Skip to main content

The Day That EarthBound Began

A subtle, sensational collaboration between Nintendo and writer Shigesato Itoi made its debut 25 years ago today.

This article first appeared on USgamer, a partner publication of VG247. Some content, such as this article, has been migrated to VG247 for posterity after USgamer's closure - but it has not been edited or further vetted by the VG247 team.

At this point, Team USgamer doesn't really need to trumpet the merits of the EarthBound games. We've written extensively about the Super NES classic as well as its predecessor... and I suspect our resident series devotee, Bob, has an ultimate paean to the trilogy's Game Boy Advance wrap-up brewing somewhere in the back of his mind.

The degree of loyalty and fanaticism the series inspires in a certain slice of video game enthusiasts never ceases to amaze me. This low-key RPG with the simple, dated graphics and a bizarre ad campaign centered around the smells of farts and vomit somehow inspired a small army of devotees who continue to proselytize the game to this day. The Super NES game came west 20 years ago last month... but the real story began 25 years ago today, when Mother — the game we now know as EarthBound Beginnings — debuted in Japan on the Famicom.

Watch on YouTube
Watch now: The story of EarthBound Beginnings.

Nintendo intended to release Beginnings for NES in America, but they ultimately decided against it (despite having a fully localized version waiting in the wings, and despite having promoted it enthusiastically in the pages of Nintendo Power magazine). The game had been sidelined as a footnote in video game history... that is, until last month, when Nintendo launched it on the U.S. Virtual Console for Wii U. After 24 (nearly 25!) years, the game finally made its way to American fans in an official capacity. Looks like we need to update our feature on localization delays, because EarthBound Beginnings set a new record.

If you're interested in hearing more about this long-lost RPG classic, check out Bob's recent Retronauts Micro episode on the game. Or better yet, just buy a copy and play it for yourself. It's less than seven bucks for a fascinating piece of video game history. Come on, you can spring for that.

Read this next