When it hit American store shelves in June of 1995, Nintendo’s wacky SNES role playing game, Earthbound, was met with disappointing sales. Despite a generous amount of coverage in Nintendo Power magazine and an ad campaign that reportedly cost the Big N about $2 million, only about 140,000 copies of Earthbound found their way into the homes of eager Nintendo gamers. Compared to the 300,000 copies that made it into the hands of players in Japan and the fact that the RPG genre had yet to hit its stride in North America, 140,000 units might be considered a respectable performance. After all, games Final Fantasy II and III on the Super Nintendo met with similar success in the United States, though the actual numbers escape me right now.
But then there’s this statement from Nintendo gaming guru Shigeru Miyamoto: “We had high hopes for Earthbound, the Super NES version, in the US, but it didn’t do well. We even did a TV commercial, thinking, ‘Hey… this thing could sell three million copies!’ But it didn’t.”
Suddenly, Nintendo’s reluctance to release the title on the Wii’s Virtual Console doesn’t seem as boneheaded.
|Proof that EB's marketing was intended to cost $2 million. Borrowed from Earthbound Central.|
|Screens from the back of the box.|
|What else would you expect from a guy who |
runs around like this all day?
If you ever get the chance to play the underappreciated gem that is Earthbound, grab your controller, start whacking the local crazy animal population with baseball bats, and don’t look back. Even if you don’t agree with me that it’s the greatest game of all time (which it is), I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
In fact, here’s the perfect excuse to play Earthbound TODAY:
Starmen.net’s yearly Earthbound Fanfast and Funktastic Gamplay Event is where it’s at. Every two days, the player is told how far to advance in the game and everyone talks about their shared experiences on the message boards. It’s a great way to connect to other Earthbound players and an even better way to reconnect with the greatest game of all time. Also there’s prizes and prizes are fun.
So find those strategy guides, grab your Leave It to Beaver-style red hat and get crackin’, because you’ve got a world to save!
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That'll do it for my top games list, but many of you have yet to tell me about YOUR favorite games of all time! If you haven’t, take a minute to post your top three games as a comment to this post. I’ll reveal the results in a future article here on Wordsmith VG!