Nintendo is well-known for being protective of its intellectual property and classic mascots. It took the Big N years longer than it probably should have to form a partnership to bring its IP to mobile, and the company was even cautious about handling its well-known characters like Mario and Zelda when its own team was building the first Super Smash Bros. Still, some fans have continued to test Nintendo's limits by coming up with their own creative takes on popular Nintendo games.
Now, it seems that one such fan project has officially caught the attention of Nintendo's legal department. A programmer and Super Mario fan named Roystan Ross rebuilt the first level of Super Mario 64 in high definition and released it for free this week. However, soon after the project caught fire, Ross says he has received a takedown notice from Nintendo.
The official notice, as reported by Eurogamer, states the project is a breach of copyright for "Nintendo's Super Mario 64 video game (U.S. Copyright Reg. No. PA0000788138), including but not limited to the audiovisual work, computer program, music and fictional character depictions."
Ross claims he created a large amount of the art and animations in the game on his own, but did admit that some files were taken from other Mario games. "All the art and animations were done by myself, with the exception of the Mario, Goomba and Power Star meshes, which are ripped (without animations) from Super Mario Galaxy." he told Eurogamer.
In light of the claim by Nintendo, Ross has removed all download options from his personal website. Interested fans can still click through his site for screenshots of the game and a Youtube video is also still up as of press time.
Furthermore, Nintendo commented on the takedown in a statement to Polygon:
"Nintendo respects the intellectual property rights of others, and in turn expects others to respect ours. Nintendo is passionate about protecting its creative works developed to entertain its fans and takes the necessary steps to remove unauthorized content distributed via the Internet."
It seems pretty clear that Nintendo is going to continue to be strict about how fans handle its IP for the immediate future. The company is certainly within its rights to do so, but one can't help but wonder if the sometimes militant attitude Nintendo takes on these kinds of things is hurting the company more than the actual copyright infringement.
Nintendo recently took some heat from top YouTubers over its revenue sharing policy for videos that feature Nintendo content. Plenty of other big companies, including Microsoft, have learned that being a bit more relaxed when it comes to fan projects can actually create some free PR for the company and create good will within a game's community. It's a lesson that some fans wish Nintendo would take heed of.
Super Mario 64 can be played on the Wii U by using the Virtual Console in Wii mode. A port of the game, Super Mario 64 DS is playable on the Nintendo 3DS.