A Nintendo fan's project to digitally preserve every SNES game has ended in defeat after the US Postal Service (USPS) lost a package containing 100 cartridges.
The parcel contained between $7500 and $10k worth of vintage games, which were en route to amateur archivist Byuu.
The package made the journey from Frankfurt to Byuu's home state of New Jersey, but after this was lost by the USPS. It was the second of five planned shipments of games from a European collector, who has now been left without a large chunk of their collection.
Byuu had planned to borrow the games, 100 at a time, dump the cartridge's contents, then repackage them and send them back. This worked fine for the first 100, so Byuu was eagerly awaiting the second shipment to continue his work.
After the shipment went missing, Byuu spent weeks appealing for help on Reddit from anyone who worked within the USPS or knew anyone at its New Jersey processing centre. The sender had insurance, but only for its travel to the US. Beyond that, it was lost. Sadly, after more than a month of no word, Byuu's luck seems to have run out.
For those thinking "clearly this is a scam", Byuu is a well-known member of the emulation community and author of his own SNES emulator, higan, which is widely regarded as one of the best there is.
As our own Chris Bratt found out when investigating Nintendo's own Virtual Console service, many of the pirated SNES ROMs available online are not true copies of the game - they've been edited in some way. Not even Nintendo has the original digital images of all these games - which is how copied games find their way onto Nintendo's own store.
Writing on Reddit last night, Byuu admitted defeat. His focus is now to reimburse the European collector for the games which were lost - people have suggested he set up a GoFundMe to help, which he said he may do.
But the preservation project is over - at least, for now.
"I'd rather start working on reimbursing the sender now, as game prices only go up," Byuu wrote. "He lent me 100 valuable games (Vampire's Kiss, Incantation, Hagane, Mega Man 7+X+X2+X3, etc etc), and now I can't send his games back.
"It was a terrible mistake have him trust the mail system. I'm not going to risk anyone else's games like that again."