When Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto came up with Donkey Kong more than 35 years ago, gaming was still a niche pastime.
How different is that today, where the average household has more than a handful of devices that play computer games.
While the gaming industry has come a long way, plenty of people are still drawn to older arcade games. There’s something nostalgic about their look and feel, and thanks to emulators and remakes, they are still widely available.
Donkey Kong, for example, could be played on Roku thanks to the efforts of Marcelo Lv Cabral, who released an unofficial version of the Nintendo game using the original art and music.
The software developer, who lives in Arizona, started the project as a hobby to improve his programming skills. He previously did the same with other games such as Lode Runner and Prince of Persia.
When he finished the project he released the code on GitHub, incuding a disclaimer stating his intent.
“This source code was developed as a programming exercise, it is not being used for profit or any kind of financial gain, all assets and images belong to the original copyright owner,” it read.
While nostalgic arcade game fans will appreciate the effort, Nintendo was not amused. This week the gaming giant instructed the developer platform GitHub to remove the repository, which it did.
“The reported repository contains a recreation of Nintendo’s Donkey Kong video game for Roku, which was created and published without Nintendo’s authorization,” Nintendo writes in its takedown notice. “Please immediately remove the repository.”
We reached out to the developer, who is disappointed to see his code taken down. While he realizes that Nintendo owns the rights to Donkey Kong, his code was unique and completely custom.
“I believe they have the rights related to the name and the assets, but not to my code. That was completely done by myself, no porting of any Nintendo code, but GitHub took down everything,” Cabral tells TorrentFreak.
“What I don`t understand is why only my project was removed, if you search Donkey Kong on the GitHub you`ll found several other remake projects,” he adds.
The developer doesn’t plan to challenge the takedown. In theory, he could re-release the code with unique artwork and a new name, but Cabral prefers to focus on other projects for the time being.
He is currently working on a remake of the game Moon Patrol for example, also for the Roku platform.
While Nintendo has every right to take the infringing Donkey Kong content offline, some might feel that the company should allow fans a little more leeway for their fan-made projects.
Luckily for Cabral, his Lode Runner and Prince of Persia remakes are still available, for now. These games were originally released by Brøderbund Software, which no longer exists.