Here is a completely unsurprising piece of news that is, nonetheless, disappointing. Over the course of the last eight years or so, you may have heard about indie developer Bombergames working on a little labor of love called Streets of Rage Remake. The game, which is less a remake of Sega's first Streets of Rage game and more an almost fetishistic love letter to every entry in the series (especially Streets of Rage 2, which we all know is totally the best one), included every single character featured in the three titles (including some that were only included on the box art), over 100 levels, and an almost disturbing level of attention to detail. Then again, after eight years of development, you'd hope that it showed off a little polish.
Various versions of the game have been released over the last few years, but just last week, Bombergames released the "final" version of the title via Windows to a great deal of fanfare across the Internet. Hopefully you got your chance to play it, because now it's impossible to find except on various torrent sites, thanks to a legal notice just sent to Bombergames by Sega. The studio was contacted today and subsequently pulled down all download links to the title, and asked players via the company's forums not to redistribute download links while they sort this out with Sega.
Now, the natural question one would tend to have pop in their head upon reading news like this is, "Isn't it kind of obvious that Sega wouldn't be cool with a developer making a game based on their intellectual property without their say-so?" Well, Mr. Smarty-Pants-Obvious-Question-Asking-Person, yeah, that does make a lot of sense, and in a statement to Kotaku, they said as much: == TEASER ==
"SEGA is committed to supporting any fans that take an interest in our games, and where possible we do so by involving them in Beta tests and other development, marketing or research opportunities. However we need to protect our intellectual property rights and this may result in us requesting that our fans remove online imagery, videos or games in some instances."
Now, the thing of it is, Bombergames says that they repeatedly sent permission requests to Sega regarding the remake, and even claimed that Sega was pretty much cool with it. That's the thing, though: unless you have iron-clad approval in writing from a legal department, you don't have permission that will hold up to any kind of scrutiny. Sega is still selling versions of the Streets of Rage games in various digital formats, so it's completely logical that they'd be less-than-enthused by the notion of someone remaking their games without some agreement in place that will make them money.
That cold, callous logic is undoubtedly little comfort to anyone involved in the making of Streets of Rage Remake. You can give them all the guff you like for spending eight years of their lives working on a project that seemed destined for a Cease and Desist notice, but sometimes, when you really, really love something, logic, reason, and reverence for the law go flying out the window. Unfortunately, "We're in love" is not a valid legal defense. Believe me, I've tried it.