Nintendo Articles

Our exclusive editorials about the 3DS and its games, as well as Nintendo as a whole.

Why Gaming Sites Should Post Leaked Information

In the last few years, leaked video game information has become an extremely common thing online. You’ve got cases like with Pokemon Sun and Moon where every release gets datamined weeks in advance. There are examples like Paper Mario Color Splash, where information is unintentionally made available due to the game being accidentally released two weeks early. And through insiders, anonymous posts and YouTube mess ups alike, we’ve seen everything from Assassin’s Creed to Call of Duty and Rayman revealed way before it was supposed to be.

Yet even with the rise in leaked information, it seems a large portion of the press doesn’t seem to want to cover anything early. You’ve got people posting screenshot upon screenshot on forums and videos popping up with the entire soundtrack, all while the press sits on their ass and does nothing for days on end. Or if you’re lucky, posts about one or two random discoveries while trying their very best to ignore the rest of it.

But I disagree. I think every gaming site should cover ‘leaked’ information to the fullest of their ability.

Why?

Well for one thing, because that’s closer to journalism than anything else the gaming press has done. Journalism means going out of your way to find information that the powerful do not want others to know. It means bending the rules to get the news your readers want rather than those that make for someone else’s good PR.

Look at the rest of the media for example. Yeah, they’re not as good as they used to be (especially where investigative journalism is concerned), but they don’t just sit around online and wait for information to come in. Or game companies to email them press releases.

Instead, they go out and look for a story. That might mean heading into a dangerous war zone in the midst of a global crisis. It might mean interviewing someone who might otherwise not want to provide any information about current events. Or attending political rallies and events, perhaps even undercover!

When’s the last time you saw a video game journalist go ‘undercover’ to get a major news story? Probably never to be honest.

And that’s kind of a problem with entertainment ‘journalism’ now. It’s not really journalism, it’s more an industry PR branch. It’s more about making the games and corporations look good than telling the readers what they really need to know.

But journalism isn’t supposed to be like that.

Journalism isn’t really about ‘making friends and influencing people’. Heck, some journalists would say that being friends with your subjects is the mark of a terrible journalist or reporter. No, journalists are supposed to be hated by the people they report on. Companies are supposed to dread journalists getting involved in a story about them (usually cause they’re in the middle of a public relations disaster).

So yeah, of course a company will hate you reporting on leaked content. Of course the Pokemon Company will hate people that post the final boss of Pokemon Sun and Moon two weeks before the release date. Heck, sometimes a company will go as far as to threaten you with legal action.

But that’s kind of expected as a journalist.

Journalism isn’t all fun and games. It’s a job which puts you at serious risk on numerous occasions, and one where dangerous or financial costly consequences are unfortunately all too common. Think being sued once sucks? Imagine being Ian Hislop (editor of Private Eye). He’s the most sued man in Britain, and has been through dozens of court cases over things like libel (and apparently lost most of them). That has never stopped the satire magazine releasing new issues.

And that’s nothing compared to the horrors that have happened to journalists writing about real politically charged subjects and dangerous parts of the world. They’ve been arrested for espionage, sent to prison for decades (or deported to Siberia in the Soviet Union). Assaulted or killed for saying things those in power didn’t want to hear (or just by sociopathic nutcases who were ‘offended’ by what they were saying).

Basically, journalism is about risks. Because of this, you need to realise at some point that your own ‘safety’ or ‘comfort’ is outweighed by the needs of the readers/viewers. Unfortunately, a lot of gaming journalists don’t ever get this. They think it’s about making their life convenient. Screw the readers, I matter more.

Which is completely wrong.

There’s also a very pragmatic reason for all this too. Namely, it’s bad business to be scared of leaked content.

I mean, look at Bulbapedia. They were so scared of Nintendo’s ‘response’ to covering leaked content (which never actually came) that they refused to open up editing from somewhere in September till now. The result? Their wiki is useless now. No one visits a Pokemon wiki (or a Mario or Zelda one) that doesn’t cover hardly anything about the latest games.

And the same will be true of your website if you don’t cover this stuff. A gaming site that censors itself and doesn’t cover the latest gaming news is honestly a rather useless website, and one that’s probably not gonna still open for much longer.

So cover leaked content, and be a real journalist. Because a journalist who only covers what others want him to cover isn’t much of a journalist at all.

The Top 20 Worst Video Game Ripoffs

The gaming world has always had more than its fair share of clones and copycats. From the legions of shovelware on older systems to the thousands of lazy app ripoffs on the app store, it seems a popular game can’t go five minutes without a bunch of people trying to cash in on it.

I mean, just look what happened to Flappy Bird. There are copies everywhere now!

But as lazy as this is, there are some games that go… just a little too far in copying others. Games that don’t just copy mechanics or ideas, but outright steal whole levels and characters from more popular works.

Games that at best hover at the edge of fair use, and at worse fly straight into wilful copyright infringement or scamming. Games like this one:

And that’s what today’s list is about. Here are 20 of the worst, most blatant video game ripoffs ever made!

20. Another Bound

Ripping Off: Metroid Prime

So let’s start with a slightly lesser known example, and perhaps the most ‘innocent’ game on the list. For those who don’t know, Another Bound is a first person space shooter/exploration game which takes… more than a tiny bit of inspiration from a certain Nintendo franchise:

Yeah, it’s basically Metroid Prime on PC. Well, Metroid Prime on PC as designed by someone who’s absolutely god awful at level design and aesthetics that is. Because damn, this makes both Metroid Prime Hunters and Metroid Prime Federation Force look like the pinnacle of good game design by comparison.

Either way, it looks like a terrible game all round. But hang on, you might ask?

Why is such a blatant knockoff so low on this list?

Well, here’s the thing. Another Bound may be a blatant ripoff, but it’s also a freeware game. So while it’s still a blatant clone of a better series, we can at least be happy in the knowledge that the creator isn’t also trying to make a quick buck off his ‘work’.

Which is more than can be said about the next 19 games on the list…

19. Sword Requiem

Ripping Off: Fire Emblem

Like this one, which is about as obvious a Fire Emblem clone as you can get:

Seriously, just look at that thing! Every single element there is copied directly from the Fire Emblem series.

You’ve got similar map sprites and character artwork. The gameplay is similar. The general game setup is similar.

Heck, even the name itself sounds like a poor clone! I mean, ‘Sword Requiem’? That’s like if someone tried to come up with a Fire Emblem esque title without knowing a word of English!

Still, at least there’s one positive here. The game doesn’t actually steal characters from the one it’s ripping off. Not like the next app on the list anyway…

18. PokeBalls Training

Ripping Off: Pokemon GO

pokeballs training

Because Jesus Christ, this looks utterly horrifying. I mean, look at that Pikachu or Snorlax! They look like possessed demons trying to impersonate Pokemon! As animated by the people behind Food Fight!

But the graphics aren’t the only questionable issue. Oh no, the very purpose of this app is completely useless as well. Why? Because ‘PokeBalls Training’ is supposed to train you in playing Pokemon GO. Like, you’d test your Poke Ball throwing skills by tossing them at the game’s knockoff Pokemon to see if you can get better at playing the real app.

However, because this isn’t Pokemon GO, and the physics aren’t like in Pokemon GO, it’s completely useless. Why get better at throwing Poke Balls in a Pokemon GO knockoff when the physics don’t work anything like the ones in the real game? That’s not helping you get any better at the latter, is it?

No, no it isn’t.

And that’s the issue here. The app has no reason to exist. It’s cashing in on Pokemon GO by someone who clearly doesn’t know how Pokemon GO works.

Still, at least they give some excuse to why it’s like Pokemon GO. That’s something that can’t be said about some of the following games on the list…

17. Final Combat

Ripping Off: Team Fortress 2

Like this one, which is very clearly inspired by Valve’s work. Heck, they even have Team Fortress 2 style character intros (albeit far less well produced):

Unfortunately, this game really lacks any of the charm the real game has. I mean, the names alone are poor enough (see, ‘Rocket’ and ‘Fat Man’), but then the videos themselves are even more dull and uninteresting. I mean, look at that video. What a boring way to introduce a potentially interesting character design.

And gameplay wise? Well, it’s low rent Team Fortress 2. That’s it. If you want a game like this, play the game it’s ripping off instead. Because like the next item on our list, the imitator just cannot compare to the original.

16. Wii Console Clones

Ripping Off: The Wii system

That said, I will give Final Combat its due in one sense:

It’s a better clone of Team Fortress 2 than the Wii’s imitators were of the real system.

Cause dear god, these clones are dire. Like the Vii, which doesn’t really have motion controls:

No, I’m not kidding there. Note how the reviewer says the console doesn’t track the remote’s movement. Instead, you just shake the thing to do the equivalent of pressing a button. Bit like how Super Mario Galaxy’s spin attack works. Except you know, with that being the sole mechanic for the entire system.

And this is only one of the dire Wii clones you can find on the market. You’ve got The Reactor:

The Zone Wireless Gaming System:

The Miwi Xtra (oh god these names are embarrassingly bad):

Hmm, seems like the Miwi guys and the Zone guys might be the same people. Or at least, sharing their terrible quality Punch Out clones with each other.

And there’s also the ‘Excite’ Sports Games. Hmm, I suspect this won’t be ‘exciting’ anyone any time soon:

But regardless of what they’re called, they’re all the same thing; primitive games on systems with no real motion controls aimed at uninformed buyers in pound shops.

Which at the end of the day, is kind of the rule with knockoff games and consoles. Just low quality crap aimed at audiences too uninformed to tell otherwise/too cheap to buy the real thing. Kind of like our next game really…

15. The Legend of Titan

Ripping Off: Overwatch

Aka The Legend of Titan, a very clear copy of Blizzard Entertainment’s hit game Overwatch! Just look at this video if you don’t believe me:

As you can see, it’s got pretty much every aspect of the original down pat. Different character classes. Similar style visuals and character designs. Indeed, it’s so close to Overwatch that Activision themselves took down some of the videos for copyright reasons!

It’s an obvious clone, right?

Well, maybe not. Because you see, after the trailer blew up, a Chinese gaming magazine actually asked the developers about the title, and why it’s so similar to Overwatch.

Their response?

It’s an engine test/proof of concept.

Basically, the game wasn’t gonna be released like this, they were merely using it to test their technology. The video shows a tech demo for the game, using placeholder art and concepts. Everything will be made much more original than it’s actually released.

But do I believe them? Eh, maybe not. But for how the video was released and how the game was presented as an Overwatch clone, it’s well worthy of being in this list.

14. Classic Robo War

Ripping Off: Mega Man

Either way, let’s move onto a more obvious clone now. Namely, an interesting little game called ‘Classic Robo War’ that you can get for Android phones? Looks a bit familiar, doesn’t it?

Yeah, I thought so. It’s basically Mega Man for Android, with only the flimsiest attempts made at trying to turn it into something original.
Seriously, the only thing they did was recolour Mega Man and name him ‘Robot’. And if that’s not funny enough… well the description is almost a work of art in how insanely poorly worded it is. Just try and read this without laughing:

Robot plays similarly to its predecessor series Robot, but with various new features: Robot has the ability to dash along the ground at any time (which is very similar to the original slide move from the original, but with better accurate controlling), cling to walls and Wall Jump, and dash and jump at the same time, increasing his speed in the air. This all gives Robot more mobility than his Classic counterpart; these modifications make it easier to go through the majority of the game without using any other gun than the default, which is different from previous Robot games where players were more inclined to rely on weapons won in previous fights against boss characters in previously conquered stages.

Did you get any of that?

No?

Me neither. It sounds like a Mega Man X description that’s had X replaced with Robot and the result sent through Google Translate a few times.

What’s more, when you do understand it, you realise the developer just doesn’t understand the Mega Man series?

Why? Because he’s talking about the Robot Master weapons being useless as if it’s a good thing! As if the player not using enemy weapons is an improvement over the classic gameplay.

Smooth move there guys. You’ve taken a perfectly good series and made its one interesting mechanic completely useless. Guess your game design skills are about as ‘good’ as your English ones?

I guess so. But hey, it’s not just Mega Man who gets lazily named knockoffs like this!

13. Various App Store Mario Clones

Ripping Off: 2D Mario platformers

Oh no, look how many lazy Mario knockoffs are littering the Google Play Store!

mario clones

40! On just the first page or two that come up for searching ‘Mario’!

On the more ‘obvious’ side of the spectrum, you have games which very clearly take content from the Mario series and don’t bother changing the name. Like Classic Mario Jump here. This one’s about as lazy as you can get. I mean, how can you genuinely think this looks good?

classic mario jump

The graphics clash like hell! And wait, are those clip art animations for the enemies? What the hell I am looking at here? It’s like you took Hammer Brother Demo 3 as an inspiration rather than a cautionary tale!

And the games don’t get any better when the characters are replaced either. Want originality? Hah, good luck finding it here!

Isn’t that right, ‘Super Smash Jungle World’?

Or Jungle World of Mark:

jungle world of mark

Or even Andrio’s World:

andrios world

Hey, at least this one ripped off Luigi instead. But damn those graphics look like a certain SNES title!

Eh, must be a coincidence. After all, this is a perfectly legitimate Google Play app, right? By a morally outstanding citizen who is in no way trying to copy the Super Mario Bros series. Yeah, that’s it.

Just like Hario World here. That doesn’t look like Mario without a moustache at all!

harios world

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Gaming and Politics; Which Presidential Candidate is Better for Gaming?

With the recent elections and Donald Trump’s ascent to the US presidency, there has been much debate about which candidate offered the best ideas for America. Some said Clinton was more of the same, and that Trump would be a breath of fresh air for America, some thought Trump was Hitler reincarnated and would empower racists. Either way, every possibility was looked at, every argument scrutinised and every little thing a candidate said was blown out of proportion for social media clicks.

All except for one thing.

Gaming. Few people really looked at what the US election would actually mean for video games. Would they be censored? Would the government try and get involved in censorship or diversity discussions? What would happen to the ESRB?

No one really looked into it.

Well, until now that is! So let’s see which of the presidential candidates would have better for gamers, starting with election winner Donald Trump!

Gaming and Donald Trump

donaldtrump

So what does Donald Trump think about video games?

Well, he’s not particularly positive about them, that’s for sure. After all, back in 2012 he complained about games ‘glorifying violence’:

Jeez, it’s just like what people said in the 80s or 90s! Except said in 2012, on the heels of his first attempt at running for president.

And that makes Trump’s comments even worse. Why?

Because while games never glorified violence much before, they glorify it even less now. I mean yeah, there may have been a few games based on brainless violence then (among lots where your character was acting in self defence/for a good cause), but said violence focused games are even rarer now. Indeed, with more stealth games, peaceful indie titles and political commentary titles (think Spec Ops: The Line), it seems the gaming industry is moving away from mindless violence in general.

Heck, even Call of Duty gives you messages on the futility of war between missions now!

So Trump’s views on violent in video games are archaic. But how about his other views? Does he have any comments on ‘sexism’ in video games or what not?

Well, no. Trump’s not exactly the kind of guy to care about that stuff. However, he did show sympathy to a popular figure in the GamerGate movement for the treatment he’d been getting from his enemies:

Which makes him a little more gamer ‘friendly’ view than Clinton, who (as I’ll explain later) treats GamerGate as the alt-right and an enemy of progressives.

However, that doesn’t mean you should endorse Trump as a gamer. His attitudes on video games and violence are still ridiculously out of date, and his views on other social issues are not popular with the gaming industry.

Maybe Breitbart will help fix this. After all, they do have a gaming section, and it doesn’t seem to be in their interests (or that of some of their audience) to let Trump go on a gaming banning/censorship spree. Or maybe not. Either way, Trump clearly isn’t the gamer friendly president.

But how about Clinton? Would she have been better if she was elected?

Gaming and Hillary Clinton

hillaryclinton

Well, no. Here’s her talking about games and violence:

Yeah, it’s an old video. But it’s still relevant, since her views on gaming as encouraging violence haven’t changed one bit since then.

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