Playing old console games through browser-based emulators and spin-offs is a niche pastime of many dedicated gamers.
However, keeping these fan-made games online is quite a challenge. This is what Josh Goldberg learned the hard way when his browser version of Nintendo’s 1985 Super Mario Bros was pulled offline in 2013.
The “Full Screen Mario” browser game was unique in several aspects. It not only allowed people to play the original 32 levels, but also included a random map generator and level editor, features Nintendo later released in its own “Mario Maker” game.
After welcoming 2.7 million unique visitors, Goldberg received a DMCA takedown notice from Nintendo which made him decide to pull the plug. However, the code remained widely available on Github and was actively developed in recent years.
This allowed people to play the game on their local machines, or host a copy on their own servers. But now, after more than two years, Nintendo has decided to pull the GitHub repository offline as well.
“Nintendo requests that GitHub disable public access to the web page […] which provides access to software files that make unauthorized use of Nintendo of America Inc.’s copyrighted material from its Super Mario Bros. videogame, in violation of Nintendo’s exclusive rights,” the notice adds.
As a result, GitHub has taken the entire repository down, replacing it with a message pointing to Nintendo’s DMCA takedown request.
Interestingly the takedown comes a few hours after Goldberg, who now works as a Software Development Engineer at Microsoft, highlighted Full Screen Mario’s success in an interview with Microsoft + Open Source.
Interesting timing, just like the release of “Mario Maker” which came out a few months after “Full Screen Mario” was taken down. According to the developer, his game may in fact have inspired the Nintendo release.
“I think it’s too much of a coincidence that in the fall they take down a fan site that was too popular for them, then in the spring and summer they release a trailer for this product,” he previously told The Washington Post in an interview.
“It has the same user interface I had in development, just way better, and it’s something I wish I could have made,” he added, noting that Nintendo never contacted him personally.
Now, roughly three years after Full Screen Mario was born, the project appears to have come to an end. While there’s a possibility that the project may respawn elsewhere, as there are still some forks floating around, it’s game over for the official repository.