Earthbound Out Today for Virtual Console

Nintendo has released possibly the most highly anticipated Virtual Console title of all time.

News by Pete Davison, .

UPDATE, July 18, 8AM PT

Right on cue, Nintendo's released a new Nintendo Direct video that includes, among other things, mention of Earthbound's release.

Here it is, also featuring Shin Megami Tensei IV, Animal Crossing, Mario and Luigi, Pikmin 3 and numerous others.

Fans of the original may also wish to note that the Earthbound rerelease comes with a digital version of the original game's strategy guide, which is pretty neat. You can view it either online or on the Wii U Gamepad screen.


Earthbound is out on Wii U's Virtual Console today. That's probably all I really need to write here, right?

Actually, this bears a little further discussion, because Nintendo appears to have snuck it out without making much noise about it at the time of writing. Granted, it's still somewhat early in the morning in the States as I type this, so it's possible there'll be a blast of press materials going out later, but for now, it seems like it's just hit the Virtual Console without anyone really saying anything.

It costs $9.99, if you were wondering. This is a little more than past Super NES titles on the Virtual Console service, but given that original cartridges for Earthbound regularly sell for in excess of $200, this is quite a saving on the usual price. It also gives people who have never encountered the series before the opportunity to try it for the first time without having to dig out a yellowing Super NES.

Earthbound is probably one of the most-requested, most-anticipated Virtual Console rereleases of all time, so it's surprising that Nintendo isn't making a bigger deal about this. It's also a little surprising that it appears to be Wii U exclusive at present -- there's no real reason why this shouldn't be on 3DS' Virtual Console as well, though playing on a TV does give the authentic old-school experience.

In case you, like me, have never actually played Earthbound (I have an excuse; I'm British, and it never came out in Europe!), here's what it's all about: it's a role-playing game set in a fictional take on 1990s Americana. It originally came out in Japan in 1994 and North America in 1995, and it possesses a rather self-aware sense of humor that parodies both American culture and the role-playing genre as a whole.

It's become something of a cult classic since its original release despite not selling all that well back in the '90s, and is also noteworthy for breaking from a lot of RPG traditions of the time. There's no random encounters, for example, and rather than unfolding from the usual top-down perspective, it instead uses the quasi-3D oblique projection perspective. It also has a seamless world to explore (a la Zelda) rather than the more common divide between the large-scale "world map" and local "field maps" that other role-playing games of the period used.

Here's a page of further information about it on Nintendo's site.

This article may contain links to online retail stores. If you click on one and buy the product we may receive a small commission. For more information, go here.

Comments 10

  • Avatar for sakicfan84 #1 sakicfan84 4 years ago
    Completely surprised by this. I had just searched yesterday about what might be getting released today. I found very little information and definitely nothing that mentioned Earthbound. I'm not complaining though; this is a great surprise. I'm happy that Nintendo finally made this happen.

    Only downside is that I had a good rotation going for Etrian Oyddsey 4, Bioshock Infinite and Alundra. This surprise will definitely mess that up.Edited July 2013 by sakicfan84
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Hubertron #2 Hubertron 4 years ago
    I have also never played this sadly missing out on the SNES in my youth, and this is almost something that would finally make me bite the bullet and get a wii u. Maybe that's why they are keeping it wii u exclusive? I would be happy though if I could just get it on my 3ds.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for pjedavison #3 pjedavison 4 years ago
    @sakicfan84 Alundra? Respect. I love that game.
    @Hubertron You could be right! I wonder if it will actually convince anyone to grab a Wii U?
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for MattG #4 MattG 4 years ago
    I still own my original EarthBound cartridge, but I'd buy the VC version if I had a Wii U just to keep the game handy. Off-TV play for it would be great to have.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for SargeSmash #5 SargeSmash 4 years ago
    @sakicfan84 My rotation got completely blown up by Shin Megami Tensei IV and Fire Emblem. I couldn't pass those up, what with the $30 eShop credit.

    Got to agree with@pjedavison, Alundra was a great game! (And even though it has a different feel, Alundra 2 is pretty spiffy, too.)
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for pixelatedsoul #6 pixelatedsoul 4 years ago
    I've never played this. I only remember it as the game with those horrible scratch and sniff ads that made my copies of EGM smell nasty. When I finally get a Wii U, I'll buy this immediately.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for sakicfan84 #7 sakicfan84 4 years ago
    @SargeSmash That is such an amazing deal. Nintendo has actually had a few good ones recently. Which is unlike them. With the events like the Steam sales, XBL Ultimate Game Sale, etc..., I think they needed to step up their game.

    My copy of SMT IV should be in today, but I've promised myself I won't touch it until EO is completed. I've lost track of games too many times in the past, so I'm trying to be more focused.
    @pjedavison I'm really loving Alundra so far. Out of Zelda-type games, this one has to be tight up there near the top of the pack. The localization is a lot different than other Working Designs titles that I've played. Much less of the silly humor in this one.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for SargeSmash #8 SargeSmash 4 years ago
    @sakicfan84 Alundra stays pretty consistently grim, honestly.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for docexe #9 docexe 4 years ago
    I never played it when the SNES was in vogue, only managed to play it through an emulator a few years ago. Made me want to kick myself for not playing it when it was originally released. Honestly, I think it’s one of the best games released on the SNES, and it’s great that many more people will finally get to enjoy it. Also, that was quite the stealthy Nintendo Direct. I was surprised when I learned they had one today.Edited July 2013 by docexe
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for pjedavison #10 pjedavison 4 years ago
    @SargeSmash@sakicfan84 Maaaaan, now you're making me want to replay it. I already have two other RPGs on the go!
    Sign in to Reply