Drancia 1

As someone may have once said, “Great artists steal.” Then again, someone else probably said, “I’ll catch that hack who ripped me off and teach them a lesson or two,” so maybe we should just say that sometimes people “borrow” inspiration to make great things. And sometimes pirates come up with better titles than the original!

Of course, in the world of mobile games, “similar” and “inspired-by” games are the norm–but one Japanese game developer isn’t exactly happy about someone making a game just a bit too similar to his own. Is he overreacting or does he have a good point?

In April last year, a Japanese game developer who goes by the name Skipmore noticed something quite…alarming. A certain iOS game called Slayin bore a striking resemblance to Drancia Survival, a browser game he had created in 2008. Not only were the games quite similar, but the creators of Slayin basically even admitted to their “inspiration” by adding the message “Very Special Thanks to Skipmore” in the credits.

dss (2)GameCast

Slayin also actually started as a browser game (you can check that version out here) and was apparently ported to iOS in 2011. But just how similar are the games? After all, copycat games are the opposite of anything new.

First, we should discuss exactly what kind of games Drancia Survival and Slayin are. They’re basically action games in which your character runs back and forth across the screen, killing monsters and getting gold–and if that sounds like a simplistic description, it’s because the games are fairly simple. There are left and right buttons as well as a jump button–and that’s basically it! Run into a monster face-first to kill it, and if a monster hits you from behind, you take damage. Of course, while the gameplay is fairly straight forward, it’s not exactly an easy game–it takes more skill than what I have to get very far. There are also RPG elements (RPG all the things!) for updating your character as you progress.

However, it’s not just gameplay that they have in common. The controls are basically identical, they both feature classic RPG characters, and they both share incredibly similar 8-bit art styles as well as chiptune music. However, none of this is really in violation of copyright laws–which is probably a good thing, otherwise Call of Duty and Battlefield would be suing the gray palates off each other.

Drancia Survival, browser game

dss (3)GameCast

Slayin, browser game

Slaying 1

Slayin, iOS game

dss (1)GameCast

After spotting the similarities and his name in the credits of the iOS version of Slayin, Skipmore decided to contact the creator, Pixel Licker. As he revealed in the Twitter conversation below, the reply basically amounted to: “We used your controls as they were, added some variations on the characters, bosses, and shop, and had success!”

[tweet https://twitter.com/skipmore/status/323665258063470592 align=center]

At this point, Skipmore was apparently pretty annoyed, but he decided to take this as a challenge to make the best game possible in retaliation. As the saying goes, “Revenge is a dish best served as 8-bit art.” Or something.

Drancia, iOS/Android game

dss (1)GameCast

Since that time, he’s been busy updating the original Drancia Survival making the best game possible and adding more playable characters, including all of the monsters that appear in the game…as well as a bear which uses a fish skeleton as a weapon. Last week saw the official release of the game, retitled as Drancia, for iOS and Android, both completely free. (There are, of course, some ads in addition to in-app purchases.)

▼You thought we were joking about the bear, didn’t you?

Drancia 2

Now, we want to add that while the games are obviously quite similar, and we understand why Skipmore might have been a bit peeved about others finding success with his idea, we also have a hard time criticizing Pixel Licker, the creator of Slayin. For one thing, as we mentioned before, you can’t copyright game mechanics–after all some might consider Angry Birds a reskin of Crush the Castle. Can you imagine a world where Mario is the only side-scrolling action game? And in the world of mobile games, using similar ideas is almost a given. Also, while the games are quite similar, it’s also important to note that Slayin was ported to the mobile platform first–which is what prompted Skipmore to “power up” Drancia. Still, it might not have hurt things if Slayin had taken a different art-style or used an entirely different theme to make it a bit more unique.

In the end, we can sympathize with both parties here–making a game, regardless of where you got the inspiration, isn’t an easy task. And Pixel Licker did give Skipmore credit, though we’re sure he would have appreciated some prior notice…or maybe even a bit of the profit.

Slayin is available on iOS, and Drancia is available on iOS and Android.

Sources: ITMedia, Gamecast, Skipmore, Pixel Licker
Images: All images © RocketNews24 unless otherwise noted