A corporate Nintendo CD-ROM from 1998 went to auction earlier this month, and it just so happened to contain footage of a cancelled game that led to a lot of heartbreak back in the Nintendo 64 era – Earthbound 64. A Twitter user by the name of Zen decided it was in the best interest of gamers everywhere to purchase the CD-ROM, managing to snag it for the equivalent of $357 USD before promptly uploading the footage to YouTube for everyone to see.
The 25 seconds of Earthbound 64 footage comes from Nintendo’s Space World exhibit held in Japan way back in 1997. The various snippets of gameplay are shown in 240p resolution and contain no audio, but it still manages to look pretty good for a N64 game, all things considered. You can check it out below:
This isn’t the very first time we’ve ever seen glimpses of this cancelled project, however. There is this incredibly old IGN footage and a quick look from the Space World 1996 exhibit. That being said, it appears as though Zen’s purchased footage features a more updated version of the game that was considerably further along in development.
Known as Mother 3 in Japan, Earthbound 64 was only one of many iterations of the game across a turbulent twelve-year development cycle that spanned four consoles. It began as a Super Famicom title before being transitioned to the third dimension on N64, and then soon after, to the short-lived 64DD add-on. After so much time and effort, Nintendo shut down development of the game in 2000, though they ultimately chose to begin again in 2003, and it finally saw a release on the Game Boy Advance in 2006.
While fans will never get their hands on the N64 iteration of the game, many may not even get to play the GBA version, as it was never released outside of Japan. That is, of course, unless they’re willing to delve into the world of emulation to take a look at the hard work put in by translators and hackers to produce a full English translation of Mother 3. In other words, what Nintendo refuses to do, diehard fans will find a way to do for themselves.
This has been an ongoing issue with Nintendo and the Mother franchise, though, with the company seeming reluctant to provide hungry fans with easy access to English-language releases. For decades, the only title available was Earthbound (aka Mother 2) for the Super Nintendo, but hope was sparked when Nintendo eventually released an English-language version of the original Mother – titling it Earthbound Beginnings – for the Wii U eShop in 2015.
Sadly, given the Wii U’s poor sales and reception, many are left to wonder if we’ll ever see the game again – let alone an official English version of Mother 3. But while you’re angrily shaking your fist about that one, you can at least rest easy knowing that Earthbound is playable on a handful of modern platforms. If you’re interested, you can find out everywhere you can play that immensely popular title right here.