’s Name: MELVN —$1,640.00
- Player Name: Iwata —$21,230.64
That’s right. Viewers spent over twenty grand to name the figurative “player” of the game after Nintendo’s beloved former President, Satoru Iwata.
One of the most singular things in the game is that in addition to the protagonist they control, the player also gets to name themselves. While most RPGs let the player assume the role of the in-game hero, Earthbound beaks the fourth wall over and over again, making reference to the player as someone distinct and seperate from what’s going on in the game itself. At the very end when you fight the Gygas, the game’s final boss, Ness and his squad don’t just pray to their friends, family, and gods, they also pray to the player for help.
In one of the biggest landslides of any of the categories going into the playthrough, viewers had decided to name the player of SGDQ 2017's Earthbound speedrun “REGGIE GIVE US MOTHER 3!” It was a funny rallying point but also understandable given the sequel to one of the most important SNES games of all time has never been localized in the West. Seriously, give us Mother 3 god damn it.
But in a historic, last minute SGDQ rally, viewers opened their wallets until the name “Iwata” was able to overtake it. There are several opportunities to change the name of the player during Earthbound, so it wasn’t set in stone until late into the run when UltimoIce gave the Book of Shyness to the chief of the Tenda Village. He checked with the casters to make sure Iwata had overtaken REGGIE GIVE US MOTHER 3! and then proceeded to overwrite it with the new name that would appear during the final fight as well as the end credit sequence.
It was touching, not just because this last week has been such a good SGDQ marathon and because Earthbound was a charming, eccentric, and beautiful game to end it all on, but also because of Iwata’s larger-than-life status within the world of video games. After all, he not only led Nintendo for over a decade, he also helped make Earthbound. It was a fitting tribute.
You can re-watch much of the speedrunning marathon, including the final hours of a very informative playthrough of Earthbound, here.