Some of you may have heard already, but starmen.net (the lovely folks that are, to put it kindly, notoriously overenthusiastic about these kinds of things) is now saying that Earthbound will never be released on the Virtual Console. The gist of it is that a supposed “inside source” says Nintendo of America’s lawyers don’t want it released without changes, fearing lawsuits stemming from the smattering of American pop culture references. Nintendo of Japan won’t authorize the changes, and so the game will never come out. As a dedicated Earthbound fan, I feel it’s my duty to say, well…actually, I guess there isn’t much to say.
[[image: ar_021709_ebvc_01.jpg:Very funny, wise guy.:right:0]]There are three equally possible scenarios. Scenario A is that starmen.net is telling the truth, and no amount of begging and pleading will change it. I’m skeptical –- after all, everyone from Capcom to id has been guilty of flat-out stealing popular music in their older games –- but Nintendo probably isn’t too keen on risking some of their money on something they doubt will sell anyway. (And believe it or not, I think it’s the right call to not alter a highly regarded game from over a decade ago.) Scenario B is that starmen.net made it up, in some sort of attempt to force NoA’s hand and either get them to commit or, at the very least, speak out and give actual insight as to why it still hasn’t shown up.
And, of course, Scenario C is that starmen.net is a victim of its own rampant paranoia and blew the whole thing out of thin air. It’s not like there isn’t a precedent for that line of thinking.
In any case, it doesn’t really matter. Either they made it up or they didn’t; the only hard fact we have is that Earthbound still isn’t available, and we all know no one can sway the bizarre machinations of the Virtual Console. It’s a shame, not just because it’s one of the SNES’ best RPGs, but because I was interested to see just how well it would actually perform. Lord knows this was Earthbound’s best way to prove it could sell a decent amount of units outside of Japan. But alas, ever finding out may just be a pipe dream.
Or not. Who knows.
[Note: I’m willing to give some credit to this rumor, since I speculated the game was being held up for precisely this reason sometime last year on an episode of Retronauts. And I do love being right! — Parish]