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Nintendo is throwing copyright claims at Game & Watch hacking videos

2 min read

Nintendo’s Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. device is a fun little slice of nostalgia, but admittedly it’s not much more beyond that. A distraction in retro shades of gold and maroon, even a timeless game of Super Mario Bros. can only keep your attention for a few brief runs before the gadget is left to gather dust.

That being said, the device would be perfect if a few more games were available on it. As a pocket friendly handheld console with a terrific battery life, I’d happily whip it out for a few rounds of Circus Charlie, first generation Pokemon, and any number of classic Nintendo games. Some tech-savvy fans are looking to do just that, hacking the Game & Watch to be a delightful blast from the past.

Naturally, Nintendo isn’t happy about that.

As spotted by Gizmodo, Twitter user stacksmashing felt the wrath of the Big N when he started playing around with the hardware. Swapping the Super Mario Bros. ROM out, Stacksmashing quickly managed to get other classic games working on the Game & Watch. Making good progress since November, Stacksmashing awoke this week to a notice that Nintendo had made copyright claims on two of his videos that showed how people could hack the Game & Watch.

Nintendo went after the footage of the games in those videos, footage which any number of other YouTubers have used over the years and haven’t been met with legal reprisal after uploading that content. It’s a curious angle for Nintendo to take, but another example of the Japanese gaming giant aggressively protecting its IP.

Is Nintendo within its rights to be this protective? Absolutely, as the company relies heavily on nostalgia as part of its business strategy. Only Nintendo can get away with selling you your childhood gaming memories several times over, and the existence of ROM websites and console hacking interferes with this strategy.

At the same time, Nintendo can be shockingly stubborn when it comes to embracing change, and attacking fans who wish to improve on their products doesn’t make for good optics. The takeaway here should be that dabbling in homebrew could result in increased sales of the Game & Watch, which in turn could help Nintendo achieve even more brand awareness in the long run.

Last Updated: January 13, 2021

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