For the first time, Europeans can get hold of an officially localized version of cherished, childlike Japanese adventure "EarthBound," with this week's North American and European Wii U download release.
Part of the "Mother" franchise that, in many ways, paved the way for the "Pokémon" mixture of exploration, adventure and combat, 1994's "EarthBound" saw young boy Ness and his three friends travel the world, investigating a fallen meteorite and attempting to defeat an evil alien.
Known for not only its distinctive graphical and musical style, "Earthbound" also contains many memorable characters and locations and plenty of funny moments and was directed by a Japanese copywriter and essayist rather than a designer steeped in industry tradition.
With this $10 Wii U download, "EarthBound" remains the only "Mother" series entry officially released outside of Japan, though fans have worked to faithfully translate the series' pinnacle, "Mother 3."
One of the studios that worked on "EarthBound," now known as Creatures Inc., went on to develop several "Pokémon" spin-offs, while the other, HAL Laboratories, created the "Kirby" franchise.
Even current Nintendo president Satoru Iwata worked at HAL during the game's development, becoming company president before moving to Nintendo HQ.
One last piece of "EarthBound" trivia: the old cartridge version was known for having one of the most devious piracy-protection systems ever devised, making enemies appear with intense frequency, and then deleting the player's entire progress just before he or she was about to beat the game. Mean!