If there’s one thing that Nintendo has proven over the years, it’s that they will protect their IPs. They don’t care if you’ve worked on a game for two years or two decades. If you infringe on their properties, they will shut you down. That’s what they’ve done to countless fan-made Pokemon games, the AM2R: Another Metroid 2 Remake and now, the Super Mario 64 Online… trailer? Yep, they’ve taken down a trailer.
But why a trailer? Read on my friends.
Super Mario 64 Online, as it’s called, is the latest attempt to push out a fan-made title based on Nintendo’s properties. And as you can imagine, the big “N” ain’t too thrilled about it. However, unlike other fan projects, this one is a bit tricker. Unlike the rest, this isn’t a full blown game but instead is an executable that modifies a ROM of Super Mario 64. It’s this that introduces the online function for Super Mario 64, turning it into an online title.
So, this means that Nintendo can’t do anything about it, right? Well, that’s not entirely true and it depends on how far Nintendo wants to go with this. First up, it needs a ROM of Mario 64, which one can argue isn’t legal. Sure, we’re “Allowed” to back up our games, but that also means we still own the game. So say we did own it and lost it, sold it, had it stolen, whatever. We would legally be required to destroy the backup – which makes no sense. That’s the whole purpose of a backup – it’s a topic that’s constantly debated in and out of the law.
Then there’s the thing about violating the EULA, which states Nintendo owns this game, you won’t make any changes to it, etc etc. Here’s where the trouble begins, as the executable is, in fact, modifying the game. The game which is the property of Nintendo, who did not give anyone permission to do what they please with their property. If anyone has been living under a rock for the past few years, companies have been keen on going after people for mods as well. On the flipside, there are those who also support the scene. Nintendo, as many already know, isn’t one of those companies.
But, Keith, how can running an executable against a game be seen as modifying it. Well, it’s actually quite simple. The term modify is broad, so it can be any number of things, but in this case it means forcing the game to do something it didn’t do in it’s native/default nature. Mario 64 was not designed as an online game, and that’s exactly what Nintendo could argue if they wanted to get this stricten from the gaming world.
Of course, if that happens the team behind Mario 64 Online would have to remove download links, but what happens behind closed doors is a different story. I mean, how many of you are playing those “YOU MUST TAKE THIS DOWN” Pokemon games right now? Or AM2R: Another Metroid 2 Remake? Nintendo could very well file an injunction to make sure all download links are removed from the public eye. But will they?
That said, telling Nintendo that nothing can stop “this fan project”, might not exactly be the smartest move.