Game makers ripping each other off is nothing new. But given its complete absence from the iPhone App Store and Google’s Play store for Android, Nintendo particularly is more prone to having its wares copied than Princess Peach is to being kidnapped by turtles.
The last month alone has seen several new Mario clones popping up and swiftly disappearing on mobile like whack-a-moles, but people have been porting the plumber to the iPhone since the App Store first opened for business. Here are the most outrageous carbon copies of all time.
Time in the App Store: 24 hours
Last week saw one of the most brazen Super Mario clones in a long while sneak onto the App Store for iPhone and iPad. Dario doesn’t just sound like Mario, he looks like him too, right down to the dungarees and unkempt facial hair. He’s just missing a hat: otherwise, everything else is here, from the transport pipes, to the coin blocks, power-up mushrooms and koopas. The game lasted just a day in Apple’s heavily policed store before being yanked.
3D Cartoon Land: Safari
Time in the App Store: One month and counting
It’s easier to rip off a 2D platformer than a 3D one, so some credit is perhaps due to developer Jiang Zhi. 3D Cartoon Land: Safari is, er, inspired, by Nintendo’s hit Super Mario 3D Land action game for the Nintendo 3DS handheld. Calling it an ‘action game’ however would be pushing it a bit: this game creaks along at a glacial pace, with a blonde Mario-alike hobbling along through 3D environments packed with eerily familiar, if a little soulless, turtle enemies. It’s so far survived the ire of Nintendo and Apple, but the one customer review so far for it sums it up nicely: “Avoid this at all costs!”
Monino Save Story
Time in the App Store: 36 hours
Nintendo has never released a game for the iPhone, but for one brief day in 2011, you could play a game with the actual Mario in it. Developer Lychee Studio’s game changed the names (“Monino”, “Bowler”) but kept everything else, including Nintendo’s original artwork from the original Mario games on the NES. Apple quickly yanked the game from its digital shelves, but that didn’t stop the developer trying its luck on Android. After several thousand downloads on the Play Store, Google finally brought down the ban hammer on this particularly unoriginal clone.
Super Jump World
Time in the App Store: One month
Back in January, another Mario clone leapt onto the App Store: the imaginatively-titled “Super Jump World.” This time, just the character’s profession was changed - from plumber to leprechaun. Just about everything else remained the same, and the game lasted just one month before it attracted the attention of lawyers. Interestingly, only a few small tweaks were required to keep the game alive: a name change, and clover leaves in place of coins is apparently enough to keep multi-national companies at bay. You can now find the game in iTunes under “Lep’s World”.
Time on the App Store: Two weeks
Game developers have been copying Mario Kart ever since the first game roared into life in 1992. But SSIT’s take on the kart-racer-with-shells didn’t just lift the concept: it lifted the tracks too. The course in the clip above is pulled bend-for-bend from the Wii edition’s Mushroom Gorge course. Just about the only thing it didn’t nick? Super Mario Kart’s ghost car option.
Unlike the other Mario clones, which vanished into obscurity, this tale has a happier ending. The game was kicked off the App Store after a fortnight, but the developer returned a few months later with Mole Kart 1, a much less derivative effort. Just last month, a sequel followed, Mole Kart 2: Evolution, with smarter graphics and gameplay, and not a blue shell in sight. Nintendo would have been proud - were they not too busy trying to stamp out a million other phone fakes.
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