In their latest Nintendo Direct (Mini) presentation, Nintendo announced that the release of Earthbound had narrowed down to a specific date. That date: NOW! Yep, Nintendo has gone and released Earthbound to an unsuspecting public on the Wii U Virtual Console. On top of this, Nintendo has also made the original, larger than normal Player’s Guide available for viewing online. And yes, you can see the whole guide. You can view the guide right here. While it might look strange viewing it on a computer now, it’ll look just fine on a Wii U gamepad.
Earthbound was originally released on the SNES in 1995. Sadly, the game did poorly sales -wise despite a somewhat massive advertising campaign and positive critical reception. This lead to Nintendo not releasing anymore Earthbound material outside Japan, including the much requested Earthbound 2 (Mother 3) on the GBA. Interest grew for the game after Ness’ (and Lucas’) appearance in the Smash Bros. series, alongside the established cult following the game garnered. Due to its rarity and its absence on other platforms outside of the SNES, prices for the original game, both boxed and cart-only, would range from as low as $200 to as high as $1000. There’s even a website dedicated to getting Earthbound at a price you can afford.
Earthbound is now available on the Wii U Virtual Console for $9.99
Sorry for the pun, but it had to happen. Late this morning, Satoru Iwata in the latest Nintendo Direct announced that Earthbound will be headed to the North American Wii U Virtual Console by the end of this year. This news came as a result of North American fans practically bombarding the Mother 2 Miiverse with pleas of a U.S. release when it launched in Japan in March.
Earthbound (known as Mother 2 in Japan) was a commercial flop when it launched back on the SNES, leading Nintendo to ignore markets outside Japan whenever games in this series popped up. This also lead to Earthbound 2 (aka Mother 3) never getting launched here either. However, the series has gained a passionate cult following, clamoring for some kind of release in this series. It also helped that Ness, the main character of Earthbound, was something of a mainstay in the Super Smash Bros. series and helped give exposure to the game he came from (like Marth and Roy for Fire Emblem). Some, including myself, want to get into this game to see what all the hubbub is about. Unfortunately, the asking price for the cartridge alone is well into the $100+ range online. Maybe those assholes can lower the price now.
No word yet if the music will be changed since many fans believed it was the many music samples that prevented a re-release in the U.S. But now, more of the U.S. can finally play an RPG that some call one of the best RPGs of all time.