Console makers somewhat have double standards when it comes to emulators and the wider emulation scene. They condemn it outright on the grounds of piracy and copyright infringement. At the same time, however, they themselves resort to using that same technology to lets gamers play long-retired games on nearly forgotten hardware. So it comes as no surprise that Nintendo slapped a recently released Commodore 64 port of its Super Mario Bros with a takedown notice. That, however, doesn’t make it less disheartening.
The biggest reason for that is how long it took developer ZeroPaige to accomplish what was essentially a historical port of a historical game to a historical computer. Launched in 1982, the 8-bit Commodore 64 or C64 was seen as nothing short of revolutionary. It is believed to have sold at least 10 to 12 million units, easily outselling the IBMs and Apples of its time.
Its prestige and its technology made it a favorite among hobbyist programmers who pushed the hardware to its limits to produce smooth graphics or, in this case, run games that it would have never been able to support. That is exactly what ZeroPaige sought to do seven years ago when he worked to make the 1985 original Super Mario Bros. game into the C64.
He did accomplish that and for a brief moment, his highly-acclaimed work was garnering praises. Nintendo’s lawyers, unsurprisingly, were quick to send out DMCA notices to all sites carrying a copy of the C64 disc image file. Of course, once released to the Internet, it will never really be forgotten or erased as long as there are people distributing it behind the scenes.
To be fair, Nintendo does have the legal duty to protect its intellectual property, but it doesn’t seem to know how to draw the line between infringement and fan devotion. It’s not like such a port will do anything to hurt the company’s sales. It could even boost appreciation for Nintendo and its franchise but, unsurprisingly, the Japanese gaming giant doesn’t see it that way.