It was less than a month ago, when Erik Ross released a fan made, HD version of Bob-omb Battlefield from Super Mario 64. The level, complete with playable mustached plumber, was built in Unity and made playable for free, in browser. The project was not for any profit, and appears to have just been a bit of fun and a personal programming challenge for Ross. Nintendo has since filed to have the game taken down for copyright infringement, and it is no longer available.
For most of you this probably isn’t news, and I don’t intend to cover it that way. But this is a little irritating. Over and over we see Nintendo screwing over fans, often to the company’s own detriment. Some of us like to give Nintendo a pass for, well, basically not being Microsoft, and because of their ongoing business trouble. But it’s starting to look like that business trouble is coming to an end.
That spike there, that’s from March 17th, when Nintendo announced they would be working on mobile development and a new console. It’s certainly not proof that the company is on its way to becoming Blok (wonder how many of you will get that reference), but they are through the worst of it, and this isn’t the time to be resorting to desperate measures.
SM64HD wasn’t going to be expanded to a full make of the game, just the one level. Still, I can understand why Nintendo did it. While this one project was just a demo, it also served as a proof of concept; talented programmers could remake older Nintendo games. And in light of the recent Nintendo Direct, the announcement that N64 games will be coming to the WiiU Virtual Console, and SM64 already being available there, it’s no surprise Nintendo is trying to protect its IP.
While game companies do milk old IPs way to much with re-releases and “definitive editions”, and Nintendo is certainly guilty of selling nostalgia, I have no problem with them protecting their exclusive copyright on this one. Super Mario 64 is less than twenty years old. And in that time it has been released four times, on the N64, a compete re-make with new content and playstyle on the DS and the Wii virtual console, and now the WiiU virtual console. That’s not that bad, and going by VC price and remake added content, it’s pretty consumer friendly.Besides, Nintendo isn’t indiscriminately attacking all fan projects; mods and ROM hacks have bade their rounds around the internet, and they’re a non issue.
It sucks that a non-profit, clearly non-substitute for the actual game fan project was taken down. But the alternative, leaving it be, would set a precedent, and then Nintendo would have a harder time combating the serious copyright infringement that would come up. Let the them have their flying plumber a little longer.
Don’t Lose Your Way