Like the fan-made Pokémon Uranium game earlier this year, the fan-made ROM mod Pokémon Prism is getting the cease-and-desist treatment. Days before it was scheduled to be released on Sunday, Nintendo has sent the creators a legal notice, and the website for the game has now been taken down.
Unlike Pokémon Uranium before it, Prism was not a standalone game but a ROM hack — the source game is the Nintendo-released Pokémon Gold, with changes made to create new Pokémon, a new region, and a completely new story. Prism earned a legal notice from Nintendo Australia — while the game’s creator, Adam “Koolboyman” Vierra, lives in San Francisco, the website that was to host the game, rijon.com, was registered in Australia.
The legal letter sent to Vierra thanks him for his dedication as a fan, but identifies Prism, along with Vierra’s other Pokémon projects, as infringements on Nintendo’s intellectual property and trademarks. Although Prism would have been free, Nintendo’s position is that the game could be confused with or harm Nintendo’s official games.
This situation is a bit different from the Uranium shutdown. Prism is a ROM hack, or a game built by altering the code of an existing game. ROM hacks of older Nintendo games have been common for decades, floating around forums and message boards. They’re almost always given freely, but Nintendo almost never interferes in the way they have with Prism. Why was this one singled out? Nintendo’s legal letter makes specific mention of promotion on Facebook, and the creator had recently put up a trailer for the game on YouTube. Like it’s always been with Nintendo or any other massive IP holder, the mistake was almost certainly that the game was promoted too heavily — the more mainstream the game becomes, the more likely it is that the game really will be confused for an official Nintendo product.
But, it’s the same dog and pony show in the end. As we noted with Uranium, takedowns like these are meaningless as far as the game is concerned. Users on the subreddit dedicated to Prism have already pointed out that the game has been leaked and can be found on torrent sites, with some users posting images of themselves playing the game. Chances are pretty good Nintendo knew that would happen, and there’s not much they can do about it. But, torrent sites are usually frequented by enthusiasts — if Nintendo’s goal is to protect their IP in the eyes of mainstream consumers, then they’ve effectively accomplished that mission. Once again, most everyone comes out a winner.
This story was originally published at Another Fan-Made Pokémon Game Gets Shut Down by Nintendo