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EarthBound

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EarthBound
EarthBound Box.jpg
North American box art, depicting a Final Starman with Ness's reflection in its visor
Developer(s)Ape
HAL Laboratory
Publisher(s)Nintendo
Director(s)Shigesato Itoi
Producer(s)Shigesato Itoi
Satoru Iwata
Tsunekazu Ishihara
Designer(s)Akihiko Miura
Programmer(s)Satoru Iwata
Kouji Malta
Artist(s)Kouichi Ooyama
Writer(s)Shigesato Itoi
Composer(s)Keiichi Suzuki
Hirokazu Tanaka
SeriesMother
Platform(s)Super NES
Game Boy Advance
Release
  • JP: August 27, 1994
  • NA: June 5, 1995
Genre(s)Role-playing
Mode(s)Single-player

EarthBound, released in Japan as Mother 2: Gīgu no Gyakushū,[a][1][2] is a role-playing video game developed by Ape Inc. and HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The second entry in the Mother series, it was first released in Japan in August 1994, and in North America in June 1995. As Ness and his party of Paula, Jeff and Poo, the player travels the world to collect melodies from eight Sanctuaries in order to defeat the universal cosmic destroyer Giygas.

EarthBound had a lengthy development period that spanned five years. Its returning staff from Mother (1989) included writer/director Shigesato Itoi and lead programmer Satoru Iwata, as well as composers Keiichi Suzuki and Hirokazu Tanaka, who incorporated a diverse range of styles into the soundtrack, including salsa, reggae, and dub. Most of the other staff members had not worked on the original Mother, and the game came under repeated threats of cancellation until Iwata joined the team. Originally scheduled for release in January 1993, the game was completed around May 1994.

Themed around an idiosyncratic portrayal of Americana and Western culture, EarthBound subverted popular role-playing game traditions by featuring a modern setting while parodying numerous staples of the genre. Itoi wanted the game to reach non-gamers with its intentionally goofy tone; for example, the player uses items such as the Pencil Eraser to remove pencil statues, experiences in-game hallucinations, and battles piles of vomit, taxi cabs, and walking nooses. For its American release, the game was marketed with a $2 million promotional campaign that sardonically proclaimed "this game stinks". The game's puns and humor were reworked by localizer Marcus Lindblom. Since the original Mother had not yet been released outside Japan, Mother 2 was called EarthBound to avoid confusion about what it was a sequel to.

Although it was positively received by Japanese audiences, EarthBound sold poorly in the U.S., which journalists attributed to a combination of its simple graphics, satirical marketing campaign, and a lack of market interest in the genre. In the ensuing years, a dedicated fan community spawned that advocated for the series' recognition, particularly after Ness appeared as a playable character in the Super Smash Bros. series. By the 2000s, multiple reader polls and critics had named it one of the greatest video games ever made, and it became regarded as a "sacred cow among gaming's cognoscenti".[3] It was followed by the Japan-only sequel Mother 3 for the Game Boy Advance in 2006. EarthBound was later made available worldwide on the Wii U Virtual Console in 2013, 3DS Virtual Console in 2016, the SNES Classic in 2018, and Nintendo Switch Online in February 2022.

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Creatures (company)

Creatures (company)

Creatures Inc. is a Japanese video game company affiliated with Game Freak, Nintendo and The Pokémon Company, and one of the owners of the Pokémon franchise. It was founded by Tsunekazu Ishihara in November 1995, with the assistance of then-president of HAL Laboratory, Satoru Iwata, as a successor to Shigesato Itoi's company Ape Inc.

HAL Laboratory

HAL Laboratory

HAL Laboratory, Inc., formerly shortened as HALKEN, is a Japanese video game developer founded on 21 February 1980. While independent, it has been closely tied with Nintendo throughout its history, and is often referred to as a second-party developer for the company. HAL Laboratory is headquartered in Chiyoda, Tokyo, and it also has a building at Kai, Yamanashi. The company got its name because "each letter put them one step ahead of IBM". The company is most famous for their work on the Kirby and Mother series, as well as the first two Super Smash Bros. games.

Mother (video game series)

Mother (video game series)

Mother is a video game series that consists of three role-playing video games: Mother (1989), known as EarthBound Beginnings outside Japan, for the Family Computer; Mother 2 (1994), known as EarthBound outside Japan, for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System; and Mother 3 (2006) for the Game Boy Advance.

Giygas

Giygas

Giygas, also known as Giegue, and Gyiyg in Japan, is a character in the Mother video game series by Nintendo, created by Shigesato Itoi. The character serves as the main antagonist and final boss of Mother and its sequel, Mother 2/EarthBound. In the series, he invades Earth in an attempt to wipe out humanity in Mother, and returns in EarthBound where he conquers the world and sends his forces into the past to prevent protagonist Ness from defeating him. The battle against Giygas, which depicts him in turmoil, drew inspiration from a Japanese film which traumatized Itoi as a child. He has received positive reception with critics referring to his battle as one of the creepiest in video games, and considered one of the greatest and most iconic video game antagonists of all time.

Mother (video game)

Mother (video game)

Mother, officially known outside of Japan as EarthBound Beginnings, is a 1989 role-playing video game developed by Ape and Pax Softnica and published by Nintendo for the Famicom. It is the first entry in the Mother series. It is modeled on the gameplay of the Dragon Quest series, but is set in the late 20th-century United States, unlike its fantasy genre contemporaries. Mother follows the young Ninten as he uses his great-grandfather's studies on psychic powers to fight hostile, formerly inanimate objects and other enemies. The game uses random encounters to enter a menu-based, first-person perspective battle system.

Keiichi Suzuki

Keiichi Suzuki

Keiichi Suzuki is a Japanese musician, singer, and record producer who co-founded the Moonriders, a group that became one of Japan's most innovative rock bands. He is known to audiences outside Japan for his musical contributions to the video games Mother (1989) and EarthBound (1994), both of which have been released on several soundtracks. More recently, he has composed film scores including The Blind Swordsman: Zatōichi (2003), Tokyo Godfathers (2003), Uzumaki (2000), Chicken Heart (2009), as well as Takeshi Kitano's Outrage trilogy.

Hirokazu Tanaka

Hirokazu Tanaka

Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka , also known as Chip Tanaka, is a Japanese musician, composer, sound designer, and executive who pioneered chiptune music. He is best known as one of Nintendo's in-house composers during the 8- and 16-bit era of video games. Tanaka also had a role in designing and programming the Famicom and Game Boy audio hardware, along with the NES Zapper, Game Boy Camera, and Game Boy Printer.

Dub music

Dub music

Dub is an electronic musical style that grew out of reggae in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is commonly considered a subgenre of reggae, though it has developed to extend beyond that style. Generally, dub consists of remixes of existing recordings created by significantly manipulating the original, usually through the removal of vocal parts, the application of studio effects such as echo and reverb, emphasis of the rhythm section, and the occasional dubbing of vocal or instrumental snippets from the original version or other works.

Americana (culture)

Americana (culture)

Americana artifacts are related to the history, geography, folklore, and cultural heritage of the United States of America. Americana is any collection of materials and things concerning or characteristic of the United States or of the American people, and is representative or even stereotypical of American culture as a whole.

Marcus Lindblom

Marcus Lindblom

Marcus Lindblom is an American video game developer known for his English localization of the 1994 video game EarthBound. Lindblom spent his youth in the United States, and dropped out of college to move to Japan with his wife. After four years, he returned to college in the United States and began to work at Nintendo of America's call center. He eventually worked on Japanese-to-English game localization projects such as Wario's Woods and EarthBound. Lindblom worked with a translator and a writer to accurately translate the game for a Western audience. He sought to stay true to Shigesato Itoi's script, but was given latitude to make the script as weird as he wanted, and so added in American cultural allusions. Lindblom considers the localization his highest achievement.

EarthBound fandom

EarthBound fandom

The 1994 video game EarthBound is known for its cult following and fan community. Multiple video game journalists have written about the dedication of the game's fans in producing fan art and lobbying Nintendo for further releases in the series. The company has been largely unresponsive to their efforts. Prominent fansites include Starmen.net and EarthBound Central. The former was started in 1999 and became the definitive community website. Their members organized petitions and campaigns to bring English-localized games from the Mother series to North America. One such effort included a full-color, 270-page EarthBound Anthology as a demonstration of consumer demand for further releases. After nearly a decade, EarthBound was rereleased for the Wii U Virtual Console in 2013, whereupon it became a bestseller.

Game Boy Advance

Game Boy Advance

The Game Boy Advance (GBA) is a 32-bit handheld game console developed, manufactured and marketed by Nintendo as the successor to the Game Boy Color. It was released in Japan on March 21, 2001, in North America on June 11, 2001, in the PAL region on June 22, 2001, and in mainland China as iQue Game Boy Advance on June 8, 2004. The GBA is part of the sixth generation of video game consoles. The original model does not have an illuminated screen; Nintendo addressed that with the release of a redesigned model with a frontlit screen, the Game Boy Advance SP, in 2003. A newer revision of the redesign was released in 2005, with a backlit screen. Around the same time, the final redesign, the Game Boy Micro, was released in September 2005.

Gameplay

Poo, Jeff, Paula, and Ness (left to right) walking the Summers beachfront
Poo, Jeff, Paula, and Ness (left to right) walking the Summers beachfront

EarthBound features many traditional role-playing game elements: the player controls a party of characters who travel through the game's two-dimensional world composed of villages, cities, caves, and dungeons. Along the way, the player fights battles against enemies and the party receives experience points for victories.[4] If enough experience points are acquired, a character's level will increase. This pseudo-randomly increases the character's attributes, such as offense, defense, and the maximum hit points (HP) and psychic points (PP) of each character. Rather than using an overworld map screen like most console RPGs of its era, the world is entirely seamless, with no differentiation between towns and the outside world.[5] Another non-traditional element is the perspective used for the world. The game uses oblique projection, while most 2D RPGs use a "top-down" view on a grid or an isometric perspective.[6]

Like its predecessor, EarthBound Beginnings, EarthBound uses random encounters. When contact occurs between a character and one of the randomly generated enemy parties, the screen dissolves into battle mode. In combat, once an enemy or character's HP reaches zero, that enemy or character is rendered unconscious. There is a chance that the party will receive an item after the battle. Battle commands include attacking, spying (reveals enemy weakness), mirroring (emulates an enemy), and running away. Characters can also use PSI actions that require PP. Once each character is assigned a command, the characters and enemies perform their actions in an order determined by character speed and a random number generator. Whenever a character receives damage, the HP box gradually "rolls" down, similar to a mechanical counter. This allows players an opportunity to heal the character or win the battle before the counter hits zero, after which the character is knocked unconscious.[nb 1] This mechanic does not apply to enemies, for whom unconsciousness is instantaneous and can be reversed only with healing PSI. If all characters are rendered unconscious, the game transitions to an endgame screen, asking if the player wants to continue. An affirmative response brings Ness, conscious, back to the last save point, with half the money on his person at the time of his defeat, and with other party members still unconscious. If the party contacts an enemy from behind (indicated by a translucent green swirl that fills the screen), the player is given a first-strike priority when battle mode begins. If the party contacts an enemy with their backs, the swirl is red, and the enemy is given first-strike priority. Neutral priority is indicated by a black swirl. Battles with weaker enemies are won automatically, forgoing the battle sequence, and weaker monsters will flee from Ness and his friends rather than chase them.[4]

Currency is indirectly received from battles. Each time the party wins a battle, Ness' father, who can also save the game's progress, deposits money in an account that can be withdrawn at ATMs. In towns, players can buy weapons, armor, and items from stores. Weapons and armor can be equipped to increase character strength and defense, respectively. Items can be used for a number of purposes, such as healing. Towns also contain useful facilities such as hospitals where players can be healed for a fee.[7]

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Fictional universe

Fictional universe

A fictional universe, or fictional world, is a self-consistent setting with events, and often other elements, that differ from the real world. It may also be called an imagined, constructed, or fictional realm. Fictional universes may appear in novels, comics, films, television shows, video games, and other creative works.

Overworld

Overworld

An overworld is, in a broad sense, commonly an area within a video game that interconnects all its levels or locations. They are mostly common in role-playing games, though this does not exclude other video game genres, such as some platformers and strategy games.

Oblique projection

Oblique projection

Oblique projection is a simple type of technical drawing of graphical projection used for producing two-dimensional (2D) images of three-dimensional (3D) objects.

Mechanical counter

Mechanical counter

Mechanical counters are digital counters built using mechanical components. Long before electronics became common, mechanical devices were used to count events. They typically consist of a series of disks mounted on an axle, with the digits zero through nine marked on their edge. The right most disk moves one increment with each event. Each disk except the left-most has a protrusion that, after the completion of one revolution, moves the next disk to the left one increment. Such counters were used as odometers for bicycles and cars and in tape recorders and fuel dispensers and to control manufacturing processes. One of the largest manufacturers was the Veeder-Root company, and their name was often used for this type of counter. Mechanical counters can be made into electromechanical counters, that count electrical impulses, by adding a small solenoid.

Automated teller machine

Automated teller machine

An automated teller machine (ATM) is an electronic telecommunications device that enables customers of financial institutions to perform financial transactions, such as cash withdrawals, deposits, funds transfers, balance inquiries or account information inquiries, at any time and without the need for direct interaction with bank staff.

Plot

EarthBound takes place in the 1990s, several years after the events of Mother, in the fictional country of Eagleland, a parody of the United States. The player starts as a young boy named Ness[nb 2] as he investigates a nearby meteorite crash[9] with his neighbor, Pokey,[10][nb 3] to find his neighbor's brother Picky. They find that an alien force, Giygas, has enveloped and consumed the world in hatred and consequently turned animals, humans, and objects into malicious creatures. A small, bee-like creature from the future named Buzz-Buzz instructs Ness to collect melodies in a Sound Stone from eight Sanctuaries to preemptively stop the force,[11] but is killed shortly thereafter when Pokey and Picky's mother mistakes him for a pest. On his journey to visit the sanctuaries, Ness visits the cultists of Happy Happy Village, where he saves Paula, and the zombie-infested Threed, where the two of them fall prey to a trap. After Paula telepathically instructs Jeff in a Winters boarding school to rescue them, they continue to Saturn Valley, a village filled with a species of creatures called Mr. Saturn, the city of Fourside, and the seaside resort Summers. Meanwhile, Poo, the prince of Dalaam, undergoes training called "Mu Training" before joining the party as well.[10]

The party continues to travel to the Scaraba desert, the Deep Darkness swamp, another village of creatures called the Tenda and a forgotten underworld where dinosaurs live. When the Sound Stone is eventually filled,[12] Ness visits Magicant, a surreal location in his mind where he fights his personal dark side.[10] Upon returning to Eagleland, Ness and his party use the Phase Distorter to travel back in time to fight Giygas, transferring their souls into robots so as to not destroy their bodies through time travel. The group discovers a device that contains Giygas, but it is being guarded by Pokey, who has been aiding Giygas all along and is using alien technology. After being defeated in battle, Pokey turns the device off, releasing Giygas and forcing the group to fight[13] the alien, whose infinite power is turning him into an incomprehensible embodiment of evil and insanity. During the fight, Paula reaches out to the inhabitants of Earth, and eventually the player, who prays for the children's safety. The prayers manage to exploit Giygas' fatal weakness – human emotions – and defeat the alien, eradicating him from existence.[10] In a post-credits scene, Ness, whose life has returned to normal following Giygas' defeat, receives a note from Pokey, who challenges Ness to come and find him.[11]

Development

EarthBound designer Shigesato Itoi and producer Satoru Iwata
EarthBound designer Shigesato Itoi and producer Satoru Iwata
EarthBound designer Shigesato Itoi and producer Satoru Iwata

The first Mother was released for the NES in 1989.[14] Its sequel, Mother 2, or EarthBound, was developed over five years[5] by Ape and HAL, and published through Nintendo.[15] The game was written and designed by Japanese author, musician, and advertiser Shigesato Itoi,[16] and produced by Satoru Iwata, who became Nintendo's president and CEO.[17] Mother 2 was made with a development team different from that of the original game,[18] and most of its members were unmarried and willing to work all night on the project.[19] Mother 2's development took much longer than planned and came under repeated threat of cancellation.[5] Itoi has said that the project's dire straits were resolved when Iwata joined the team.[18] Ape's programming team had more members than HAL on the project. The HAL team (led by lead programmer Iwata) worked on the game programming, while the Ape team (led by lead programmer Kouji Malta) worked on specific data, such as the text and maps. They spent biweekly retreats together at the HAL office in view of Mount Fuji.[20]

The game continues Mother's story in that Giygas reappears as the antagonist (and thus did not die at the end of Mother) and the player has the option of choosing whether to continue the protagonist's story by choosing whether to name their player-character the same as the original.[21] He considered interstellar and interplanetary space travel instead of the confines of a single planet in the new game. After four months, Itoi scrapped the idea as cliché. Itoi sought to make a game that would appeal to populations that were playing games less, such as girls.[5]

The Mother series titles are built on what Itoi considered "reckless wildness", where he would offer ideas that encouraged his staff to contribute new ways of portraying scenes in the video game medium.[11] He saw the titles foremost as games and not "big scenario scripts".[11] Itoi has said that he wanted the player to feel emotions such as "distraught" when playing the game.[11] The game's writing was intentionally "quirky and goofy" in character,[14] and written in the Japanese kana script so as to give dialogue a conversational feel. Itoi thought of the default player-character names when he did not like his team's suggestions. Many of the characters were based on real-life personalities. For instance, the desert miners were modeled on specific executives from a Japanese construction company.[5] The final battle dialogue with Giygas was based on Itoi's recollections of a traumatic scene from the Shintoho film The Military Policeman and the Dismembered Beauty that he had accidentally seen in his childhood.[22] Itoi referred to the battle background animations as a "video drug".[5] The same specialist made nearly 200 of these animations, working solely on backgrounds for two years.[5]

The idea for the rolling HP meter began with pachinko balls that would drop balls off the screen upon being hit. This did not work as well for characters with high health. Instead, around 1990, they chose an odometer-style hit points counter.[5] The bicycle was one of the harder elements to implement[20]—it used controls similar to a tank before it was tweaked.[5] Iwata felt that the Ape programmers were particularly willing to tackle such challenges. The programmers also found difficulty implementing the in-game delivery service, where the delivery person had to navigate around obstacles to reach the player. They thought it would be funny to have the delivery person run through obstacles in a hurry on his way off-screen.[20] The unusual maps laid out with diagonal streets in oblique projection required extra attention from the artists. Itoi specifically chose against having an overworld map, and didn't want to artificially distinguish between towns and other areas. Instead, he worked to make each town unique. His own favorite town was Threed, though it was Summers before then.[5]

Mother 2 was designed to fit within an eight-megabit limit, but was expanded in size and scope twice: first to 12 megabits and second to 24 megabits.[5] The game was originally scheduled for release in January 1993 on a 12 megabit cartridge.[23] It was finished around May 1994[20] and the Japanese release was set for August 27.[24] With the extra few months, the team played the game and added small, personal touches.[20] Itoi told Weekly Famitsu that Shigeru Miyamoto liked the game and that it was the first role-playing game that Miyamoto had completed.[5] Mother 2 would release in North America about a year later.[25]

The game includes anti-piracy measures that, when triggered, increases enemy counts to make the game less enjoyable. Additionally, right before players reach the end of the pirated copy's story, their game resets and deletes its saved file in an act that IGN declared "arguably the most devious and notorious example of 'creative' copy protection".[26]

Music

Mother composers Keiichi Suzuki and Hirokazu Tanaka returned to make the EarthBound soundtrack, along with newcomers Hiroshi Kanazu and Toshiyuki Ueno.[27][28] In comparison with Mother, Itoi said that EarthBound had more "jazzy" pieces.[5] Suzuki told Weekly Famitsu that the Super NES afforded the team more creative freedom with its eight-channel ADPCM based SPC700, as opposed to the old Nintendo Entertainment System's restriction of five channels of basic waveforms. This entailed higher sound quality and music that sounds closer to his regular compositions.[29] Itoi believes that EarthBound may be the first video game to use vibrato, or "string-bending", in its music.[5] The soundtrack was released by Sony Records on November 2, 1994.[28][nb 4]

In Suzuki's songwriting process, he would first compose on a synthesizer before working with programmers to get it in the game. His personal pieces play when the player is walking about the map, out of battle. Suzuki's favorite piece is the music that plays while the player is on a bicycle, which he composed in advance of this job but found appropriate to include. He wrote over 100 pieces, but much of it was not included in the game.[29] The team wrote enough music as to fill eight megabits of the 24 megabit cartridge—about two compact discs.[5]

The Beach Boys were one of many Western artists Suzuki and Tanaka drew inspiration from while developing the game's soundtrack.
The Beach Boys were one of many Western artists Suzuki and Tanaka drew inspiration from while developing the game's soundtrack.

According to Tanaka, the Beach Boys were repeatedly referenced between him and Suzuki, and that he would often listen to co-founder Brian Wilson's 1988 eponymous album while on the way to Suzuki's home.[30] Suzuki has stated that the percussive arranging in the game's soundtrack was based on the Beach Boys' albums Smile (unreleased) and Smiley Smile (1967), which both contained American themes shared with Van Dyke Parks' Song Cycle (1968). To Suzuki, Smile evoked the bright and dark aspects of America, while Song Cycle displayed a hazy sound mixed with American humor and hints of Ray Bradbury, a style that he considered essential to the soundtrack of Mother.[30][nb 5] Tanaka recalls Randy Newman being the first quintessentially American composer he could think of, and that his albums Little Criminals (1977) and Land of Dreams (1988) were influential.[30] While Suzuki corroborated with his own affinity for Harry Nilsson's Nilsson Sings Newman (1970),[30] he also cited John Lennon as a strong influence due to the common theme of love in his music, which was also a prominent theme in the game,[29] and that his album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970) helped him to avoid excessive instrumentation over the SNES's technical constraints.[30]

The soundtrack contains direct musical quotations of some classical and folk music; the composers also derived a few samples culled from other sources including commercial pop and rock music.[14][nb 6] The texture of the work was partially influenced by some salsa, reggae, and dub music.[30][nb 7] Speaking about Frank Zappa's Make a Jazz Noise Here (1991), Tanaka felt that Zappa would have been the best at creating a live performance of Mother music, but could not detail Zappa's specific influence on EarthBound. Additionally, he felt that the mix tape Wired Magazine Presents: Music Futurists (1999) presented a particular selection of artists that embody the ethos of EarthBound, running the gamut from space age composer Esquivel to avant-garde trumpeter Ben Neill, along with innovators Sun Ra, Steve Reich, Todd Rundgren, Brian Eno, and Can.[30][nb 8] Tanaka also mentioned that he listened to the various artists compilation Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films (1988) heavily during EarthBound's development.[30] Miscellaneous influences on Suzuki and Tanaka for EarthBound include the music of Michael Nyman, Miklós Rózsa's film score for The Lost Weekend (1945), and albums by various other pop/rock musicians.[30][nb 9]

English localization

In the original Mother 2, Ness walks naked through his dream town Magicant. In the U.S. release this was changed to his pajamas without his cap.
In the original Mother 2, Ness walks naked through his dream town Magicant. In the U.S. release this was changed to his pajamas without his cap.

As was traditional for Nintendo, Mother 2 was developed in Japan and localized in the United States, a process in which the game is translated into English for Western audiences.[14] As it was the only game in the Mother series to be released in North America at the time,[15] its title "Mother 2" was changed to "EarthBound" to avoid confusion about what it was a sequel to.[14]

Nintendo of America's Dan Owsen began the English localization project and converted about ten percent of the script before moving to another project.[14] Marcus Lindblom filled Owsen's position around January 1995.[34] Lindblom credits Owsen with coining some of the game's "most iconic phrases", such as "say fuzzy pickles".[14] Lindblom himself was given liberties to make the script "as weird as [he] wanted", as Nintendo wanted the script to be more American than a direct translation would be.[34] He worked alone and with great latitude due to no divisional hierarchies.[17][nb 10] Lindblom was aided by Japanese writer Masayuki Miura, who translated the Japanese script and contextualized its tone,[14] which Lindblom positively described as "a glass half full".[34]

Lindblom was challenged by the task of culturally translating "an outsider's view of the U.S." for an American audience.[34] He also sought to stay true to the original text, though he never met or spoke with Itoi.[34] In addition to reworking the original puns and humor, Lindblom added private jokes and American cultural allusions to Bugs Bunny, comedian Benny Hill, and This Is Spinal Tap.[34] Apart from the dialogue, he wrote the rest of the game's text, including combat, prompts and item names.[14] As one of several Easter eggs, he named a non-player character for his daughter, Nico, who was born during development. While Lindblom took the day off for her birth,[34] he proceeded to work 14-hour days[14] without weekends for the next month.[34]

Under directives from Nintendo,[34] Lindblom worked with the Japanese artists and programmers[14] to remove references to intellectual property, religion, and alcohol from the American release, such as a truck's Coca-Cola logo, the red crosses on hospitals, and crosses on tombstones.[34] Alcohol became coffee, Ness was no longer nude in the Magicant area as seen in the image,[14] and the Happy Happyist blue cultists were made to look less like Ku Klux Klansmen.[34] The team was not concerned with music licensing issues and considered itself somewhat protected under the guise of parody.[14] Lindblom recalled that the music did not need many changes. The graphical fixes were not finished until March 1995, and the game was not fully playable until May.[34]

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HAL Laboratory

HAL Laboratory

HAL Laboratory, Inc., formerly shortened as HALKEN, is a Japanese video game developer founded on 21 February 1980. While independent, it has been closely tied with Nintendo throughout its history, and is often referred to as a second-party developer for the company. HAL Laboratory is headquartered in Chiyoda, Tokyo, and it also has a building at Kai, Yamanashi. The company got its name because "each letter put them one step ahead of IBM". The company is most famous for their work on the Kirby and Mother series, as well as the first two Super Smash Bros. games.

Nintendo

Nintendo

Nintendo Co., Ltd. is a Japanese multinational video game company headquartered in Kyoto. It develops and releases both video games and video game consoles.

Satoru Iwata

Satoru Iwata

Satoru Iwata was a Japanese businessman, video game programmer, video game designer, and producer. He was the fourth president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Nintendo from 2002 until his death in 2015. He was a major contributor in broadening the appeal of video games by focusing on novel and entertaining games rather than top-of-the-line hardware.

Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji , or Fugaku, located on the island of Honshū, is the highest mountain in Japan, with a summit elevation of 3,776.24 m. It is the second-highest volcano located on an island in Asia, and seventh-highest peak of an island on Earth. Mount Fuji is an active stratovolcano that last erupted from 1707 to 1708. The mountain is located about 100 km (62 mi) southwest of Tokyo and is visible from there on clear days. Mount Fuji's exceptionally symmetrical cone, which is covered in snow for about five months of the year, is commonly used as a cultural icon of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photography, as well as visited by sightseers, hikers and mountain climbers.

Mother (video game series)

Mother (video game series)

Mother is a video game series that consists of three role-playing video games: Mother (1989), known as EarthBound Beginnings outside Japan, for the Family Computer; Mother 2 (1994), known as EarthBound outside Japan, for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System; and Mother 3 (2006) for the Game Boy Advance.

Kana

Kana

The term kana may refer to a number of syllabaries used to write Japanese phonological units, morae. Such syllabaries include (1) the original kana, or magana , which were Chinese characters (kanji) used phonetically to transcribe Japanese, the most prominent magana system being man'yōgana (万葉仮名); the two descendants of man'yōgana, (2) hiragana , and (3) katakana . There are also hentaigana , which are historical variants of the now-standard hiragana. In current usage, 'kana' can simply mean hiragana and katakana.

Pachinko

Pachinko

Pachinko (パチンコ) is a mechanical game originating in Japan that is used as an arcade game, and much more frequently for gambling. Pachinko fills a niche in Japanese gambling comparable to that of the slot machine in the West as a form of low-stakes, low-strategy gambling.

Oblique projection

Oblique projection

Oblique projection is a simple type of technical drawing of graphical projection used for producing two-dimensional (2D) images of three-dimensional (3D) objects.

Shigeru Miyamoto

Shigeru Miyamoto

Shigeru Miyamoto is a Japanese video game designer, producer and game director at Nintendo, where he serves as one of its representative directors. Widely regarded as one of the most accomplished and influential designers in the history of video games, he is the creator of some of the most acclaimed and best-selling game franchises of all time, including Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, Star Fox and Pikmin.

Copy protection

Copy protection

Copy protection, also known as content protection, copy prevention and copy restriction, describes measures to enforce copyright by preventing the reproduction of software, films, music, and other media.

Keiichi Suzuki

Keiichi Suzuki

Keiichi Suzuki is a Japanese musician, singer, and record producer who co-founded the Moonriders, a group that became one of Japan's most innovative rock bands. He is known to audiences outside Japan for his musical contributions to the video games Mother (1989) and EarthBound (1994), both of which have been released on several soundtracks. More recently, he has composed film scores including The Blind Swordsman: Zatōichi (2003), Tokyo Godfathers (2003), Uzumaki (2000), Chicken Heart (2009), as well as Takeshi Kitano's Outrage trilogy.

Hirokazu Tanaka

Hirokazu Tanaka

Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka , also known as Chip Tanaka, is a Japanese musician, composer, sound designer, and executive who pioneered chiptune music. He is best known as one of Nintendo's in-house composers during the 8- and 16-bit era of video games. Tanaka also had a role in designing and programming the Famicom and Game Boy audio hardware, along with the NES Zapper, Game Boy Camera, and Game Boy Printer.

Reception

Sales and promotion

In Japan, Mother 2 sold 518,000 units, becoming the tenth best-selling game of 1994.[35] EarthBound was released on June 5, 1995, in North America.[34] The game sold about 140,000 units in the United States,[36] for a total of approximately 658,000 units sold worldwide.

Though Nintendo spent about $2 million on marketing,[16] the American release was ultimately viewed as unsuccessful within Nintendo.[34] The game's atypical marketing campaign was derived from the game's unusual humor. As part of Nintendo's larger "Play It Loud!" campaign, EarthBound's "this game stinks" campaign included foul-smelling scratch and sniff advertisements.[25] At the time, Digital Trends described the campaign as "bizarre" and "based around fart jokes".[37] GamePro reported that they received more reader complaints about the game's scratch and sniff ad than about any other 1995 advertisement.[38] The campaign was also expensive. It emphasized magazine advertisements and had the extra cost of the strategy guide included with each game.[39] Between the poor sales and the phasing out of the Super NES, the game did not receive a European release.[16] Aaron Linde of Shacknews believed that the price of the packaged game ultimately curtailed sales.[25]

Contemporary

EarthBound originally received little critical praise from the American press,[14][39] and sold poorly in the US:[15][34][39] around 140,000 copies, as compared to twice as many in Japan.[25] Kotaku described EarthBound's 1995 American release as "a dud" and blamed the low sales on "a bizarre marketing campaign" and graphics "cartoonish" beyond the average taste of players.[14] The game was released when RPGs were not popular in the US,[34][45] and visual taste in RPGs was closer to Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI.[34] The game piggybacked on Itoi's celebrity in Japan.[16]

Most journalists attributed the game's poor sales in the US to its simple graphics, atypical marketing campaign, and disinterest in the genre. Of the original reviewers, Nicholas Dean Des Barres of DieHard GameFan wrote that EarthBound was not as impressive as Final Fantasy III, although just as fun.[46] He praised the game's humor[41] and wrote that the game completely defied his first impressions. Des Barres wrote that "past the graphics", which were purposefully 8-bit for nostalgia, the game is not an "entry-level" or a "child's" RPG, but "highly intelligent" and "captivating".[46] The Brazilian Super GamePower explained that those expecting a Dungeons and Dragons-style RPG will be disappointed by the childish visuals, which were unlike other 16-bit games. They wrote that the American humor was too mature and that the gameplay was too immature, as if for beginners.[43] GamePro commented that "The lack a convincing storyline and the dull NES-clone graphics ... will make serious RPG fans a little cautious about approaching EarthBound. The saving graces are the fairly good music and the unintentionally hilarious adult humor." They concluded that the game is inappropriate for children due to its adult humor, but would not appeal to more mature gamers due to its simplistic gameplay and poorly illustrated graphics.[47]

Lindblom and his team were devastated by the release's poor critical response and sales. He recalled that the game was hurt by the reception of its graphics as "simplistic" at a time when critics placed high importance on graphics quality.[nb 11] Lindblom felt that the game's changes to the RPG formula (e.g., the rolling HP meter and fleeing enemies) were ignored in the following years,[14] though he thought the game had aged well at the time of its Virtual Console rerelease in 2013.[34]

Retrospective

Reviewing the game years after its release, writers described the game as "original" or "unique",[16][50] and praised its script's range of emotions.[16][50] IGN's Scott Thompson said the game teetered between solemn and audacious in its dialogue and gameplay, and noted its deviance from RPG tropes in aspects such as choice of attacks in battle. He found the game both "bizarre and memorable".[50] Official Nintendo Magazine's Simon Parkin thought the game's script was its best asset, as "one of the medium's strongest and idiosyncratic storylines" that fluctuated "between humorous and poignant".[16] GameZone's David Sanchez thought its script was "clever" and "sharp", as it displayed a wide range of emotions that made him want to talk to all non-player characters.[9] GamesTM wrote that the game designers spoke with their players through the non-playable characters, and noted how Itoi's interests shaped the script, its allusions to popular culture, and its "strangely existential narrative framework".[53] Nintendo Life praised the game's touching story, charm and modern-day setting, with minor criticism of the slow pacing.

Critics praised its "real world" setting, which was seen as an uncommon choice.[16][50] Thompson noted its 1990s homage as "a love letter to 20th-century Americana", with a payphone as a save point, ATMs to transfer money, yo-yos as weapons, skateboarders and hippies as enemies, and references to classic rock bands.[50] Official Nintendo Magazine's Parkin noted the theme's distance from the "knights and dragons" common to the Japanese role-playing game genre.[16] Thompson noted the game's steep difficulty. He wrote that the beginning was the hardest and that aspects such as limited inventory, experience grinds, and monetary penalties upon death were unfriendly for players new to Japanese RPGs. He also cited the quick respawn time for foes and ultimate need not to avoid battles given the difficulty of bosses.[50]

Reviewers described the game's ambiance as cheery and full of charm.[9][50] David Sanchez of GameZone thought the game's self-awareness added to its charm, where the player learned through the game's poking lighthearted fun. He added that the music was an "absolute delight" and complimented its range from space sounds to themes to "bizarre" battle tracks that varied with the enemy type.[9] GamesTM wrote that the game's reputation comes from the "consistent ... visual language" in its Charles M. Schulz-esque character and world design.[53] Kotaku's Jason Schreier found the ending unsatisfying and unrelieving, despite finding the ending credits with its character curtain call and photo album of "fuzzy pickles" moments all "wonderful".[11]

Thompson wrote that EarthBound balances "dark Lovecraftian apocalypse and silly lightheartedness", and was just as interesting nearly a decade after its original release. While he lamented a lack of "visual feedback" in battle animations, he felt the game had innovations that still feel "smart and unique": the rolling HP meter and lack of random battles. Thompson also noted that technical issues like animation slowdown with multiple enemies on-screen went unfixed in the rerelease.[50] Parkin found the game to provide a more potent experience than developers with more resources and thought its battle sequences were "sleek".[16] Nintendo World Report's Justin Baker was surprised by the "excellent" battle system and controls, which he found to be underreported in other reviews despite their streamlined, grind-reducing convenience. He wrote that some of the menu interactions were clunky.[51] GamesTM felt that the game was "far from revolutionary", compared to Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger, and that its battle scenes were unexciting. The magazine compared the game's "chosen one" story to a "throwaway Link's Awakening/Goonies hybrid narrative".[53] Thompson praised Nintendo for digitizing the Player's Guide, though noted that it was technically easier to view it on another tablet rather than switching the Wii U's view mode.[50] Reviewers concluded that the game had aged well.[8][9][16][50][51]

Discover more about Reception related topics

1994 in video games

1994 in video games

1994 saw many sequels and prequels in video games, such as Super Metroid, Donkey Kong Country, Final Fantasy VI, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Super Street Fighter II Turbo and Virtua Fighter 2 and Doom II, along with new titles such as Daytona USA, Ace Driver, Alpine Racer and Tekken.

Digital Trends

Digital Trends

Digital Trends is a Portland, Oregon-based tech news, lifestyle, and information website that publishes news, reviews, guides, how-to articles, descriptive videos and podcasts about technology and consumer electronics products. With offices in Portland, Oregon, New York City, Chicago and other locations, Digital Trends is operated by Digital Trends Media Group, a media company that also publishes Digital Trends Español, focusing on Spanish speakers worldwide, and a men's lifestyle site The Manual.

GamePro

GamePro

Gamepro.com is an international multiplatform video game magazine media company that covers the video game industry, video game hardware and video game software in countries such as Germany and France. The publication, GamePro, was originally launched as an American online and print content video game magazine. The magazine featured content on various video game consoles, PC computers and mobile devices. GamePro Media properties included GamePro magazine and their website. The company was also a part subsidiary of the privately held International Data Group (IDG), a media, events and research technology group. The magazine and its parent publication printing the magazine went defunct in 2011, but is outlasted by Gamepro.com.

Strategy guide

Strategy guide

Strategy guides are instruction books that contain hints or complete solutions to specific video games. The line between strategy guides and walkthroughs is somewhat blurred, with the former often containing or being written around the latter. Strategy guides are often published in print, both in book form and also as articles within video game magazines. In cases of exceptionally popular game titles, guides may be sold through more mainstream publication channels, such as bookstores or even newsstands. Some publishers also sell E-Book versions on their websites.

Shacknews

Shacknews

Shacknews is a website that hosts news, features, editorial content and forums relating to computer games and console games. It is owned by a company called Gamerhub Content Network, which purchased the site in January 2014.

Famitsu

Famitsu

Famitsu, formerly Famicom Tsūshin, is a line of Japanese video game magazines published by Kadokawa Game Linkage, a subsidiary of Kadokawa. Famitsu is published in both weekly and monthly formats as well as in the form of special topical issues devoted to only one console, video game company, or other theme. Shūkan Famitsū, the original Famitsu publication, is considered the most widely read and respected video game news magazine in Japan. From October 28, 2011, the company began releasing the digital version of the magazine exclusively on BookWalker weekly.

Game Informer

Game Informer

Game Informer is an American monthly video game magazine featuring articles, news, strategy, and reviews of video games and associated consoles. It debuted in August 1991 when video game retailer FuncoLand started publishing an in-house newsletter. The publication is now owned and published by GameStop, who bought FuncoLand in 2000. Due to this, a large amount of promotion is done in-store, which has contributed to the success of the magazine. As of June 2017, it is the 5th most popular magazine by copies circulated.

GameFan

GameFan

GameFan was a publication started by Tim Lindquist, Greg Off, George Weising, and Dave Halverson in September 1992 that provided coverage of domestic and import video games. It was notable for its extensive use of game screenshots in page design, contrasting other U.S. publications at the time. The original magazine ceased publishing in December 2000.

List of Game of the Year awards

List of Game of the Year awards

Game of the Year (GotY) is an award given to a video game by various award events and media publications that they feel represented the pinnacle of gaming that year.

Kotaku

Kotaku

Kotaku is a video game website and blog that was originally launched in 2004 as part of the Gawker Media network. Notable former contributors to the site include Luke Smith, Cecilia D'Anastasio, Tim Rogers, and Jason Schreier.

Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger is a 1995 role-playing video game developed and published by Square. It was originally released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System as the first game in the Chrono series. The game's development team included three designers that Square dubbed the "Dream Team": Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of Square's Final Fantasy series; Yuji Horii, creator of Enix's Dragon Quest series; and Akira Toriyama, character designer of Dragon Quest and author of the Dragon Ball manga series. In addition, Takashi Tokita co-directed the game and co-wrote the scenario, Kazuhiko Aoki produced the game, Masato Kato wrote most of the story, while composer Yasunori Mitsuda wrote most of the soundtrack before falling ill and deferring the remaining tracks to Final Fantasy series composer Nobuo Uematsu. The game's story follows a group of adventurers who travel through time to prevent a global catastrophe.

Final Fantasy VI

Final Fantasy VI

Final Fantasy VI, also known as Final Fantasy III from its initial North American release, is a 1994 role-playing video game developed and published by Square for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It is the sixth main entry in the Final Fantasy series, and the first to be directed by someone other than series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi; the role was instead filled by Yoshinori Kitase and Hiroyuki Ito. Long-time collaborator Yoshitaka Amano returned as character designer and concept artist, while composer Nobuo Uematsu returned to compose the game's score, which has been released on several soundtrack albums.

Legacy

Acclaim and influence

EarthBound was listed in 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die, where Christian Donlan wrote that the game is "name-checked by the video gaming cognoscenti more often than it's actually been played". He called the game "utterly brilliant" and praised its overworld and battle system.[54] Similarly, Eurogamer's Simon Parkin described it as a "sacred cow amongst gaming's cognoscenti".[3] Game journalists have ranked EarthBound among the best Super NES games[15] and most essential Japanese role-playing games,[55][56] and at least three reader polls ranked the game among the best of all time.[57][58][59] For a piece about the "top worlds" in video games, IGN rated EarthBound's setting among the best, indelible between its unconventional environments, 1960s music, and portrayal of Americanism.[60]

Kotaku described the game "as one of the weirdest, most surreal role-playing games in RPG history".[11] Examples include using items such as the Pencil Eraser to remove pencil statues, experiencing in-game hallucinations, meeting "a man who turned himself into a dungeon", and battling piles of vomit,[11] taxi cabs, and walking nooses.[61] David Sanchez of GameZone wrote that EarthBound "went places no other game would" in the 1990s or even in the present day, including "trolling" the player "before trolling was cool".[9] Localization reviewer Clyde Mandelin described the Japanese-to-English conversion as "top-notch for its time".[14] 1UP.com said it was "unusually excellent" for the time.[45] IGN wrote that Nintendo was "dead wrong" for believing that Americans would not be interested in "such a chaotic and satirical world".[60] Complex included EarthBound as one of the "Best Super Nintendo Games of All Time", saying the game is "definitely the craziest and one of the most fun RPGs the SNES had to offer.[62]

Jeremy Parish of USgamer called EarthBound "the all-time champion" of self-aware games that "warp ... perceptions and boundaries" and break the fourth wall, citing its frequent internal commentary about the medium and the final scenes where the player is directly addressed by the game.[63][nb 12] GamesTM said the game felt fresh because of its reliance on "personal experiences" made it "exactly the sort of title that would thrive today as an indie hit".[53] He called this accomplishment "remarkable" and credited Nintendo's commitment to the "voices of creators".[53] IGN's Nadia Oxford said that nearly two decades since the release, its final boss fight against Giygas continues to be "one of the most epic video game standoffs of all time" and noted its emotional impact.[10] Kotaku wrote that the game was content to make the player "feel lonely", and, overall, was special not for any individual aspect but for its method of using the video game medium to explore ideas impossible to explore in media.[11]

EarthBound's child protagonists and ordinary American setting influenced South Park co-creator Trey Parker.[64]
EarthBound's child protagonists and ordinary American setting influenced South Park co-creator Trey Parker.[64]

The few role-playing games set in real-world settings, PC Gamer has written, are often and accurately described as having been influenced by EarthBound.[65] It was cited as an influence on video games including Costume Quest;[66][67] South Park: The Stick of Truth (via South Park creator Trey Parker);[68][64] Undertale;[69] Contact;[63][70] Omori;[71] Lisa;[72] Citizens of Earth;[73] YIIK: A Postmodern RPG;[74][65] and Kyoto Wild.[75] Japanese writer Hiromi Kawakami told Itoi that she had played EarthBound "about 80 times".[18]

Fandom

A cult following for EarthBound developed after the game's release.[34] Colin Campbell of Polygon wrote that "few gaming communities are as passionate and active" as EarthBound's,[17] and 1UP.com's Bob Mackey wrote that no game was as poised to have a cult following.[45] IGN's Lucas M. Thomas wrote in 2006 that EarthBound's "persistent", "ambitious", and "religiously dedicated collective of hardcore fans" would be among the first groups to influence Nintendo's decision-making through their purchasing power on Virtual Console.[61] Digital Trends's Anthony John Agnello wrote that "no video game fans have suffered as much as EarthBound fans", and cited Nintendo's reluctance to release Mother series games in North America.[37] IGN described the series as neglected by Nintendo in North America for similar reasons.[61] Nintendo president Satoru Iwata later credited the community response on their online Miiverse social platform as leading to EarthBound's eventual rerelease on their Virtual Console platform.[76] Physical copies of EarthBound were hard to find before the rerelease,[11] and in 2013, were worth twice its initial retail price.[34]

Wired described the amount of EarthBound "fan art, videos, and tributes on fan sites like EarthBound Central or Starmen.net" as mountainous.[34] Reid Young of Starmen.net and Fangamer credits EarthBound's popularity to its "labor of love" nature, with a "double-coat of thoughtfulness and care" across all aspects of the game by a development team that appeared to love their work.[45] Young started the fansite that would become Starmen.net in 1997 while in middle school. It became "the definitive fan community for EarthBound on the web" and had "almost inexplicable" growth.[45] Shacknews described the site's collection of fan-made media as "absolutely massive".[25] It also provided a place to aggregate information on the Mother series and to coordinate fan actions.[25]

The EarthBound fan community at Starmen.net coalesced with the intent to have Nintendo of America acknowledge the Mother series.[45] The community drafted several thousand-person petitions for specific English-language Mother series releases,[25] but in time, their request shifted to no demand at all, wanting only their interest to be recognized by Nintendo.[77] A 2007 campaign for a Mother 3 English localization led to the creation of a full-color, 270-page art book—The EarthBound Anthology—sent to Nintendo and press outlets as demonstration of consumer interest.[78] Shacknews called it more of a proposal than a collection of fan art, and "the greatest gaming love letter ever created".[25] Upon "little" response from Nintendo, they decided to localize the game themselves.[78] Starmen.net co-founder and professional game translator Clyde "Tomato" Mandelin led the project from its November 2006 announcement[25] to October 2008 finish.[79] They then printed a "professional quality strategy guide" through Fangamer, a video game merchandising site that spun off from Starmen.net.[78] Unlicensed EarthBound-themed merchandise produced by Fangamer contributors included T-shirts, a pin set and a mug;[80] The Verge cited the effort as proof of the fan base's dedication.[81]

Other fan efforts include EarthBound, USA, a full-length documentary on Starmen.net and the fan community,[82] and Mother 4, a fan-produced sequel to the Mother series that went into production when Itoi definitively "declared" that he was done with the series.[83] After following the fan community from afar, Lindblom came out to fans in mid-2012 and the press became interested in his work. He had planned a book about the game's development, release, and fandom before a reply from Nintendo discouraged him from pursuing the idea. He plans to continue to communicate directly with the community about the game's history.[17][nb 13] Books that have been written about EarthBound include Ken Baumann's Earthbound, by Boss Fight Books,[85] and Legends of Localization Book 2: Earthbound, by Clyde Mandelin.[86]

Ness

Ness became widely known for his appearance as a playable character throughout the Super Smash Bros. fighting game series,[15] debuting as a fighter in the first installment in 1999.[87] Ness' inclusion in the original release was among its biggest surprises,[88][nb 14] and renewed Mother series fans' faith in new content from Nintendo.[61] Ness was one of the game's most powerful characters, according to IGN, if players could perfect his odd controls and psychic powers.[88] In Europe, which did not see an EarthBound release, Ness was better known for his role in the fighting game than for his original role in the role-playing game.[91]

Ness returned in the first sequel, Melee, alongside an EarthBound-themed item and battle arena.[88][nb 15] Lucas, the protagonist of Mother 3, joined Ness in Brawl.[93][94][nb 16] Several years after Brawl's release, Official Nintendo Magazine wrote that Ness was an unpopular Smash character who should be removed from future installments.[91] However, Ness returned in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate,[97] and Lucas was later added to the former as downloadable content.[98] Nintendo also produced Ness and Lucas Amiibo figurines.[98][99] Ness was included in a licensed set of EarthBound-themed figurines released in Japan in 2014.[100]

Sequels and rereleases

In 1996, Nintendo announced a sequel to EarthBound for the Nintendo 64: Mother 3[25] (EarthBound 64 in North America).[101] It was scheduled for release on the 64DD, a Nintendo 64 expansion peripheral that used a magneto-optical drive,[39] but struggled to find a firm release date[102] as its protracted development entered development hell. It was later canceled altogether in 2000[25] when the 64DD flopped.[39] In April 2003, a Japanese television advertisement revealed that both Mother 3 and a combined Mother 1+2 cartridge were in development for the handheld Game Boy Advance.[103] Mother 3 abandoned the Nintendo 64 version's 3D, but kept its plot.[25] It became a bestseller upon its Japanese release in 2006, yet did not receive a North American release[39] on the basis that it would not sell.[37] IGN described the series as neglected by Nintendo in North America, as Mother 1, Mother 1+2 and Mother 3 were not released outside Japan.[61]

Fans incorrectly suspected music licensing issues from artists such as the Beatles and Chuck Berry had impeded EarthBound's re-release.[104]
Fans incorrectly suspected music licensing issues from artists such as the Beatles and Chuck Berry had impeded EarthBound's re-release.[104]
Fans incorrectly suspected music licensing issues from artists such as the Beatles and Chuck Berry had impeded EarthBound's re-release.[104]

When Nintendo launched its digital distribution platform, Virtual Console, for the Wii in 2006, IGN expected EarthBound to be among Nintendo's highest priorities for rerelease, given the "religious" dedication of its fanbase.[61] Though the game was ranked the most desired Virtual Console release by Nintendo Power readers, rated for release by the ESRB,[105] and able to be published with little effort,[25] the Wii version did not materialize.[17] Many fans believed that music licensing or legal concerns impeded the rerelease.[14][25][104] English localizer Marcus Lindblom doubted that the game's music samples were an issue, since they were not a concern during development, and instead hypothesized that Nintendo did not realize the magnitude of the game's popular support and did not consider it a priority project.[14] By 2008, it was not apparent that Nintendo of America was considering a rerelease.[25] At the end of 2012, Itoi revealed that the re-release was moving forward,[37] which was confirmed in a January 2013 Nintendo Direct presentation.[106]

As part of the anniversary celebrations for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Mother 2 in March 2013, Nintendo rereleased EarthBound for Japan on the Wii's successor, the Wii U Virtual Console.[106] EarthBound producer Satoru Iwata soon announced a wider rerelease, citing fan interest on Nintendo's Miiverse social platform.[76] The July American and European launch included a free, online recreation of the game's original Player's Guide, optimized for viewing on the Wii U GamePad.[107] The game was a top-seller on the Wii U Virtual Console, and both Kotaku users and first-time EarthBound players had an "overwhelmingly positive" response to the game.[14] Simon Parkin wrote that its re-release was a "momentous occasion" as the return of "one of Nintendo's few remaining lost classics" after 20 years.[16] The re-release was one GameSpot editor's game of the year,[108] and Nintendo Life's Virtual Console game of the year.[109] The New Nintendo 3DS-specific Virtual Console received the re-release the next year, in March 2016.[110] In September 2017, Nintendo released the Super NES Classic Edition, which included EarthBound among its games.[111] Japan's version of the console however, did not include the game.[112]

In February 2022, Nintendo rereleased EarthBound worldwide on its Nintendo Switch Online service along with its predecessor EarthBound Beginnings.[113]

Discover more about Legacy related topics

1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die

1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die

1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die is a video game reference book first published in October 2010. It consists of a list of video games released between 1970 and 2013, arranged chronologically by release date. Each entry in the list is accompanied by a short essay written by a video game critic, with some entries accompanied by screen shots. It was edited by Tony Mott, long-time editor of Edge magazine. The book's preface was written by video game designer Peter Molyneux.

Complex Networks

Complex Networks

Complex Networks is an American media and entertainment company for youth culture, based in New York City. It was founded as a bi-monthly magazine, Complex, by fashion designer Marc (Ecko) Milecofsky. Complex Networks reports on popular and emerging trends in style, sneakers, food, music, sports and pop culture. Complex Networks reached over 90 million unique users per month in 2013 across its owned and operated and partner sites, socials and YouTube channels. The print magazine ceased publication with the December 2016/January 2017 issue. Complex currently has 6.02 million subscribers and 1.8 billion total views on YouTube. As of 2019, the company's yearly revenue was estimated to be US$200 million, 15% of which came from commerce.

Fourth wall

Fourth wall

The fourth wall is a performance convention in which an invisible, imaginary wall separates actors from the audience. While the audience can see through this "wall", the convention assumes the actors act as if they cannot. From the 16th century onward, the rise of illusionism in staging practices, which culminated in the realism and naturalism of the theatre of the 19th century, led to the development of the fourth wall concept.

South Park

South Park

South Park is an American animated sitcom created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone and developed by Brian Graden for Comedy Central. The series revolves around four boys—Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman, and Kenny McCormick—and their exploits in and around the titular Colorado town. South Park became infamous for its profanity and dark, surreal humor that satirizes a substantial amount of subject matter.

Trey Parker

Trey Parker

Randolph Severn "Trey" Parker III is an American actor, animator, filmmaker, and composer. He is known for co-creating South Park and The Book of Mormon (2011) with his creative partner Matt Stone. Parker was interested in film and music as a child and at high school and attended the University of Colorado Boulder, where he met Stone. The two collaborated on various short films. They also co-wrote and co-starred in the feature-length musical Cannibal! The Musical (1993).

Costume Quest

Costume Quest

Costume Quest is a party-based role-playing video game developed by Double Fine Productions and published by THQ on October 19, 2010. In the game, the player controls a child who is trick-or-treating with their twin on Halloween night when they encounter a monster that kidnaps their sibling. The player must travel around the local neighborhood collecting items for their costume, candy, and fellow children as companions in order to face the leader of the monsters and rescue their sibling. The costume aspects are used in turn-based battle segments, where the player character and companions are transformed into whatever they are dressed as to fight other monsters; the costume aspects are also used for abilities outside of battles.

South Park: The Stick of Truth

South Park: The Stick of Truth

South Park: The Stick of Truth is a 2014 role-playing video game developed by Obsidian Entertainment in collaboration with South Park Digital Studios and published by Ubisoft. Based on the American animated television series South Park, the game follows the New Kid, who has moved to the eponymous town and becomes involved in an epic role-play fantasy war involving humans, wizards, and elves, who are fighting for control of the all-powerful Stick of Truth. Their game quickly escalates out of control, bringing them into conflict with aliens, Nazi zombies, and gnomes, threatening the entire town with destruction.

Contact (video game)

Contact (video game)

Contact is a role-playing video game developed by Grasshopper Manufacture for the Nintendo DS handheld game console. It was published by Marvelous Entertainment in Japan on March 30, 2006, by Atlus USA in North America on October 19, 2006, and by Rising Star Games in Australia, Asia and Europe on January 25, 2007 and February 2, 2007 respectively.

Omori (video game)

Omori (video game)

Omori is a 2020 role-playing video game developed and published by indie studio Omocat. The player controls a hikikomori teenage boy named Sunny and his dream world alter-ego Omori. The player explores both the real world and Sunny's surreal dream world as Omori, either overcoming or suppressing his fears and forgotten secrets. How Sunny and Omori interact depends on choices made by the player, resulting in one of several endings. The game's turn-based battle system includes unconventional status effects based on characters' emotions. Prominently portraying concepts such as anxiety, depression, psychological trauma, and suicide, the game features strong psychological horror elements.

Citizens of Earth

Citizens of Earth

Citizens of Earth is a role-playing video game developed by Eden Industries and published by Atlus for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, and the Nintendo 3DS. Players take control of the newly elected Vice President of Planet Earth, who must save the Earth by recruiting citizens to fight for him. A sequel, Citizens of Space, was released in June 2019.

Hiromi Kawakami

Hiromi Kawakami

Hiromi Kawakami is a Japanese writer known for her off-beat fiction, poetry, and literary criticism. She has won numerous Japanese literary awards, including the Akutagawa Prize, the Tanizaki Prize, the Yomiuri Prize, and the Izumi Kyōka Prize for Literature. Her work has been adapted for film, and has been translated into more than 15 languages.

EarthBound fandom

EarthBound fandom

The 1994 video game EarthBound is known for its cult following and fan community. Multiple video game journalists have written about the dedication of the game's fans in producing fan art and lobbying Nintendo for further releases in the series. The company has been largely unresponsive to their efforts. Prominent fansites include Starmen.net and EarthBound Central. The former was started in 1999 and became the definitive community website. Their members organized petitions and campaigns to bring English-localized games from the Mother series to North America. One such effort included a full-color, 270-page EarthBound Anthology as a demonstration of consumer demand for further releases. After nearly a decade, EarthBound was rereleased for the Wii U Virtual Console in 2013, whereupon it became a bestseller.

Source: "EarthBound", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, March 23rd), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EarthBound.

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Notes
  1. ^ Japanese: MOTHER2ギーグの逆襲, Hepburn: Mazā Tsū: Gīgu no Gyakushū, lit. Mother 2: Giygas‘ Counterattack
  1. ^ If the counter reaches zero as the battle is won, it will be set to 1 HP instead and the character will survive.
  2. ^ Players are asked to name their characters at the beginning of the game.[8]
  3. ^ While named Pokey in EarthBound, he is named Porky in the Japanese version. This also applies in Mother 3. In Japanese versions of both his name is ポーキー Pōkī.[10]
  4. ^ It was later reprinted by Sony Music Direct on February 18, 2004.[28]
  5. ^ Within a year following the game's release, Keiichi Suzuki recorded a cover version of the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" (1966), a product of the band's Smile album where Parks served as a primary lyricist.[31]
  6. ^ These quotations and samples are believed to include the Beach Boys ("Deirdre"),[32] the Beatles ("Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"), the Who ("Won't Get Fooled Again"), Antonín Dvořák (Symphony No. 9), Ric Ocasek ("This Side of Paradise"), the Doors ("The Changeling"), Bimbo Jet ("El Bimbo"), The Dallas String Band ("Dallas Rag"), "The Liberty Bell", "The Star-Spangled Banner", the Our Gang theme, "Tequila", and Chuck Berry ("Johnny B. Goode").[14]
  7. ^ In these sectors, Tanaka cited influence from Andy Partridge of XTC's Take Away / The Lure of Salvage (1980), Lalo Rodríguez's Un Nuevo Despertar (1988) and Fireworks (1976), King Tubby/Yabby You's King Tubby's Prophesy of Dub (1976), and the Flying Lizards' The Secret Dub Life of the Flying Lizards (1995).[30]
  8. ^ The compilation operates under the premise of pop artists "on the cutting edge of technology in music".[33]
  9. ^ They include Prince's Around the World in a Day (1985) and Sign o' the Times (1987), Godley & Creme's Consequences (1977), A Tribe Called Quest's People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (1990) and My Bloody Valentine's Loveless (1991).[30]
  10. ^ While working alone was standard for localizers of the era, later localization efforts had full departments.[17]
  11. ^ Lindblom thought reviewers viewed the game's visuals as "enhanced 8-bit graphics", which, he added, would "ironically" fit 2013's retrogaming aesthetic.[34]
  12. ^ He thought the final scene was "perhaps the most clever and powerful moment in a clever and powerful game".[63]
  13. ^ For instance, Lindblom rejected a popular, or infamous, "abortion theory": that the game's final sequence is a metaphor for an abortion,[14] with Giygas as the fetus.[11] He also provided a floppy disk whose recovered data provided extra context into the game's development errata.[84]
  14. ^ Ness's original Super Smash Bros. spot was actually intended for Mother 3 protagonist Lucas, but the developers later fit Ness into the character design[89] when Mother 3 was delayed.[90]
  15. ^ Melee players toss Mr. Saturn items at enemies,[88] and fight in an arena based on the EarthBound city of Fourside.[92]
  16. ^ Brawl also contains the final level from Mother 3 along with items and characters from the game,[95] and a boss fight against Mother 3's antagonist, Porky.[96]
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