Earthbound: The Documentary
In case you haven’t caught on, Pokey, AKA your BESTEST FRIEND, is kind of a complete douchefuck.
It just so happens that Pokey is also undeniably the most tragic character in the entire Mother series.
If you’ve already played Earthbound and Mother 3, then you know what I’m talking about. If not, then you will. (Spoiler alert: Pokey doesn’t just stop existing with this game’s prologue.) Pokey is Ness’s next door neighbor. He and Ness grew up together, on the same hill, in the same-looking houses, in the same godawful existential droll that is home sweet suburbia. Both a mother and father. Both a younger sibling. Both athletic, talented—oh whoops, scratch that, one athletic, talented and all-around a likeable sort of guy, the other the complete opposite.
Pokey and Ness are contrasted right down to the theme music and interior design of their homes. You walk into Pokey’s house, everything is blue—a color archetype conveying sadness, longing and remorse. Ness’s house, with the exception of his own room, is characterized by very warm colors, conveying an antithetical feeling of joy, contentment and love. Pokey, unlike what we’ve seen from Ness, is overweight, cowardly, arrogant, Machiavellian, and his only (kind of) redeeming feature seems to be his nauseatingly obsequious manners. There is nothing at all likeable about him. He’s so pathetic even his little brother looks down on him.
And it’s no surprise Pokey’s so pathetic, really. His parents are terrible. Part of the beauty in Earthbound is that it plays completely differently depending on whether or not it’s from the perspective of a child or an adult. When playing Earthbound as a child, all we see is a fat kid with strict parents and an intelligence quotient of 7. When Pokey gets in trouble, it’s because he brings it on himself. When we’re older, however, we pick up on the subtleties of nuclear discord. Pokey is a thirteen year-old boy who is babysitting his little brother at what is a very, very late hour of the night. It’s not, “Oh, we’ll just be gone for thirty minutes.” Mr. and Mrs. Minch are leaving two ignorant kids by themselves in the middle of the night while they go out and stuff themselves full of food paid for by what could be their sons’ college savings or lack-there-of. So Picky gets lost in the dangerous dark outdoors. Does this come as a shock? Of course not. Pokey and Picky—especially Pokey—don’t have the insight to stay out of trouble. Yet, when Mr. and Minch finally do come home, they are instantly blamed and punished for their little misdemeanor. Quite tangibly, in fact. When seeing Mr. Minch chase his two sons upstairs, we instantly hear the sound of a smack followed. It’s a classic case of domestic abuse and negligence.
So while Pokey may seem like a spoiled brat, in the end we can’t help but feel sorry for him because we know he’s miserable. And we know that on some level he resents Ness. Because Ness actually has parents that tell him he’s worth something, that he’ll go far. He has a sister that looks up to him and respects him. He has everyone from around the neighborhood interested in him and telling him he’s a good kid. Pokey doesn’t get that from anyone, so he has to build himself up instead. He puts Ness down so he doesn’t feel so inferior. He blames Picky’s disappearance on the cops so he feels more responsible. He makes himself the center of attention in every scenario because he knows no one else is going to put him there.
We can see from Picky—same genes, hasn’t been subjected to as much psychological fuckery—that Pokey isn’t this way because he’s encoded to be a maniacal opportunistic punk. He was made into who he was. He’s the one who lacked a nurturing Mother figure.
And, okay, I tried to think of a way to close that without using such a horrible pun, but alas it couldn’t be done.