By Jared Newman | Monday, November 30, 2009 at 5:29 pm
The first rule of classic console emulation is that you don’t talk about classic console emulation, but that’s exactly what Nokia did to promote its new N900 smartphone, and now the interest of Nintendo’s legal team is piqued.
According to The Independent, Nokia posted a video clip of the N900 running Super Mario World and Super Mario Bros. 3, among other classics, using emulators. The official video and accompanying Nokia Conversations blog post have since been removed, but I’ve found what appears to be the same video here, for now. It mentions how some emulators let you tweak the N900’s controls for the best set-up, while others even take advantage of the phone’s touch and tilt capabilities.
Nintendo wasn’t aware of the video until The Independent reached out for comment. “We take rigorous steps to protect our IP and our legal team will examine this to determine if any infringement has taken place,” Nintendo UK PR manager Robert Saunders told The Independent.
I doubt Nintendo could jeopardize the ability to play emulated games on the N900, just as the company can’t dictate whether emulators may run on your computer. And although Nintendo’s legal page clearly states that it believes playing emulated games is illegal, there’s no shortage of places to find emulators and the ROMs that contain game software. At best, some sites refrain from distributing ROMs of popular franchises, such as Mario.
If there’s any legal trouble, I think it’d be related to using Nintendo games to promote Nokia products, presumably without Nintendo’s permission. In that regard, Nokia messed up. After all, you don’t hear Google talking up emulation in Android phones. But now that the truth’s out there, I think it’s pretty sweet that the N900 can run classic Nintendo and Super Nintendo games with emulators. Not that I’d play them, of course.