Today we got a glimpse of what could have been a GameCube Earthbound series. Yasuyuki Honne, former art director on Chrono Cross and director of Baten Kaitos, took to Twitter today to discuss an upcoming book about former Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, and in the process, revealed concepts from the never-made Mother game.
In the tweets (with translation via Nintendo Everything), Honne discussed the upcoming book about Iwata, who died in 2015. He says that around 2003, there were talks between Namco and Nintendo about a GameCube entry in the Mother series.
I was happy to come up with a visual concept, and when I went to Aoyama Iwata-san was also present. Itoi-san didn't seem very interested; he felt it was a little strange, and yet we continued talks. Itoi-san said, 'I wonder if Iwata-kun has any ideas?' He seemed flabbergasted, he had an aura of something akin to 'Aw jeez.' In the end nothing came of it, but Itoi-san enjoyed the felt-like recreations of 1980's America that I had come up with.
続き→糸井さん『どうせ岩田くんが話仕組んだんでしょ』。一同ポカーン。岩田さん、アチャーな表情。結局話は流れちゃったけど、私が持ち込んだフェルトテイストで80年代米国を再現する絵回りのアイデアは糸井さんも面白がってくれた。二度と表に出ないと思う絵がこれ。2003年夏の思い出。 pic.twitter.com/AzvFgqNGoi- 本根 康之 (@honnesan) July 10, 2019
The mock-ups have an arts-and-crafts, stop-motion aesthetic to them, almost like an early influence on what would become Yoshi's Woolly World. You can see an example of the town, as well as a combat screen featuring a creepy woman and four Ness mock-ups.
The upcoming book about Satoru Iwata, compiling the Iwata Asks interview series, is being published by Hobonichi, though there are no plans to currently publish it in the US. Still, you can read up on the excellent features on Nintendo's site and recall fond memories, much like Honne. Hopefully this gets some gears turning at Nintendo, because I would play this game, based on this concept art alone, in a heartbeat.