Thursday, January 25, 2007

ROM Legality & Fan Games

Once again the issue of ROMs was brought up in class, and I still can't figure out the legality of everything. Logically, if a game is not readily available (or available at all) , then the emulation of them should be unrestricted, as there is no other way to purchase the product. Unfortunately, laws often follow greed more than logic, so that's probably illegal.

One of my favorite games, and what is often considered to be one of the greatest RPGs of all time, is Chrono Trigger. I first experienced the game through emulation, as the game for SNES was out of print and nigh impossible to find used, but the difference between me and other emulators out there is that I enjoyed the game so much that when Final Fantasy Chronicles came out (which includes Chrono Trigger) for the PS1, I bought it. Now, this isn't to say that I would judge N64 owners for not buying a PS1 and the game to legitimize their ROM-playing, because that is an unreasonable request to make.

Chrono Trigger brings up another usual issue I discovered: the prevalence of shutting down fan games. After Final Fantasy Chronicles was released, a group of highschool students started a fan project that would eventually become known as Chrono Resurrection: a fan-revamped Chrono Trigger in full 3D. Square Enix issued a cease and desist order, and the public release of the game was prevented. What was the reason for this? The small group was planning on releasing the game to the public for free, so there was no profit to be made, and by this point no further copies of Final Fantasy Chronicles were being produced, so Square Enix couldn't say that the game would draw sales away from the sales of the original. This was not an isolated incident, either: a fan-created King's Quest 9, subtitled "The Silver Lining," was also in production until a cease and desist order from Sierra almost shut them down. Fortunately, they were allowed to continue as long as they dropped the "King's Quest" from the name, so the game became known as just "The Silver Lining." The only thing I can either company gaining by this is that if the resulting game is bad, their own name (or names closely associated with the company) won't be plastered on it. Personally, I think both groups were improving their game creation skills and merely wanted to release them to others so they could get feedback on their work. As it is, Chrono Resurrection will never be seen outside of that group that created it.

1 comment:

Glance_jc said...

Nice first entry, Chris.

You raise several very good points about the tensions inherent in the ROM issue. I was also happy to find out that Chrono trigger is available—my son had played that game with an emulator and was a big fan. It is noce to know it is available for the PS.