Another fan-made game bit the dust this week. Nintendo, who is curiously ignoring the 30th anniversary of their beloved Metroid franchise, shut down a remake of Metroid 2.
For many fans, this remake was the best recognition of Metroid’s history they were going to get in honor of the franchise’s 30th. The next Metroid game, a 3DS title that doesn’t feature Samus, titled Metroid Prime: Federation Force, is due out later this month and hasn’t been all that impressive looking yet. In addition, right or wrong, fans have been quite negative towards any new footage of the game.
Alas, while Nintendo’s NX and details surrounding it remain unpredictable, the company is very consistent in shutting down anything they don’t like fast and hard. It has been going on for years now, and it doesn’t seem like big N is interested in changing their ways.
A few examples: In 2009, Nintendo put an end to a fan-made Zelda movie. In this case, they did allow the movie to stay up for a short period of time, but gave the end of the year as a hard deadline to remove the video. In 2010, an unofficial Pokemon MMO fan-project, Pokenet, was forced to shut down, and surrender the game’s domain name.
More recently, aside from the Metroid project, Nintendo took down a Kickstarter that was looking to create a visual compendium of Nintendo’s history, right before the campaign was about to successfully end, because of unauthorized use of Nintendo’s copyrights. Oh and let’s not forget the whole YouTube Nintendo debacle as well.
The long and short of it is, Nintendo has the right to protect their property, and do they ever. Hell, it has taken them forever to even warm up to mobile device development because of a fear of diluting their product.
On the other hand lies, SEGA, Nintendo’s historical rival and now BFF. Both own some of the most iconic IPs in gaming history, but protect and promote them in quite different ways. Namely, SEGA has slowly softened and evolved their approach dramatically over the years.
Sure, SEGA has had their moments of aggression as well. Perhaps most notably with the Streets of Rage remake project that was brought down, which as Wired points out, may have something do with SEGA releasing a port shortly after. However, the company overall has been more tolerant than Nintendo when it comes to letting fan creations slide. Many games and work in progress projects, ranging from the low profile to efforts like Sonic 2 HD that get notable attention from media, are still alive and well.
Take a look at Sonic the Hedgehog’s Twitter some time and you’ll see just how SEGA in general is more irreverent compared to Nintendo when it comes to their franchises. The official account is a meme fest featuring some of the funniest and most absurd Sonic fan-art you’ll ever see. Could you ever imagine Nintendo doing anything remotely close to that with Mario?
Recently though, SEGA turned fan support up to a whole new level. In the midst of Nintendo shutting down yet another project, SEGA is working with Christian Whitehead, a former fan-game maker now tasked with assisting in the development on Sonic’s brave return to its 2D Genesis-style roots, Sonic Mania.
Whitehead, an independent developer and long time Sonic fan, created his own retro Sonic engine, and was eventually brought on by SEGA to re-create Sonic CD on last-gen consoles using his engine after initially pitching a port of the game to iPhone. This re-release featured 60 FPS, leaderboards, options for both Japanese and American versions of the soundtrack, and even an unlockable Tails character, plus a bunch of other smaller quality of life improvements. It was well received by both fans and critics alike. Instead of seeing Whitehead as a rival, SEGA saw an opportunity and wisely capitalized on it.
Yes, the circumstances differ, considering Nintendo consistently releases hit game after hit game while SEGA could really use the help with Sonic. Still, it’s refreshing to see SEGA have such a down to earth relationship with their most loyal fans. Nintendo is free to do what they want, they have every right to vigilantly defend their IP and aren’t doing anything wrong by doing so; but if they decided to take the SEGA approach, we wouldn’t mind it either.