If the huge ovation Nintendo received for putting Earthbound up for sale on the Wii U Virtual Console, and the mass outcry for The Big N to localize its sequel (Mother 3) are any indication, the quirky coming of age RPG is a Yo-Yo swing above your average cult classic. Many of the few who played it on their SNES growing up, the collector’s who paid top dollar to pick it up later on, and the newbies playing it for the first time via eShop download, have fallen in love with Ness, Jeff, Paula, Poo, and their wacky little world.
In a recent interview with Polygon, Marcus Lindblom, the man responsible for the game’s English localization, revealed he has written an in-depth book about the work that went into bringing Earthbound to the west.
He was originally planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign to cover the book’s publishing costs (without the intention of making profit) in time for the 20th Anniversary of its American release, as a love letter to the fans. Sadly, the book will never see the light of day because Nintendo is legally blocking its publication.
Lindblom said he had sent Nintendo a letter to inform the company about his intentions of publishing the book, as a professional courtesy. Not long after, he received a reply stating the company would prefer that he not publish the book, reminding him of a (still legally binding) non-disclosure agreement he had signed 20 years ago.
However, he holds no ill will towards the folks at Nintendo, even if he can’t understand their decision.
“I owe a lot to Nintendo. They gave me my start in the game business. I don't want to do anything that makes them seem bad. I wanted to just write about the fun bits in the game that I think the fans would enjoy. But I have no desire to rock the boat with Nintendo at all.
"It isn't anything that I can speculate. All I will say is I was the one who went and talked to Nintendo because I thought I might as well see if I can get their blessing. I asked them and they came back and said we'd rather you didn't.”
Lindblom brought the interview to close by promising to respect Nintendo’s wishes but at the same, if fans happen to ask him any Earthbound related questions at cons and such, he said he’ll answer them to the best of his abilities.
While I don’t understand Nintendo’s Willy Wonkaesque obsession with keeping everything related to its creative process under warps (well, in this case at least), Lindblom should have remembered the NDA he signed before writing the book.
However, I still recognize this as a huge waste of an opportunity and I can’t see why Nintendo’s higher ups wouldn’t choose to instead publish the book (and editing out the bits they don’t like) and split the profit with Lindblom. They’d get a nice payday and Earthbound fans would be treated to some nostalgia and get a cool piece of history to put on their shelf. Everybody wins right?
Oh well. Maybe one day Nintendo will be less stubborn and let this book go to print...maybe.