Pokémon Prism, a ROM hack of Pokémon Crystal that's been in development for eight years, was supposed to be released in a few days. The game's trailer has been viewed more than 1.4 million times on YouTube, fueled by a year filled with Pokémon. Game designer Adam, who goes by Koolboyman on the Internet, announced the game would be a Christmas gift to patient fans. Last night, Nintendo issued Adam a cease and desist, effectively cancelling Pokémon Prism.
"I'm sorry everyone," he wrote on Twitter last night. "I should've seen this coming. People warned me. But I didn't listen."
What soon followed was the formal, unexpected cancellation of Pokémon Prism, with a link to a notice sent by Nintendo, confirming the company was threatening legal action against it.
"Nintendo understands that you are a fan of its original products and its Pokémon franchise," reads the notice. "Whilst that is appreciated, it unfortunately does not alter Nintendo's important role to ensure that all of its valuable intellectual property is fully protected and that there is no use made of any of its intellectual property rights without proper supervision and authorisation."
The notice instructed Adam to cease development of the game, and barred him from releasing the ROM. He's also required to remove download links to Pokémon Brown, another hack of his, which modifies Pokémon Red, and inform Nintendo when these steps have been taken.
When contacted, Nintendo didn't have anything more to say about the incident.
This isn't new or unexpected for Nintendo. The company has routinely shut down fan projects. We recently profiled a developer who spent the better part of a decade remaking Metroid 2, only to see Nintendo take the same approach.
If Pokémon Prism wanted to see the light of day, it needed to operate in anonymity for as long as possible. When Pokémon Prism started becoming a real thing—buoyed by the release of a trailer, a promise of download links, and a release date—it made sense that it pinged Nintendo's radar. In another world, the hack was released and, instead, shut down after it was in the wild.
"I should have never asked for that trailer to be made," said Adam. "That's what got Prism so much attention. The trailer was meant to just be for the fans and maybe get a couple of new ones. I was not expecting 1.4 million views on it."
Adam admitted he's not surprised, but figured the chances of action were "really low." He's also grateful for the eight years he spent on the game, deeming them "not wasted," and reiterated his love for Nintendo, a company he will "always support," despite what happened. As for what's next, it's unclear.
"I can't sleep," he wrote. "I'll be doing more research into this situation and keep you guys updated."
For now, all fans can hope for is that someone leaks Pokémon Prism.