No EarthBound for VC, ESRB rating a Mistake

STARMEN.NET is reporting that EarthBound is being indefinitely held from Virtual Console release, possibly due to copyright concerns from NoA’s legal staff.  Earthbound fans have suffered numerous false starts, but between from Iwata’s namedrop and the ESRB rating, fans refused to give up hope – but apparently the rating was a mistake.

From what we’ve learned, Nintendo never intended to send EarthBound up the flagpole; it seems to have been some kind of internal mistake on behalf of the ESRB. By the time both parties (NoA and the ESRB) realized what had happened, it was presumably not worth the effort to ‘fix’. NoA didn’t have to pay for it, and the ESRB didn’t have to go to the trouble of backpedaling.

Last year’s ESRB rating went up before Nintendo confirmed that Earthbound on the VC was actually happening. So what was the hold up?  Apparently NoA lawyers had issue with some game content, possibly concerned about copyright infringement. NoA wanted to modify the game to remove the offensive content, but NCL (Nintendo Company Limited, or “Nintendo of Japan”) refused to make the changes.

Regretfully, this leaves the fate of Earthbound in the hands of lawyers – significantly lowering the probability of an official Mother 3 translation or Virtual Console release of Mother, the founding NES game.  Will the Mother series ever return to North American shores? Maybe – NoA has recognized the US fanbase in the past, and Smash Bros. continues to raise EarthBound awareness – but all hope hinges on the satisfaction of NoA’s legal department.