The Chinese market is still, it seems, a tricky territory to master and even understand in the video game industry. Sony and Microsoft formally released PS4 and Xbox One in the country, but indications are that sales have been rather disappointing; Nintendo, for its part, has been hesitant to make any notable moves as yet. It is naturally a major market, however, with mobile gaming being part of that.
Such is the nature of the market, though, that it seems copyright and IP concerns don't always apply. An extraordinary example is a smart device clone of Splatoon, but now another app/game in the country is causing chatter online. It's called Pocket All-Stars Smash Bros., and is actually nothing like Super Smash Bros. It's apparently a turn-based strategy game that utilises cards, with obvious potential to level-up characters and charge for micro-transactions. It seems like a strange blend of a variety of turn-based RPGs, all told.
It uses the Smash Bros. brand in the name, then, and it's also jam-packed with assets from Nintendo franchises - Super Mario is most widely used for characters, stage designs and so on, while The Legend of Zelda and Metroid characters make appearances. We've also seen Mega Man in there, Sonic the Hedgehog and even his buddy Amy, completing a veritable Triforce of major companies with assets being used.
The odds seem exceptionally slim that approval has been given for these assets to be used, and what's particularly intriguing is the fact that the game doesn't look too bad. It has some nice visuals and quirky animations, a far cry from some of the dross that gets produced when ripping off established IPs.
It's unlikely to be the last game like this to pop up on smart devices, especially in China. Quite how much Nintendo and other companies will crack down on these downloads will become clear in good time.