Hirokazu Tanaka — better known as "Hip Tanaka" — is something of a legend in Nintendo circles. He was with the company in the very early days, creating the sound effects for games like Donkey Kong, and would later find fame composing soundtracks for classics such as Metroid, Balloon Fight and Wrecking Crew. He was also involved with the creation of the soundtrack for cult RPG EarthBound, which was unique in that it featured a heavy use of sound samples.
EarthBound has been one of the most requested titles for Nintendo's Virtual Console, and rumours of its impending release have surfaced and faded on a regular basis for the past few years. We could finally have a reason for its continued absence, and rather disappointingly, it could be the ground-breaking soundtrack that is to blame.
Speaking in an interview with 1UP's Jeremy Parish, Tanaka touched upon the lack of a North American Virtual Console launch:
"The sampling issue is a little sensitive, because... well, I don't know for sure, but it sounds like that is one of the reasons EarthBound is not able to come out in America. It's a topic we should probably avoid."
The interview is packed with other cool information, and is well worth a read — assuming your eyes aren't clouded by tears at the thought that EarthBound may never be re-released outside of Japan, ever.