The last two decades have been frustrating for Mother fans. Known in America as Earthbound, the series’ first two titles for the NES and SNES are regarded as cult classics, with the protagonist, Ness, appearing in every Super Smash Bros. title. Mother 3, also known as Earthbound 64, was about 60% finished when it was canceled in August of 2000 as part of staff reprioritization in the lead-up to the release of the Nintendo GameCube.
A Japanese auction popped up recently that was offering a CD-ROM titled “NINTENDO CORPORATE REPORT 1998,” and Zen was the winner, purchasing the item for $357 USD. The disk contained a trailer for Earthbound 64 that was originally shown at Spaceworld 1997, among other trailers that have since been posted online.
Screenshots and videos of the ambitious title have been relatively scarce in the years since. As the development of the game progressed, the project was moved to the Nintendo 64DD, and once that platform failed, back to a cartridge for the Nintendo 64. Financial troubles at HAL Laboratory prevented the studio from hiring trained employees, and they eventually borrowed members of the Pokémon Stadium team to help with 3D elements.
The title was originally reworked into Mother 3 for the GBA, released only in Japan. Incredibly well-received, the clamor for proper localization to other countries has not died down since the 2006 release. As of yet, Nintendo has no announced plans to bring the Game Boy Advance title overseas, so fans must satisfy their curiosity with a (fantastic) fan translation.
The 25-seconds of silenced footage may not seem like much, but to those that see Earthbound 64 as their Holy Grail, this latest discovery is a huge moment. Perhaps one day a playable build will come to light. If not, at least we have another small peek behind the curtain.
If you’d like to see what else was on that CD-ROM, Zen has been kind enough to dump the entire contents, which includes trailers for a dozen other Nintendo 64 games.