Web-based game attracted quite a bit of attention last week by taking Nintendo’s well-known mascot and placing him next to 74 other human-controlled doppelgangers in a race through level designs taken directly from popular Mario games.
Given Nintendo’s litigious reputation when it comes to fan games, it’s perhaps no surprise that the “game got DMCA’d,” as creator InfernoPlus noted in a comment on the game’s YouTube trailer over the weekend.
InfernoPlus himself didn’t seem all that surprised. In an interview with Vice last week, he said he “anticiapate[d]” a letter from Nintendo. “I’d say it’s [a] 50/50 [chance of attracting Nintendo’s legal ire], maybe more, because it got so big all of a sudden. If [Nintendo] does, I can just re-skin it.”
Now, that’s precisely what’s happened. Following a June 21 “DMCA Patch,” the game that was is now . While the gameplay is unchanged, the game’s music, sound effects, and in-game sprites have been replaced with much more generic versions—including a new player character named “Infringio.”
“We are now in compliance with the DMCA,” a loading screen on the new game reads. “News assets are currently a work in progress. Bear with us… please don’t sue me. ” On Twitter, InfernoPlus notes that the new game “is not pretty but hopefully it won’t get me sued.”
The lack of Nintendo’s recognizable copyrighted characters doesn’t seem to have hurt ‘s popularity—the game shows nearly 1,500 players online as of this writing, and games fill up with the maximum 75 players in a matter of seconds. But we have to wonder if would have gotten nearly as much initial attention if it hadn’t had the familiar Mario name and imagery from the start. By using Nintendo’s IP for publicity, then immediately retreating and reskinning when legally confronted, InfernoPlus may have threaded a very precarious fangame needle.