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
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.
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?
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!
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?
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:
Or even Andrio’s 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!
The list just goes on and on. It’s like every half assed app developer on the planet saw ‘New Super Mario Bros’ and decided they wanted their own lousy version of it.
And then, there’s this painful piece of garbage:
Yeah, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. That’s the main character from Pokemon Gold and Silver jumping Flappy Bird style through a world based on Super Mario Land. Apparently the developer looked up what was popular, noticed ‘Mario’, ‘Flappy Bird’ and ‘Pokemon’ were doing well and decided to rip off all three at the same time. Ah the wonders of low quality game design! Or app stores that don’t give a crap about copyright at all.
However, it’s not just 2D Mario games that get ripped off…
12. DuLuDubi Star
Ripping Off: Super Mario Galaxy
Cause as this infamous game shows, even the likes of Super Mario Galaxy can be cloned with a dedicated enough developer. Here’s a video showing just how much the game rips off the Galaxy titles:
It’s pretty blatant, isn’t it? Yeah, just about every aspect of Super Mario Galaxy has been duplicated here to a tee.
You’ve got the obligatory Comet Observatory knockoff:
The obvious Kamella and King Kaliente clones:
Heck, you’ve even got copied level mechanics like the Launch Star pieces you need to collect and those giant apples from the Gusty Garden Galaxy!
It’s like what you’d get if Video Brinquedo tried to clone Super Mario Galaxy with Nintendo 64 quality graphics.
So, par for the course on the app store, right?
I mean it’s one guy trying to rip off Mario Galaxy, right?
Well, no. No it isn’t.
This is actually by China’s equivalent to Disney.
A commercial development team actually made this to promote a large company with their own theme park and brands. Like if say, Disney copied Mario with Mickey Mouse 3D World or what not.
Now that’s pretty shameless if you ask me. You had the money and talent to make something new, but instead you took someone else’s work and slapped your mascots in it. What a joke.
11. WOW Mobile
Ripping Off: World of Warcraft
But hey, at least the name was changed, right? Because the next game on our list didn’t even bother to do that. Oh no, say hello to the least originally named game in world, WOW Mobile.
Yeah, it’s World of Warcraft on phones. Even the font used for the logo is virtually identical:
Add the obviously similar aesthetics (especially on the loading screen), and what we have here is an almost insulting attempt at cloning another popular game.
Yet WOW Mobile isn’t the only game here which is extremely lazy in the naming department…
10. Zanda Linked Swords
Ripping Off: The Legend of Zelda
Because right after WOW Mobile, we get… this. Zanda Linked Swords.
Yeah, you read that right. ‘Zanda’. Not Zelda, Zanda.
They’re really not even trying to hide their ‘heritage’ here, are they?
And when you start the game, the similarities get even more obvious. Firstly, you’ve got ‘Not Link’, who’s quite literally just the normal version of Link with a goofy face and the Goron Tunic on at all times. He’s wandering around a field inhabited by (not) Zelda, (not) Old Man and ‘random guy who stands in front of his house at all times’.
Which is about as far as the game seems to go, since no one on YouTube has gotten to the next screen, or figured out if it’s even possible. But hey, at least you can get the knockoff Pegasus Boots to run fast here! And kill Chuchu/Zol ripoffs with the world’s slowest sword! That’s good, right?
Nah, didn’t think so. Moving on…
9. The Legend of Zelda Twilight Sword
Ripping Off: The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess
But hey, did you think that last game wasn’t a blatant enough Zelda clone?
Me neither. But as ‘The Legend of Zelda Twilight Sword’ proves, things can get far worse. Why? Because as the pictures show, the game is literally a fan sequel to The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess… with models from Twilight Princess… that someone tried to raise money for on Kickstarter.
No, I’m not making this up. The creator of this game tried to raise money for it. Because hey, we all know Nintendo loves people making their own Zelda games and charging money for them? Right?
Yeah, didn’t think so. There’s a reason so many Nintendo focused fundraising campaigns get shut down via a DMCA notice from the company’s legal team. Because believe it or not, you don’t have the right to sell products based on other people’s work.
What an utter trainwreck.
8. Pocket All Star Smash Bros
Ripping Off: Super Smash Bros/An awful lot of franchises
So we’ve seen a lot of games on this list that clearly rip off other franchises. Like ‘Zanda’ and its obvious attempts to clone Zelda. Sword Requiem and its attempts to clone Fire Emblem. And heck, a few random games that even use other copyrighted characters and contents without making even the slightest attempt to make it original.
But that’s nothing! Oh no, ‘Pocket All Star Smash Bros’ isn’t satisfied with stealing from one game or franchise. Instead, it takes from every Nintendo game on the planet!
So we have Mario and Luigi teaming up with everyone from Link to Solid Snake in their fight against various villains across Nintendo history. In the form of what appears to be a turn based strategy game similar to Fire Emblem.
It’s about as blatant a disregard of copyright laws as you can get. A fairly nice looking one yes, but a blatant ripoff none the less. Don’t sell crossovers kids. Especially not ones you don’t own the rights to.
7. Lovely Warriors of Friendship
Ripping Off: An awful lot of franchises
And talking of crossovers, have you ever wondered what would happen if a crossover fan game was sold on Steam?
Well, wonder no more. Because the person behind Lovely Warriors of Friendship actually tried to do just that. He took a mega crossover fan game he’d made (with characters from My Little Pony, Pokemon, Wario Land 4 and Shovel Knight) and then tried to sell it for real money.
Here’s a video showing his game in action:
As you can tell, it’s not even subtle about how many franchises it’s ‘stealing’ from. If you took a drink every time a copyright was violated, you’d be dead from alcohol poisoning before you got past the character select screen. Just having My Little Pony, Barney the Dinosaur and Pokemon alone is asking for a DMCA notice or lawsuit.
Either way, it didn’t last long on Steam, with just one DMCA notice from Hasbro being enough to take this crossover train wreck down for good.
6. Sepia Go
Ripping Off: Splatoon
But let’s move away from crossovers for a moment shall we? Because the game on our ripoff list is a very interesting one indeed.
Why? Because it’s perhaps the most blatant Splatoon cash in ever made. Seriously, just look at this footage:
You’ve got literally everything from the Wii U game here. There are the Inklings, complete with the ability to turn into their squid forms and swim through ink. You’ve got a similar art style, to the point everything just screams ‘Splatoon on smartphones’. And well, absolutely every little facet of the gameplay is just about identical to the real game.
And well, when Splatoon is Nintendo’s big ‘new’ IP they’ve been spending millions marketing, something like this is the most brazen thing a developer could try and make. It’s like the guys behind this were just asking for a lawsuit with all the subtlety of a falling anvil.
Oh, and talking of stupidly obvious ripoffs, the next one on the list is arguably just as bad…
5. 3D Cartoon Land Safari
Ripping Off: Super Mario 3D Land
Because holy hell, this is as obvious a ripoff of Super Mario 3D Land as you can find. You’ve got an art style that’s basically ‘3D Land as a flash game’. The character in said game is a clear doppelganger for Mario. And well, the name speaks for itself, doesn’t it?
I mean, just look at this thing:
You’ll never see a more obvious, more utterly pathetic Mario clone than this one. It’s crazy how it even got within a hundred miles of the app store, let alone hosted there!
Sure it got removed, but still. How did Apple decide this was a game to approve for their service?
Ah well, I guess it’s all water under the bridge now. I mean, they did remove it eventually. Either way, they’re really not doing enough to stop knockoffs, as our next few games will show you…
4. Various Pokemon App Store Games
Ripping Off: Pokemon
Because the number of Pokemon knockoffs on the app store is just insane. To the point that we have nearly as many Pokemon cash ins as we do Mario ones!
Oh, and ‘cash in’ is kind of an understatement here too. Why? Because a significant amount of the Pokemon ripoffs on the app store are some of the most disgusting, unbalanced ‘freemium’ cash guzzlers you’ve ever seen.
Like say, Super Monster Bros By Adventure Time Pocket Free. Yes, that’s the actual name. They’re literally stuffing search terms into their app title like nobody’s business!
Either way, this game is stuffed to the gills with blatant attempts at making money from the player. Start the game up for the first time? Well, here’s an option to pay £70 for a new character! Run out of fireball projectile attacks? Buy more with real money! Die or need extra lives? Oh, that’ll cost you too. The entire app is nothing more than attempts at milking the player for every penny they have.
And it’s not the only example here. Other obvious Pokemon ripoffs include:
Pocket Monster Saga, which goes all in with the copied characters and content. Seriously, you’ve even got locations based on Mount Moon, Silph Co and Cerulean Cave, complete with characters like Team Rocket showing at random intervals to ruin the fun! Pretty much the entire game is made up of references to and content stolen from the Pokemon franchise.
‘Pokemon Yellow’, which crashes just seconds after the main screen is loaded.
Various fake versions of Pokemon GO, which repackage the legitimate game with ads and other scummy extras for a quick buck.
And legions of very close but ‘not quite’ duplicates like Micromon and Ultramon. These at least change the graphics and actual characters, but copy the gameplay of the Pokemon series down to a fault none the less.
Either way, the app stores are filled to the brim with these. So yeah, avoid anything ‘Pokemon’ like on the app store as if your life depended on it. Cause unless it’s Pokemon GO, it’s going to be a complete utter ripoff stuffed with sleazy microtransactions at best, or an outright scam at worst.
But what’s worse than a game that steals the characters and ideas from another and tries to charge for it?
3. Mole Kart
Ripping Off: Mario Kart Wii
Well, how about one which steals even the level designs!
Because damn, Mole Kart was one of the most despicable, brazen Mario Kart knockoffs for that reason alone. As you can see in the trailer, it was filled to the brim with levels and ideas just clearly taken from Mario Kart Wii:
Like say, Mushroom Gorge. Sherbet Land. Moo Moo Meadows. Basically, if Mario Kart Wii had it, Mole Kart had ripped it off.
And it wasn’t much better in the item department either. Oh no, even the items were clearly inspired by Mario Kart Wii, like a Bullet Bill that looked virtually identical to the Mario Kart one!
It was an absolute mess of stolen content and designs. So as you can guess, Nintendo weren’t very happy about it. They took the game down with a DMCA notice, and always went after any trailers the developers had uploaded on YouTube to boot.
That was the end of that, right?
Well, no. Because you see, Mole Kart went straight back up. How did that happen? How did this game get past Nintendo again?
I’ll tell you, shall I? The creators swapped a few track textures around.
That’s it. They switched the graphics around for their Sherbet Land and Bowser Castle clones (as well as a few other tracks), and that was somehow enough for both Nintendo and Apple to be fine with the game again. Cause hey, who cares about stolen level designs, right? So long as the ice level now looks like a castle, it’s all god!
Well, unless it involves a fan game like AM2R that is. In that case, Nintendo are quite happy to burn everything to the ground, even if it means letting Chinese pirates steal their games and shutting down innocent fans giving away their work for free in the progress! Priorities, what are those?
Still, this ain’t the time to complain folks. Instead, let’s move onto another interesting case of hardware theft…
2. Pop Station Consoles
Ripping Off: Various video game systems
Aka the infamous Pop Station consoles. Don’t know what that is?
Well, let good old Ashens inform you! He’s made a great series of videos about this crap, under the name ‘Pop Station Watch’:
Basically, it’s a crappy LCD game packaged to look like something much more interesting. Think those things Tiger Electronics used to make, except about ten times more primitive.
And oh boy, are the designs used here complete ripoffs of other systems.
You’ve got a blatant Game Boy Micro clone, as shown in the video!
There’s a PSP clone, which was in the first Pop Station video Ashens ever uploaded:
And well, the list just goes on and on! Here’s a full break down of every console design these con artists have stolen for their shoddy ‘systems’:
- Nintendo DS
- GBA SP
Heck, they don’t even stop at video game systems! No, they’ve even made Pop Stations that try to look like netbook computers and Blackberry brand smartphones!
Indeed, their whole ‘brand’ is literally ‘copy a much better product’s design and stick a crappy LCD game in it’. They don’t have a single creative bone in their bodies.
What an utter joke all round.
But hey, let’s move on from knockoff hardware for a moment. To something that’s quite perhaps the most ludicrous knockoff of a recent Nintendo game in history!
1. BoxMaker (and other Mario Maker Clones)
Ripping Off: Super Mario Maker
Do you notice anything… slightly unusual here? Like a design that seems to resemble another popular level creating game?
Yeah, it’s Super Mario Maker, with the serial numbers filed off. The only things the developers have done different here is replacing the graphics with more generic ones and switching out some of the music to be more ‘original’. Everything else (done to the basic UI) is nigh on identical to Super Mario Maker on the Wii U.
And don’t think this was coincidental either. Oh no, these guys knew exactly what they were cloning, since the game actually plays the Super Mario Bros 1 theme as you place objects in the level! An amusing way to mimic the sound design in Super Mario Maker sure, but a very ‘brave’ one none the less.
Because damn, Nintendo are gonna crucify this lot when they find out about their Super Mario Maker clone being sold on Steam! Just ask Luminey what happened to his Super Mario ReMaker fan game if you need proof of that!
But until then, just try and ignore this obvious Mario Maker ripoff on Steam. It’s just nowhere near as good or interesting as the original.
So that ends out top list of video game ripoffs. Do you agree with it? Think that these games are terrible copies of much better titles by other developers?
Post your thoughts on the article at Gaming Reinvented or on social media today!