Ness (Japanese: ネスNess) is a boy from the town of Onett. He is the protagonist of EarthBound. He is a gifted child with various PSI powers, and has the power to use each of the eight Your Sanctuary locations throughout the game to add some notes to the Sound Stone. Upon ridding his mind of all of the evil within him, Ness unlocks his true potential and becomes the absolute strongest member of his party.
He is also featured in the Super Smash Bros. series as a playable character in every game in the series. He uses a variety of PSI abilities for his attacks as well as weapons he uses in EarthBound, such as his baseball bat and yo-yo.
Ness is one of the most recognized characters in the EarthBound series to the point where he is often seen as the flagship character of the series. His appearances in the Super Smash Bros. series have considerably boosted his public image, as well as for the EarthBound series as a whole. Ness became more or less a mainstream character in gaming culture rather than a curious cult character from Nintendo during the 1990s, and he has become a well-known character in Nintendo gaming.
Ness wears a blue shirt with yellow stripes, a brown backpack, blue shorts, red shoes with white socks, and a red baseball cap with a blue bill turned to its side. According to the EarthBound Player's Guide, his cap has his favorite baseball team's logo on it. Ness is implied to be overweight by several NPCs, plus in the game's epilogue a person says Ness has lost weight further implying this. While his original clay model and appearence in Super Smash Bros. Melee and Brawl depict him to be overweight, his American clay model and appearence in Super Smash Bros. 4 and onward depict him as being more slender.
Ness lives on a hill in the northern outskirts of the town of Onett along with his family: his mother, father, and his sister Tracy, along with their dog King. Ness appears to have an interest in baseball due to his primary choice of weapons being baseball bats and his baseball cap having his favorite team logo on it. Ness's favorite food is steak, it's implied that his family has steak often because of him, as in the ending his mother says that his family hasn't been having steak as often since he left.
Personality wise, little is said about Ness's personality, much with most silent protagonists. Ness is shown to be kind and helpful, while also being strong and courageous. Ness is willing to endure any dangerous situation to save the world. Ness is implied to be close to his home and his family, as implied by how he starts feeling homesick if he is away from home for long. Outside of Dr. Saturn the only way to cure his homesickness is talking to his mother, implying he is in particular close to his mother.
In terms of physical appearence, Ness shares many similarities to Ninten, the protagonist of EarthBound Beginnings, although with a few minor differences: Ness's cap is pointed left while Ninten's is pointed right, Ness's hair is rounded whereas Ninten's is more spiky, Ness wears white socks and red shoes while Ninten wears red socks and blue shoes, and Ness carries a backpack which Ninten lacks. Shigesato Itoi confirmed Ness was intentionally designed to be similar to Ninten in appearance to allow the player to choose whether they were the same person or different.
Spoiler warning:this article or section may contain major plot or ending details! Proceed with caution.
Ness's adventure first starts when a meteor crashes in Onett. He goes to investigate, but goes back. Later on Porky comes to the house and explains to Ness that he took his younger brother, Picky, to see the meteorite but Picky went missing. Ness comes back to the meteorite site with his neighbor Porky and his dog King to find Picky, who explains it was actually Porky who ran away. While there, they encounter Buzz Buzz, an insect-like being who has returned from the future to warn Ness of the threat that Giygas poses to the universe. Buzz-Buzz then explains to Ness of a prophecy that was passed down which surrounding Ness's future; he, along with the help of two other boys and one girl, will stand against Giygas and save the universe from eternal darkness.
With this knowledge, Ness accompanies Porky and Picky back to their home but is confronted by a Starman Jr, who was sent by Giygas to kill Buzz-Buzz. The Starman Jr. confirms the prophecy before attacking the group. However, it is defeated through Buzz-Buzz's massive PSI powers and Ness's physical attacks. Upon arriving at Porky's house, Buzz-buzz is unceremoniously killed by Lardna Minch, who mistakes him for a dung beetle. As he is dying, Buzz-Buzz explains to Ness that he must reach the eight Your Sanctuary locations and passes on the Sound Stone, a special stone that records the special melodies from each Sanctuary, to Ness and starts him on his quest to save the world.
In the town of Onett Ness defeats the local gang, the Sharks, and their leader Frank Fly, who tells Ness about a strange occurrence at the Giant Step. Ness confronts the Titanic Ant, who reveals to Ness that the Giant Step is his first Your Sanctuary location. Ness defeats it and unlocks the power of Giant Step, and afterwards is telepathically contacted by a friend he never met before. However, Captain Strong and the Onett Police Force are not happy with Ness investigating private property and ambush him at the police station. After defeating them, they back off and Captain Strong opens the way to Twoson.
In Twoson, it is revealed that Ness was telepathically contacted by Paula, another member of his party, who this time asks him to come and rescue her. In Burglin Park Ness encounters friendly gangster named Everdred the leader of Burglin Park. When defeated, he tells Ness about that Paula was kidnapped and was considered being used as a sacrifice. Ness then meets an inventor named Apple Kid, who after Ness invests in him, tells Ness that he will give him an invention after it is finished. Ness then enters Peaceful Rest Valley, however he is unable to progress as the bridge is broken and the detour is blocked by an iron pencil-shaped statue. Upon returning to Twoson, Ness receives a call from Apple Kid saying his invention is finished, and Ness receives the Pencil Eraser from him. Ness removes the pencil statue with the machine and finds his way through Peaceful Rest Valley to Happy Happy Village, which is under the influence of the Happy Happyist Cult. He finds Paula locked in a cell in a hidden house. She gives Ness the Franklin Badge so that he can withstand the lightning attacks of Mr. Carpainter, the Happy Happyist leader. As Ness leaves the house, he is ambushed by Porky, who reveals he is the high priest behind Happy Happyism, and attacks Ness with Spiteful Crows. After defeating them, Ness confronts Carpainter and defeats him, thereby breaking the influence of Happy Happyism over the valley. He explains that a certain statue has caused him to do strange things, and Carpainter thanks Ness for freeing him and gives him the key to Paula's cell. Ness encounters Porky outside who says he has also been freed and then apologizes, but then reveals he was lying and escapes. Ness frees Paula and enters a nearby cave where they encounter the Mondo Mole, who is guarding the second sanctuary location, Lilliput Steps. They defeat it and Ness gains the power of Lilliput Steps.
They return to Twoson and meet a famous jazz band named the Runaway Five who explains they were under a debt at the Chaos Theater. After watching a performance, they find Everdred who gives them a "wad of bills". They use it to pay off the Runaway Five's dept, who as thanks take them in their van and give them a ride to Threed. After being dropped off, Ness and Paula quickly discover the town is under an awful curse and zombies run rampant. They follow a suspicious woman into the hotel but are ambushed by zombies and locked in an underground cell. Paula then contacts a friend they never met before named Jeff telepathically, who resides in Winters, Foggyland. He arrives in the Sky Runner and unlocks the cell door with a special invention called the Bad key machine. Upon leaving they find a suspicious tent called the Boogey Tent who attacks them, and upon defeating it, receive a "jar of fly honey". Ness then receives a call from Apple Kid that he invented a solution to the town's zombie infestation called "Zombie Paper". The three of them conspire with the townsfolk to trap the zombies in the circus tent with zombie paper. They then find a secret exit in the back of the graveyard and venture forth to find the source of the zombie scourge.
Following the cave and progressing through a small valley, they come upon Saturn Valley, a town inhabited by strange but friendly beings called Mr. Saturn. The town is under the threat of Master Belch, who not only was responsible for the zombie infestation in Threed, but has kidnapped many innocent residents of the valley. They infiltrate a secret base behind Grapefruit Falls near the valley and encounter Master Belch who is a major henchmen of Giygas. The three take advantage of his obsession with fly honey and easily defeat him, thereby freeing the Saturn Valley inhabitants, and in the process learn their next destination is the city of Fourside. They then travel through a cave and find the Trillionage Sprout, guardian of the Milky Well, the third sanctuary. They defeat it and Ness gains the power of the Milky well.
Afterwards they return to Threed and find that the town has been rescued. The three attempt to take the bus to Fourside, however, they run into a traffic jam in Dusty Dunes Desert and are forced to abandon the bus and continue the journey on foot. They arrive in Fourside, where they find that suspicious activity has been occurring with the mayor Geldegarde Monotoli. They find the Runaway Five has fallen into debt with the city theater yet again. Ness and the gang return to the desert and find a new dig site, in which the miner is unable to continue in finding treasure because the cave is filled with five giant moles called the Guardian Diggers. Upon clearing the mine of the Guardian Diggers, the miner repays Ness and his friends with a diamond, and they use it to repay the theater proprietor on behalf of the band.
Later on, while shopping in the Fourside Department Store, there is a sudden power failure and Paula is snatched away in the dark. Hearing a call on the intercom, Ness and Jeff go to an office on the top floor where they encounter the Department Store Spook, an alien henchman of Giygas. They fight and defeat the Department Store Spook and continue looking for clues to Paula's disappearance. They then enter Jackie's Cafe where they hear a strange noise outside, and after leaving, find Everdred lying injured on the ground. He explains that he stole the Mani-Mani Statue from the Carpainter and Monotoli stole it from him as well. He says Monotoli gets his evil power from the Mani Mani statue and tells Ness and Jeff to check behind the cafe counter. Upon checking, Ness and Jeff unexpectedly stumble upon a bizarre alternate dimension called Moonside. Navigating the oppositely-oriented domain, they find Monotoli looking at the statue, and upon talking to him he denies he is Monotoli and disappears. They fight and destroy the Mani Mani statue, and find that it was a device that created illusions. They realize Moonside was an illusion the whole time, and that they have been in the storeroom to Jackie's Cafe all along.
Immediately, Ness receives a call from Apple Kid about a "Gourmet Yogurt Machine" that can only make "Trout flavored yogurt" and sends it via Escargo Express's "neglected class", however, the inexperienced delivery person dropped it in the desert, forcing Ness to return once more. Upon leaving the cafe, a monkey with the power of Teleportation offers to take him to a cave filled with monkeys in the desert to learn the power, following this they meet Porky's maid Electra, who is desperate for trout flavored yogurt to give to her master. After trekking through the desert cave, they visit a mysterious man who lives among monkeys in the desert named Talah Rama. He gives them a vital trout yogurt machine. Ness and Jeff use the yogurt dispenser to bribe Electra to let them into the Monotoli Building in Fourside, where Paula is apparently being held. After dealing with the security robots, with some unexpected help from the Runaway Five, Ness and Jeff make it to Mayor Monotoli's room where they rescue Paula. Monotoli apologizes to them for kidnapping Paula and explains that he fell under the influence of the Mani Mani statue, and how it creates illusions to draw out the evil within people's hearts, causing them to do Giygas's will. He mentions that in the trance a voice spoke to him telling him to stop Ness from entering Summers, and from seeing a certain pyramid, and saying Ness must go to Summers because Giygas was trying to stop him from going. He offers them use of his helicopter to travel to Summers. However, Porky, who has been working as a consultant for Monotoli and orchestrated Paula's kidnapping, steals the helicopter and flies away, while taunting Ness.
Afterwards, Paula receives a telepathic message saying they need to return to Threed. The Runaway Five take them back to Threed where they repair the Sky Runner and fly to Winters. While Dr. Andonuts remodels the Sky Runner, they find their way to the Rainy Circle guarded by Shrooom!. They defeat it and Ness receives the Rainy Circle's power. They then return to the lab and find the Sky Runner's remodel has been completed, and fly off to Summers. While in Summers, they visit Stoic Club and Ness chats where a woman offers him and his friends some magic cake. After they take a bite, they falls into a slumber and see a vision of a foreigner from Dalaam in the Chommo region named Prince Poo, the fourth and final member of his party. After passing the final test in his training, Ness regains consciousness and Poo teleports to the group.
Poo suggests they visit the Summers Cultural Museum, where they find a hidden exhibit that gives an odd clue about the Sphinx in Scaraba. As they are leaving they get a call from Mr. Spoon at the Fourside Dinosaur Museum meant for the museum proprietor. At the Dinosaur Museum, Mr. Spoon says he noticed an odd activity in the sewers, and will let them in if he brings an autograph by the famous singer Venus. After watching a performance, Ness receives Venus's autograph on a banana peel, bringing it to Mr. Spoon, who lets them enter a pothole in the back leading through the sewers of Fourside, where they defeat the Plague Rat of Doom, and Ness gains the power of Magnet Hill, in the middle of the city. Here Ness picks up a Carrot Key, which he uses to open the entrance to a cave leading to the Pink Cloud in Dalaam, guarded by Thunder and Storm. The four defeat it and Ness unlocks the Pink Cloud's power.
The team return to Summers to travel to their next destination, Scaraba, by boat across the ocean. But on the way they are attacked by a monster called the Kraken. They defeat him and arrive in Scaraba. By activating a set of buttons in front of the Sphinx, Ness and company journey into a pyramid to find the Hawk Eye, and upon leaving, Poo temporarily leaves to learn the "Way of the Starstorm" from the Star Master. With some help from Dungeon Man, they travel through a river by submarine into a dark swamp known ad the Deep Darkness. In the gloomy swamp, the group confronts Master Belch, now known as Master Barf, who is defeated by Poo who returns while using PK Starstorm α. They then find Tenda Village, a cave filled with overly shy creatures known as Tenda. The leader knows of a book about Overcoming Shyness and Ness then leaves to find the book. When leaving the cave, Ness receives a harried phone call from the Apple Kid in Dr. Andonuts's lab, but the line is cut off unexpectedly.
They return to Winters to investigate the deserted lab, and finds clues that point to Giygas's Stonehenge Base nearby. Navigating the base, Ness discovers Dr. Andonuts, Apple Kid, and several residents of Winters held captive in the deepest realms. Ness and the gang find the culprit Starman DX a henchman of Giygas. They defeat it and free the kidnapped people. Apple Kid points Ness in the direction of the Onett Library, where he returned a book called "Overcoming Shyness". Ness retrieves the book and lends it to the Tendas, who soon become social and help direct Ness to a cave leading to the seventh sanctuary Lumine Hall, where they defeat the Electro Specter and Ness gains access to Lumine Hall's power.
They jump into a hole that deposits them all in the Lost Underworld, a realm where the dinosaurs became wild due to Giygas's influence. They trek through the world and enter a volcanic cavern which leads them to the final Sanctuary location, Fire Spring, where they challenge the Carbon Dog, who later transforms into the Diamond Dog. They defeat it and Ness receives the Fire Spring's power. Suddenly, Ness falls asleep after hearing the melody and has a vision of his past. He then wakes up in Magicant, the colorful, dreamy paradise of his mind. Ness encounters everyone he has met in his journey here. He is directed to the Sea of Eden, his central conscience, where he confronts Ness's Nightmare, the last force of evil in his heart. By eliminating any means that Giygas has of controlling him, Ness gains incredible power with the help of the Sound Stone. The last thing he hears is his own voice telling him to head to Saturn Valley.
When Ness wakes up, he and his friends teleport to Saturn Valley to meet up with Dr. Andonuts. With the help of the Apple Kid, he has developed the Phase Distorter II after Porky stole the original. However in order for it to work it needs one sample of a Zexonyte, a rare element only found in meteorites. Ness remembers the meteorite that landed in Onett at the start of his adventure and then travels back to Onett, for a piece of the meteorite. Giygas's invasion had already begun in Onett and so the town is swarming with dangerous enemies. Ness and company successfully extract a Zexonyte from the meteorite and make it back to Saturn Valley to travel in the Phase Distorter II to the determined location of Giygas's Lair.
Ness and the others wind up in the Cave of the Past, where the Star Master returns to pass the power of PK Starstorm Ω to Poo. Apart from the ruined Phase Distorter, however, they find nothing. Dr. Andonuts and the Apple Kid arrive in the Phase Distorter III with news that Giygas is attacking from many years in the past and that the four themselves must also travel to the past via the Phase Distorter III. However, the Phase Distorter III destroys life in the process of tine travel, then explaining that the four of them must have their bodies and souls transferred to robotic bodies since organic matter cannot survive time travel. Even though there may be a possibility he and his friends may never return back to their body, Ness and his friends unhesitatingly agree to the procedure and Dr. Andonuts sets to work.
Now as robots, the four of them travel back in time to the Cave of the Past, where the travel through the cave finding Giygas's Lair with Porky at his side. They learn that Giygas's power became too great for even his own mind to handle, literally becoming the "Embodiment of Evil" itself. Giygas now exists as a nearly omnipotent entity without thought or reason; an "all-mighty idiot." After dealing with Porky, he turns off the Devil's Machine unleashing Giygas, who attacks the heroes with incomprehensible attacks. They attempt to battle Giygas, but their attacks are ineffective. As Porky insults them and Giygas continues attacking them in ways they cannot comprehend, Paula prays with all her heart that someone lends them strength. As she does so, their acquaintances and friends from their journey return with prayers of their own and successfully help to vanquish Giygas. With one more useless insult, Porky retreats to another time period and Giygas vanishes for eternity. With the war against Giygas over, Ness's spirit, along with the others, leave their battered robot bodies and return to the present. Poo returns home, Jeff joins his father. Ness receives a letter from his mother, who tells him how she heard he defeated Giygas, and about the family not eating as much of his favorite food anymore. Ness then escorts Paula back to Twoson, and returns back home. He receives a call from his father saying he will be home to celebrate his upcoming birthday, while Ness, Tracy, and their mother look at the photos of Ness's journey.
Ness makes a cameo appearence in Mother 3 in the theater in New Pork City. The screen plays Porky Minch's favorite film showing Ness and his friends in a slide show showing various parts of EarthBound.
Ness appears in the Super Smash Bros. series. He is playable in every game of the series. He is an unlockable character in the Smash 64, Brawl, the 3DS version of Smash 4, and Ultimate, but is a default character in Melee and the Wii U version of Smash 4.
Ness is overall a middleweight fighter who has slow walking speed, slightly below average run speed, and fast air speed. Ness's special moves involve him using the PSI moves PK Flash (Standard B, Melee onwards), PK Fire (Side +B Melee onwards, Standard B in Smash 64), PK Thunder (Up + B), and PSI Magnet (Down + B), and PK Starstorm for his Final Smash (Brawl onwards). His up and down Smash Attacks uses his Yo-Yo, and his side Smash Attack uses his Baseball bat. His Baseball bat can also reflect projectiles, though it is difficult. Ness couldn't learn PK Fire, Thunder, PSI Magnet, or Starstorm in EarthBound although his trophy description in Melee says Paula taught him those moves to use in Super Smash Bros..
In Super Mario Maker Ness can be obtained as a Mystery Mushroom power-ups by completing the 100 Mario Challenge on normal mode, or by scanning his amiibo figure. Pressing up on the directional pad will play the sound effect when learning a new PSI move in EarthBound, and completing a level as Ness will play the fanfare when winning against a boss in EarthBound.
Although Ness's age was never confirmed by Shigesato Itoi, there are a few minor instances where Ness was given an age: The Japanese guide for Mother 2 states Ness's age as 12, however the EarthBound Player's Guide as well as the official UK website states he is 13. When asked by Clyde (Tomato) Mandelin about Ness's age, this was Shigesato Itoi's response (Quoted from Clyde Mandelin's Legends of Localization book):
"I don't think he had an 'official age', actually. Plus the game's development took so long, he might have aged overtime anyway. However my own daughter was in fourth or fifth grade at the time, which held a very strong spot in my mind. She would put on a backpack (just like Ness's) and head out to all sorts of places, you know?"
The clay models for Ness and Paula for the US release of EarthBound are different from the original Japanese Mother 2 models.
In the Super Smash Bros. series, Ness is voiced by Makiko Ōmoto, who also voices Kirby.
During the development of Melee, Ness was intended to be removed and replaced by Lucas. However, due to the numerous delay and the cancellation of EarthBound 64, Ness was kept in the game.
Ness is the only EarthBound series main protagonist to not normally have the run ability in all the games he appears in, as Ninten can run in the English release of EarthBound Beginnings and the Mother portion of Mother 1+2, and all characters have the ability to run in Mother 3.
Ness can temparorily run for a short time after eating a Skip Sandwich or Skip Sandwich DX.
Early footage of EarthBound 64 shows a character resembling Ness riding a Pork Bean and walking through a forest.
In the EarthBound-inspired RPG, Citizens of Earth, a message in the Police Station can be read alerting units to a "spiteful youth" who was seen "beating crows with a cracked bat", referencing Ness and the beginning portion of EarthBound, along with the only weapon he can use at that point being the cracked bat.
The ESP copy ability in the Kirby series references Ness. In addition to wielding psychic powers like Ness, Kirby also wears a hat similar to the former's. It is further referenced by the Ness and Lucas amiibo giving Kirby this copy ability.