Those genius video game creators, where do they get their ideas from? As it turns out, they put their pants on one leg at a time and get a lot of their inspiration from previous works of pop culture, just like the rest of us.
Stuck trying to come up with an idea for a video game character? Just pluck one of your favorite personas from the movies and give them a quick makeover. Hell, this creative restoration even works with characters from older video games.
Some of these are affectionate tributes or parodies, but others simply cry out for lawful intervention. Let’s check out some of the more egregious examples of video game rip-offs:
Alistair From Dragon Age Is Buffy’s Xander In Armor
Alistair was that wise-cracking grey warden and secret prince who broke the hearts of a generation of RPG fans who romanced him in Bioware’s Dragon Age: Origins. A large part of his appeal was his awkwardness, self-deprecating humor and rather distinct way with words which reminded many fans of of Joss Whedon dialogue.
Turns out this was no accident, as writer David Gaider has confirmed that the armored heartthrob is directly based on the similarly sheepish Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series.
Crash Bandicoot Is Taz
A rarely-seen species of Australian marsupial who performs whirlwind spins to break everything in his path. Wait, which one are we talking about again? Well, Crash is the one with pants. The less said about The Simpson’s Dash Dingo, the better.
Mega Man Is A Reworked Astro Boy
Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy is an iconic Japanese manga series and anime. The titular character is a Pinocchio-like robot boy who battles mad scientists, evil aliens and giant robots. Capcom planned on basing the original Mega Man game on Astro Boy, but plans for a licensed game fell through. Keiji Inafune was put in charge of creating brand new character designs, but it looks like the M-Man doesn’t stray too far from the Boy.
Ryo Sazaki Is A Shameless Ryu Clone
SNK’s The King of Fighters series is notorious for ripping off Capcom’s Street Fighter 2 roster, but the rivalry between the two companies has always been friendly enough for this to qualify as an affectionate parody (if having your characters beat the snot out of each other in successive Capcom VS SNK games counts as ‘affectionate’).
A gi-wearing, wandering street fighter, whose devotion to his art enables him to throw energy projectiles, Ryo stands out from a crowd of similar Ryu ripoffs because come on, he’s only one letter out. At least in this case, Ryu has plenty of opportunities to punish this latecomer for copying his style.
Raiden From Mortal Kombat is Lightning From Big Trouble In Little China
Mortal Kombat obviously owes a lot to cheesy kung-fu flicks, and it’s been confirmed by the writers that thundergod Raiden is lifted straight from the John Carpenter directed action-comedy flick Big Trouble In Little China.
In the film, evil sorcerer Lo Pan is guarded by the three storms, spirits with special weather related powers. The creators of Mortal Kombat have confirmed that Raiden is based on one of these servants, shocking moves and straw hat included.
Solid Snake Escaped From New York
Kudos to John Carpenter, because not just one but two characters have been ripped off from his films to become video game icons. Hideo Kojima has always been pretty open about the fact that Metal Gear‘s Solid Snake is an homage to an earlier mulleted, eyepatched badass named Snake in Escape From New York (in MGS2, Snake even adopts his surname, Plissken, as a codename).
This copycat move almost landed Konami and Kojima in court, but the directors ended up getting to know each other and got on so well that Carpenter gave his blessing.
Blizzard Ripped Off Warhammer
Blizzard’s orcs have gone through a lot of changes since their appearance in the first WarCraft title. But WarCraft: Orcs and Humans was originally developed as an adaptation of popular tabletop wargame Warhammer Fantasy Battle. One of the most recognizable races in Warhammer were the bloodthirsty green-skinned orcs (at time an unusual color for fantasy orcs).
When Blizzard couldn’t get the license, they stuck with their green-skinned orcs, and good for them, because their orcs evolved into their own distinct style. Blizzard would later move on to more original franchises, like the one where space marines battle vaguely insectoid hive-mind aliens.
Thank God For Artistic License
The creative process can be a torturous one, and even if many cool characters start out as rip-offs, they often develop into their own distinct selves. Knowing that some of my favorite characters were ripped off earlier works doesn’t make me love them any less. Maybe my original pitch for Aural, the aquamarine hedgehog who runs really fast, actually has a chance after all.
Have you noticed any other famous video game characters clearly ‘inspired’ by earlier works? Let us know in the comments!
This article originally appeared on video games magazine site NowLoading.co. The site is no longer online, but I’ve uploaded a few articles from my time as a staff writer there (2016-2017) here as portfolio samples.