Despite his recent tussles with Nintendo resulting in much of his Youtube channel being pulled along with his Patreon account, prolific modder and romhacker Kaze Emanuar is clearly undaunted. In order to take a break from his usual routine of wrangling ancient N64 code into new and interesting shapes, he took a day to poke around Unity. The result: A bizarre mashup thumbing its nose at corporate authority; Sonic the Hedgehog gameplay, wrapped around a level from his previous major release, Mario 64: Last Impact, topped off with Final Fantasy music.
The best things in life are often free. Here’s some that don’t fly quite so close to the sun.
This strange little demo (downloadable via a link in the Youtube video description) does highlight an interesting difference in attitude between the old Japanese companies. While Sega have been known to issue takedowns on some unusual things in the past (including any footage of the long defunct Shining Force series), Sonic fangames and their derivatives seem safe. Encouraged, even – Sega’s own Sonic Mania was developed by a team that they hired from the bustling Sonic fangame scene.
While there have been no shortage of legal arguments regarding a company’s need to defend their intellectual property, there is clearly some disagreement between studios as to how to handle fan projects such as this. Sega seem to take a hands-off approach, occasionally drawing on the community for manpower and inspiration. Valve are famous for working closely with their fans, and most notably offered the fan-made remake of Half-Life, Black Mesa, support and a place on Steam as a commercial project. Even Capcom have been known to work with fans, officially licensing a Mega Man/Street Fighter crossover fangame for promotional purposes.
While Unity-based, this little tech demo is interestingly based on the Hedge Physics middleware created by well-known Sonic fangame dev LakeFeperd, who recently branched out into commercial development with the Kickstarter-funded Spark The Electric Jester, available on Steam now. He’s using the Hedge Physics engine now to create a 3D sequel, which you can see and play a generous three-level demo of – link in the Youtube description – above.
Kaze Emanuar’s brief foray into the world of Sonic is only temporary. Super Mario 64 Online hasn’t ceased development, and contrary to reports elsewhere, no cease-and-desist order has been issued most likely due to its convoluted legal status; It does not directly alter or redistribute any code or assets owned by Nintendo. Still, some moves are being made to appease Nintendo, and the multiplayer mod is in the process of rebranding as the more generic-sounding Net64 in the hopes of a name-change allowing the project to return to Youtube in full.