“Good Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal”– Pablo Picasso
In school, one is taught that cheating is bad. We learn that cheating on tests is bad, cheating on homework is bad, and plagiarizing term papers is bad. It seems that many forget this when they enter the real world, as plagiarism is running rampant in all forms of media. Musicians are ripping off other musicians, newspaper writers are stealing stories, and even video games are catching on to this dubious trend. Was Picasso right, or are these guys guilty of being dirty thieves? What I have compiled for you is the top ten shocking instances of plagiarism in gaming in no particular order.
One note: I’ve tried to not include products that are an homage to or even parodies of something else, I believe those do not qualify as plagiarism.
China is known for two things usually: a roaring industrial revolution and knock-off products. Usually video game knock-offs are a poor sight, many based on games two or even three generations behind current gaming trends. Last year I found a video circulating around that showed without a doubt, the most blatant knock-off of Super Mario Galaxy that I had ever seen. In a true ironic twist I will now lift some of my text from the old article:
“[…]you play as a dinosaur character that walks around a small assortment of planetoids in limited gravity collecting coins. This may sound a lot like Super Mario Galaxy in the vaguest way, but look again, I mean REALLY look again. The levels are mirror images of the Nintendo game!”
Aside from the levels themselves, it was discovered that the music had all been lifted from a Studio Ghibli film entitled Ponyo. Yeesh!
World of Fight
About a decade ago, a small company called The9 lost its contract to host World of Warcraft in China. The guys within the company were very angry and basically vowed to make an illegal clone of WoW in the form of a game called World of Fight. Early screenshots showed that many assets in the game were in fact either lifted or very similar to those found in popular MMOs World of Warcraft and Warhammer. Even the above logo uses the same font as WoW.
Animal Soccer World
(NOTE: this was a real game released on the PS2, these are the actual voices)
Words cannot express how unoriginal (and terrible) a shovelware game like Animal Soccer World is. When you watch the following video, please keep track of all of the Disney characters you see. There’s Simba, characters from The Jungle Book, etc… I’ll let the video speak for itself.
This entry isn’t about a game, but a bad amalgamation of two video game characters. Sonichu, the bastard lovechild of Sonic the Hedgehog and Pikachu, was a badly done webcomic by a person named Christine (formerly Christian) Weston Chandler aka Chris-Chan. This wouldn’t be noteworthy or even news if they didn’t go for the gold and try to copyright the character, name, and premise to make shirts and toys off of the work. Sonichu became infamous when trolls on websites such as 4chan and Encyclopedia Dramatica caught on to the shenanigans and started riling up the creator. Finally, either Sega or Nintendo sent Chris-Chan a cease and desist letter, but that didn’t stop the character from becoming an infamous internet meme. I won’t even go into Chris-Chan’s recent legal issues, I will let you all look into that yourselves.
Gameloft is a company that seemingly exists solely to rip-off other people’s work. Their M.O. seems to involve making iOS clones of high profile games such as Halo, Uncharted, and StarCraft with the reasoning that “those games wouldn’t get ported to the iPhone anyway.” The following is one of their trailers for a game called Shadow Guardian which is basically a knockoff of Uncharted.
It’s a shame that a game such as Patapon has accusations of plagiarism hanging over its head, but alas, it seems there might be some shenanigans afoot. Not too long after Patapon 2 was released to PSN, a blogger discovered an animated film dating back to almost exactly one year prior to the release of Patapon. The film, Bendito Machine, was created by Jossie Malis and got a lot of acclaim for its art style and color choices. Here is a comparison for you to make up your mind.
Super Robot Wars K
One of the 2009 releases in the long running Super Robot Wars series, Super Robot Wars K caused a bit of controversy when it was found to contain songs from older games, not from the same developers or publisher. The songs included one arrangement usually played after enemy reinforcements are called in entitled “The One Who Will Save the Earth” originally from Lufia II and the final stage background music is “Battle with Magus” from Chrono Trigger. Namco Bandai sent out a formal apology and settled out of court with another entity (presumably Square-Enix).
Usually when a company copies another game, it’s some sort of small fledgling company trying to make a quick buck (see Animal Soccer World above). When a big company, say one of the size of Capcom does it, it’s truly embarrassing. In 2009 Capcom announced a game called MaxPlosion for iOS devices that raised red flags with the creators of ‘Splosion Man, an indie platform game. Capcom soon discovered that the games were in fact a bit too identical and proceeded to blame it all on their mobile division.
“While Twisted Pixel did have discussions with our console game team about publishing ‘Splosion Man on game consoles, Capcom Mobile is a different division of Capcom with separate offices and as such, had no prior knowledge of any meetings between the console game team and Twisted Pixel.
“MaxPlosion was developed independently by Capcom Mobile. Nonetheless, we are saddened by this situation and hope to rebuild the trust of our fans and friends in the gaming community.”Capcom Press Release
Metal Gear Solid Theme
I bet a lot of people still haven’t heard this, but it appears that one of the more iconic theme songs of recent memory may have been stolen from a song from the 1970s. Shortly before the release of Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, someone on the internet discovered a song by Classical Russian composer Georgy Vasilevich Sviridov named “The Winter Road.” Hideo Kojima only found out about it when he was allowed to listen to it in an interview from Igromania Games Magazine, he was shocked to say the least. Here is the video:
Limbo of The Lost
One of the most notorious cases of plagiarism in a video game came to light a few years ago, as an independent “point and click” adventure game called Limbo of the Lost. The game did decently well until fans of another game, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, noticed that many of the screenshots sent out to the press had elements lifted from their favorite game. After the “cat was out of the bag” it was discovered that the game had lifted assets from a slew of other games including: Crysis, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Diablo II, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Painkiller, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, and World of Warcraft – to name just a few. The best comparison images were found by a site called GamePlasma, like this one:
Note: This is a slightly edited version of an article I posted on a now-defunct gaming website called Gamrfeed (in around 2010) that I wrote, as with some of this videogame-related stuff I am posting it again to preserve it. I always figure that some of this could be of some value to my new readers.