Video games have been copying one another since the beginning. There’s no shame in it; through copying, games can refine certain ideas, and even create new ones. Innovation is crucial for the medium, helping developers to avoid stagnation.
However, not all copycat games are better than the original. Many of them are worse, reminding fans just how hard it is to create something great. Of course, just because a game isn’t better than the original doesn’t make it a bad game. Some titles are clearly clones that aren’t at the same level as the original.
10 Balan Wonderworld Is A Weak Clone Of Nights Into Dreams
Balan Wonderworld immediately drew comparisons to the beloved Nights into Dreams action game from Sonic Team and Yuji Naka. Though Naka’s reputation wasn’t quite what it was in the ’90s, people were eager to see how his latest game might turn out away from Sega.
Unfortunately, Balan Wonderworld disappointed on nearly every level. The game offers tiresome gameplay, and almost every action is mapped to a single button. As a result, the title was both one of Square’s worst-selling and worst-reviewed titles of 2021, coming in at a 44 on Metacritic.
9 Call of Duty: Black Ops III Wanted To Be Like Titanfall
Call of Duty was going futuristic as early as 2013’s Call of Duty Ghosts, but Activision pushed things further down that path after the positive reception to Titanfall. Respawn’s Titanfall was regarded as an amazing title when it was first released, with its futuristic setting and unique map traversal.
Though the game didn’t sell great because it was locked to Xbox, Activision made their next few games look even more futuristic, complete with techniques like wall-jumping for traversal. In the end, fans had such a problem with this that Activision returned to “boots on the ground” with Call of Duty: World War II. The franchise has remained in the present or the past since, where it’s created some of Call of Duty’s most memorable campaigns.
8 The Mighty No. 9 Is A Desperate Rip-Off Of Mega Man
After the success of Mega Man 11 in 2010, Mega Man fans were eager to see the Blue Bomber make his return to consoles. They were so eager that they made Mighty No. 9 one of the most funded Kickstarters at the time. The game was funded within two days, and even though they only needed 900,000, Comcept had reached $4,000,000 in total funding by the end.
Unfortunately, when the game was released three years later, it wasn’t what anyone hoped for. Everything from enemy to level design felt like a less-impressive version of older Mega Man games, and didn’t even have a cool aesthetic to fall back on in place of its mediocre gameplay. And despite a successful Mega Man 11, fans are still hungry for another game from this retro franchise.
7 Hyper Scape Is A Weak Fortnite Competitor
The global success of Fortnite didn’t go unnoticed by the gaming industry. Everyone wanted in, and it didn’t take long before major companies started releasing their own battle royales. In fact, by 2020, Ubisoft was late to the battle royale market. In exchange, Hyper Scape tried adding some major shake-ups to the formula. Rather than shrinking the map, random sectors disappeared, and instead of killing everyone, one player needed to hold a “crown” at the end for a full minute.
Despite a media blitz and paying plenty of streamers to play the game, Hyper Scape couldn’t capture the magic of what worked for other battle royales. The skill floor was too high, and the changes made things more confusing rather than more fun. Though they said they would work on it, the game was shut down in 2022.
6 Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor Couldn’t Quite Nail The Batman: Arkham Feel
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is an example of how a game can be worse than the originator without necessarily being bad. Shadow of Mordor is a pretty good game, telling the story of how the human Talion and his elven conspirator Celebrimbor plan to get their revenge on Sauron. Teleporting around the field and dominating orcs is about as satisfying as anyone could’ve wanted.
But there’s just no comparing that title to the Batman: Arkham series of games, which not only became one of the first good games based on a superhero, but are consistent across multiple installments. In addition, Arkham Asylum and Arkham City are considered two of the best games on the PlayStation 3, while Shadow of Mordor is just a “fine” PlayStation 4 title.
5 Call of Duty: Blackout Isn’t As Beloved As PUBG
While a ton of battle royales would eventually look to Fortnite to crib ideas, Call of Duty decided to look to the OG for their first BR. Call of Duty: Blackout feels like a more polished, AAA version of the successful PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. There’s nothing wrong with it, but compared to the BR genre today, its UI and style feel a bit dated.
There’s a reason Activision replaced it after a little over a year on the market, switching over to the much more popular Warzone in 2020. Given a chance to find its own identity, Warzone became everything Blackout wasn’t, and is a great guilty pleasure game.
4 Assassin’s Creed Origins Is A Poor Man’s Version Of The Witcher 3
In 2016, Ubisoft took a year off for the first time since Assassin’s Creed II to work on their next Assassin’s Creed title. It turned out to be worth it; Assassin’s Creed Origins is one of the best games in the franchise. Bayek is a compelling lead character, and his quest to shut down the people responsible for killing his son makes for one of the best stories in the franchise.
There’s just one problem; the game was clearly heavily inspired by The Witcher 3. Everything from the world design to the quest-based story structure feels like it was pulled from The Witcher. To the game’s credit, it’s a great copy, but it pales in comparison to CDProjekt’s genre-defining RPG.
3 Saint’s Row Struggled To Be More Than A GTA Clone
Grand Theft Auto III was such a massive hit that developers copied various aspects of the franchise. The modern cities, the open worlds, the gritty aesthetics. Some franchises found success while others faded out. Saint’s Row managed to find a lane of its own, but not with its earlier games.
Though the first two games have their audience, they never could match up to Rockstar’s opus. It wasn’t until Saint’s Row 3 when the franchise stopped trying to be a GTA clone and became its own thing, that the series hit on success.
2 Yokai Watch Tried To Take On The Pokémon Juggernaut
The impressive sales of Yokai Watch made the franchise seem like it might finally become the Pokémon competitor that fans had been looking for. Unfortunately, Level-5 kept churning out the games and a glut of merchandise. The franchise went from fresh and different to stale in a matter of a few years.
The first three Yokai Watch titles were released from 2013-2016, but by the release of the third title, sales had slowed down so much that it took three years to finally release the fourth title. These days, Yokai Watch maintains some popularity, but Pokémon remains king.
1 PlayStation All-Star Battle Royale Wasn’t Sony’s Solution To Smash Bros.
In 2012, the platform fighting genre basically consisted of Super Smash Bros. And since Super Smash Bros. Brawl didn’t quite have the same love as Melee, the lane was wide open for Sony to create their own game. Unfortunately, Sony’s attempt at their own Smash Bros game was a miss. Compared to most fighters, All-Star had a weak amount of content, and the presentation for its story mode was lacking.
Worse yet, the changes it made to the battle system were frustrating; the only way to finish opponents were super moves, which could miss and make a player feel like they worked for nothing. Oddly, the platform fighting genre has only grown in popularity in the years since, but Sony has yet to make another attempt with this series.