In Earthbound, you meet Brickroad, a man who becomes a dungeon, joins your party, gets stuck in some trees forever, then gives you a yellow submarine so you can cross a river.

You first meet Brickroad after going through a maze he designed. It’s not very interesting. But you do meet the guy at the end and he says something pretty silly, “by combining my skills and Dr. Andonuts intelligence, I can become “Dungeon Man,” the first combination of human and dungeon in history. Let’s meet again once I have become dungeon man.” That’s pretty weird, but maybe not that strange by Earthbound standards. You probably forget about it.

Hours later you get a key to a humanoid tower. You enter the tower and learn it’s a dungeon created by Brickroad. There are signs scattered throughout, one of the first you run into is below a cliff with an item on top and notes that “even though you can’t get up there now, you might be able to later”. Another notes that you’ll often find items at dead ends. There’s plenty of other similar signs talking about level design, different ones talking about parts of the dungeon itself, and other more absurd ones.

You fight enemies, find items, do the whole dungeon thing, all the while getting this weird, Brickroad-sign-based commentary. You explore a zoo, you see a vehicle collection, then you reach the top floor.

There is a face embedded in the wall. It is Brickroad’s face. You talk to him. He has become “Dungeon Man” and he’s going to come with you. You leave the tower and now the tower is following you. If you get into battles, the tower fights with you. He doesn’t really have a walking animation. It kind of just flashes the tower sprite facing left and right.

This amazing experience can only last so long. You eventually walk between some trees that are too close for Dungeon Man to pass through, and he tells you he’s stuck there forever, that it’s impossible for him to move from that spot, it’s his “eternal resting place”.

But he can still do one more thing for you, you go back into him, and get to take his yellow submarine out of his vehicle collection in order to cross a river.

I find this to be one of the weirder things in Earthbound. It’s very self referential in a way games don’t normally do. You’ll find a game talking about the fact that there’s a player playing the game (which Earthbound does) but I feel like I haven’t seen too many games talking about level design.