Shigesato Itoi, one of the key creative forces behind the Earthbound franchise, has prepared a beautiful essay to explain why he loves the series so much.
Earthbound has a bizarre history. Despite being one of the most notable cult classics in the history of gaming, Nintendo has repeatedly refused American fan requests to release any of the games in the franchise beyond the 1995 SNES classic of the same name. If you feel the need to hate Nintendo for this, we won't blame you. It's a frankly baffling move on the company's part.
That said, cynicism will get us nowhere. Instead, let's look on the bright side of things. We may never see the other Earthbound entries on this side of the Pacific, but we can still enjoy the SNES title, which has recently appeared on the Wii U eShop. To celebrate that event Nintendo tapped designer Shigesato Itoi to write up his thoughts on the game, and to be perfectly blunt, the man wrote some lovely things.
Have a look:
What is the video game, Earthbound?
Even today, it's so hard to answer that question.
It was like a group of children taking dolls from a toy chest.
Old dishes no longer used in the kitchen.
Nuts and bolts found inside a toolbox.
Little flowers and leaves from the backyard.
And they were all laid down on the carpet with everybody singing made-up songs.
Ready to talk all day about that world they just made.
That, I think was how Earthbound was made.
That small snippet is barely a fifth of what Itoi wrote, and if you have any love for Earthbound, you really should read the rest in its entirety. It's the kind of thing that reminds people that the gaming industry isn't entirely about petulant developers and greedy publishers. Sometimes it's also about the freedom of creative expression and mankind's efforts to recapture the halcyon days of youth.
You can read the rest of Itoi's message on the official Earthbound website. Maybe if enough people read it, Nintendo will rethink its stance on localizing the rest of the series!
Then again, this is Nintendo we're talking about. It'd be less shocking for the company to re-release Earthbound on the 3DS at its mid-90s retail price.