“Deleted” Nintendo floppy recovered 26 years later, full of Earthbound secrets
The golden-age rebirth of console gaming, largely spurred by the NES’s mega-success, has remained a lucrative era for conservationists. There’s a whole community out there rushing to find documents, disks, and hard drives from the ’80s and ’90s before they’re savaged by time and bit rot. Yet sometimes, those old storage standards’ limitations can work out in game historians’ favor.
On Friday, the Video Game History Foundation announced its restoration of a single Nintendo-related, 3.5-inch floppy disk, as discovered by original Earthbound translator Marcus Lindblom in 2018. The story sounds a lot like ones we’ve heard in the past, where someone from the gaming industry cleans out an attic or a storage unit only to find disks that they think are lost to time.
In Lindblom’s case, he thought the Earthbound disk he’d discovered was lost to his own younger stupidity. At one point he learned, after putting it into an older computer, that he’d deleted the disk’s contents to save other work on it. He donated the disk to VGHF with fingers crossed that they could work their magic, which they apparently did. As it turns out, only one small file had been saved to the disk after its “deletion,” thus leaving most of the original magnetic media untouched. Forensic recovery tools managed to recover every single disk sector, revealing the SNES RPG’s “complete” scripting files for English and Japanese text, along with related code for event triggers in the game.
“All parts should go together without forcing. You must remember that the parts you are reassembling were disassembled by you. Therefore, if you can’t get them together again, there must be a reason. By all means, do not use a hammer.” —IBM Manual, 1925