It’s not unusual to see a mechanic from a popular game used in a newer game from a different studio. Games inform each other. This is how the medium evolves and how we get better games. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual to see a game on the App Store -- or even on the PC or consoles -- that takes way too much from another, much more popular or influential game. But what makes this case of App Store wholesale "borrowing" special are the parties involved, the extent of the copycatting, and the role reversal. For those of you playing at home, this is a story about an indie and a big developer, and it's the big developer slotted into the role of villian.

Earlier this month, Capcom Mobile released a title called MaXplosion [$.99] on the App Store, a game that bears several striking similarities to indie developer Twisted Pixel’s Splosion Man, an original Xbox Live Arcade title released in 2009. From level design, to title, to mechanics, to even character design, MaXplosion appears to take a lot -- too much for Twisted Pixel to be cool or comfortable with it.


Splosion Man

“I think we feel more incentive now to make a mobile game than we did before,” Twisted Pixel CEO Michael Wilford told me via e-mail. “We don't have anything specific to announce just yet, but I think it's safe to say that we're going to do something.”

“We're not really in a position to bring any kind of action against Capcom, nor would we want to since we've got games to make, but what we can do is make a better game than they can. Unfortunately for Capcom, it seems that most gamers are savvy enough to know when shit's being ripped off. “

One important note to make here is this little wrinkle: Twisted Pixel pitched Splosion Man to Capcom US before its eventual release on XBLA. Capcom passed on it and then years later we get MaXplosion.

Like Wilford told me, Twisted Pixel isn’t going to pursue legal action here because (a) it’s too small to fight the man and (b) yo, Mega Man was pretty damn good. "We're definitely not going to pursue legal action," Wilford re-iterated to Joystiq. "While I think the similarities are pretty nauseating, we're too small to take on a company like Capcom. That, and we owe them one for inventing Mega Man, so we'll let them slide." Instead, Twisted Pixel would like to fire back with it's own iOS release, which is a radical response to the matter, I think.

Capcom Mobile is apparently crafting a statement that might be released as early as later today, according to that Joystiq post. We’ve contacted the studio as well and do hope to hear back about all of this... borrowing going on.

  • C2696005

    Too small?!?? Lima Sky has proven Apple a pushover when it comes to taking down apps... Just send them a letter and Capcom will be hearing from Apple lawyers before you can say 'doodle'.

  • MoHeyNow

    wow... kudos to Twisted Pixel for taking the high road, but Capcom should be bitch-slapped right in the mouth for that

  • Anonymous

    Have to respect Twisted Pixel, but I'm not much of a fan of 'Splosion Man. It found it tiresome and agravating without substantial reward. In fact, one big reason I didn't buy MaxSplosion after reading about it here is because everybody said it was like 'Splosion Man. Hmm. Maybe Capcom should sue Twisted Pixel. They lost them a sale. ;^)

  • Rasmus Andersson

    Oh. Splosion Man (the real deal) on iOS would be nice.

  • Guypussy

    "It’s not unusual to see a mechanic from a popular game used in a newer game from a different studio..."

    If by this you mean "complete theft of a not-widespread style of gameplay," well, sure. It's a platformer, okay, I'll give ya that, but the "guy-explodes-as-a-kind-of-power-up" part of Capcom's game? Not many precedents there.

    • FastOne

      Explosions are just a double and triple jump. Not really ground breaking in my opinion. Many games let you double jump.

  • Ben Ruddock

    Hope this bullshit get's removed before Capcom can make any money off it, 'Splosion Man and Twisted Pixel in general are excellent and don't deserve to have their games blatantly ripped off.

  • Aros2k

    Twisted Pixel can't fight Capcom, just as Langdell couldn't fight EA and hopefully a bigger developer will crush Lima Sky out of existance.

    Maxplosions slider is way too big to be comfortable, hopefully they will update. I did buy the game after seeing this post, also got Splosion Man on 360.

  • Battle Born

    If anything, this blatant act of douchery has reminded me just how awesome Twisted Pixel is. in fact, it led me to discover their newest game Comic Jumper. which I went straight home and downloaded even though I've got unopened copies of black ops and alan wake at home.

  • The Bat Outta Hell

    No way splose

  • SoulShading

    This has gotten far too long and the boundaries have been pushed so far by the likes of Gameloft that they now crossed what is acceptable.
    We as an industry must work in order to stop those who are pushing in favor of copying and must start thinking with groups like IGDA and later governments to create regulations and laws.
    You, as customers, should also start being responsible in your purchase. Buying a Gameloft game or this particular Capcom game will encourage them to copy more. Those company have the money to create original games and take risk!

    • Sunr1der

      There is a law... it's called copyright.

      • SoulShading

        The copyright doesn't apply to code, gameplay or game design conception.

        As it is said everywhere, improving the idea of someone else is acceptable if the new product bring its share of new things.
        No, the straight copy matter or copy relying only on a borrowed system without bringing anything new should only exist as part of licensing agreements to my mind. So to me, in this case, Capcom would have discuss, agree and pay a license fee to Twisted Pixel.

      • jamah

        You're right but it doesn't apply to code which counts as written work and is protected like books.

      • FastOne

        You can't copyright a game's mechanics, only the art and written instructions. That's why you see tons of different Monopoly variants all which are not licensed by the makers of Monopoly.

        Also, the explosion mechanic is little different than a double/triple jump in my opinion, so it's stupid to try to claim anybody that uses the same mechanic "stole" that idea.

  • Kimchi

    Twisted Pixel seems like a very cool dev, much more likeable and respectable than the greedy Lima Sky with their Doodle Jump (which is a ripoff of PapiJump + Qbert). Igor can learn a thing or two from Michael.

    But of course he can't because he's talking his way out of his greed now.

    • SoulShading

      The Lima Sky Doodlegate was a misunderstanding from a lack of information conveyed to people. You can now find the whole story online almost everywhere. Not sure they've published it yet on Touch Arcade tho.

  • rolferantz

    "it seems that most gamers are savvy enough to know when shit's being ripped off."

    Guess Gameloft didn't get the memo.

  • poutini

    Twisted pixel is kickass. I've got The Maw, Splosion Man and Comic Jumper and they're all solid. Hopefully they hit up the mobile scene, I'd buy anything they put out in a second.