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"They can't be picky and choosey on who gets shut down and who doesn't."
This is theoretically true, but in practice, they can be and they are. There are literally hundreds of other Metroid mods, hacks, and fan-games that have been around for years and not been been shut down. They mostly get left alone by Nintendo (as this game was for the better part of a decade) due to not being well-known and the cost/benefit analysis of going after them not being worth it.
AM2R just had the misfortune of flying too close to the sun and getting too much publicity.
"The minute you do, a C&D will be drafted up and ready to go."
For the record, the AM2R guy has not actually received a C&D yet. At the moment it is just DMCA takedown notices on the file mirrors.