Nintendo Nukes 'Zelda' Fan Game, As Per Usual

from the death-of-the-wild dept

I've tried with Nintendo. For some years now, I have both complained about how strict and hamfisted the company is when it comes to allowing fans to express their fandom in the form of fan-created games and content, as well as offered the company advice as to how it could be just a little more cool about all of this. The frustration really starts to boil over when you realize just how much cool content the world could have if Nintendo could figure out some way not to be as protectionist as possible and instead seek out ways to work with fans to allow for this sort of thing. To be clear, as I have said in the past, Nintendo certainly can act this way when it comes to how it treats its fans, but it doesn't have to act this way.

But, when you jump at every fan-made work like a toddler on meth jumps at their own shadow, I suppose you just can't help yourself. The most recent evidence that Nintendo isn't changing course comes in the form of a fan-created Zelda game put up on GitHub that Nintendo swiftly got taken down.

Well-known modder Kaze Emanuar, who has been releasing a number of unofficial Nintendo-based projects over the last few years, launched a title called 'The Missing Link' earlier this year. The game made use of the very same engine from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and aimed to bridge the gap between Ocarina, and later N64 title, Zelda: Majora's Mask.

The game was available from GitHub, but following the copyright claim, has since been removed.

To be charitable to Nintendo, there is no lawsuit thus far involved in this story. Given that the company has never been litigiously shy, perhaps that's progress of a kind. And, again, Nintendo is well within its rights to take this action. The takedown request itself at least nods at any question as to whether this game would constitute fair use.

"The copyrighted works are the video games in Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda video game franchise, including without limitation the audio-visual works, story lines, characters, and imagery in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (U.S. Copyright Reg. No. PA0000901848), The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (U.S. Copyright Reg. No. PA0001940271), and others.

Nintendo has reviewed the reported material and does not believe it qualifies as a fair use of Nintendo’s copyright-protected work."

All true, except that isn't where this story has to end. There are plenty of ways that Nintendo could sanctify these sorts of fan-made games and content that don't involve taking them down. It could work out some arrangement with the fans who make these fan-games to make them official, thereby alleviating any concern for copyright protection. On the copyright side specifically, the company could simply ignore these fan-games, like plenty of other game studios do. Hell, if it's some monetary corporate itch that requires scratching, Nintendo could even build a fan-creator program that allowed it to make some money and have curation abilities over these expressions of adoration turned into gaming content.

But, no. Instead, out comes to the copyright takedown request, down goes the game, and the world is an objectively slightly worse place for it.

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Filed Under: fan games, trademark, zelda
Companies: nintendo


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  • icon
    Thad (profile), 20 Oct 2020 @ 6:03pm

    I'm sort of baffled that Zelda Classic has managed to survive for twenty years. I'm sure somebody at Nintendo must have seen it at some point.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2020 @ 8:00pm

      Re:

      I'm surprised they don't lash out at every streamer and speedrunner, and anyone who develops randomizers or other stuff for any of the game franchises, especially Zelda.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2020 @ 9:05pm

        Re: Re:

        Not for lack of trying. Techdirt has covered cases where streamers were told to go fuck their monetization because the ingame music triggered copyright flags. Realistically if Nintendo went after every person broadcasting their gaming experience, they'd run out of resources and goodwill double plus quick.

        My guess is that to fulfill the insecurity of their bosses, Nintendo goes after people who won't fight back, and are significant enough to send their bosses' message: "don't fuck with us". The inconsistency in their scattershot approach is part of the plan, with its roots in Japanese culture as a whole - the system of irresponsibility that shields the corporate body from blame. If the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing you can't blame Nintendo for fucking up, they'd reason, which is why the lack of lashing out at everyone is a carefully planned move.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      F. Laurence Nightingale, 20 Oct 2020 @ 9:33pm

      Re: Apparently ZC doesn't use Nintendo's ENGINE.

      Above is:

      The game made use of the very same engine from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time,

      Looks like copyright infringement.

      Never having played these, I went to the site and read:

      Zelda Classic is a tribute to (what we think is) the greatest video game of all time: Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda. It has been developed into an exact replica of the NES version that we all know and love.

      Which is apparently all new, and while could object over the name, seems to show "Nintendo" as the original source right on the opening splash.

      So, "Thad": entirely different looks to be the reason.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    F. Laurence Nightingale, 20 Oct 2020 @ 9:20pm

    Have you ever seen a "toddler on meth"?

    But, when you jump at every fan-made work like a toddler on meth jumps at their own shadow

    I bet not, else you wouldn't glibly use such disturbing image for one of your strings of characters. But perhaps you're inured by decades of watching pretend murders in movies, and by playing video games.

    BUT, have you seen Nintendo "jump at every fan-made work like a toddler on meth"? I can answer that absolutely NOT, because Nintendo is a legal fiction, has no corpus at all, and is immune to all human frailties. If Nintendo or Google could gain ten cents more for their shareholders by tossing live toddlers feet first into wood-chippers, they would.

    Where was I? Oh, yes, about to glance at 3rd para...

    To be charitable to Nintendo, there is no lawsuit thus far involved in this story.

    "Charity" is not required nor even possible: what you then state is a FACT which does not require you or reader to attempt fairness.

    Nintendo could sanctify

    Wildly wrong and inapt word, as usual: sanctify = vt. -fied, -fyùing 1. to make holy; specif., a) to set apart as holy; consecrate b) to make free from sin; purify 2. to make binding or inviolable by a religious sanction 3. to make productive of spiritual blessing

    the world is an objectively slightly worse place for it.

    Show your proof, with metrics, and that Nintendo's choices does NOT make the world better for the law-abiding, or retract "objectively".

    Lood Gord, you're a LOUSY writer, Timmy, not just WRONG usage but you have a compulsion to use too many and too long of words in a word-salad. -- If you were a salad chef, you'd mix in gravel, slugs, and hot peppers just to make people exclaim.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2020 @ 11:30pm

      Re:

      Show your proof, with metrics, and that Nintendo's choices does NOT make the world better for the law-abiding

      You first, corpsucker.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Oct 2020 @ 2:11am

      How can a corporation control and enforce a copyright when you believe corporations have no legal rights, and how do you feel about corporations using copyright to censor speech?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    techflaws (profile), 20 Oct 2020 @ 9:55pm

    Show your proof, with metrics, and that Nintendo's choices does
    NOT make the world better for the law-abiding, or retract
    "objectively".

    Or what? You gonna keep on babbling?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2020 @ 3:09am

    Oh, Nintendo

    Sega:
    Looks at the fan community
    Sees people modding emulators to enable functionality their 16-bit games had
    "Hire them to make our classic collections work"
    Sees folkse making engines which perfectly replicate the physics of their games, something their own teams have proven wholly incapable of with their disastrous flops of sequels
    "Hire them, buy that tech"
    Sees fans have a clear demand for the kinds of game projects these developers in the community keep making, and there's a market for them
    "Hire them, put them in charge of the next official game in the franchise"

    Nintendo:
    "NO, NOT THAT!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Paul Keating, 21 Oct 2020 @ 4:53am

    Nintendo & the Legend of Zelda

    Funny, I was just speaking with my 17 year-old about this. He was just as frustrated. While I share the frustration, I tried to explain to him that there are valid business decisions that support the take-down treatment. adopting a "cooperative" mode would require Nintendo to create and manage the resources to do so. They would have to essentially not only investigate to discover, they would have to investigate to see if it was of sufficient quality to cooperate with.
    And, to the extent such product become seen as any form of "official" Nintendo project would require Nintendo to invest in the people necessary to manage such an operation and maintain quality control, etc (something excused when dealing with a fan-mod but not necessarily when dealing with a large studio). The fact that they have moved away from litigation also shows a disinterest in investing - litigation is an expensive way to play "wack-a-mole".

    So, while I agree with the sentiment, I can also see the side that says, "no, sorry, it's not worth our time to invest...".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2020 @ 5:40pm

      Re: Nintendo & the Legend of Zelda

      If Nintendo isn't interested in investing (aka, investing less, as more than half and maybe all of the dev work was already done for free), then the fan project isn't interfering with their business and they could just leave it be.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 21 Oct 2020 @ 5:07am

    Copyright Maximalism and Videogame Consoles

    When Sony sued George Hotz I gave away my PS4 and have never bought a Sony product again.

    When Microsoft terminated "hacked" accounts without allowing re-signup or refunds, I got rid of my Microsoft products and have never bought any again.

    Nintendo has been such a huge thorn I've never bought their products.

    PC games are generally built for [Microsoft] Windows so I don't buy those. I realize Steam is an option to run them under Linux/WINE.

    So at the end of the day, until a majority say "enough is enough" these companies will continue doing exactly what they've been doing for LITERALLY DECADES.

    VOTE. With your wallet. Also on November 3rd.

    Ehud

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 21 Oct 2020 @ 6:04am

      Re: Copyright Maximalism and Videogame Consoles

      "So at the end of the day, until a majority say "enough is enough" these companies will continue doing exactly what they've been doing for LITERALLY DECADES."

      That's not going to happen. The majority of ordinary gamers simply don't give 2 shits about these issues, just as very few people watching movies care about the politics behind the productions or Rowling fans care about her political faux pas.

      Even if you get a lot of adult gamers to do such a thing, parents buying a Switch for their kids to shut up aren't going care about the politics as long as their kinds are quiet.

      It's a noble effort, but you're extraordinary naive if you think that the majority of the mainstream knows about these issues, let alone care enough to affect their purchasing habits. People still buy clothes made by literal child slave labour, do you think that trademark issues are going the sway them?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2020 @ 9:27pm

        Re: Re: Copyright Maximalism and Videogame Consoles

        It's a noble effort, but you're extraordinary naive if you think that the majority of the mainstream knows about these issues, let alone care enough to affect their purchasing habits. People still buy clothes made by literal child slave labour, do you think that trademark issues are going the sway them?

        That's a false argument. Especially in this industry.

        • The video game industry loves blaming low sales on the spectre of piracy regardless of evidence as justification for their ever tightening grip over people's devices and actions with DRM.
        • They love ignoring fans (especially Nintendo) practically begging them to take more time to actually finish a game before release, or add back a beloved lost feature.
        • They also love enforcing manufacturer price fixing so no matter where you try and buy a game it's the same price. (Digital vs. Physical. The E-Shop price for switch games anyone? Same as the physical release.)
        • They also love artificial scarcity, for their artificial demand increase. (Nintendo's legion of scalpers?)
        • They, along with any other entertainment industry company, are not a manufacturer of a common good, you cannot "shop around" for a competing Zelda or Mario game the same way you can "shop around" for Apples or Oranges. That's the entire point of IP law.
        • And of course, every thing that can even remotely be sued out of existence, is.

        There's not a single cent that could be withheld that would convince Nintendo or any other company for that matter to change it's ways. The only time that happens is during an utter fluke where the product is so bad on it's face, that you couldn't pay people to take it away. A fluke that rarely happens to Nintendo. For all intensive purposes, Nintendo and most other companies are immune to the kind of political activism known as boycotting.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 21 Oct 2020 @ 11:37pm

          Re: Re: Re: Copyright Maximalism and Videogame Consoles

          Erm, you just listed a bunch of reasons why the industry might not choose budge all that much even if they faced a real challenge from consumers. That doesn't refute the fact I stated that most mainstream consumers don't know or care enough to put up that challenge to begin with.

          "For all intensive purposes"

          twitch

          "Nintendo and most other companies are immune to the kind of political activism known as boycotting"

          They're not, but they have been in a somewhat unique position where they've bolstered their gaming library with unique gaming experiences that complement their first party titles, and have been fortunate in that their first party titles almost routinely knock the quality out of the park. There are many "gamers" out there who have never owned anything other than a Wii and a Switch or DS. Then, while Mario, Mario 64, Animal Crossing, Zelda, etc. have had many rip-offs and clones over the years few of them have come close to the quality of the originals. This sets them apart from, say, SEGA, whose innovations didn't sell and whose first party titles went through periods of being pretty crap.

          If Nintendo had gone through another period like that recently, where the Switch failed to attract users as with the Wii U and they made a Mario game people didn't like, they would have been in trouble no matter how many trademarks they owned. This extended to some degree to other manufacturers - Microsoft totally screwed the pooch with the XBox One launch and had few first party titles to truly attract customers. They have redeemed themselves impressively enough so that it looks like they will have a decent run next gen, but this is not trademark based. This redemption came solely as a result of them losing a lot of sales.

          The point is, however, that while the mainstream market does not consciously run on things like trademark and DRM objections, the consumer is certainly able to alter behaviour based on boycotts and other free market solutions. The trick is getting them to care enough about the same issues you do. Someone who buys a Nintendo console once every decade or so and only buys the same 3 games isn't going to care about your objections to DRM or bullying.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 21 Oct 2020 @ 10:14am

      Re: Copyright Maximalism and Videogame Consoles

      When Sony sued George Hotz I gave away my PS4

      Are you sure? Because Sony sued George Hotz almost three years before the PS4 was released.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2020 @ 5:35am

    focus

    I wonder if the $ spent on lawyers and courts has prevented Ninty from staying in the high power home console market. That is, has Nintendo been forced to stay in the low power (Wii, Wii U) console and hand held market because they've spent so much of their money in the courts?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2020 @ 2:19pm

      Re: focus

      Late to the reply, but I don't think so. Nintendo just... did something different and it worked out exceedingly well for them. Despite the fact that the Gamecube had decent horsepower, it was a third place compared to the PS2 juggernaut and newcomer Microsoft.

      Wii blew everything out of the water in terms of sales, and the lower-fi hardware meant NIntendo earned a profit on every device sold, whereas the PS3 and 360 were loss leaders. Nintendo seems content to let Sony and MS argue over specs, while they do their weird thing to varying degrees of success (Wii was a success, WiiU did awful, Switch sold briskly and their first party software always kills it in terms of sales). Hell, even the Gamecube, their last console that went directly head to head with other console makers, went with weird proprietary minidiscs rather than a plain ol' DVD.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2020 @ 2:21pm

        Re: Re: focus

        I'll just add that that's not an endorsement of Nintendo's policy regarding fan works or anything, just that "Haha legal fees mean they can't compete on horsepower" is probably wrong, since they weren't doing a great job competing on horsepower when they were officially doing that.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2020 @ 8:53am

    Disagree

    Would you name your band Pink Floyd and release and album of all original music titled Straight Outta Compton? Sure, you might, but it would clearly be a lazy attempt to get more attention than your boring music would otherwise get. Same thing here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2020 @ 9:07pm

      Re: Disagree

      Would you name your band Pink Floyd and release and album of all original music titled Straight Outta Compton? Sure, you might, but it would clearly be a lazy attempt to get more attention than your boring music would otherwise get. Same thing here.

      That's not what's going on here.

      These people didn't claim to be Nintendo. Nor did they claim their work to be an official Zelda title endorsed by Nintendo. Nor did they blatantly copy the name of an existing official Zelda work.

      What they did do was make a pun on the subtitle of their work that ties into their story. Which if that's all that it takes to be in violation of IP law, then the law is flawed and needs to be repealed. Such a law would make even official works subject to lawsuits. Especially where more than one person or group owns the rights to the franchise.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Oct 2020 @ 10:18am

    It could work out some arrangement with the fans who make these fan-games to make them official, thereby alleviating any concern for copyright protection.

    But that would undercut Nintendo’s ability to literally steal fan ideas and market them as Nintendo products. To wit: the fan-made Mario Royale from 2019 vs. the Nintendo-made Super Mario 35 that was released a couple weeks or so ago.

    And now I wonder how long we’ll have to wait until Nintendo makes its own version of Peach’s Untold Tale

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 22 Oct 2020 @ 8:43pm

    The Archive.org link for the site still works and even lets you download the patches, which is surprising to me as file downloads usually don't work on archived sites.

    Here's the link;

    https://web.archive.org/web/20200924130842/https://tml.z64.me

    Apparently you need version 1.0 of the ROM file for it to work (that's what one forum post said in response to someone having trouble). You'll also need a patch tool to apply them, or to use this site;

    https://www.marcrobledo.com/RomPatcher.js/

    Disclaimer: I haven't tried it myself, I only downloaded the patches to help keep them from disappearing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 22 Oct 2020 @ 10:59pm

      Re:

      "which is surprising to me as file downloads usually don't work on archived sites"

      The download links are redirects to an Amazon S3 bucket via GitHub. It's not a surprise that this still works as the original URL isn't involved there.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Rekrul, 23 Oct 2020 @ 3:29pm

        Re: Re:

        I figured that they would have pulled down the actual files along with the web page.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 24 Oct 2020 @ 2:25am

          Re: Re: Re:

          That's an extra admin step and the S3 bucket was presumably not the same place the site was hosted so they forgot. Or, since the order mentioned only seems to address the GitHub page and website, maybe they left a backdoor open deliberately.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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