Ness standing outside his house in EarthBound.

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EarthBound Source Code Snippets Uncovered

June 4, 2021

By: Brian Renadette

 
 

A former Nintendo of America employee has discovered some raw scripting files from when he worked on the classic SNES RPG EarthBound. These files, donated to the Video Game History Foundation, gives us some exciting new insights into one of the Nintendo's cult classics.

As Frank Cifaldi of the VGHF reports, the files were originally discovered in 2018 by Marcus Lindblom, a former Nintendo of America employee, and his wife. At the time, the files in the floppy disk were deleted and Marcus sent the disk to VGHF in hopes they could do recover the data, and they did. The files, which was the game's script, may not seem too interesting at first, but it has hidden details like unused dialogue and cutscenes, character names, and even developer notes. Clyde Mandelin, video game historian and main localizer behind the MOTHER 3 fan translation, agreed to look through the files and share his discoveries.

 

What are some of the biggest discoveries in the EarthBound source code?

Here are some of the major takeaways from what Clyde found:

  • Near the end of Ness' time in Onett, he has to fight against the five members of the Onett police force and their captain. In the main game, the fifth officer would chicken out instead of fighting, but there's text that implies that he was originally meant to be fought as well.
  • At one point, players could fight the Weakest Man in Twoson to get tickets to the Chaos Theater. However, trying to turn them in would reveal that they're fakes.
  • In Burglin Park, there's a shopkeep who sells broken items that Jeff could repair. In older versions, you could buy literal piles of junk by the kilogram or the ton.
  • In early versions of the game, you could examine tombstones, and you could sometimes find items by doing so.
  • The "Magic Cake" scene, where Ness and his friends trip out on some cake and Ness has a vivid dream about Prince Poo, was originally going to have the Magic Cake woman instead give the party a special oil massage on the beach, where they'd fall asleep and have the dream.
  • Poo's "Mirror" ability, which lets him attempt to turn into an enemy to use their abilities, was originally called "Mantra," which would have made enemies target him less.

For the full overview, you can check out Clyde's article here.