I didn’t joke when I mentioned in my previous post that Nintendo would take down Another Metroid 2 Remake. On top of that, they have removed digital editions of Nintendo Power from the Internet Archive. Nintendo is rather draconian when it comes to their take downs and to some extent they are required to do so. They are required to enforce their IP copyrights. This DMCA notice and link takedown was seen miles away. I am surprised that they didn’t take the project down in its inception, and waited until it was finished. AM2R had been under works for a decade and the developing team should’ve put their effort into something original rather than a remake. That is the reality of the situation.
The Metroid fan community of course is making this the biggest misstep Nintendo has ever made, which is just blowing out the frustration. Nintendo has given a damn about Metroid outside glory trophy projects like Other M or Federation Force. Nintendo did announce that their IPs were free to be used under the Creative Endorsement Program on NicoNico, fan made games and other larger projects that aim to recreate elements or games have always got struck down with a hammer. Super Mario 64 HD, NES Visual Compendium and understandably, an emulator application for iOS. These are just few examples, and scrounging through the net I’m sure one could find even more. There was some brouhaha about Nintendo sending DMCA notices to Youtubers and some people making porn drawings of Nintendo characters. Speaking of porn, Nintendo bought out Super Hornio Brothers‘ rights to stop their distribution.
Each and every time Nintendo’s lawyer has issued a DMCA, people come out form the woodworks and proclaim that this will be the end of Nintendo, that they will crash and burn. The same applies to other companies as well, but to the same exact degree. While money is probably the main issue, there are other concerns.
While the creating staff could issue a DMCA counter-claim and argue that AM2R is a non-commercial derivative work that falls under fair-use laws, it’d most likely end up being in court and I highly doubt any of the staff has the money to venture into a legal battle against Nintendo, even when it is a game they’ve been working on for over ten years. That pisses me off. They spent years making a fan game instead a new product they could benefit from, and now all they got was DMCA.
The staff is technically free to work on AM2R, unless Nintendo decides to issue a Cease and Desist notice towards them. Nothing new on that front either, Nintendo has a history in that too. Prime example of this would probably be the fanmade The Legend of Zelda film, thou to be fair these guys tried to sell tickets to their fanfilm. However, even when one would argue for Fair Use, this is very largely somewhat grey region.
I give AM2R‘s the benefit of doubt that they did consider at some point turning this into something original, something that wouldn’t remotely infringe Nintendo’s IP. Now their game will be just another entry in the list DMCA’d fan products. While Axiom Verge may split opinions about its quality, the creator nevertheless had the right touch. Rather than outright remake a game he created something of his own.
Yes, everything is a copy of a copy. The difference we have nowadays is that people don’t try to do their own thing anymore. Comic heroes like Superman may be derivative works of legendary figures from Ancient Rome, Star Wars can be said to be derived from Flash Gordon and Indiana Jones is a direct homage to countless pop-adventure serials. Yet, they all are their own, new thing and trying to do something different. They don’t just take what exists as is and reuse that. All the three examples crafted something different and something more, creating a new whole new mythos around them. Projects like AM2R are sad because they could be something more if they were to stand on their own legs, but as they are now they’re just bunch of fanfiction.
These people have stopped creating anything new. They simply take what others have taken and recycle them. That is extremely sad and one of the reasons why modern fiction suffers. This is the other issue I mentioned earlier. If you want to work on an IP, you better see the work and enthusiasm to convince the IP owners to either grand you the license for a fee or strive to work under the IP owner. I am making this split steep in order to simply say Create your own shit. Make something new. I implore all content creators to make your own thing rather than lean on to something that already exists.
The whole originality issue aside, AM2R seems to have gone well within the fandom, which is why the same fandom seems to have gone almost nuclear. Nintendo rarely lops their ear at whatever complaint they get from consumers, and Metroid is a prime example of this. As is Super Mario Bros. and slew other franchises they have. Much like all big companies, these are single cases for them with no weight to them. Sometimes they may see a point to make a profit out of it and for PR purposes, but largely it will be just another incident that will be put back in few weeks whenever the next thing to get mad about pops up. Modern Internet seems to move from one issue to another in a breath. After all, this is just another day and nothing new or special.
However, Nintendo can’t do anything about the game now. It’s out there, in the wild and it won’t take you long to pop into your favourite search engine and look for a third-party download. It should be more or less clear at this point that Nintendo is no interested in delivering a 2D Metroid game.