Innovation or Copy-Cats?
Review by: BeckerManEX (beckermanex@sm128c.com)

Editorial Posted: December 18, 1999

These days it seems like everyone is copying off of someone else. Is there no real new and innovative game ideas left in the world? Every company under the sun is trying to copy "their rival" when it comes to new game designs.

The most notable and recent example is that of the Sony vs. Nintendo rivalry. When it comes to games you will see a game pop up on one companies system (Mario Kart 64). The other company will come in and create a game "influenced by, but completely different. (Crash Team Racing)" No matter what you think CTR is a direct copy, or port if you want to use that name, of Mario Kart 64. Sure they use different mascots, and may have some new features over each other, but they are in the same genre, and you can see the influence that Mario Kart 64 had over Naughty Dog when it comes to CTR.

"Me Too" games have been around for a long time. Since the dawn of the current gaming age in console (with the release of the NES), and PC gaming (with the release of Wolfenstein 3D) several game companies have produced "me too" games. One notable example is the release of Super Mario 64. The game revolutionized, and nearly recreated, the 3D-platformer genre. But who comes along? Well here comes a company with the same idea, and borrows heavily from what Mario 64 defined for the genre. Croc was a cop-off of Mario 64. Crash Bandicoot was a cop-off of Mario 64, and if you want to get really technical here even Sonic Adventure (a great game by Sega in my opinion) is a copy off Mario 64. At the core all of these games have the same thing in common and that is that they are 3D-platformers, and Mario 64 created the genre.

The most recent example of the above is the release of Donkey Kong 64. Many have called the ape's adventure a direct copy of Banjo-Kazooie, both Nintendo games. Sure they look similar, but we must remember something. Whether or not Rare will admit it, Banjo-Kazooie was a test demo of Donkey Kong 64. The game was created to see how well the engine would fare when played brutally by the gaming public. Seeing how well BK did for Nintendo (selling 1 million + copies) the success of Donkey Kong was guaranteed.

Many may go on to say that I am hypocritical when it comes to this article. I am in a way. I have yet to mention how similar, yet different, Goldeneye and Perfect Dark are. I'm sure there will be many things the same considering that it is basically the same team that is working on both games.

Innovative games will keep coming out, but how will we know how many there will be. With some many developers saying, "Hey that looks cool, lets make our game like that, but with different characters," then how will any new ideas get proposed? As the Burger King commercial says, "There are no bad ideas." When it comes to game design, they could be wrong.

-- BeckerManEX (beckermanex@sm128c.com)