Super Mario battle royale returns as ‘DMCA Royale’

Cover art for Terraforming Mars shows two astronauts on the red planet’s hillside, surrounded by green trees.

An Animal Crossing character stands on Redd’s boat

Perhaps you heard this week about Mario Royale, the browser-based game that turned a Super Mario Bros. world into a 75-player race. Perhaps you thought to yourself, “Aaaaand this guy is getting a C&D in 3 … 2 …” Perhaps the developer did, too, because shortly after facing the steely gaze of Nintendo’s lawyers, it’s back as DMCA Royale.

Recap: Last week, Mario Royale was found by Kotaku, and its creator, InfernoPlus, was interviewed by Vice. In his game, hordes of players tore through one of three worlds (so, a multi-stage race) in a race to finish first, and while they couldn’t bump into one another they could affect (and even eliminate) others’ progress. Forgiving some serious input lag, it was a brilliant idea, brilliantly inspired by Tetris 99’s proof that anything can be battle royale-ified.

But, with great popularity comes great lawyering. InfernoPlus indicated an awareness of fan games’ short lifespan when they involve Nintendo properties, and appears to have had a plan ready. Version 2.0.0 was “patched” yesterday (with a one-word patch note: “Fuck”) and de-Mariofied. Same day, the game came back and “almost all missing assets have now been recreated by seal team six.” It’s a-miracle!

DMCA Royale now involves the characters Infringio and his brother, Copyright Infringio. All of the assets have been changed to look like a knock-off someone’s grandmother bought from a nice man at the flea market. But as of writing, there are still 691 players online in games.

And patch 2.0.1 delivers a couple of quality-of-life upgrades, too: the game may be launched with the A button on a gamepad (miraculously, Mar— uh, DMCA Royale is a browser game that fully supports gamepads) and there’s a “kid friendly/streamer mode” that strips out players’ self-bestowed names. If you’re unclear why players’ names could be a problem, the “N” button that activates it should give you a hint.

Who knows if the changes are enough to ward off Nintendo’s lawyer-mans; while InfernoPlus’ fear of being sued is no doubt genuine, lawyers also hate work as much as you or I do, so whatever point could be proven by suing may not be worth the bother. InfernoPlus’ addition of “lore” and the changed assets seem to be deliberate enough to support his contention that this is a parody and therefore fair use. But I’m not a lawyer.

You may remember Super Mario Crossover, a flash game that was all the rage when it launched back in (feels really old) 2010. That sucker is still going strong on Newgrounds, and creator Jay Pavlina (of Exploding Rabbit) was able to Kickstart a knockoff called Super Retro Squad. Though that game effectively died in 2014 (later returning as Glitch Strikers, but that still has not launched) everything has still survived, unmolested by lawyerly nastygrams. Perhaps DMCA Royale and Infringio are different enough that people can go back to playing this free game.

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