Legend of Zelda Link's Awakening Link on beach

Many view Nintendo as synonymous with the video game industry. The company has tried to cultivate a family-friendly image by sticking to developing child-appropriate first-party games, but it has had its fair share of hiccups (per Nintendo Life). Not only did Nintendo get its start producing erotic playing cards, but it has also disappointed fans multiple times in the past by lying to them about specific products and company decisions, like releasing mobile games such as "Super Mario Run" and "Animal Crossing Pocket Camp."

Nintendo has also built a reputation for going after some of its most dedicated followers. It has taken an especially harsh stance on fan-created games and mods, and has even targeted events and YouTube videos. Public outcry has drawn a large amount of attention to many of the company’s moves against these types of projects. Thanks to this publicity, at least 14 instances of Nintendo setting its sights (or lawyers) on fans have come to light.

1. Trying to erase history

Retro studios cancelled Zelda project concept art

Developers and publishers cancel video game projects frequently, often before the public even knew they existed. Documentation of these titles rarely withstands the passage of time, making the instances when it survives exciting for conservationists. In one moment like this, YouTube channel DidYouKnowGaming? chronicled the conception and early death of "Heroes of Hyrule" from Retro Studios. The "Zelda" title got the axe before its announcement even circulated, making the video feature some of the only evidence that it ever existed.

After it went live, YouTube took the "Heroes of Hyrule" video down in the wake of a copyright claim filed by Nintendo. Following this outcome, DidYouKnowGaming? accused Nintendo of trying to censor journalistic efforts, calling it "a slap in the face for video game history preservation" on Twitter. The channel fought and defeated the claim, with YouTube later restoring the video. So, the history of "Heroes of Hyrule" was ultimately preserved.

2. Going after charity Joy-Con shells

Etika commemorative Joy-Con shells

The passing of YouTuber Etika in 2019 dealt a massive blow to Nintendo’s online community. In the wake of Etika’s death by suicide at the age of 29, one content creator named Alex Blake began selling Etika-themed Joy-Con shells ("Etikons") for Switch controllers on Indiegogo. While the campaign commemorated Etika’s impact on his audience, it also served as a charity event. Based on the project page, Blake planned to donate 65% of the sale price of each unit to the JED Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses its efforts on helping young people with their mental health.

According to Blake, Nintendo later sent him a cease and desist letter to force him to immediately stop selling the Joy-Con shells. Blake clarified that the letter also pointed towards some of the other designs he sold, but, as he told The Independent, he believed Nintendo’s main issue had to do with the with the word "Joy-Con" appearing on the Etikons. It seems Blake resolved the problem by changing aspects of the shell design, later launching another successful Etikon Indiegogo campaign, though at least one individual has called his motivations and methods into question.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

3. Taking down The Big House

Link dodging Fox laser in Super Smash Bros. Melee

"Super Smash Bros." boasts the biggest esports scene of any Nintendo property. Despite this status, fans organize the bulk of the competitions with limited involvement from Nintendo. The publishing giant tends to allow community-driven events and professional tournaments as long as they adhere to certain guidelines, such as not playing unofficial versions of its games that have mods installed.

One of the biggest tournaments in the competitive "Smash Bros." scene, The Big House features brackets for both "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" and "Super Smash Bros. Melee." The inclusion of "Melee" caused issues for The Big House tournament in 2020. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the tournament had to move from in-person to online matches. Holding an online tournament would have worked fine for "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" thanks to its official online support, but posed a problem for "Super Smash Bros. Melee," which lacks this feature.

To solve the issue, The Big House opted to use an emulated version of "Melee" on PC that added online play to the game. However, Nintendo forced the The Big House to shut down that year because of its plans to use a modded variety of "Melee" (via Polygon). This move wasn’t surprising given Nintendo’s staunch opposition to mods for its titles, but it still disappointed fans and players alike. Nintendo even forced the cancellation of the bracket for "Ultimate" despite having an official online game mode.

4. Pokénet no more

Pokémon Emerald Latios

Over the decades, "Pokémon" has become a pillar of pop culture, with countless fans embarking on journeys to become Pokémon Masters throughout the series’ numerous releases. While Nintendo makes sure to release plenty of "Pokémon" titles each year, fans have also taken to developing mods and their own games to either customize their experience or provide their unique takes on the franchise.

One such fan effort went by the name "Pokénet." An MMO inspired by older entries from the IP, it tied together the Johto and Kanto regions from the first two generations, allowing players to explore a larger world than ever before at the time of its development. However, according to Engadget, Nintendo went after the game in 2010, just before it launched an open beta. The creators ultimately removed "Pokénet" from the internet, but thousands of players managed to take part in the unique experience before Nintendo shut the MMO down.

5. A lost Metroid

Another Metroid 2 Remake Cover Art

While fans have proven more than happy to replay the official "Metroid" games, some have used the long stretches between entries to craft their own experiences in the setting. "Another Metroid 2 Remake" served as one of the more promising fan efforts. While its remake status added to the appeal, it also included unique visuals inspired by the original game, new bosses, and quality of life changes that had the potential to make it the best way to play "Metroid 2."

The remake remained in production for years leading up to a release that corresponded with the 30th anniversary of the franchise. However, shortly after it launched, sites hosting the project’s download links received copyright infringement letters from Nintendo, according to Polygon. While people can still find "Another Metroid 2 Remake" in the darker corners of the internet, Nintendo’s action against the game disappointed fans who had waited a long time for it to come out.

6. Fullscreen Mario is fully gone

Fullscreen Mario

One of the more infamous Nintendo fan games, "Fullscreen Mario" re-created 1985’s "Super Mario Bros." in its entirety and allowed fans to play the title right in their internet browser. However, it also added some features of its own. It offered the ability for players to make their own levels using its included assets, and could even randomly generate new levels for players to tackle, giving it a ton of content.

Nintendo took action to see the game removed from its web page, preventing it from being played online. According to TorrentFreak, Nintendo then went on to have the title’s source code removed from GitHub, erasing it from the internet completely. It is no surprise that Nintendo wanted to remove the project, especially since it offered an alternative to the first "Super Mario Bros." However, its creator, Josh Goldberg, saw the company’s motivations in a different light, insinuating to The Washington Post that Nintendo essentially stole his ideas to use in "Super Mario Maker." Despite the perceived similarities between the two, no hard evidence confirming this claim ever arose.

7. Zelda Maker is cut short

Legend of Zelda level maker

After the outstanding success of "Super Mario Maker," fans called for Nintendo to release a similar experience for "The Legend of Zelda" franchise. When producer Takashi Tezuka told Game Informer that such an endeavor would likely prove too challenging, one fan decided to take matters into their own hands. This led to the creation of "Zelda Maker." Exactly what players had hoped for, "Zelda Maker" allowed them to create their own "The Legend of Zelda" dungeons and worlds to play in and share with others.

Before the title’s release, however, Nintendo issued copyright claims to the YouTube videos posted showing its progress and development. As reported by Kotaku, the claims "scared" the creator of "Zelda Maker," who had heard about how aggressive Nintendo could get when it comes to taking down fan projects. The developer later rebranded the game into an original property and released it under the title "Runiya."

8. No Mario’s Sky is grounded

No Mario's Sky fan game screenshot

"No Mario’s Sky" was a short fan-made experience that introduced elements from "No Man’s Sky" to the "Super Mario Bros." formula to create something new. The game had a charming visual design, and allowed players to fly from level to level in a starship. Each level in "No Mario’s Sky" was rounded like a planet and filled with Goombas and other enemies from throughout the "Super Mario" franchise.

With how directly it took elements from "Super Mario," it did not take long for Nintendo to take action against the project. The company sent a DMCA to the game’s creators, ASMB Games. According to GameSpot, the title managed to rebrand, changing its name to "DMCA’s Sky," and live on. The developers replaced Mario with Spaceman Finn, with the player instead trying to save Princess Mango rather than Princess Peach. It is still available to download.

9. Pokémon Uranium gets wiped

Pokemon Uranium players speaking to NPC

One of the most infamous "Pokémon" fan games was "Pokémon Uranium." Heavily inspired by classic titles like "Emerald," "Uranium" was the size of a full official "Pokémon" entry. It introduced players to a wholly unique region with its own story and place in the franchise. It also featured an entirely new Pokémon type known as Nuclear and 150 never-before-seen Pokémon for players to collect and train. It was a distinct experience and a treat for fans of the series who were hungry for a new title closer to the older offerings from the series’ origins.

"Pokémon Uranium" took an impressive nine years to develop but access was removed shortly after its release (via GameSpot). Interestingly, however, the creators were never contacted by Nintendo itself. Instead, websites that hosted or talked about the game received copyright claims from the company. The claims prompted the creators to remove the game from download themselves due to their "respect" for Nintendo’s stance.

10. Super Mario 64 HD is stamped out

Super Mario 64 HD

"Super Mario 64" was a groundbreaking release that saw the franchise evolving from its 2D origins. The game’s reinterpretation of a classic saw it building a large fanbase that continues until this day. One of those fans, Erik Ross, sought to show how much he loved the title by re-creating its first world entirely in Unity (via GameSpot). The game was entirely playable in an internet browser, and offered fans a new way to see the iconic level.

Ross also claimed that the majority of the assets in the game were his own. "All the art and animations were done by myself, with the exception of the Mario, Goomba and Power Star meshes, which are ripped (without animations) from ‘Super Mario Galaxy,’" Ross explained via his blog. "A large portion of the sounds are from existing ‘Mario’ games …" Ultimately, the project was taken down by Nintendo – both its browser version and downloadable incarnation.

11. Ocarina of Time 2D gets flattened

Ocarina of Time 2D Link in Deku Forest

Named by outlets like The Ringer as "the best game ever," it comes as no surprise that fans have attempted to make mods or recreations of "Ocarina of Time" since its release. One of the most promising of these projects was known as "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 2D." It translated the classic RPG to a 2D perspective reminiscent of the earlier entries in the series.

"Ocarina of Time 2D" had a lot of appeal, with gorgeous visuals and an interesting translation of the original game’s mechanics to 2D. However, it was not to be. As Destructoid reported, the title’s creator faked his death on the internet and canceled the creation. Multiple Redditors have also theorized that Nintendo hit the developer with a cease and desist regarding the project. "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 2D" website remains up, boasting a launch goal that has long since passed.

12. Zelda 30 Tribute’s party ends early

Legend of Zelda 30 fan game

Another browser-based fan title that Nintendo made sure to remove from the internet was "Zelda 30 Tribute." Made to celebrate the 30th anniversary of "The Legend of Zelda," the game re-created the franchise’s genesis with a new isometric perspective and voxel-based graphics (via Eurogamer). It gave the entry a beautiful new look that paid homage to the visuals of the original while offering fans a slightly new way to experience it.

However, the project was doomed to be nuked by Nintendo before the series anniversary came. Two longtime Nintendo fans developed the title and it only included a small slice of the original. In a statement on the official website, the developers said that they understood Nintendo taking the game down to "protect [its] IP" and that making the it still gave them valuable experience. However, fans can no longer enjoy "Zelda 30 Tribute" for themselves.

13. The Game Jolt attack

Pokemon Red Resurgence fan game

Game Jolt is now an online marketplace for indie games mixed with a social media platform that allows fans to connect with one another. Years ago, however, it was a popular marketplace for free fan games and ROM hacks. Fan titles using Nintendo’s intellectual property led to the website finding itself in the crosshairs as it became the target one of the biggest DMCA takedowns in history.

According to TorrentFreak, the DMCAs went after just over 370 fan projects that used assets and intellectual property belonging to Nintendo. While all of the site’s content was free, Nintendo allegedly claimed that the website was still profiting from the copyright-infringing material due to ad revenue, causing Game Jolt to take down all requested fan games.

Some developers re-uploaded their projects to Game Jolt with ads removed to see if that would placate Nintendo. The efforts had mixed results, with some games surviving and Nintendo taking others down again. Nintendo’s move against Game Jolt also served as a precursor to Nintendo’s attack that took down an entire site of bootleg ROMs.

14. The Pokémon FPS is shot down

Pokemon first-person shooter fan game

Perhaps the least surprising fan project that Nintendo worked to shut down was a game that allowed players to hunt Pokémon in a first-person shooter. The title was developed in Unreal Engine by Reddit user Dragon_GameDev2. The developer released numerous videos and gifs showing footage of modern weaponry being used to massacre Pokémon in bloody shooting sprees.

Given how violent the FPS was, Nintendo likely didn’t want it infringing on its carefully curated brand, especially since it used models of trademarked Pokémon. However, the game never released, so Nintendo instead went after every website hosting its videos and trailers. Despite this, Kotaku, which reported on the shutdown, still has some footage of the experience. According to the outlet, "Pokémon x FPS" was only a small project Dragon_GameDev2 made as part of a challenge to create one game a month for a full year.