Overwatch is perhaps the least surprising surprise hit of 2016 so far. Coming from Blizzard as it did (you know, creators of World of Warcraft—maybe you’ve heard of it?), it was always going to succeed.
Just watch this footage:
Here’s the thing: that’s not Overwatch. No, seriously, it’s not Overwatch. What you actually just watched is a trailer for perhaps the most blatant gaming clone to emerge from the world’s capital of plagiarism, China—Legend of Titan, a game that doesn’t so much wear its influence on its sleeve as wear it like a suit made of Overwatch’s skin.
The developer of Legend of Titan has since claimed that it is only meant as a demonstration, and will not be released as a full title. However, those claims may need to be taken with a pinch of salt, as this is far from the first time that we’ve seen such blatant “influence” in games and hardware to emerge from the East.
Here are seven other examples of such bare-faced plagiarism that you’ll be left wondering if the Chinese language even has a word for “litigation”.
7. ‘DOT ARENA’
The fact that Lilith Games’ Dot Arena refers to itself as Asia’s #1 Action Card game means that fans of World of Warcraft and Hearthstone are probably heavily rolling their eyes at the moment. And, yes, you’ve probably noticed the trend—Blizzard is a popular target for this kind of plagiarism. So much so, in fact, that Blizzard launched a lawsuit against the developers in 2015. In the ultimate case of irony, Lilith Games themselves had launched a lawsuit against the developers of a similar game called Heroes Charge—yes, for plagiarism. Remarkably, Blizzard’s suit was dismissed in January of this year. I’ll let you judge for yourself.
6. SPORT VII
Remember in The Wire, when Omar said “come at the King, you best not miss”? Well, with Sport Vii, Chinese manufacturer JungleTac took such a shot and whiffed badly. Dubbed the “Chintendo Vii” by some, even those who normally don’t play games probably recognise the “inspiration” behind this one. To be fair to JungleTac, “Power Rod” is a much better name than the “Wiimote”.
However, that’s sadly as good as it got for the Vii. Essentially a system-on-a-chip in a knock-off Wii case, the Vii came complete with a dozen games, all of which were—in turn—knock-offs of well-known Wii titles such as Cooking Mama, Carnival Games and Wii Sports. It’s safe to say that none of them were good, but still—”Power Rod”, am I right?
5. GAME JOY MICRO
You know when you read stories of students ripping entire reports off the internet and slightly rewording certain sections to make it seem like their own work? Well, that appears to be how the Game Joy Micro came about. In fact, upon looking at the thing, you may think that I’ve been harsh to call Legend of Titan the most blatant gaming clone. After all, the Game Joy Micro is literally just a system packed into the shell of Nintendo’s almost identically named (but infinitely more successful) handheld. Much like the Sport Vii, that’s where any similarity ends, with the Game Joy Micro being another system-on-a-chip with built-in games that fall some way short of the quality you might have hoped. Nintendo probably didn’t sweat this one too much.
4. ‘300 HEROES’
Ok, I take back what I said about Legend of Titan. This is actually the most blatant Chinese clone of all time. It has to be. And it’s not just because of its immediately recognisable similarities to Riot’s League of Legends (only the biggest game in the world). No, this one gets extra credit for straight-up using characters from other companies’ games and media. Want to use Wall-E as a hero? You’ve got it. Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII? Go right ahead. Are you a fan of Dragonball Z? Then you’ll probably want to use Goku. It takes quite the set of balls to be this blatant, but 300 Heroes has somehow gotten away with it.
3. ‘X-WAR: CLASH OF ZOMBIES’
300 Heroes isn’t the only game on this list to play fast and loose with its hero list. Taking more than a cue from Supercell’s behemoth (now owned, ironically enough, by Chinese megacorp Tencent), Clash of Clans, X-War: Clash of Zombies has seen accusations of directly lifting UI elements around units and statistics from its progenitor.
However, just like with 300 Heroes, that’s not the whole story. You like the Avengers, right? How about games like Silent Hill and Resident Evil? Then this is the game for you, allowing you to use the likes of Pyramid Head (no, really, I’m not joking), the Incredible Hulk and Iron Man in your clans. To be fair, most superhero games aren’t very good anyway, so you might as well take your chances with this one.
2. ‘FINAL COMBAT’
Can I change my mind again? Is this the most blatant clone of all? Before Overwatch became the hero-based shooter of choice, there was Team Fortress 2, Valve’s riotous class-based shooter—a monument to simple, honest-to-goodness fun. Therefore, before Legend of Titan, there was Final Combat.
I mean, seriously, just look at that promotional image. Every time I thought I’d found the most cynical cash-grab imaginable to feature in this article, another one popped up, but Final Combat might be the absolute pinnacle of Chinese bravado. It essentially acts as one giant middle finger to Valve, and I almost admire the sheer temerity of it all
Last but not least and, in fact, quite possibly the most successful Chinese clone of them all, we have CrossFire. I think we all understand how this works now, so let’s just call a spade a spade—CrossFire is Counter-Strike in all but name (yes, Valve is also a regular target of the copycats). However, what sets this clone apart is that, unlike most of the clones above, CrossFire is actually pretty good. So good, in fact, that the game is believed to be raking in around $1 billion a year through its free-to-play model, and even has a decent following in North America, thanks to the introduction of an English language version. Of course, this means that you can judge it yourself!
Andy Manson is a gamer of over 30 years and, as such, remembers when consoles were powered mainly by imagination and transistors the size of your fist. You can follow his shorter ramblings on Twitter @PsychTyson.