Smartphone clones of popular games are a real problem for developers, with shady individuals gleefully copying any successful venture in the hope that they can earn a few shillings from unsuspecting punters. These irksome chaps certainly need dealing with, but sometimes the approach of the companies who police these digital stores can be rather heavy-handed and inconsistent.
Take the recently-rejected Kill The Plumber, a title which clearly takes inspiration from Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. series - but offers a unique twist. It has been booted from the App Store because of its close resemblance to the iconic platforming franchise, yet it features entirely original art and audio. In fact, it's actually quite a clever title - instead of controlling the good guy, you're in charge of various enemies who have to stop him from getting to the end of each stage. Think Dungeon Keeper, but as a 2D platformer.
Here's the developer's defense of the game:
The game is in fair use and a derivative work or a parody with its own unique formula. No assets were stolen, the artist made the assets from scratch with his own style and vision and also the sound effects and music were composed by the audio engineers. No names were also mentioned or referenced anywhere in the game or description. Gameplay is very much different if you try it, we have very short one screen levels and the rules and controls constantly change.
Apple has told the developer that a complete overhaul is required for the game to make it onto the App Store, which creator Bari Silvestre has confirmed will indeed happen. However, there are countless other clones on iOS which are clearly worse than this, yet they remain available. An Android version will launch on July 23rd, and a bigger Steam version is also expected.
As famed mobile dev Rami Ismail puts it:
While we certainly don't condone developers ripping off the hard work of others, Kill The Plumber actually sounds like a pretty smart idea to us - a reverse platformer, if you will. Do you think it should have been rejected? Would you have liked to have seen it come to the Wii U or 3DS in this form? Or do you think Nintendo would also have put the boot in pretty quickly? Let us know by posting a comment.