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'Earthbound' is more accessible than ever

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Nintendo recently rereleased one of my favorite games from the ‘90s, a unique role playing game called Earthbound. Instead of relying on the fantasy trappings from most RPGs of the era, Earthbound followed a kid in a relatively normal, contemporary world, replacing swords and potions with baseball bats and hamburgers.

Earthbound did not sell well in the U.S. when it was released here in 1995—the PlayStation was just about to come out, and the Nintendo 64 was a year away. With all these new 3D systems just over the horizon, the Super Nintendo was feeling a little long in the tooth, and only the most visually impressive games like Donkey Kong Country were getting the most promotion. Earthbound's art style was quirky and charming, but certainly didn’t push the limits of the hardware.

The game’s marketing didn’t help much, either. The most famous magazine ad for it boldly asserted that “This Game Stinks,” alongside scratch-and-sniff pictures of a slime monster, a burger joint, and some pizza. It didn’t cast the game in the most appealing light. On top of that, it sold for as much as $89.99 at the time—$160 adjusted for inflation. Granted, it came with a full-size strategy guide, but that’s still a LOT of money for one game.

A sequel to Earthbound was originally planned for the Nintendo 64, but was reworked and finally released on the Game Boy Advance in Japan. Nintendo never translated that game into English, despite begging from Earthbound’s rabid fanbase.

Earthbound was one of the games on 2017’s Super Nintendo Classic Mini, and was just unlocked as part of Nintendo’s Switch Online service. So, thankfully, it’s now more accessible than it ever has been.

Samuel McConnell is a games enthusiast who has been playing games in one form or another since 1991. He was born in northern Maine but quickly transplanted to Wichita.