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Thanks to a debug-mode hack, you can now freely mess with EarthBound

Thanks to a new hack, you can muck about with one of the most lauded games of the JRPG genre -- and lay its secrets bare.

1995's EarthBound has emerged as a classic of the Japanese RPG genre, and 20 years on from its original U.S. release, its popularity endures with fans, and it's still influential to game developers.

Now, a new hacking project has opened up the game's debug menu system, which was left untranslated in the original Western commercial release of the game, to English-speakers -- as seen above. 

ROM hacker Vince94 has posted up the translation on EarthBound franchise fansite Starmen.net, where he writes: "It was what the original programmers used, before the English translation even began, to test the inventory system, see how the game would react in unexpected situations, and generally look around to see if anything needed fine-tuning."

Of course, the hack requires a ROM of the game -- and the game's publisher, Nintendo, maintains that downloading a ROM of one of its games is illegal even if you own the original cartridge. 

There's little doubt, however, that the ability to freely experiment with the game could be educational to game developers hoping to understand some of the magic that powers such an enduring classic. 

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