Like many beloved niche titles, EarthBound — known as Mother 2 in Japan — was ahead of its time. The game’s cutesy graphics and unabashed weirdness belied its dark and meaningful storyline. At a glance, it’s no great surprise that it initially failed to find an audience.
But when you look closer, you’ll find that EarthBound had everything it needed to be a success. A dedicated localization team ensured that every offbeat cultural reference was translated perfectly. Moreover, it had an impressive marketing budget, with ads for the game appearing in most major gaming magazines.
Miyamoto was convinced that North American gamers would love EarthBound as much as he did. He believed the game could sell millions of copies and made sure it had the budget to pull it off. Nintendo sunk $2 million into advertising, sending out mailers and placing numerous ads in major gaming magazines. According to early PR statements, their plan was to target a teen and young adult audience.
Somewhere along the way, things went terribly wrong.