The 64DREAM – November 1996
This is the first ever official issue of The 64DREAM (currently “Nindori”), but Volume #2 after an initial unofficial release in June. It treats us with a treasure trove of juicy insights into the creation of Earthbound 64. Itoi’s team had an impressive amount of the game finished even by 1996, which really accentuates the troubles they went through and how looong it had dragged on. (The editors from this interview got the impression it would be on sale by summer 1997.) It’s amazing to think about how the project was scrapped even after taking years and years of their time!
In interviews and statements over the past five years or so, it seems clear that Itoi thoroughly enjoyed his game-making experiences but sees it as a closed chapter of his life. We can see this in interviews like this one from 2009.
Itoi: [...] Games demand many more lines of dialogue despite the fact that the main characters don’t talk, so I couldn’t keep making them. That’s why I felt deep down after making three of them, “Well, that was a neat experience.”
Shiraiwa: So you’re done with them?
Itoi: Yes, that’s right.
In the nineties, however, when Itoi was at the height of his video game endeavors, it was clear in interviews at the time that he was so passionate about making video games, he’d be brewing with ideas for new ones before his current game was even close to completion. (Earthbound 64 had been the same way; he was well into the brainstorming stage by the time they were still putting together the puzzle pieces of Earthbound programming.)
The fact that this interview takes place in the early stages of MOTHER 3 development means the game was still in the process of being programmed for the Nintendo 64DD.
Interesting points in the article include:
- Itoi’s aversion to assigning “themes” to video games
- Itoi’s original intent to make MOTHER 3 in 2-D
- The extent of completion of MOTHER 3 even by the fall of 1996
- Itoi’s inspiration for the story of MOTHER 3 and desire to make a detective novel in game form
- A Mr. Saturn spinoff game!?
- Itoi’s phone calls to his game designer about MOTHER 3 in the middle of the night–before MOTHER 2 was even done
- The origin of the name of the Nintendo 64
- Itoi’s personal relationship with Nintendo
This issue has some of the best and 90′s-est layouts I’ve ever seen, so to preserve this, I edited the page scans to allow you to read the article as-is. Just click on each page to enlarge the image.
Note 1. This would be Spring 1997. Looking back, you’d think there’s not a chance of completing it that quickly, but at the time of this interview, that was the pace they were going at. By the time Spring ’97 rolled around, it was obvious to fans that they’d need to prepare for the inevitable–that it would likely take even longer than the delay of MOTHER 2. Little did they know.
Note 2. I’m curious about what this weird ad was. The Japanese N64 ads ended up being extremely plain, which fueled a lot of criticism of Nintendo commercials. Wonder how his would have been!
Note 3. This is probably Cabbage.
Note 4. This is referring to Itoi Shigesato Bass Fishing No. 1 for the Super Nintendo which was scheduled for release February 1997, three months after this interview.