The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The Yuzu settlement is unsettling for games preservation

Nintendo lawsuit could set a dangerous precedent for an art so young
The Yuzu logo. (photo from the Yuzu team)

Nintendo will do anything but what their fans want. 

Video game preservation is still in its childhood as a concept. Thanks to the existence of video games in the information era, efforts are becoming more coordinated and more companies are hopping on the bandwagon of preserving their old work.

Not Nintendo, though. Why would they?

In a shock to absolutely nobody, Nintendo sued the developers of Yuzu, a Nintendo Switch emulator, on Feb. 26. The developers, Tropic Haze, settled out of court on March 4. 

They will pay $2.4 million in damages to Nintendo and cease distribution of Yuzu. A 3DS emulator, Citra, will also cease production and distribution. 

To understand why this matters, we need to define what an emulator is and touch on the legal gray area it encompasses.

In video gaming, an emulator is a program that, well, emulates a gaming console. For example, a Nintendo Switch emulator is capable of playing Nintendo Switch games. Emulators read ROMs (read-only memory), which are essentially the raw data of a game.

They are often used in place of consoles for a multitude of reasons. In today’s day and age, emulators have made recording and streaming a plethora of games much easier. Furthermore, consoles are expensive and, especially in the cases of older ones, can be hard to find.

Story continues below advertisement

Using an emulator isn’t illegal, nor is using a ROM. However, there are a few caveats. First, unless it’s the developer of the console, emulators have to be free. ROMs must be acquired legally by burning a legitimately owned game’s data onto the device with the emulator.

Downloading a ROM from the internet is a legal gray area because the method of acquisition is illegal, but many argue that one should be allowed to download a ROM of a game they already own. It can also be pricey to upload an owned game, depending on the hardware needed.

If Yuzu was simply a free emulator and nothing else, Nintendo (hopefully) would’ve left well enough alone. But, as discussed before, the story continues.

Tropic Haze ran a Patreon, a website for creators of all kinds to get financial support from fans, for Yuzu development. They made nearly $30,000 a month off of it. While the backers here weren’t technically paying for Yuzu, the developers offered incentives for higher donations.

Nintendo also alleged that Yuzu’s development encouraged piracy, in particular citing May 2023’s The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom with an estimated one million copies illegally downloaded.

Regardless of the “why,” though, Yuzu and Citra are kaput. 

The reason this is a big deal is that Nintendo makes very little effort to preserve their games. 

Companies like SEGA and Capcom have released collections of their most popular games in the past. Nintendo only came close with 2020’s Super Mario 3D All-Stars.

3D All-Stars received mixed reviews, but I’m only going to focus on one aspect: the emulation. The game was a simple repackaging of three games, being Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy, all on one cartridge for the Nintendo Switch.

It was nice to be able to play the games on a modern console, but they merely played on crappy emulators built into the Switch instead of being built from the ground up.

They very infrequently do this kind of thing. Remastering Metroid Prime and the first two Pikmin games were nice, but the examples are few and far between. 

Why can’t I play Pokémon: Red and Blue versions legally? If I don’t have legal hardware, my options are to somehow buy a game and system that have been out of production for over 20 years, download them from the 3DS eshop (which was shut down a year ago) or break the law.

The annoying part is that this stuff could easily be remedied. In the Pokémon example, they could port all of the main series games to the Switch rather simply and even give them compatibility with modern games through the Pokémon Home game.

Square Enix remasters and re-releases Final Fantasy games like people will forget the series. Naughty Dog and Sony remade The Last of Us when we really didn’t need them to. Games are being remastered or, at the very least, re-released on modern hardware, all the time. 

I don’t know why Nintendo seems to have missed this memo. The Yuzu and Citra situation is sad because we don’t know where it will end. There’s no current legal way to acquire Fire Emblem Fates: Revelation, which I would say is the game I want to be preserved most.

In conclusion, up yours, Nintendo.

Tolbert can be reached at [email protected]. Tell him what games you want preserved.

View Comments (1)
More to Discover

Comments (1)

The Spectator intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. The Spectator does not allow anonymous comments and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Spectator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • A

    AnonymousMar 19, 2024 at 2:57 pm

    FE fates revelation was preserved in the special edition that came out the same day the game did.