Another Mario fan game looks like it’s about to bite the dust, but this time nobody’s shedding any tears. The 1up Platform is a cryptocurrency scheme that got underway earlier this year, seemingly featuring a battle royale of corporate copyrights and stolen artwork. Now it’s finally attracted the attention of Nintendo.
Billing itself as a “retro-gaming platform for everyone that uses NFTs as powerups,” 1up was conceived earlier this year, as cryptocurrency enthusiasts tried to turn a wave of hype around NFTs (environment-destroying JPEGs) into a lucrative new grift. The platform described the pitch in a September Medium post as something that would “bring Mario and friends to the blockchain,” with “a 2D, Battle-Royale concept based on classic retro games that we all know and love.”
In theory, players would earn NFTs by betting them on matches of a multiplayer platform game, and then competing to win. A beta went live earlier this month which real life people appeared to participate in. 1up made the mistake of tweeting out footage from it last week, however, drawing the attention of Mario fans who proceeded to tag Nintendo and others in the comments, sending some of the platform’s early adopters into a panic about reskinning the game as fast as possible.
Twitter user and artist jycompany_ noticed yesterday that a YouTube video for the project had been removed at Nintendo’s request. It seems like only a matter of time before the rest of the project is locked down in some way. 1up and Nintendo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Alright well, so much for staying in stealth mode and developing it quietly...it seems you guys were wayyy too loud too early and got Nintendo of America’s attention [crying laughing emoji],” wrote the project admin, Link, on its Telegram channel.
Some users expressed skepticism about what this would mean for their early investment in the platform, raging against the Nintendo “simps” who had ratted it out to the company. Others claimed it would bring much-needed publicity.
“More people will want to support the platform as a big middle finger to Nintendo, everybody loves the underdog,” wrote one person. “A Nintendo lawsuit would moon this shit through space,” wrote another.
The Mario NFT scheme might not have been the target of so much ire if it hadn’t also allegedly been ripping off other artists. According to jycompany_, sprites in the game and the project’s homepage were stolen. Parts of the game itself appeared to be as well, bearing a striking resemblance to the existing fan game Mario Royale (which preceded Nintendo’s own Super Mario Bros. 35 battle royale game).
1up’s dubious game isn’t the only Mario NFT project out there. There is also Mario World Fan Coin, an apparent network of “Mario loving nerds who created the first Defi marketplace dedicated to Mario Fans and other Nintendo games plus an NFT platform game on the BSC!” The irony is that according to their defenders, the whole appeal of NFTs is that they are one-of-a-kind digital objects, underwritten by their original creators.
I hope you are as sick of hearing about NFTs as I am. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like they’re going away anytime soon, as more and more video game companies try to put out their own official versions. If Shigeru Miyamoto ever releases actual Mario NFTs, I’m sailing off into the sunset and never coming back.
Update: 10/29/21, 4:23 p.m. ET: The 1up Telegram admin, Link, defended the “cool indie concept” with the following statement:
I’m a community manager for an anonymous team working on a cool indie concept. The goal was to innovate on top of an amazing idea infernoplus had launched in 2019. Nintendo had shut them down for innovating and are known to do that. We just created a beefed up version of it with a combat system. Goal was to innovate privately within the community to showcase what’s possible if we all contribute new ideas. We just feel like corporate ideas are drying out and nearly dead. For all the Nintendo simps having a panic attack, fear not. It was private test videos getting put out there to grow grow size of the community. When we go live the entire game will have custom art with none of the original Nintendo fanmade sprites. This was just a proof of concept. The engine is custom made and will be used for other original games. The buzz is great though. At least it gets people talking about new ideas.
Innovation must happen at all costs. For them complaining about using fan made sprites. The idea of this platform is to allow artists to publish custom game levels, characters, art and have it playable within the crypto platform. Their ideas and art turn into NFTs that can be rented or sold as well. Any revenue flowing from the use of those levels or custom game art would go to them. This was our way of bringing about change.