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Ambitious Pokémon ROM hack shuts down, days before launch

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Another one bites the dust

Pokémon Prism, an unofficial fan project based on the popular Nintendo role-playing games, has been canceled, its creator announced on social media. That brings the eight-year development to an abrupt end, just four days shy of the ROM hack’s highly anticipated launch.

Pokemon Prism has been cancelled,” wrote Adam, the one-man team behind the game, in a Facebook post. “Thank you all for your support throughout the years. I'm sorry it ended like this. I will make a longer statement regarding this soon, but expect this page to be shutdown in a few days.”

Attached to the brief announcement is a document that appears to be from Nintendo’s Australian-based legal team. The letter cites Pokémon Prism — and Pokémon Brown, Adam’s earlier project that won him acclaim from series fans — as a violation of Nintendo’s intellectual property rights, demanding that Adam “immediately cease any further work on this game.”

“Nintendo understands that you are a fan of its original products and its Pokémon franchise,” the letter reads. “Whilst this 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.”

In order to avoid further legal ramifications, Adam must not only quit work on Pokémon Prism, but remove downloads to earlier games like Pokémon Brown as well. His website now hosts a link to the legal notice and a brief message of gratitude to fans.

This marks a bittersweet end for Prism, which the developer had planned to finally release on Dec. 25. Since he began working on Prism eight years ago, fans have eagerly awaited the final version’s release. The excitement was in part due to the popularity of Pokémon Brown, which featured completely new maps and characters instead of just re-using existing Pokémon assets.

Partnerships with the Twitch Plays Pokémon community helped elevate Prism’s pre-release profile, and its debut trailer, above, racked up millions of views. The game was also set to include a new region, an original story and 20 badges to collect, all drawn on the gameplay and aesthetic of the Game Boy Color Pokémon games.

Now, the game instead joins the ranks of Pokémon Uranium and other Nintendo fan games that kicked the bucket early. Nintendo smacked that project with a takedown notice just a week after its successful launch, citing similar copyright issues.