Nintendo Is Making Copyright Claims on Videos of Game & Watch Hacking

Despite its retro charms, for $50 the Nintendo Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. handheld felt like it could benefit from a few more games: an upgrade some talented hackers made possible before the device was even released. But Nintendo doesn’t like consumers messing with its hardware, and today it appears it started using copyright claims to take down G&W YouTube hacking videos.

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Twitter user ‘stacksmashing’ was one of the first to start experimenting with the Nintendo Game & Watch hardware; cracking open the device to see how customizable its hardware and software was. Not surprisingly, given how simple the device is (there’s no expandable memory, the USB-C port is for power only, and it can’t connect to the internet) it didn’t take long for stacksmashing to find a way to swap the included Super Mario Bros. ROM file with other games including The Legend of Zelda and the original Game Boy Pokémons.

Work on hacking and customizing the new Nintendo Game & Watch has progressed quite a bit since mid-November, but this morning ‘stacksmashing’ woke up to a notice from YouTube that Nintendo had made copyright claims on two of his G&W hacking videos and as a result, they were no longer viewable on YouTube:

According to ‘stacksmashing’ who spoke with Gizmodo this morning, one of the videos features only in-game footage of the version of Super Mario Bros. included with the new Nintendo Game & Watch—footage that countless YouTube reviewers have also included in their reviews and hands-ons of the device—as well as a video featuring the handheld modified to play the NES version of The Legend of Zelda. Prior to these claims, Nintendo hadn’t reached out to ‘stacksmashing’ in any way about their YouTube videos or the G&W hacking content they share via their Twitter account.

In response to the claims ‘stacksmashing’ has edited both of the videos in question and is filing disputes in an attempt to have them allowed back on YouTube again. Gizmodo has reached out to Nintendo for comment on why copyright claims were made for these two specific videos when the gameplay footage they both include has also been featured on countless other gaming-focused channels on the site. One of the videos taken down does include instructions on how users can backup the G&W’s included firmware (allowing them to revert back to it at any time) including guides to using a couple of scripts, but no ROM files are shared. The copyright claims made by Nintendo specifically refer to the use of the game footage featured in both videos.

Nintendo has long taken a strong stance against hacking its hardware and consoles to circumvent security features and facilitate game piracy (or accessing games that have been region-locked) but it’s not like the new Game & Watch has the processing power to allow gamers to enjoy the latest and greatest Switch titles. And in these videos ‘stacksmashing’ is in no way advocating that anyone interested in hacking the G&W and expanding its capabilities should also download ROM files for titles they don’t already own. Hacking the new Nintendo Game & Watch also doesn’t in any way hinder sales of the hardware. If anything, more people will be encouraged to buy it knowing it could potentially play more than a disappointing roster of just three included games.

DISCUSSION

And thus demonstrating Nintendo maxim #1: they don’t think you own their product and will take active measures to deny you the use of your property.

I am truly surprised that so many Americans take the theft of their property so lightly. Most likely, many are just ignorant of just how evil Nintendo is.