Pokémon Prism had everything on its side: its “launch trailer” consisted of nothing less than a Twitch Plays Pokémon stream, and the hype train among fans quickly set off after watching multiple popular characters, avatar customization, different ways to explore the world (even playing as the Pokémon themselves!), and more features that either took whole generations to the Pokémon games to cover, or outright don’t exist.
That’s a lot to say about any fangame, more so one that’s not a complete new game, but an actual hacked Pokémon Gold ROM (circa 1999) that could be placed and played in a Game Boy Color cartridge.
While Nintendo is infamous for shutting down these kind of projects (Metroid 2’s fan remake comes to mind), and logic aside, this is the first time Nintendo has shut down a hackrom per se, and after receiving the Cease and Desist (just 4 days before its official launch, to boot), Pokémon Prism’s creator Adam Vierra complied without a hitch and promptly shut down both the project and it’s page, which now just hosts a message to its fans and the legal document itself.
I'm also responsible for this situation. Trailer shouldn't have been made & I shouldn't have been such a perfectionist and finish it sooner.
— Adam V. (@Koolboyman) December 21, 2016
Despite working eight years on it, Vierra tallied up to the situation, and used Twitter and Facebook to apologize with fans for not delivering on time, recognizing this could have been avoided (by making less noise, finishing it faster, etcetera), taking on responsibility and assuring us he’ll look into the legal matters before giving up entirely.
In the meantime, leaks have spurted around the internet – not with the ROM, but interestingly, with the ROM accompanied with the project’s source code and even a CIA file (pirated 3DS-compatible games, in this case think the 3DS Pokémon Yellow port). The leakers seem unfathomed by legal threats, and by sharing the game’s code itself, openly invite anyone to “finish” up the project, as described in a letter left along the leaked files.
The specific nature of this leak tell us, whoever got to this content was close to Pokémon Prism’s developers (“one of the devs got careless”, quoting the leakers’ letter) and have zero interest in Vierra’s wishes – the leakers recognize themselves as different people interested in spreading the game, with or without the author’s consent.
Theories have surfaced saying Vierra himself might be the leaker, but it’s highly unlikely considering is his neck he would bet, and the fact there was no reason for Vierra himself to share the game’s code – he could just finish it underground and “leak” it whenever he pleased.
All in all, it’s hard to see 8 years if effort join Pokémon Uranium and Another Metroid 2 Remake on Nintendo’s C&D pantheon. May luck be on Vierra’s side, and of us for the chance of seeing another of his works in the future without these kind of problems in-between.