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This is likely one of the most unsurprising pieces of news this week. In a move that caught no one off guard, Nintendo's lawyers have issued a cease and desist to the two developers who remade the original Legend of Zelda as a 3D browser-based game.
Engadget is reporting that the developers of the Zelda30tribute browser game have been ordered by Nintendo lawyers to discontinue work on the project. The developers, Scott Lininger and Mike Magee, made a post on the Zelda30Tribute website explaining what happened, and what they have planned next for all the code they generated on the browser-based game, writing...
Nintendo asked us to remove this site for copyright infringement. I guess Zelda30Tribute was a little too pixel perfect. We're sad about that, but we get it.
It's always dangerous tackling certain well-known IP and “recreating” them as free projects. Both Nintendo and Square Enix have been very quick to jump on any projects that even look like they could infringe on their popular franchises.
Just recently Konami put the ban-hammer on a Metal Gear Solid remake of the classic PSX title, which was being built from the ground up in Epic's Unreal Engine 4. Quite a bit of progress was being made on the Shadow Moses map, the models of Solid Snake and the Genome Soldiers, as well as the effects, lighting, stealth mechanics and gunplay.
Many gamers tried to warn the developers of the Metal Gear Solid remake to keep the project private to avoid any unnecessary legal roadblocks. However, the developers were too excited and couldn't contain themselves. This resulted in Konami eventually stepping in and shutting the project down.
This also happened previously with a pseudo-sequel to Chrono Trigger, in which some devoted fans planned on continuing the adventures of Chrono without Square Enix. Square was having none of it, though, and they eventually shut that project down.
In the case of Nintendo, none of this is surprising given that the company is extremely protective of their brands and the imagery attached to those brands. They are one of the few major publishers who have butted heads publicly with YouTubers over the whole Let's Play culture, resulting in them losing a lot of favor from YouTubers due to the restrictions on how they allow their games to be streamed online, and the revenue share that comes along with it.
Seeing the Legend of Zelda tribute game made for web browsers get shut down is just par the course for the Big 'N'. The project was kind of neat taking all the old assets, music and sound from the original NES rendition of The Legend of Zelda and transformed it into a voxel-based 2.5D experience with 3D polygons. It was inventive for what it was, mimicking the 3D NES emulator that appeared online not too long ago.
Despite the browser-based game being shut down, Lininger and Magee have been unfazed by the events and will continue work on other software projects. They don't reveal what's next, but after putting the non-infringing code for the project on GitHub they plan on tackling bigger and better projects.