Longtime PTB readers know of my devotion to Nintendo's Earthbound. There's been lots of talk and speculation over the years as to why the last installment in the franchise has yet to make it out of Japan. Then there's the curiosity regarding why the games that are already translated into English have not appeared on the Virtual Console service. There seem to be plenty of questions about the future of the series, but the answers are not as forthcoming. Leave it to the gang at NeoGAF to dig deep into the conspiracy and attempt to get to the bottom of the issue. While discussing the matter just about everybody involved with the series is assigned some of the blame, from Nintendo's beloved Shigeru Miyamoto to Earthbound creator Shigesato Itoi to Nintendo of America's management and beyond. Even The Beatles are cast an accusatory glare. Ignored franchises like Startropics and Stafy are also examined in the hope of finding some shred of related evidence that could crack the case.
I haven't seen anyone mention this yet, but on the last (?) Retronauts [Jeremy] Parish was saying he thought a possible reason we haven't seen Earthbound is that the translation and/or scenario isn't owned by Nintendo, it's owned by Itoi (?). I remember hearing this way back when people were questioning why we weren't getting the GBA compilation, but hadn't heard about it for years until that podcast last week. If I recall correctly, the original release was already ESRB rated, so I don't think that fee would apply again. But ultimately the costs of having to re-translate the game and remove the two songs combined with the relatively small number of people who would buy the game probably make it low priority for them. And that's assuming it's NOT an issue with the scenario, in which case they'd have to pay Itoi whatever he wants as a fee, assuming he's not even interested. There HAS to be something to some of this, given it's already ESRB rated. If the only issue was the removal of those two songs I don't see why they wouldn't have already done it by now. Nintendo DOES like money people, I somehow don't think they're out to get all the Mother fans personally.
As time goes by I'm starting to see that Earthbound is a dead franchise in North America, but I still can't figure out why Nintendo seems to be trying to erase it from existence. The "Masterpieces" demo of Earthbound has been removed from the localized version of Super Smash Bros. Brawl
and, from the look of things, the game isn't included in the in-game chronicle of Nintendo's products [Nope, turns out it's just a late arrival]. The way things seem to be going I think we should be glad that Earthbound stars Ness and Lucas weren't removed from Brawl itself for some contrived reason. At least the fans continue on with their own English translation of the sequel...