from the nintendon't dept
I’ll give Nintendo this much: the company certainly is an absolute master at enforcing copyright in the most extreme, pettiest manner possible. I’ve already had some fun comparing Nintendo to Disney, in that the way the company is handling shutting down older game stores and making those games no longer available in most places is akin to Disney’s long history of “vaulting” movies to control their availability. Combine that with Nintendo’s practice of attempting to take down absolutely every instance of fans sharing bits of its content, taking down game music that isn’t available anywhere else, and its killing off emulation sites so it can sell trash versions of old games, and you’re left with the impression that business success is entirely secondary to its desire for control.
There are tons more examples of this, but perhaps none so petty as Nintendo taking down a super dope Super Mario 64 game manual scan over copyright. This looks to have started, at least in part, with a Kotaku post on just how cool the manual that was scanned is.
In 1996 a book was released in Japan called Super Mario 64 Complete Clear Guide Book, which wasn’t just a strategy guide but also a collection of developer commentary and photos of custom-made 3D dioramas, crafted just for the guide.
While it’s hardly a lost relic—you can find copies all over eBay for $200-300 if you’re serious about reading it in the flesh—most people reading this will have never seen the book, or if you have, will have only seen a select few pages of it. That simply will not do, so it’s great to see that someone (CFC’s Dave Shevlin) has taken the time to scan and upload the entire book at a very useful 600dpi.
Those 3D dioramas are super dope. And, frankly, there are a ton of us out here that have an affinity for old-school retro video game manuals. I used to love reading them back when I was kid. It’s also a fact that those manuals are part of the history of the art that is video games. And, as art, they ought to be preserved.
Instead of preserving it and then making it available, however, Nintendo pulled a Nintendo again.
To be clear, this book was released in 1996. In Japan. It was never released in the West, has never been released anywhere since, and has not been commercially available for decades. The only way you can purchase a copy, if you have the cash, is to spend hundreds on one via resale on eBay or Yahoo, from which Nintendo wouldn’t see any proceeds. Oh, and also these scans weren’t making anyone a cent.
But nope! Nintendo of America sent a takedown notice earlier today to the Internet Archive, where the scans were being hosted, who then passed it into the scan’s uploader, Comfort Food Video Games.
As CFVG told Kotaku, this is a 27-year old video game guide that is “extremely out of print” and was never released in America to begin with. The only other place you can get it appears to be in online resale shops for hundreds of dollars. Nintendo sees no money from those sales.
So what in the absolute hell is the point of any of this? There is none, to the rational observer. But again, Nintendo isn’t making rational, business-based decisions. It’s exerting control, its only real overriding interest, apparently.