In 2018, Marcus Lindblom, a former Nintendo of America employee best known for his localization EarthBound, discovered the floppy disk with his personal files from this huge project in an old box. He had erased the hard drive at some point to make room for more data, but thanks to the people at the Video Game History Foundation, those files have been restored.
“Did you know that data that you delete from a hard drive or even your hard drive doesn’t automatically disappear?” Wrote VGHF Co-Director Frank Cifaldi in a blog entry Introduction of the information. “The data is pending, waiting to be overwritten by new files. Until that happens, everything is still there, the only thing missing is the reference information your computer needs to understand it. “
“In the case of Lindblom’s floppy disk, the only new file he had after deleting the EarthBound files was a tiny text document, barely a paragraph long. Since this new data was so tiny, we were miraculously able to forensically recover all the deleted data EarthBound Data, with the high certainty that none of the data has been compromised! “
Cifaldi signed Clyde Mandelin, Mother 3 Fan translator and author of the Legends of localization Series of books that help sort the data and their results provide a wonderful insight into the EarthBound Development and localization processes.
For example, party member Poo originally had an ability, “mantra,” that made it less likely that he would be attacked by enemies. This was eventually replaced by his “mirror” ability, which allows him to transform into certain enemies and use their abilities.
And think of the woman in Summers, who Ness and Co. have a “magic cake” that makes them hallucinate, pass out and have visions of Poo in his home country? At one point during development, the whole weird drug trip scene was a more innocent massage that simply put the protagonists to sleep. Oh, and her name was Martha, which made her one of the many NPCs who had official names behind the scenes that for some reason were never revealed in the game.
“As we can see, this character has gone through a lot of changes during development,” said Mandelin. “In fact, the line above has been replaced with the last line on a date marked ‘7/18’. If this refers to July 18, 1994, this Martha character was still being changed until weeks before the game was released! “
Unused text reveals that there was even an alternate ending, in which Mandelin suspects it might have been a possible sequel, with a random lizard dropping a letter from the previously defeated antagonist Pokey who dares to find Ness, him to find.
This is only a fraction of what the VGHF’s forensic investigation revealed, so be sure to check out those official blog for more information just discovered on how the EarthBound we know and love was born. It’s great read for fans of the cult classic Super Nintendo as well as anyone with a general interest in game development.