There was quite a debate in the TouchArcade command center today regarding whether or not we were even going to post this, as our community seems to simultaneously hate it when we post about clones, but absolutely loves talking about them. So, we're going ahead with this along with the caveat that we're trying to get in touch with all parties involved to get to the bottom of things. With that out of the way, let's back things up a bit.

Johann Sebastian Joust is a no-graphics game designed for the PlayStation Move controller by Die Gute Fabrik. The game seems to be a staple at any indie game developer party, and features Bach's Brandenburg concertos as the soundtrack. The idea of the game is to jostle the PlayStation Move controllers of the other players to get them out. The threshold of how much the controller can be jostled is adjusted in time with the music, and it's a ton of fun to watch people playing. It's a very difficult game to explain, so, watch this trailer:

Today, ustwo released an eerily similar game called Papa Quash [Free]. I suppose we should cut right to the chase here, so, assuming you've watched the above video, imagine that… But with dub step:

The rabbit hole goes much deeper here than your typical tale of game cloning. According to ustwo marketing director Steve Bittan, the concept of the game was actually cooked up by Sam Pepper, a YouTube pseudo-celebrity whose original claim to fame was appearing on the TV series Big Brother.

Allegedly, Pepper contacted the guys at Die Gute Fabrik who gave him to go ahead with the game and wished him luck. Die Gute Fabrik fired back via Twitter by saying, "Just to be clear, we have never and would never approve, give permission, or encourage anyone to clone of any of our games." Where things get interesting in all this is that Mills, the ustwo co-founder and self-proclaimed Chief Wonka, has been very vocal in the past regarding cloning. In the past, he's told PocketGamer:

"Making games, entertainment, a new design, a product should always be about unearthing something that makes you proud no matter what happens on the financial side... Fakes and copycats quite simply have to absolutely f**k off to another paradigm."

Bittan, speaking with Edge continues:

"This is a quick, short-term project, in and out of the door very quick. Obviously the concept is quite similar. We don't want to be dragged into it too much - it's not anything to do with our app division.

We don't copy - everyone is influenced by certain things. It's like saying Sega is copying Mario or something. Whale Trail people said was similar to Tiny Wings, but we went back to the drawing board with that. If people think we're happy to clone people they're very much mistaken."

We'll see how it all shakes out once more people start talking. We've yet to hear back from ustwo ourselves, and Die Gut Fabrik is preparing a statement on the matter. Now, I'm going to go sigh a lot.

  • TouchGamePlay

    Guess... *putting my Sunglasses on* ... ustwo™ changed their behavior to ustoo™ if it comes to Cloning - YEEEEAAAAAAAAHH

  • Arch Deluxe

    All these guys are good at is taking someone else's concept and layering a hipster/hippy aesthetic on top. But it remains a mystery to them why they haven't been wildly successful.

  • araczynski

    well, last i checked, unless one can patent/copyright something and it can be proven in a court that someone else has infringed on your patent/copyright after the fact, one can STFU and move on.

    the consumer will vote with their money as to which 'take' is better.

    sucks to be the guy that came up with IAP's probably 🙂

    • Shizapp Interactive

      It is not a matter of copyright it is a matter of ethics and morals. That for which they are guilty regardless of whether or not you can go after them in the court of law. Im not sure if you have any apps in the market but as a developer I am offended deeply at their blatancy and on top of that their self-righteousness in claiming that they are original when peddling this stuff. You can blame the client all day long but it is your integrity in play when you openly take on work copying another game. They had the choice to turn it down.

      • araczynski

        ethics and morals in the itunes app store???  please.  nobody's developing for ethics and morals, its either for love or money.

        as long as they're not breaking any laws, they can take whatever money people will give them for whatever they release.

      • Shizapp Interactive

        Give ne a break, while ethics and morals might not be the reasons we make games it IS the reason people with integrity or claim integrity do not try to profit off of someone elses creativity by duplicating it. There is a fine line when it comes to cloning and making for a genre but when you are so blatant you shouldn't be rewarded by mooching illgained profits. If you are making an arguement for cloners based on copyright the same argument could be made for cheaters and adulterers, while it isn't illegal it's just not right no matter how you try to logic around it. And in that argument you will be against an army or morallistic people who have a deck of cards that trump the copyright claim all day.

  • John Dickerson

    Looks like a good way to break your phone or controller in any case. Not to mention the fist fights that break out when someone smacks someone to hard. 

  • volkan

    Even dubstep cant save this clone! Lame!

  • TheSceptic

    Nice work ustwo... I'm sure this is just the kind of publicity you need before your 100k tiny wings clone goes free to play.

  • Jason

    Both these games look stupid as hell, and the people playing them look even stupider.

  • Mike

    Last time I saw that many hipsters in one spot, I was on the SFSU campus and there was a drum circle. Ugh...

  • Michael Matzat

    I take bets on the average amount of broken iPhone Screens per game.

    • mguniverse

      Maybe that is why Joust was so popular, nobody cares about broken Move controllers.

  • rybred96

    I'm sure as hayleeeee not gonna support a game that is a clone with added dubstep (an annoying generic teenager/scene/hipster trend), mustaches (an annoying teenager/scene/hipster trend), and generic teenagers/hipsters playing it.

  • James

    Is it me or is it hip to say hipster now?
    Im so confused

  • me

    It sounds like Ustwo was actually paid by Sam Pepper to put together this app. Ustwo seems to be struggling from the lack of success with Whale Trail. So, maybe they saw this project as a way to generate some cash flow (as any developer trying to stay in business would). The problem is that by releasing/publishing the game under their own studio name they are basically showing some ownership in the app (most likely a percentage). This compounded with earlier statements condemning app cloning makes for a PR nightmare. The only thing they can do now is damage control. It's tough to distance yourself when you actually put your name on the product. If they have a problem with cloned apps then they shouldn't show any sign of support whatsoever, including publishing an app that clearly violates their stance. Or, you can just stop making critical statements and concentrate on putting out good games.

    • danielwood

      People seem to think UsTwo are a small independent games company when the reality is they are a fairly large (50-200 employees according to LinkedIn) and successful web/UI/UX/Mobile company that works for massive clients such as Barclays Bank and H&M. So suggesting they did it because they are struggling from the lack of success of Whale Trail is bonkers.

      • me

        I have news for you, having 50-200 employees does not indicate in any way that they are doing well (or struggling). A lot of companies get by with little to no profit in hopes that they can prosper without having layoffs. Also, you can have big name clients as part of your client list but that doesn't mean they keep you busy with constant work (this I know from experience). If they are indeed prosperous (I have no idea if they are or aren't), then why take on a simple quick-turn around project (as they stated)?... A project that they also stated threw up immediate red flags regarding the fact that it was extremely similar to an existing game. Ustwo has also admitted that Whale Trail was not the success they had hoped for, forcing them to adjust the game and monetize it through a freemium model. I wish that the game had done better since I actually really enjoyed it. But I do think that even though the cost for producing and marketing a quality game does sometimes warrant taking on smaller jobs, they should have been a bit more selective or at the very least take on the job but distance themselves from publishing it.

        Honestly I don't care one way or the other as long as they continue to make quality games that meet or exceed what they accomplished with Whale Trail. 🙂 it was great.

      • runloop

        You don't have to tell me how business works. My point was that they make their bread and butter doing something completely different. Games is just something they are toying with. They are not a games company. Which is in all likelihood is probably the reason they ended up making a clone in the first place. If you're not hardcore into games chances are you'd never ever heard of JS Joust. I know I hadn't.

      • me

        They already admitted to knowing it was very similar to an existing product.

  • Matthew Stenquist

    Sadly, Joust is the Egg and Spoon game digitized. However, Joust was the first to add a layer of experience and interactivity that won a IGF award earlier this year. To see Papa Quash blatantly remix, and adapt what Joust has already done into a "hipper" teen friendlier clone is absurd. To feature a D-List nobody named Sam Pepper thinking tech is just some easy field to jump into by stealing somebodies idea is morally wrong. -- Just add dubstep to the release trailer for added authenticity, that'll sell the game like hot cakes.... 

  • slamraman

    Sorry - far too Nathan Barley for me.

  • ValenXI

    I was not aware that JS Joust was available for the iPhone? It will be easy for me to play with my buddies at work, or strangers at a bus stop... Sort of the idea of a "folk game". My primary concern will always be to look out for the consumer. If you do not make your idea available to me, and someone else does, that's because they're reaching my market and they deserve my business. I couldn't play before, now I will be able to. I don't see the IP here... Its presentation is completely different. Thank goodness you can't trademark a control mechanic, can you imagine the bottom-of-the-barrel control schemes we'd be relegated to these days?

  • Anonymous

    Whale trail IS similar to tiny wings but mixed with Jetpack Joyride.

  • Chumbake

    I have never played JS Joust but I've seen the video. Can someone explain why is this a ripoff and not just another game in the same genre?

    Every FPS after Wolfenstein wasn't a clone. And no one is upset at the joust creator for "cloning" the egg & spoon game.

    Help me out here.

    • thechu

      ^ This.