It’s no secret that Nintendo is hawkish about its properties. Any time it gets word that a fan has created something based on an IP or there is an unsanctioned event, Mario’s lawyers swoop in and put an end to all the fun. The latest uproar is regarding a Super Smash Bros Ultimate tournament that has been effectively shut down.
The Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio, was prepared to host its first-ever Super Smash Bros Ultimate at its Riptide water park. The event was initially slated to occur in 2020, but then the pandemic hit, and organizers postponed it to September 10, 2021.
With less than two weeks before the event was to take place, Nintendo’s legal team said no way. The problem is that the aging 2008 Nintendo Wii game needs help to make it suitable for pro-level competitive play. This help comes by way of the Project+ mod, a spin-off of the Project M mod. Seemingly because of Nintendo’s zero-tolerance policy on modding its IPs, Riptide canceled the event.
“Riptide was contacted recently by a Nintendo of America, Inc. representative regarding our Project+ events,” the organizers tweeted on Friday. “As a result of that conversation, there will be no Project+ tournaments or setups at Riptide.”
Riptide said it would refund attendees. However, Some of those planning on going are now stuck with non-refundable airline tickets and hotel reservations.
“Super cool of [Nintendo of America] to cancel an event that’s been planned for months just 2 weeks before it happens!” tweeted pro-gamer JoSniffy in response to the notice. “It’s so considerate to all of the people that bought plane tickets and hotels months ago, which are now useless. Keep up the great work, Nintendo!”
The Riptide tourney is not an isolated instance. Last November, Kotaku reported the company’s legal eagles put the lid on The Big House Super Smash Bros Melee tournament for a similar mod-related reason. Then when the Splatoon community showed its support for the players put out of their Melee event, Nintendo came in and shut down their plans to live stream a Splatoon tournament.
Former Melee champ Hungrybox voiced his displeasure on Twitter, calling Nintendo’s move “unforgivable insanity.”
“This is unforgivable at this point,” said Hungrybox. “There’s no legitimate reason for @Nintendo to do this that doesn’t include a complete disconnect with the current culture of their consumers. Insanity.”
The most bizarre aspect of the cease and desist is that piracy or IP theft is not even an issue in this case. The Project+ mod requires an original physical game disc to work. So organizers had genuine retail versions to use for the event and not bootleg images. The only possible factor for Nintendo to object to is the use of the mod, which seems a bit ridiculous, but the company has not commented on the action.