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Tips for Buying EarthBound

March 14th, 2018 | EarthBound, Videos

A couple months back, Nintendo released a miniature Super NES box with a whole bunch of games on it, including EarthBound. I forget how many times EarthBound has been re-released by this point, but it’s actually quite common for re-released games to get minor changes that most people never notice.

Part of my job involves hunting for these changes though, so I was eager to see what might’ve changed with this latest release. After some technical hurdles, the PK Hack guys and I were able to find a handful of differences, two of which involved special cut-scene data. These two difference turned out to be minor animation changes that were also present in the Wii U Virtual Console release. You can see those tiny differences here:

Note that these were actual code/data changes – someone had to go into EarthBound’s programming and figure out the precise bytes to change, which probably wasn’t an easy feat. Nintendo’s custom emulator also tries to automatically reduce flashing on its own, but I guess these cut scenes needed to be fixed manually for some reason.

I don’t know if they other changes to the SNES Mini release have been figured out yet, but I assume they’re just as minor. If I find anything out though, I’ll be sure to share it here.

If you’re interested in these sorts of “quiet game changes that no one really notices”, here are a few other examples I’ve written about:

I try to document changes like these for my articles and books – my Zelda book covers every re-release of the game and how the game has quietly changed, for example, and my EarthBound book lists all kinds of easy-to-overlook changes that have appeared in MOTHER 2 over the years. Game changes are fun to document but are hard to keep up with!


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13 Comments to 2 Minor Changes in Recent EarthBound Re-releases

Mato said on Mar. 14, 2018

(Also, yeah, I know I’m way behind on updates… I’m gonna try to update at least a *little* more regularly 😛 )

Sloppymike said on Mar. 14, 2018

Thank you for the update! Imiss earthbound central live on YouTube please bring it back. Also great job on the earthbound book I recently purchased it and have been reading it.

Chairman of the Bored said on Mar. 15, 2018

What’s this I see about a Mother 3 book on Fangamer?

Mato said on Mar. 15, 2018

The description on the Fangamer site explains it pretty well – it’s about all the rumors & hopes about Mother 3 getting a translation and all the times everyone got letdown or stuff turned out to be false/a lie. A few tiny more details here: https://legendsoflocalization.com/legends-of-localization-projects-in-2018/

Chairman of the Bored said on Mar. 15, 2018

Cool, thanks. It seemed like it came out of nowhere, so I was a little surprised to see it. You best believe I’ll snag a copy.

Erikku8 said on Mar. 15, 2018

I’ve noticed that the PSI Rockin’ Beta animation was toned down a bit too, not unlike the adjusted PSI animations on the Wii U version. Though in my experience, the animation fluctuates, sometimes showing the original animation while showing the adjusted animation at other times. I think they also toned down the flash from the instant win battles, though I haven’t played the Wii U version in a while, so maybe that’s been there for some time now.

AwelCruiz said on Mar. 16, 2018

“I forget how many times EarthBound has been re-released by this point…”

There’s a phrase that seemed unlikely just a few years ago.

PSIUser658 said on Mar. 17, 2018

And isn’t that a good thing? It’s ever since 2013 that Nintendo of America/Europe finally acknowledge the game and series, at least in Virtual Console standards, giving opportunities for many consumers to try the game ranging in different platforms including Wii U (including MOTHER 1/Beginnings), New 3DS, and yes, the SNES Classic Edition (weird that the Super Famicom edition didn’t get MOTHER 2, but hey they got the game on Wii U first by 30 yen on that month and year).
As for the changes mentioned in the effects, I really don’t mind them, and I understand the justification of avoiding seizure on users. Maybe it could be nitpicks, but they don’t overall alter or ruin the original of the game, at least as how I see it.

Chairman of the Bored said on Mar. 18, 2018

Yes, I would consider that to be a good thing.

DJ said on Mar. 20, 2018

I understand the need to reduce flashes in these old games for the photosensitive epileptics among us. Heck all these games came with warnings to that effect, but actually making sure they wouldn’t need the warning and that everyone can enjoy the game is a plus for all involved.

That said, I would really love if these rereleases came with a emulator option to disable these protections, so those that aren’t photosensitive can enjoy the games as they originally were. From the looks of it, I suspect such an option would also need to revert these ROM hacks back to original code as well.

Leeaux said on Mar. 21, 2018

Good to see you back in action Tomato!

Replier to DJ said on Jul. 22, 2018

@DJ I assume this would take a ton more work, and, given the most easy implementation, would double the size of the VC download for Earthbound (an option in the VC would essentially let you choose between two ROMs).

DJ said on Jul. 28, 2018

The rom hacks are done in real time when the game is booted, so the option would simply not apply those rom hacks. In fact, that’s proven to be an issue with the “Mini” systems Nintendo released. Attempts to put “unmodified” versions of, say, Zelda II on there result in them just getting modded with the changes on boot anyway. They did find a way to disable the emulator based changes though.


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