Nintendo slams Game & Watch hackers with copyright claims

You might think hacking hardware is creative experimentation. Nintendo, on the other hand, doesn't agree.

In 2020, Nintendo decided to soothe people's pandemic-induced boredom and woes by revealing the nostalgia-laden retro Game and Watch handheld gaming device. Weighing only 0.15 lbs, this old school beauty came with the original Super Mario Bros. and its own digital clock. It didn't take long for hackers to play around with the hardware, as Gizmodo reports, and try to customize it to their own liking. But Nintendo, being the litigious and protective company it is, wants to put paid to that.

One such customizer is already in trouble for it on YouTube. Twitter user @ghidraninja recently received copyright claims on a video involving a hacked Game and Watch. This is the message that @ghidraninja received:

Hi stacksmashing, A copyright owner using Content ID has claimed some material in your video. As a result, your video has been blocked and can no longer be played on YouTube. This is not a copyright strike. This claim does not affect your account status.

At the end of the message, @ghidraninja is informed that the video in question is "Hacking the Nintendo Game and Watch Super Mario Bros." title while the copyright claim made by Nintendo concerns the handheld device itself. This kind of aggressive copyright claim isn't surprising. Nintendo is pretty strict about its hardware and in previous instances, it has been swift in letting consumers know that its products are not for experimentation beyond its stated uses. No matter how exciting or cool the results are.

Hacking Game and Watch is pretty easy — It's not too hard to hack a Game and Watch handheld device, so people were always going to be tempted. While there's no Wi-Fi, there is a USB-C port for charging, despite its old-school looks... so it didn't take long for hackers to swap the featured Super Mario Bros. for Pokemon, The Legend of Zelda, and other classic titles.

Hear us out — Nintendo views hacking of its hardware as a way of circumventing its security and potentially pushing game piracy, which is a huge no-no for the company. But in the specific case of Game and Watch, this retro hardware is not capable of hosting the latest Switch video games. So the risk of illegally running the latest titles is zilch.

Hacking Game and Switch hardware to try other titles beyond Super Mario Bros. doesn't affect video game sales or even sales for hardware units. It's just an entertaining way to toy with the product. As Gizmodo reports, @ghidraninja believes that the hacking is neither criminal nor unethical. To that end, they're contesting Nintendo's claim without hesitation... but we fear they'll run out of steam long before Nintendo does.