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Nintendo triggers takedown of 11-year-old tool used to build Pokémon fan games

Ekans say I'm surprised.

Nintendo has gained a bit of a reputation for its strict copyright policy. In the last few months alone, it filed several lawsuits against emulation sites, and is believed to have indirectly pressured ROM site EmuParadise into shutting down. Now, Nintendo has gone after a new target: 11-year old fan game creator, Pokémon Essentials.

The kit in question, a role-playing game maker, allowed users to design their own Pokémon adventures. According to Kotaku, the site used "full tilesets, maps, music, and sprites" from the official games, as well as all the classic mechanics required to catch and collect Pokémon. It was founded in 2007, and was used to create popular fan game Pokémon Uranium, which was shut down two years ago following a reported copyright notice from Nintendo. It was perhaps something of an inevitability, therefore, that Nintendo would target the root of the problem.

The RPG Maker was used to make a number of fan games. Photo credit: Atheerios, ResetEra.

A member from forum PokéCommunity, Marin, announced they could no longer host the software on the community forums, stating "the Pokémon Essentials wikia and all downloads for it have been taken down due to a copyright claim by Nintendo of America". Apparently, Pokémon Essentials will no longer be "hosted or distributed on PokéCommunity". According to The Verge, the last known proprieter of the Pokémon Essentials, Maruno, has confirmed the downloads have been deleted, while the Fandom that hosted the wiki page has also stated Nintendo took action against it. Despite the bad news, Marin urged Pokémon fans not to "freak out about the claim," adding "there's no reason to get angry with Nintendo or anyone else involved".

But, of course, this is the internet.

On ResetEra, fans are currently railing against Nintendo. "This isn't hurting anyone, especially them," user Hydrus fumed. Several have expressed confusion as to why Nintendo would target an 11-year old creation kit, while user Becks questioned why Nintendo "acts like fan game devs are going to ruin their brands". Others also queried the effectiveness of the copyright takedown, highlighting the creation kit can be easily re-distributed on file sharing sites once Nintendo stops looking.

Many, however, have acknowledged Nintendo's right to protect its intellectual property. User MegaManTrigger also noted that while Pokémon Essentials was 11-years-old, the fan games it produced (such as Pokémon Uranium) "ended up getting released in 2016," thus making it a more current problem for Nintendo.

Fans are surprised about the takedown due to the age of the site, the relative insignificance of the kit relative to Nintendo's size, and the fact the tool was free to use. Beyond paying $24.99 for the required version of RPG Maker, users could download Pokémon Essential for free, and the makers did not profit from the tool. The episode has reignited online discussion about fair use, and the relationship between Nintendo and its fanbase.