Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer

Unearthed (EarthBound Hack) Demo Release

Unearthed Demo (vCS108) (requires a SNES Emulator)

After many years of development, I’m happy to announce the release of a public demo of Unearthed. Covering the first few areas of the game, it features between 1-2 hours of gameplay. Many thanks go out to all the folks in the PK Hack community for helping out with the project, and to my brother for writing most of the game’s dialogue.

Note: thanks to Starmen.net forum users Midna and Ballz for troubleshooting the demo. The current download shouldn’t have any glitched hotspots.

What is Unearthed?

Succinctly put, Unearthed is a new role-playing adventure constructed within the framework of the EarthBound ROM. While sharing many of the core mechanics of its predecessor, the game features an original narrative, a new game world, and a bevy of additional gameplay features.

Unearthed is centered around a fairly simple plot: through a series of unlikely events, Mitchell (our protagonist) is thrust into an underground world in search of his younger brother Chase. There, he encounters strange creatures and exotic locations, and gets caught up in the trials and tribulations of this newly discovered realm.

Important Notes

  • Save states will not work properly with Unearthed. This is a side-effect of some of the hacking tools used in its development. The game will auto-save at a couple key points, and a reusable save point will be introduced when things get trickier.
  • Hold the “Y” button to run.
  • Be sure to experiment with abilities. Both “Bust Up!” and “Nullify” are very useful, and ISAAC is a “blue mage” of sorts.


Only 1-2 hours of gameplay? Haven’t you been working on this for like 100 years?
Unearthed was made in an very deliberate fashion. Instead of developing the game linearly, with a focus on playable demos, I slowly constructed it layer-by-layer. Although you can only play the first few areas of Unearthed, most of the game’s “infrastructure” (maps, enemies, items, music, sprites, game mechanics, etc.) is complete.

Nope. Games take a long time to make, and this is still primarily a hobby project for me. I’m currently setting up NPCs and event flags (i.e. the playable game), fixing bugs, and coaxing my brother into writing dialogue. I wouldn’t expect a final release anytime soon.

When can we expect another demo?
Maybe never. This one was relatively straight-forward to create, as it covers the most linear portion of the game. Unearthed becomes (slightly) more open-ended as it progresses, making it tougher to create a self-contained demo.

Aren’t you worried about receiving a Cease & Desist from Nintendo?
Yes and no. On one hand, there have been several high-profile incidents where fangames have been shut down by Nintendo over the last couple years. On the other hand, I’ve been hosting a full ROM of my previous game hack, HyperBound, on my website for almost a decade now. Nintendo’s copyright enforcement seems rather arbitrary.

Regardless, I thought it was worth the risk to release a public demo. I’ve always been a proponent of open game development, and I am excited at the opportunity to have people play the game, even in its limited form.

I noticed a grammatical mistake, a typo, a tile error, or another type of bug.
Great! Either email it to me or comment below. Unless it is about the trees. The trees haunt my dreams.

I have strong feelings about the plot, difficulty, or aesthetic of the game.
I’m not currently taking feedback on any of those things. The plot and aesthetic are essentially locked in at this point, and the difficulty is so tentative that it isn’t really worth tweaking.


I don’t really have an agenda with this demo. I just wanted to share my progress publicly, and give people the chance to play my silly little game hack. Let me know if you end up streaming, reviewing, or writing an irate blog post about Unearthed. I’d love to hear what the EarthBound community thinks of the game.


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  • Hey Michael! I wanted to let you know that i had an absolute blast playing the demo. Despite being made on EarthBound’s engine, Unearthed really has its own feel, and unique narrative voice that I find very refreshing. Your writing is superb, and I’m enjoying the mysterious elements of the story. I eagerly await the final release! Good luck with the rest of development, and take your time ;)

    -Glenn Wickline (a.k.a. G.Wicks/BillySmakk)

    • Thanks! I’m glad that you enjoyed playing it, and that it stands out from the original game. I’m looking forward to getting back into it a little bit later on in the summer.

  • Great game very well done and follows the earthbound/mother style story telling. I hope “never” isn’t an option. However, I have been working on my own game project and it’s taken over 5 years and it’s still no where done. But, will be hoping that you do. Itoi doesn’t seem to be making mother games any time soon….thank you!

    • I’m very confident that the game will be done sometime before the end of days. I’m just going to keep on pluggin’ away at it, and see what happens.

By Michael
Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer