Namco pitched an EarthBound game to Nintendo in the early 2000s that would have released on the GameCube.
Former Namco developer Yasuyuki Honne, who now works at Monolith Soft, made the revelation on Twitter. According to Honne, the two companies discussed the possibility of a fourth EarthBound game. The discussions culminated in a meeting with both Satoru Iwata and EarthBound creator Shigesato Itoi.
Nintendo Everything translated the Tweets, which explain how the idea came about and matured. Unfortunately for fans of the franchise, Itoi seemed uninterested in pursuing the idea from the very start. Honne said:
“I’m looking forward to the forthcoming book about Iwata-san. I met both Iwata-san and Itoi-san at the same time – it was back in 2003 when there were talks between Namco and Nintendo about a GameCube version of Mother. I was happy to come up with a visual concept, and when I went to Aoyama Iwata-san was also present.
“Itoi-san didn’t seem very interested; he felt it was a little strange, and yet we continued talks. Itoi-san said, ‘I wonder if Iwata-kun has any ideas?’ He seemed flabbergasted, he had an aura of something akin to ‘Aw jeez.’ In the end nothing came of it, but Itoi-san enjoyed the felt-like recreations of 1980’s America that I had come up with.”
Honne even posted some images of the concept art his team came up with. The images show a drastically different look to the original games, with the visuals having a clay-like appearance.
Even if the new EarthBound game had been made, a global release would have been unlikely. The series has traditionally not been well supported outside of Japan. In fact, the first title in the series didn’t see an official release in the West until 2015.