Years ago, I think around when the fan translation first came out, I started this game. For the most part I liked it, but it just wasn't Earthbound. Which, yeah, it's not. So I hit a point mid/late game (never looked up how far in I was), decided that was that and moved on.
Last year however, I had a need to have a Game Boy Advance, and with that came a desire to give this game another shot. Having matured in the time since and a better idea of what I like, as well as what to expect, I was ready to go back.
I've slowly been making my way through and it's been great. I think coming back to it later in life has only served to make a lot of the themes resonate ever more strongly. It's still not Earthbound, and that's okay. In fact, it's probably a good thing. Both are their own things, with some links, but ultimately they are themselves, which I'm more willing to accept now.
Mechanically it's engaging, and increasingly so as I get better at the rhythm based combos. I've gone from mostly landing 2-5 hit combos, now to pretty consistently managing 10-16. A few battle tunes still trip me up but I'm only getting better at this.
Today I've made it to chapter 4 and I hope to carry the momentum forward. Lucas is taking his dog for a walk, everyone is being very rude towards him, but he doesn't need a Happy Box. I look forward to where this goes, especially as I don't clearly remember what is coming up outside of very broad strokes.