Here's Why EarthBound Was A Complete Flop In The U.S.

There are many games that didn't come into their prime until later on after their release. It's hard to find a series that fits that description more than EarthBound. Known as Mother in Japan, this RPG series was unique in its approach to the genre, largely due to its quirky design and humor. The series is a cult classic and still has a very dedicated fan base several years after the 2006 release of Mother 3, the series' last entry.


Gamers in North America wouldn't get their hands on a Mother game until Japan released a follow up to the first entry of the series. The second entry in the series, Mother 2, was first released in Japan in 1994, and then as EarthBound in 1995 in North America. EarthBound followed the adventures of Ness and his friends as they attempted to save the world from cosmic horrors. Despite Nintendo's best efforts to generate buzz around the game, it completely flopped, reportedly selling fewer than 150,000 copies in North America.

There has to be a reason why an engaging and unique title like EarthBound was such a failure.

Fart jokes and no gameplay became Earthbound's downfall

EarthBound's marketing campaign was just as quirky as the game, but it did not work to Nintendo's advantage. Instead of focusing on the title's plot, gameplay, and other mechanics, advertising for the game in the U.S. mainly revolved around toilet humor. In fact, of the U.S. taglines for EarthBound in was literally, "this game stinks," which was giving off the impression that the game was hot garbage. 


On the topic of smells, EarthBound's marketing campaign also made extensive use of scratch and sniff tabs to try and get a hold of the teen demographic it was trying to cater to, but it backfired. Scents such as stale pizza and farts didn't stay inside their tabs, and if a kid in the 90s brought the edition of Nintendo Power that had these tabs, the entire magazine would stink.

Thanks to the very confusing advertising, the elements that made EarthBound great were lost among the gross humor. Had Nintendo opted for a normal campaign, perhaps Earthbound would've had a more successful run, and the series wouldn't be so niche today.