New footage of Earthbound 64 has sent a very specific corner of the video game fandom into gleeful convulsions, and it's our best look at the unreleased project in years.
The new footage was reportedly uncovered on a disc included with a 1998 Nintendo company report, then shared with game-preservation YouTube channel Hard4Games. It's about 25 seconds of footage of an in-development version of Earthbound 64, showing a selection of cinematics, exploration, and combat - the video loops it back a few times so you can get a better look. My favorite part is the battle scene with the pig and the spear-wielding guard, since it's a look at how the distinctly far-out battle backgrounds of Earthbound could be translated to 3D.
If you're not familiar with Earthbound 64, that's probably because it never came out. It was announced in the West as an N64 sequel to Earthbound, and in Japan as the third game in the Mother series. I still remember reading about it in Nintendo Power and getting ridiculously excited - Earthbound was so weird and cool on Super Nintendo, just think about how much weirder and cooler it could be in 3D!
Earthbound 64 never saw the light of day, but many of its concepts and characters would eventually be carried over to Mother 3, which was released on Game Boy Advance in 2006. The main issue with that as a happy ending is the fact that Mother 3 was never released outside of Japan; Western Earthbound fans get the double whammy of watching footage for a game that never came out, and then knowing it all came together years later in the form of a game we also can't play. Well, not without the assistance of some dubiously legal fan efforts, anyway.
Nintendo could still surprise diehard fans with an official Western release of Mother 3 / Earthbound 2 - especially since its main character Lucas has been a Super Smash Bros. staple ever since Brawl - but there's no sign the company has any intention of doing so at the moment.
On the other hand, the fact that Metroid Dread is finally happening a decade and a half after it was first teased for DS does sort of make anything seem possible.