Examples of plagiarism in games

Jul 31, 2013
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How could I forget The Revenge Of Shinobi? That game had quite a few unlicensed appearances of famous characters and was revised multiple times because of that.

Rambo:

Revised version:



Godzilla:

Revised version:



Batman:

Revised version:



Spider-Man:

Spider-Man didn't have to be revised in the original Western version because Sega had the Spider-Man license back then. When the game appeared on the Virtual Console, the license had long expired, so Spider-Man was changed to this:


Even the title screen had to be revised eventually because it featured an unlicensed cameo by Sonny Chiba:

Revised version:


Joe Musashi looks so sad :(
 
Jul 21, 2015
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I keep being surprised by how far Sony/Hello Games keep diving into their X-Wing fighter knock-off design as a prominent branding image for No Man's Sky, now to the point of making a statue of it available with the Collector's version of the game.

Come on, guys- disguise the origin of your model a little!
 
Dec 3, 2009
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Didn't a Bioware artist just sketch over a Google Image photo of a woman to make the unmasked Tali photo in Mass Effect 3?

Not sure if that was plagiarism or if the image was available to use that way though.

EDIT: apparently it was available for commercial usage, so no plagarism. Still super lazy, especially for revealing something as big as what the Quarian's look like under their masks.
This happens all the time

Not sure if lazy
 
Jul 27, 2013
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Wow, here's one I didn't know! I was trying to find out if maybe the song was in the public domain at that point, but I don't think it was then or even is now.

Squid Wars mode in Disney Infinity is a rip-off of Splatoon
Squid Wars was not a "mode" but a singular level made as an homage to Splatoon, just like their homages to Pac-Man, Flappy Bird, Frogger, Contra, and Donkey Kong. You see homage levels in Super Mario Maker all the time in the exact same vein.
 
How could I forget The Revenge Of Shinobi? That game had quite a few unlicensed appearances of famous characters and was revised multiple times because of that.
I never knew they revised them!

I do remember it being insane that both Godzilla and Spiderman being villains. Maybe I'm misrembering the Rambo cameo, but isn't the Terminator also in this game?
 
Aug 12, 2015
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The box art for the Wii version of Okami was watermarked IGN. It was an image they'd put up.

That's absolutely insane, this is something I could see an amateur developer doing, not a corporation with PR and marketing people, also artists, and backlog of art they could have used. Capcom doesn't have the best track record for box art's anyway (See RE: Revelations, and Mega Man NES box art).
 
Jun 28, 2013
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...For my money, one of the worst offenders has to be SNK (or Eolith, depending on when you are talking about). I'll start out with a couple that a lot of you have probably heard of. The most famous example is the character of k9999 (pronounced "K four 9". The blame for this one is definitely on Eolith) This character seems like it's meant to be a homage to the character of Tetsuo in the film Akira. Here's an example of all the comparisons:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsqK9LWVHNY


If you'll notice, they even went as far as to hire Tetsuo's voice actor for the character. And then they hired the voice actor of Tetsuo's rival Kaneda, as the voice of K9999's rival Kusanagi. This allowed them to play up the Tetsuo spoof even further. In any case, they obviously went too far with this one, and after King of Fighters 2002, the character has been replaced by the less blatant, "Nameless".


Now on to SNK music. This example is also pretty well known. This is a comparison of the tune for the Ikari team in King of Fighters '94 contrasted with the Faith No More song, "Surprise, you're dead!" Maybe you could say this one is a coincidence. I'm not sure.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0axSMCi4pMQ

However, this next example I'm pretty sure is a straight up rip off. I'm surprised that I've never heard anyone draw the connection before because I've been noticing it for years. I've googled this and come up with no other examples of people noting the similarity. Am I the only one who noticed it? I believe that the character of k9999 is not the first example of SNK ripping off Akira. I'm pretty sure that they had done it before way back in the soundtrack for King of Fighters 97.

I've made this video to submit my case. Please watch and see if you agree:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDA919naMSA
Pretty blatant, I think.


Anyways, those are just some examples I've come across. Now let's hear some others that have come up over the years from you fine folks!
So is anyone else going to address the K9999 thing? I don't think there's any way to fairly call his plagiarism. Plagiarism implies taking someone else's work and trying to pass it off as your own. There is nothing about K9999 that implies they were trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes or pass him off as anything other than an homage character. I mean they gave him Tetsuo's voice actor in a game released in Japan, it's not like everyone didn't know what they were going for. Now he is clearly super on the nose and he was one of the Eolith era characters that SNK tossed out afterward, but I don't think he comes close to being a plagiarised character.

I can't say a whole ton on the music thing you brought out, but I also recall a super similar song in Secret of Mana so is this just a particular style of chimes and chanting?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCUdhcRQMC4
 
Jul 3, 2013
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So is anyone else going to address the K9999 thing? I don't think there's any way to fairly call his plagiarism. Plagiarism implies taking someone else's work and trying to pass it off as your own. There is nothing about K9999 that implies they were trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes or pass him off as anything other than an homage character. I mean they gave him Tetsuo's voice actor in a game released in Japan, it's not like everyone didn't know what they were going for. Now he is clearly super on the nose and he was one of the Eolith era characters that SNK tossed out afterward, but I don't think he comes close to being a plagiarised character.

I can't say a whole ton on the music thing you brought out, but I also recall a super similar song in Secret of Mana so is this just a particular style of chimes and chanting?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCUdhcRQMC4
Hmm, I figured it was an homage that went way too far and that's why they scrapped the character in future games. But I guess you're right in that plagiarism wouldn't be the word for k9999.
 
Jan 13, 2011
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Video games have long stolen from Warhammer. The most infamous examples being from the early days of Starcraft and Warcraft. There are of course other examples like the cover art from Strider...



using the early Rogue Trader Era design of Space Marines



If you think it doesn't happen today look at this from EA.


 
Sep 21, 2009
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The box art for the Wii version of Okami was watermarked IGN. It was an image they'd put up.

That's embarrassing.
It may be embarrassing, but it's not plagiarism.

Capcom owns the rights to the image. Someone was just too lazy to get the master asset and instead pulled one from IGN for some reason.

Is that fake or region specific? My copy doesn't have that watermark.
It's real.
 
Sep 22, 2006
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Yeah quite a bit of the stuff in this thread isn't plagiarism. A pokemon song sounding mildly similar to Polly Wolly Doodle isn't plagiarism. In fact most music isn't going to be able to be proven anyway, soundalikes are legal and most of the time it's likely unintentional.
 
Apr 5, 2014
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Some of the NWN portraits were traced from photos of celebrities and had to be replaced via a patch, though.

Traced images are extremely common in the industry. I would go so far as to say that more than half of concept work is a trace over something else existing. At one company I worked, our most popular piece of concept art was just a trace of a relatively famous image of Smaug, with a few thematic tweaks and a recolor.

Unless you are specifically told to look for it, you won't notice it most of the time. It's also a very gray area.
 
Aug 18, 2015
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Limbo of the Lost (Wikipedia link) from a few years back was the absolute pinnacle of asset theft. It got canned in the final moments but there's a Let's Play on Youtube for people who are interested.
Wait, 'It was the only game developed by Majestic Studios, a studio founded in 1993...redeveloped for the PC and released in March 2008.'

What the hell were they doing for the other 15 years at a studio with nothing else happening?!
 
Sep 26, 2009
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Castlevania II's box artwork is really close to that of the Ravenloft AD&D module. It's clearly not a tracing, but it uses all the elements and a slightly different pose.

Traced images are extremely common in the industry. I would go so far as to say that more than half of concept work is a trace over something else existing. At one company I worked, our most popular piece of concept art was just a trace of a relatively famous image of Smaug, with a few thematic tweaks and a recolor.

Unless you are specifically told to look for it, you won't notice it most of the time. It's also a very gray area.
It's pretty common in fantasy art, there is one fairly famous artist (Luis Royo) who uses a lot of pictures from Playboy as the basis of his art
 
Jun 16, 2014
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Didn't a Bioware artist just sketch over a Google Image photo of a woman to make the unmasked Tali photo in Mass Effect 3?

Not sure if that was plagiarism or if the image was available to use that way though.

EDIT: apparently it was available for commercial usage, so no plagarism. Still super lazy, especially for revealing something as big as what the Quarian's look like under their masks.
The worse thing about it is that they completely misunderstood is that one of reasons people like Tali is because they don't know what she looks like. The mystery is a key factor for her appeal and what makes Quarian's alien.
 
Oct 9, 2014
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The worse thing about it is that they completely misunderstood is that one of reasons people like Tali is because they don't know what she looks like. The mystery is a key factor for her appeal and what makes Quarian's alien.
At least as many people would have been pissed if they hadn't revealed what Tali looked like.

Personally I think the "mystery" made no sense and they should have revealed what Quarians look like in ME2 at the latest. There's no way it would actually be a mystery within the Mass Effect world, since people have cameras and things. And indeed would have had cameras back before the Quarians started wearing those masks.
 
Mar 8, 2006
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Sep 18, 2013
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Some random PS2 Peter Pan game using Destiny Islands art from Kingdom Hearts as the background.
What the fuck, I can't stop laughing
Why is the Jolly Roger so...tiny...or is Hook huge?
Ah Phoenix Games. They're notorious for that shit. They have a game called Dalmatians 3 which blatantly uses (bad) artwork of Cruella De'Ville and Pongo and Perdita (I think that's their names) on the cover art despite them not appearing in the games at all.

Been meaning to make a thread on them actually.
 
Dec 25, 2008
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I think Konami uses a lot of samples/audios from other games/sources. I posted this in MGSV thread:

1. Opening scene when Konami logo flashes has the same sound as loading screen in King of Fighters 97.

Example:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpO2rk2PPE0 Audio heard at 0:10 to 0:15
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dONoGIEbv68 Audio heard at 0:30 to 0:35

2. Mission 29, Metallic Archaea, has the same sound as Bloodborne's "Backstab" sound.

Example:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yg9F28kmV9Q Audio heard at 9:10 to 9:15
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsKAFzL2V28 Audio heard at 0:05 to 0:10
There are sounds from Mass Effect too but pretty sure these are stock clips and not plagiarism.
 
Dec 5, 2013
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Games with the same or similar sound effects aren't evident of plagiarism, just that the sound designers maybe used the same sample packs. Once you hear certain sound effects in isolation, you suddenly hear them everywhere. I'm sure the Wilhelm Scream needs no introduction.

Ah Phoenix Games. They're notorious for that shit. They have a game called Dalmatians 3 which blatantly uses (bad) artwork of Cruella De'Ville and Pongo and Perdita (I think that's their names) on the cover art despite them not appearing in the games at all.

Been meaning to make a thread on them actually.
I am having a great time on google images right now