EarthBound is often cited as one of the most influential RPGs of all-time. It was such a beloved property that fans released a translation patch for its Japan-only sequel, Mother 3, and a professional translator even offered to localise it for Nintendo pro bono. Shigesato Itoi's SNES RPG has such a fervent fanbase that the folks at fan art site Fangamer have raised over $230K on Kickstarter, well above its $100K goal, to deliver a box set full of media celebrating the adventures of Ness and company.
Fangamer already produced a wildly successful Mother 3 handbook, and it's now going to do the same with EarthBound. Entitled Travel Eagleland the EarthBound Way!, this zine will be designed to resemble a 90s travel magazine set in the EarthBound universe.
"Remember how the game loved to break the fourth wall? We thought the idea of EarthBound being released in Eagleland was fun, so we ran with it," said Fangamer on its Kickstarter. "The conceit of the Handbook is that it is a relic from the EarthBound universe, where it was produced by a company as a sightseeing guide for tourists (similar to Lord of the Rings tours of New Zealand)."
"The EarthBound Handbook is a spiritual successor to both the Mother 3 Handbook and the EarthBound Player's Guide," added designer Audrey Waner. "We're taking inspiration from a huge variety of sources - mid-90s advertising, elementary schoolbooks, travel brochures - and meshing them together to create a really rich reading experience. The finished handbook will be a natural companion to the game itself."
Fangamer expects the finished product to come with 250 pages of content along with scratch-n-sniff cards - a unique piece of paraphernalia that came packaged with EarthBound upon its US release.
Furthermore, there will be a musical album entitled Psychokinetic album by the band Bad Dudes. This will come with an additional fan-made book entitled Psychokinetic Zine. Some of the entries for this project are already up on PK Zine Tumblr.
Fangamer is also putting together a documentary entitled EarthBound, USA. Directed by Ubseymovies' Jeff Benson, the film will follow EarthBound's peculiar reception and following over the years.
You see, EarthBound was actually a commercial failure upon release in the US, where it was generally poorly received by critics at the time. Yet something about it inspired a fervent fan following and EarthBound carts ended up going for several hundred dollars on eBay.
EarthBound, USA will examine the game's cultural impact and contain interviews with its creator, Shigesato Itoi, along with other industry luminaries such as Tim Schafer, Ashley Burch, Earthbound localisation director Marcus Lindblom, translator Clyde Mandelin (the aforementioned man who offered to translate Mother 3 for free) and more.
Since the Kickstarter reached its $200K stretch goal for a convention, Fangamer will be hosting the event, Camp Fangamer, in Tucson, Arizona on 18-19th July, 2015. Capacity will be limited to 450 attendies as this is the company's first time attempting something on this scale.
Tickets aren't cheap at $50 a pop, but they're rare enough that only 150 of them will be available to non-backers, 150 will go to any backers, and super fans will have to spend $128 or more to get first crack at the initial batch of 150. That might seem pricey, but EarthBound fans are certainly a dedicated bunch.
The You Are Now EarthBound Kickstarter ends on Friday, 21st November. There are plenty of different goodies available for various prices - with the handbook starting at $32 - and Fangamer is shipping worldwide, so if you feel like you need more EarthBound-inspired goodness in your life, you might want to jump on that rather soon.