- "Hey me! I found my cap that you lost."
- — Ness (in Magicant)
Ness (ネス, Ness) is the silent main protagonist of EarthBound and is analogous to Ninten and Lucas in their respective games. He greatly enjoys baseball; not only are most of his weapons various types of baseball bats, but he can also equip several baseball caps. In the EarthBound Player's Guide, he is said to wear a special baseball cap with his favorite team's logo on the front.
Ness has short black hair and black eyes. He normally wears a red baseball cap with a blue bill turned to his right side. He wears a horizontally striped yellow and blue t-shirt and blue shorts, with white socks and red shoes. He also has a brown backpack, though it's described to be yellow in-game by an NPC.
He wears pajamas at a couple points in the game, which are a simple white two-piece with blue vertical stripes.
Ness is the eldest son of an unnamed couple, and the older brother of Tracy. At the beginning of EarthBound, Ness is awoken from a sound sleep by the impact of a meteorite north of his house in Onett. His mother and sister are agitated, but Ness leaves to find out what happened. After meeting up with Lier X. Agerate and his next-door neighbor, Pokey Minch, he returns home and tries to get back to sleep. Soon thereafter, Pokey arrives and demands that Ness help him look for his little brother, who has gone missing during the calamity surrounding the impact.
After a pep-talk from his mother, Ness, Pokey, and King go back out to the hillside, where they find Picky (who reveals it was Pokey who actually ran away). They also encounter Buzz-Buzz, an insectoid warrior who has returned from the future to warn Ness of the threat that Giygas poses to the universe. It is from Buzz-Buzz that Ness learns of the prophecy surrounding his future; that he, along with the help of two other boys and one girl, will stand against Giygas and save the universe from total annihilation.
Vested with this knowledge, Ness accompanies Pokey and Picky back to their home but is assaulted by a Starman Jr. The alien confirms the prophecy before attacking the group. It is defeated through Buzz-buzz's massive PSI powers and Ness' physical attacks. Upon arriving at Pokey's house, Buzz-buzz is unceremoniously killed (for his alleged resemblance to a dung beetle) by Lardna Minch. Before expiring, Buzz-buzz passes on the Sound Stone to Ness and starts him on his quest to save the world.
In the town of Onett, Ness first unlocks the power of Giant Step after tangling with Frank Fly and the Sharks. However, Captain Strong and the Onett Police Force are not happy with Ness investigating private property and ambush him at the police station. They back off and give him the way to Twoson after he bests them in a fight.
In Twoson, Ness is telepathically contacted by Paula, another member of his party, who asks him to come and rescue her. Learning her whereabouts from Everdred, a friendly gangster, Ness finds his way through Peaceful Rest Valley to Happy Happy Village, which is under the spell 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. Ness confronts Carpainter and defeats him, thereby breaking the spell of Happy Happyism over the valley. Though he blames a certain statue, Carpainter thanks, Ness and gives him the key to Paula's cell. Ness frees Paula but encounters Pokey outside. Pokey reveals that he was the high priest behind the Happy Happyist threat and escapes, vowing to return. Ness and Paula gain the power of Lilliput Steps from the nearby cave.
They then find the way to Threed after assisting the Runaway Five, a famous jazz band, in escaping a debt at the Twoson theater. The Runaway Five take them there in their van and drop them off. Ness and Paula quickly discover the town is under an awful curse and zombies run rampant. They try to fight the zombies but are lured into a trap and locked in an underground cell. Paula contacts Jeff telepathically. He arrives in a flying capsule and unlocks the cell door with a special invention. The three of them conspire with the townsfolk to trap the zombies in the circus tent with flypaper. 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, they come upon Saturn Valley, which is under the threat of Master Belch, who not only has dominion of the zombies but has kidnapped many innocent residents of the valley. They infiltrate a secret base behind a waterfall near the valley and encounter Belch. Playing on his obsession with fly honey, they easily defeat him and free the Saturn Valley inhabitants, gaining the power of Milky Well in the process.
Their mission in Saturn Valley completed, they go back to Threed, which is now back to normal, and take the bus to Fourside. Unfortunately, they run into bad traffic in the desert and are forced to abandon the bus and conclude the journey on foot. Arriving in Fourside, they find the Runaway Five has fallen into debt with the city theater yet again. Ness and the gang assist in digging for treasure in a mine in the desert and 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 fight and defeat the Department Store Spook. Looking for clues to Paula's disappearance at Jackie's Cafe, Ness and Jeff unexpectedly stumble upon a fantastical alternate dimension called Moonside. Navigating the oppositely-oriented domain, they discover the Mani Mani statue to be the cause and destroy it, to find that they have been in the storeroom to Jackie's Cafe all along.
At the advisement of the Apple Kid, 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 a maid to let them into the Monotoli Building in Fourside, where Paula is apparently being held. With some unexpected help from the Runaway Five, Ness and Jeff make it to Mayor Monotoli's room where they rescue Paula. Monotli apologizes to them for kidnapping Paula but offers them use of his helicopter to travel to Summers. Unfortunately, Pokey who has been working as a consultant for Monotoli and orchestrated Paula's kidnapping steals the helicopter and flies away, taunting and sneering at Ness.
The Runaway Five take them back to Threed where they repair Jeff's flying machine and fly to Winters, leaving Eagleland to rendezvous with his father. While Dr. Andonuts remodels the Sky Runner, they find their way to Rainy Circle with the help of the dungeon architect, Brick Road. Afterward, they fly to Summers in the Sky Runner.
While in Summers, they visit Club Stoic and Ness chats with a woman who shows him some magic cake. After taking a bite, he falls into a slumber and sees a vision of a foreigner from Dalaam named 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, they find a pothole in the back, leading through the sewers of Fourside to Magnet Hill, in the middle of the city. Here Ness picks up a Carrot Key, which he uses to find Pink Cloud in Dalaam.
They return to Summers and find the passage to Scaraba. By activating a set of buttons in front of the Sphinx, Ness and company journey into a pyramid to find the Hawk Eye. With some help from Dungeon Man, they find a passage through a dark mire into the Deep Darkness. After the group combats the enemies in the gloomy swamp, including Master Barf, they find Tenda Village and its overly shy residents. Ness then receives a harried phone call from the Apple Kid in Dr. Andonuts' lab, but the line is cut off unexpectedly.
The group investigates the deserted lab in Winters and finds clues that point to Giygas' 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 defeat a Starman DX for their freedom. The 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 socially adept enough to direct Ness to Lumine Hall.
Lumine Hall deposits them all in the dinosaur-infested Lost Underworld where they find the final Sanctuary location, Fire Spring. Ness loses consciousness after hearing the melody and wakes up in Magicant, the colorful, dreamy world of his mind. Ness encounters everyone he has met in his journey here. They direct him to the Sea of Eden, his central conscience, where he confronts his 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 Pokey stole the original. It needs only one meteorite sample to function properly. Ness travels back to Onett, which is swarming with fierce enemies, for a piece of the meteorite. Ness and company make it back with the meteorite and 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, but apart from the ruined Phase Distorter, find nothing. Dr. Andonuts and the Apple Kid arrive in the Phase Distorter III with news that Pokey has fled to the past. In order to pursue Pokey, 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 no going back to his 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 and find Giygas's Lair with a deformed Pokey at his side. They learn that Giygas's power became too great for even his own mind to handle, Giygas now exists as a nearly omnipotent entity without thought or reason; an "all-mighty idiot." After dealing with Pokey, they attempt to battle Giygas, but their attacks don't seem to be effective. As Giygas attacks 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, Pokey retreats to another time period. With the war against Giygas over, Ness' spirit, along with the others, leave their battered robot bodies and return to the present. Poo returns home, Jeff joins his father, and Ness walks Paula home at her request.
In the Super Smash Bros. Series
Ness is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, like all other installments so far. Ness's clay model also appears as a sticker in Super Smash Bros. Brawl based on his EarthBound clay model. Attaching this sticker to the bottom of Ness or Lucas's trophies in The Subspace Emissary increases their PK attack by 33. He is voiced by Makiko Ōmoto.
Relationships with other Party Members
After being saved by Ness from cultists, the two become great friends. During the closing of EarthBound, Ness is asked to accompany Paula to her home, and her parents comment on a relationship between the two. Additionally, Ness's mother would ask about her addressing her as his girlfriend.
Despite being accompanied by Jeff for the majority of the game and fighting alongside him, the two rarely interact. The two are known friends as stated by their first interaction.
Poo is the last companion to join Ness on his journey. Slightly aloof due to his training, Poo is nevertheless a friend and stalwart companion.
- Ness is the only main protagonist in the Mother series to not normally have the run ability. He can temporarily run with the aid of a Skip Sandwich or Skip Sandwich DX, though.
- Ness was originally planned to be replaced by Lucas as the character representative of the Mother series in Super Smash Bros. Melee; however, Ness reprised his role due to the original cancellation of EarthBound 64.
- Using the Don't Care naming option, possible names for Ness are "Ness", "Alec", "Roger", "Will", "Brian", "Tyler", and "Lane". In Japan, possible names for Ness are "ネス (Ness)", "ぼうし (Hat)", "たくや (Takuya), "ジョン (John), "さるまる (Sarumaru)", "マリオ (Mario)", and "ちんちん (Chinchin)".
- In America and Europe:
- Alec is the name of Hinawa's father in the fan translation of Mother 3.
- In Japan:
- Takuya is named after Takuya Kimura, a Japanese actor/singer.
- John is named after John Lennon, of The Beatles.
- Mario is the main mascot of Nintendo.
- In America and Europe:
- In an early video of EarthBound 64, footage was shown of what appears to be Ness riding a Pork Bean and walking in the forest. It is speculated by fans that he would have been playable, as a 3D model of Onett was also shown.
- Ness was the first Mother character to have his game released outside of Japan.
- In the Japanese version of EarthBound, Ness enters Magicant completely naked instead of dressed in his pajamas in the localization. Nudity is generally acceptable in Japanese culture, whereas it is considered sexually explicit in the West, requiring it to be changed during localization.
- Ness's name may be due to the fact that it is a homophone of NES and an anagram of SNES, similarly to how Ninten's name may be based on Nintendo.
- A younger version of Ness appears in Magicant, saying "It's me… I'm you when you were younger. Hey, let's play ball. Do you prefer reading comics or playing games? What? You're busy?…"
- This younger version's sprite is used for one of the NPCs in Threed.
- Ness is the only main protagonist to have a weapon for his first fight, since his mom tells him to get the Cracked bat from Tracy's room.
- In the commercial for EarthBound, Ness was named "NessA" for unknown reasons.
- In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Ness's Final Smash is PK Starstorm despite the fact that he never actually uses or even learns the move in EarthBound. However, it is stated in a trophy that, "Poo taught Ness the secret of the attack for use in Super Smash Bros. Brawl".
- In Super Mario Maker, there is a Ness costume that can be unlocked by completing 100 Mario Challenge on Normal setting or higher, or by scanning a Ness Amiibo. By pressing up on the D-Pad, the jingle for learning a new technique will play.
- Two Copy abilities in the Kirby series are both references to Ness: Yo-Yo and ESP. The former is implied while the latter alludes to him in the Copy Ability's description.
- Ness is implied by several NPCs to be overweight. This includes a cop in Onett calling him fat, and the bus driver calling him chubby. If talked to during the epilogue, Paula's mother mentions that he lost weight, which further implies this.
- Ness, however, appears to be fit in more recent installments in the Super Smash Bros. series.
- 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". This is an obvious nod to Ness and the beginning portion of Earthbound.