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Actor's new book recounts his love for EarthBound

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Actor Ken Baumann, known best for his five-year stint on The Secret Life of the American Teenager, is bound to EarthBound. In a report on Joystiq, Baumann shares some details behind the book's crowdfunding campaign as well as some background on its content.

EarthBound, or Mother 2 in Japan, is the first installment in the Boss Fight Books series, which features writers explaining their personal connections to and exploring the creation of video games they love. Baumann's book recounts his own life and the lessons learned along the way in parallel to EarthBound's unfolding narrative, linking experiences like a miniature horse his family raised when he was a child to a look at the game's U.S. satirization — as well as detailing his battle with Crohn's disease alongside his latest playthrough as an adult.

"You can't really place EarthBound in a tradition," the actor explained. "You have to use too many references — so many references that it almost makes talking about the general tone of EarthBound incoherent. To me, that's the sign of a great piece of art: if it can cohere with that many influences and do that many things tonally, and still kind of work."

The Kickstarter campaign for the Boss Fight series was funded last July, exceeding its $5,000 goal and pulling in $45,429. As part of a deal with publisher Gabe Durham, Baumann wrote the first book, linking EarthBound's events to those in his own life.

"I still have a healthy amount of doubt about whether that was the right thing to do," Baumann said. "I found when thinking about this game, it felt so personally important to me that it almost seemed indistinguishable from my childhood. Playing EarthBound when I was five and six — I couldn't isolate that, cut around it, and put it in a petri dish and examine it. It just blended and burred into my life as a kid, and my relationship with my older brother, in a way that just felt like I had to talk about myself when I was younger."

EarthBound is available now, as is another book focused on Chrono Trigger by writer and Japanese specialist Michael P. Williams. More based on ZZT, Galaga, Super Mario Bros. 2 and Jagged Alliance 2 are on the way later this summer.