Hand-Drawn Game Guides creator Philip Summers knew it was a legal risk to launch his gorgeous, story book-style Nintendo game guides on Kickstarter, but it was a risk he was willing to take. When you pore through all the gorgeous artwork of his unofficial Metroid, Contra, Ninja Gaiden and Legend of Zelda guides, you can see why.
The Kickstarter for the project showed off a range of fantastic, full-colour comic walkthroughs designed to take players through the complex missions and goals of each featured game. According to Summers, the intention behind these guides was to replicate the feeling of leafing through a good game guide as a child, with all the wonder and spectacle that used to go along with it.
But while the game guides look absolutely stunning — and were a major success on Kickstarter, raking in over $300,000 — the project has now been cancelled. The culprit is not outright named, but in another update on Kickstarter, Summers notes that he was contacted by a lawyer. From there, he made the decision to pull the project, though he maintains that it wasn’t borne from a cease and desist in particular.
We decided against doing this for two reasons: 1) an abundance of caution, and 2) this all happened too close to the goal for Kickstarter to respond.
See... it’s possible that Kickstarter may have decided to allow funding to proceed. That would mean all of you wonderful Backers would be charged and we’d be required to deliver rewards. But what happens if, after that, a game company does force us to cancel production? We’d be in a very bad place where we can’t get you your books, but also couldn’t afford to refund everyone 100% because Kickstarter/payment processor fees do not refund to us in the event we decide to refund Backers.
The only safe move was to pull the project for now.
In a recent update, Summers shared the grim news that the books would no longer go into production.
“Tonight I pulled the plug on the Hand-Drawn Game Guides Kickstarter. Yes, for exactly the reason you think it’s for,” he said in an update on Kickstarter. That wording has led some to speculate Nintendo, infamous for shutting fan projects down, might have been involved—though Summers hasn’t pointed any fingers. “I had hoped that I could successfully navigate any legal trouble, but alas I wasn’t able to do so.”
For fans of the project, it’s a major bummer — but Summers says he’s still grateful for the experience.
“Of course I’m disappointed, but I completely understand why this happened,” he explained. “It’s okay. I’m not mad.”
For now, all orders for the game guides will be cancelled, although Summers says he’ll find out whether the project is truly dead in the water “in the coming days”. Backers can expect a cancellation email shortly if they don’t already have one, and all money will be refunded via your payment method.
It really is a disappointing turn of events.
While these game guides were always going to have IP issues with Nintendo being notoriously strict about protecting their assets, each book is a lavish work of art, created after painstaking hours of work. Summers’ talent and passion is clear in every page and frankly, his game guides look far better than anything else on the market.
Here’s to hoping Summers is still able to produce these guides in some capacity, whether that be through official channels or an entire rework of the project.
These Hand-Drawn Game Guides deserve their time in the sun, and a place on all our shelves, regardless of Nintendo’s efforts to nuke the project.
Correction 9/6 2:45 p.m.: A previous version of this story jumped to conclusions regarding the parties involved in the shutdown. We’ve updated the post to include Summers’ most recent updates on the debacle.
NINTENDO’S LAWYERS NEED TO CHILL
It has almost a meme at this point, so predictable and tragic has the process become. A fan makes something cool, everyone gets excited, then in comes Nintendo to shut the whole thing down.