The Worst Video Game Rip-offs Ever!

By Michael Avery in Geeks and Gaming On 1st October 2015



Imagine a game where you play as a sibling who's traveled to a strange land to save someone you love. Along the way, you'll jump on enemies, collect coins, break blocks, and collect power ups from mystery boxes. You were thinking about the classic Commodore 64 game Great Giana Sisters, right? This game looks and plays like someone took Super Mario Bros and just put new sprites over everything. For example, instead of goombas, there are owls. You still jump on them to kill them, however. The only original thing about the game is the music, which is actually pretty great. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough of a difference to keep Nintendo from having the game pulled from stores.



It's not uncommon for licensed games to play similarly to already existing games. For example, The Simpsons: Road Rage is basically just Crazy Taxi with Simpsons characters. Unfortunately, Sega felt like the Simpsons game was more than a little too similar to Crazy Taxi. The publisher felt it was so similar that they actually filed a lawsuit for patent infringement. While the case was settled out of court, it's pretty obvious what the outcome was. It was also pretty random to combine The Simpsons with Crazy Taxi. Since, you know, none of The Simpsons characters even drive a taxi.

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Sometimes, a game is so great that it creates its own genre. That's what the makers of Dante's Inferno tried to claim when people pointed out how similar the game was to God of War. The game takes the basic concept of the classic poem of the same name and turns it into an action action game just like God of War. Not only does the game play just like God of War, even the design is similar. Both games take classical literature and characters and reimagine them in a very mature tone. The only major difference is that one game uses the Greek gods and the other game uses Christian lore. Interestingly, some of the makers of God of War said that they liked this game. They should, it's basically the game that they'd already made.



Sometimes, the rip-off ends up being more successful than the original. Everyone recognizes the birds from Rovio's Angry Birds, which is why the game is so successful. What many people may not recognize is that there was a game released before Angry Birds called Crush the Castle. The biggest difference between the two games is that it isn't adorable to crush a castle using bombs and rocks. If they'd put some cute faces on those rocks, we might live in a different world. Of course, "Cute Rocks" doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

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Ever since Nintendo released the first Super Smash Bros., the series has been a mainstay on its consoles. It's so popular that whenever a new Nintendo system comes out, everyone knows there will eventually be a Smash Bros. entry released for it. Sony tried to copy Nintendo's success with Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale. Both games take classic characters from the consoles' histories and have them fight each other. The goal isn't just to drain the opponent's life bar. Instead, players have to do enough damage to either knock opponents off the platform in Smash Bros, or perform a finishing move in All-Stars. But the biggest difference between the two series is the character selection. Super Smash Bros featured classic characters like Mario, Link, and Pikachu, while Playstation All-Stars contained a bunch of characters that don't even have their own Wikipedia pages. Looking at you, Evil Cole MacGrath.



Street Fighter II was such a popular game that instead of making Street Fighter III right away, developer Capcom just kept making more Street Fighter 2 games. There was Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting, Street Fighter II: The New Challengers, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, and a few other Hyper-Super-Turbo editions. One less official variation on the game was Fighter's History. Why less official? Because that last game was actually developed and published by Data East, who were sued by Capcom, who claimed it was basically the same game. Both games feature similar fighting mechanics and characters. Capcom lost the lawsuit, however, because a judge determined that the similarities were too integral to the concept of a fighting game as a whole. Ultimately, Capcom won in the long run because they're still making Street Fighter games today, while Fighter's History is, well, just history.



Sometimes, developers aren't trying to copy a game for a quick buck. Wisdom Tree was a video game developer that made Bible-themed video games. In the early '90s, Wolfenstein 3D helped launch the first-person shooter genre. Obviously, games like this were too violent for Wisdom Tree, but they were also too popular to ignore. So, they created Super Noah's Ark 3D. It was just Wolfenstein, except set on Noah's Ark. Also, instead of killing Nazis with guns, players shoot food at hungry animals. With a slingshot. You know, like it says in the Bible. Anyway, despite the strange concept, Wisdom Tree pulled off the impossible; it found a way to make a family-friendly version of Wolfenstein.

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When a movie is made that's based on a video game, there's no reason to make a video game adaptation of that movie. That's only part of what makes Street Fighter: The Movie so strange. The weirdest part about it is that it looks nothing like Street Fighter. Instead, it looks more like Mortal Kombat, using digitized sprites of actual actors. Mortal Kombat was Street Fighter's main competition, and the two series had such distinct styles. Capcom was trying to cash in on the potential success of the movie, which obviously didn't happen. Its 12 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes is proof enough of that. It didn't help that Street Fighter: The Movie wasn't a very good Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat game.



Golden Axe was a successful franchise of classic side-scrolling beat 'em up games. For some reason, the developers decided to make a spin-off called Golden Axe Warrior that looked and played nothing like any of the other Golden Axe games. Instead, it was a top down adventure title where the player navigates a large, open map and travels to different dungeons to retrieve a bunch of crystals. It was pretty much just The Legend of Zelda, except with Golden Axe characters instead of Zelda characters. Considering the fact that Golden Axe was a Sega title, and Zelda was a Nintendo franchise, it all starts to make sense. If Sega couldn't get the real Zelda on their system, they seemed okay with just using a cheap knock off.



As ever, developers keep ripping off Mario's style. Mario Kart is one of Nintendo's most popular Super Mario Bros. spin-offs. The concept is really simple: Mario and all the different characters from his games compete against each other on wacky race tracks, with various power-ups scattered throughout. The original Super Nintendo game was so successful that sequels have continued to hit every subsequent Nintendo console. Konami obviously saw this success and decided that they could do this too, producing Konami Krazy Racers. The concept of the game can be described as "Mario Kart with Konami characters." But the game's biggest sin? Not including Solid Snake as a playable character. We'd pay good money to see him driving around a track in a teeny little go-kart.


ROCK BAND (2007)

Guitar Hero was developed by Red Octane, with help from music-game maker Harmonix. The series became incredibly successful, and Red Octane was eventually purchased by Activision. When they were bought by MTV Games, Harmonix decided to continue to make Guitar Hero games, only now they would be called Rock Band. Both Rock Band and later Guitar Hero games expanded to include multiple instruments, like the drums. Both series also played pretty much exactly the same. In fact, you could even use the controllers made for one game with the other game. Since Harmonix helped develop the original game, this isn't the worst example of a rip-off. Unfortunately, the splitting of one series into two led to the oversaturation and eventual crash of the music game market.


PONG (1972)

Many people consider Pong to be the first video game. This isn't true. In fact, it wasn't even the first table tennis-inspired game. Prior to the development of Pong, Magnavox created the Odyssey home video game console. When Magnavox saw Atari's Pong, they claimed that it was too similar to the Odyssey's Table Tennis. Magnavox settled the case out of court, but no matter the result of that settlement, Pong ended up being the winner. People still consider Pong a classic video game, while most aren't even aware of Table Tennis' existence. Just goes to show how important a good name can be.