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Earthbound has finally arrived on Virtual Console. The SNES role-playing game can be purchased through the Nintendo eShop in Europe and North America for $9.99 or your local equivalent.
In Earthbound, players take on the role of a young boy named Ness. After a meteor crashes outside his town, people and animals alike become possessed by a mysterious alien force. Ness must travel across the world to find eight "sanctuaries" that will help him defeat this alien invader. Along the way, he'll recruit three friends
The game's re-release has been expected since 2008, when the game was rated for the ESRB for the Wii. Earthbound never did manage to make it to that console, though. The re-release was announced solely for Wii U in April.
Why did Earthbound take so long to be released? It's rumored that copyright issues surrounding the game's soundtrack were to blame. However, Nintendo has announced no changes to the soundtrack for the Wii U re-release. The truth behind the delay might be simpler, then: maybe Nintendo simply didn't consider the port a top priority. They'd be far from the first company to slow-track a very desired re-release (where's Suikoden 2, Konami?).
This isn't a question with a knowable answer, but I'm still wondering: how much money did Nintendo lose out on by waiting this long to release Earthbound on a present-day console? Copies of the original SNES cartridge have been selling for hundreds of dollars apiece on eBay. I'm sure there are thousands of gamers out there with an Earthbound ROM on their computer or smartphone, too. Nintendo really blew a big opportunity for themselves.
You'd think that they'd actually publicize the launch of this port given all the anticipation around it. However, we didn't hear about the game's release date until today. Indie mobile games get hyped more than Earthbound.
The important thing, though, is that Earthbound is finally here. What's more, the original strategy guide has been optimized for the Wii U GamePad. Nintendo plans to release it through the game's official site.