It takes a brave kind of person to announce they’ve fully decompiled Paper Mario mere days after Nintendo finished mounting hacker Gary Bowser’s head on a proverbial spike, and that person is Ethan Roseman. Spotted by VGC, Roseman—a coder—has announced that he’s “reached 100% completion” on a project aimed at decompiling the Nintendo 64 classic, opening the way for mods and unofficial PC ports.
I’m extremely happy to announce that after 3+ years of working on a decompilation project for Paper Mario, we have reached 100% completion for the US version of the game. Every compiled function has been matched!https://t.co/2iwkrFmK4h pic.twitter.com/KRCd25u4TfApril 19, 2023
The completion of the project means that, sooner or later, we should be able to play Paper Mario on our desktops without having to resort to emulation.
As draconian and litigious as Nintendo is about these things, previous projects of this type have managed to avoid the gaze of its lawyers so far. Decompilation projects for Ocarina of Time, A Link to the Past, and Perfect Dark all remain in good health, so Roseman’s project should—in theory—remain online for the foreseeable future.
The reason is probably because projects like these don’t really infringe on any of Nintendo’s intellectual property. Coders like Roseman aren’t just ripping Nintendo’s assets (like textures) out of their games and slapping them onto the PC, instead, they’re remaking the code themselves, which Nintendo has yet to find a way to crack down on.
Of course, that does mean if you want to play an unofficial PC port of Paper Mario, you’ll have to provide those Nintendo assets via a (legally acquired!) ROM. It’s a little more roundabout than just hitting ‘Go,’ but it keeps everyone involved out of prison, which is probably for the best.
If you’re interested in how Roseman managed to accomplish his feat, he’s detailed the decompilation process in a video on YouTube. And if you just want to play a port of Paper Mario on your PC, you probably won’t have to wait too long for someone to figure out how to get it all working. It might even be Roseman himself, who says he still has to work on “documentation, other version support, [and] more asset support” for the project.