GitHub-hosted Game Boy emulator taken offline at Nintendo’s request

A JavaScript-based Game Boy emulator has gone offline following a complaint by Nintendo that the software contained "unauthorized copies of Nintendo's video game software".

The emulator, JSEmu3, allowed users to play Game Boy games in their browser without needing to download and configure dedicated software, as is the case with traditional emulators.

These games included Advance Wars, Super Mario Advance and Legend of Zelda, according to TorrentFreak.

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However, the emulator’s takedown isn’t entirely unexpected. Nintendo previously took down an emulator called JSEmu, which as users pointed out as early as 2015, was hosting game binaries directly, and meant that the project was likely to be illegal.

It’s not clear whether JSEmu3’s GitHub repository contained its own binaries when the takedown notice was issued.

Last week, Nintendo also took action against a pair of sites that were found to be hosting copies of its old games directly. In response, LoveRETRO has taken its site offline, and LoveROMS has removed all of its Nintendo content.

Creeping under the radar

The emulation scene has proved remarkably resilient over the years, despite sites and projects frequently being taken offline at the request of the original copyright holders.

For the most part, projects have managed to keep their heads above water by never hosting any copyrighted content directly. Instead they just host the emulation software, and so long as this doesn’t re-use copyrighted code then it’s generally considered fair use.

That’s how a project like Dolphin, which emulates GameCube and Wii games, is still up and running after so many years. It’s all original code, and since it’s open-source it’s very easy to verify that this is the case.

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That said, it’s always a little frustrating being a retro gaming fan. The official channels to buy and play old games are getting better over time, but many games never make their way onto these services in the first place, either because the rights have long-since expired or because the game is too difficult to emulate.

Although both the Wii U and the Wii contained well-stocked retro game stores in the form of the Virtual Console, no such store has yet arrived on its latest console despite Nintendo’s assurances that retro NES games will be playable on the Nintendo Switch’s online service when it launches in September 2018.

How do you get your retro gaming fix? Let us know @TrustedReviews.