What Nintendo Can Learn From Sega and ‘Sonic Mania’

We haven’t always been very kind to the Sonic franchise here but it hasn’t never been from a place of true dislike for the franchise. I honestly really do love Sonic as a series to the point where I have read the comics and own the majority of the games. So you may understand that I’am very excited for the upcoming Sonic Mania, but before its release this week I want to bring up the strength of a fan driven project and how Nintendo continues to fail at getting that.

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Last summer a ambitious recreation was released. The fan created AM2R, remastered and fine tuned the classic Metroid 2: The Return of Samus. The reception was great, so much so that it and another Nintendo fan game, Pokemon Uranium, were added to the 2017 VGA listing as “best fan creation”. But soon after both games were released they were taken down. They were even removed from the VGA listing. The fan made sequel to the Mother franchise, Mother 4, got so fearful of being taken down after years of work, that they removed any major references to the actually Mother franchise. All 3 of these games are free and long years of work (around 10 years of work for Pokemon: Uranium). Now some of you reading this may think that is where my qualms come in, “the big mean company is bothering their fans!” or will go ahead and mention all the art  and music contests they do (though Nintendo doesn’t always have a good time with its fan animation & music creators).

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No. I fully think Nintendo has the right to protect their property rights and franchises.

Yes I understand their support of the traditional art projects.

No, my issues come from the way Nintendo handles their fan projects vs how Sega does. Sonic mania was originally a passion project pitched as something for the fans to love. Its creation team? Its lead developers all worked on Sonic fan games, hi-definition remakes, and rom hacks. Sega took fans with shown skills and brought them on to make a Sonic game that the gaming community over all are very excited for.

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Those who agree with Nintendo and their staunch IP protection that even goes so far as to stop people from streaming their games unless they are a part of their “partnership program”, will likely sight that Nintendo is one of the big three. Sega lost the 90’s console war and now Sonic spends most of his time on Nintendo platforms. But I really ask, what is wrong with the idea of turning the skills, energy and love that fans have and want to use, onto your own side?

The creator of AM2R has shown skill, so much skill that he has been brought on to work as a level designer for Ori and the Will of the Wisps. He has shown skill and devotion to the craft of game design, something that cant be denied.

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Nintendo is a powerhouse. It has saved the gaming industry and helped video games enter and stay in the public eye. It can be said that the recently announced 2018 Metroid 4 should suffice for an installment, one that shows they care. Again that isn’t the point, reactions to fan skills are the focus.

I know Nintendo has the right to protect what is theirs but all that is hoped is that they utilize and support the productive side of their community. Whether it be in the community of streamers, artist, or fan projects like AM2R, Mother 4, or Pokemon: Uranium.

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The way Sega and Sonic Mania came together.

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