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Left Behind: EarthBound 64


Now, I'm guessing there are many of you who have either never heard of EarthBound, or only know of it because Ness and Lucas are in Super Smash Brothers. For those of you who don't know, EarthBound is the English localized name for the second entry in the Mother series. The Mother series, created by Shigesato Itoi, is a popular JRPG series in Japan, generally centered around the adventures of a young boy with psychic powers and his companions. After meeting a relatively good level of success in Japan, Nintendo felt it was time to localize the first game, Mother, in the West. Unfortunately, even though the translation was nearly complete, it did not get published due to the end of the NES's life cycle coming about. Some time passes, and the shiny new SNES is released, featuring a fantastic line up of games. In August of 1994, Mother 2 was released in Japan. After meeting some success, the game was renamed to EarthBound, and shipped out to the US in June of 1995. Sadly, EarthBound did not go over well in America, only selling about 140,000 copies, while selling double that amount in Japan. While poor sales would normally indicate the death of a game, that's not the case. Pulling out of America, Itoi and his team regroup to work on EarthBound 64, or Mother 3.

EarthBound 64 initially began with plans to be developed for the Super Famicom (the Japanese SNES) before being moved to the Nintendo 64 Disk Drive, with the intention of being one of the 4 launch titles with the system. However, the 64 DD was doomed to failure, and now resides in the infinite abyss that is eBay. Naturally, the development of the game then progressed to the base Nintendo 64 system, with speculation that it would be one of the first 100 games to be released for the console. After playing musical consoles, Itoi and company began development of their game, and shortly after the problems began. The team ran into problems making the game due to little experience with making games in 3D, and the additional challenges that came from developing games with the N64's hardware, which was very different from the SNES's hardware. Itoi even called for back up, bringing the development tools, resources, and the development team of Pokemon Stadium to aid them. In 1999, a playable form of the game was showcased at Spaceworld. Shortly after this, news was released saying that the game's release would be held back until the following year. During this time, the moral of the developers kept declining, making them lose the will to work on a Mother 4. On April 18th, it was announced that EarthBound 64 would not be shown at E3. Eventually, the cancellation of the game was announced, with Itoi stating that he was “trying to make something truly special.”

So, some of you might be saying “well, I guess that's it.” However, it isn't. Itoi wasn't out of the game just yet. Shigeru Miyamoto and Satoru Iwata, who was the president of HAL Laboratories at the time, both showed interest in reviving the series. On April 20th, 2006, Mother 3 was released for the Game Boy Advance in Japan. Unfortunately, despite a huge amount of people asking for the localization of the game here in the West, it was not to be. Fortunately, dedicated fans of the game have made a full English patch for the Japanese ROM, so if you're interested in playing it, you can find it on Google (it's a great game by the way).
Well. Here we are at the end once more. EarthBound 64 is a great game. It's the product of love given by the creator and the development team, and it really reflects that. It may not of worked out at the beginning, but it managed to come back from the dead in the end. There isn't much more to say about the game, other than you should experience it yourself if you find the time. If you love a good story, you'll probably enjoy this game. If you have opinions on EarthBound 64, feel free to share them below!
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Cosmic Owl
Am bird who love to hoot.


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