List of Mario knockoffs acknowledged by Nintendo

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Like all longstanding and popular franchises, the Mario franchise has been the subject of many knockoffs and bootlegs. While there are many such infringing products made, only a relative few are known to have come to the attention of Nintendo themselves. Many unlicensed and unofficial games and products accused of infringing on Nintendo's copyrights have also been removed from sale, taken down, or dealt with through legal action without public word from either Nintendo, the infringing party, or any other parties involved.

This page contains a list of notable examples of Mario knockoffs, bootlegs, and fan games and projects that have been acknowledged by and/or were the subject of legal action from Nintendo.

Games[edit]

Crazy Kong[edit]

Main article: Crazy Kong

Crazy Kong was an officially-licensed clone of Donkey Kong, developed by Falcon under license from Nintendo. Although the terms of the contract limited manufacturing and distribution of Crazy Kong to Japan, Falcon broke the agreement by exporting the game to the U.S. In response, Nintendo terminated the contract and sued Elcon, an arcade hardware distributor that sold Crazy Kong boards. The case went to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, which ruled in favor of Nintendo.[1]

Era's Adventures 3D[edit]

Artwork of Era's Adventures 3D.
The Era character's new design.

Era's Adventures 3D was a mobile game released on the Marketplace for Android phones, developed by An-Dev.[2] The game features a green dinosaur named Era, who looks almost exactly like Yoshi, whom the player must use to shoot flaming mucus at objects such as boxes and crates. The gameplay is extremely basic,[3], and its main element is the use of the Yoshi look-alike character. Era's Adventures 3D was released in late February 2013, and Nintendo took legal action only two weeks later. Botond Kopacz, who was largely involved with the development of Era's Adventures 3D stated that he was not a fan of the Super Mario series and had no knowledge on the Yoshi character.[4]

"Actually this is an indie game developed by one developer, so due to the limitation of effort, I purchased a cute character from TurboSquid, one of the biggest 3D asset stores, without knowing the background story of the character Yoshi, since I'm not a Super Mario fan.... Once the game was released on the Play Store, after spending hundreds of hours in making the game, I started receiving 'kind' mails from Super Mario fans that I stole Yoshi, etc. So I started Googling and I realized that the character is really from the Super Mario series."

The game was briefly removed from Google Play, but was re-released later with an altered design for Era. The game was later taken off Google Play permanently a few months later, and in 2014 the game returned under the name Jack 3D, featuring an original character. [5]

Mole Kart[edit]

Screenshot of a course from Mole Kart called Mushroom X, which looks nearly identical to Mushroom Gorge from Mario Kart Wii.

Mole Kart is an iOS/Android game developed and published by Chinese company Shanghai Shengran Information Technology. It was available on the App Store for iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch) and on Google Play Store for Android devices. Players have the choice of several characters from the Mole Man series.

The game was first released on the App Store in early 2012, though it was soon removed by Apple due to a copyright claim from Nintendo, due to gameplay trailers featuring graphic assets that looked conspicuously identical to those of the Mario Kart series, especially Mario Kart Wii, sharing almost identical settings, items and course maps, some of the courses include versions of Mushroom Gorge, Moo Moo Meadows and Peach Beach.[6][7] However, it was re-released on iOS in May 2012. The newer version contained only four of the courses from the original release, with the only major difference in the courses themselves being the themes of the GBA Bowser Castle 3 and N64 Sherbet Land copies having their overall themes swapped.

Princess Rescue[edit]

Princess Rescue was a homebrew cartridge for the Atari 2600 that drew obvious inspiration from the Mario series. The player controls a hero identical to Mario through side-scrolling levels, and each world ends with a boss battle against "BJ", who appears to be based on Bowser Jr. While physical copies of game were originally for sale in 2013[8], it became unavailable later in the year, and a number of hints suggest that this was due to Nintendo sending a cease and desist[9]. The ROM for the game is still available online as a free download.[10]

The Great Giana Sisters[edit]

The first level of The Great Giana Sisters (top), which bears a great resemblance to that of Super Mario Bros. (bottom).

Released in 1987 on the Commodore 64 and later on several other home computer platforms, The Great Giana Sisters was developed by Time Warp Productions published by German game developer Rainbow Arts. It features a girl named Giana, who finds herself in a world full of monsters after mysteriously falling asleep. The player must travel through the world, searching for a hidden diamond which will awaken Giana.

The game received almost immediate attention from players (and later the video game industry), due to the game's overall design and mechanics being extremely similar to that of Super Mario Bros.. The game's first level is nearly identical to that of Super Mario Bros., as well as the game's elements (Mushrooms with eyes and horns, and yellow blocks, resembling Goombas and ? Blocks, respectively), and the gameplay itself.[11] Some versions of the game also feature on the box art graffiti on a brick wall that says "The Brothers Are History!" Because of the games' similarities, Nintendo pressured the developers to pull the game from retail shelves. Copies of the game were eventually withdrawn from sale, and it still remains a collector's item to this day.

Around the time of the game's release, a sequel was in development, titled Giana 2 – Arthur And Martha In Future World. Due to the legal issues surrounding the first game, some assets were changed and the game was retitled Hard'n'Heavy, though Nintendo still stopped it from seeing a release in the United Kingdom despite it getting a small release in other countries.[12]

Later, in 2009, a sequel called Giana Sisters DS was released in Europe, and later in North America, and even later a second sequel was crowdfunded and developed, titled Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams. Neither of these games, however, faced any sort of legal issues from Nintendo.

Film[edit]

Super Hornio Brothers[edit]

The box of Super Hornio Brothers.

Super Hornio Brothers is a two-part pornographic parody of the Super Mario series, released in 1993, in anticipation of the actual Super Mario Bros. film. The film features a man named Squeegie Hornio and his brother Ornio (parodies of Luigi and Mario, respectively) who fall into a computer's black void and are stuck there. They learn that Princess Perlina has been kidnapped by King Pooper (parodies of Princess Peach and Bowser, respectively) and must be rescued. Along the way, the two brothers are separated, leaving Squeegie to fight King Pooper alone. While he is almost killed, Ornio suddenly arrives and kills King Pooper by pushing him into lava. He and Princess Perlina then teleport back to Earth, accidentally leaving Squeegie behind. A sequel, entitled Super Hornio Brothers II was released later that year.

According to lead actor Ron Jeremy, the distribution rights for the film were quickly bought by Nintendo, making any release impossible.[13] Due to its rarity and unusual history, the film has become a collector's item and has attracted attention from several online entertainment sites.[14]

Fan projects[edit]

Full Screen Mario[edit]

Full Screen Mario was a browser-based remake of Super Mario Bros. coded in HTML5. It included all of the original game's levels, along with a level editor and a random level generator[15]. After attracting a large amount of visitors and attention from online sources, Nintendo sent a DMCA complaint to FullScreenMario.com. The site was taken down on November 1, 2013, and replaced a page explaining why.[15] Despite the website being taken down, Full Screen Mario itself was still hosted on the open-source repository GitHub, until Nintendo sent a takedown notice to GitHub on May 12, 2016, shortly after Full Screen Mario creator Josh Goldberg had mentioned it in an interview with Microsoft's Open Source department.[16][17]

Screenshot showing gameplay of No Mario's Sky.

No Mario's Sky[edit]

No Mario's Sky was an indie game created by ASMB Studio and hosted at indie website itch.io during August 2016, for the Ludum Dare game jam.[18] The game was intended to be a parody of No Man's Sky using characters from the Mario franchise. In the game, Mario takes a rocket and rides to other planets, which are in fact round-shaped Super Mario Bros. styled levels with enemies which function like Goombas. Like the other similar fan projects, No Mario's Sky received a takedown notice from Nintendo[19], and was removed from itch.io. Some days later a reworked version was released, jokingly entitled DMCA's Sky, which had independent characters replaced.[20]

Super Mario 64 HD[edit]

Super Mario 64 HD was a fan tech demo of a high-definition remake of Super Mario 64, produced in the Unity game engine by programmer Erik Roystan Ross to demonstrate his "Super Character Controller"[21], an input plugin for the Unity engine. The demo, consisting only of a semi-complete recreation of Bob-omb Battlefield, was published on March 12, 2015. Nintendo issued a takedown notice against the game on March 31, 2015, saying the website "allows users to play, an electronic game that makes unauthorized use of copyright-protected features of Nintendo's Super Mario 64 video game". Ross attributed it to the presence of models and sound effects ripped from Super Mario Galaxy[22].

Super Mario Bros. X[edit]

Super Mario Bros. X is a freeware PC fan game developed by Andrew Spinks (also known as Redigit, the developer of Terraria). The game is based on the early 2D Super Mario platformers and features a level editor. Development on the game ceased after Redigit received a DMCA request from Miller Nash over the domain name of Super Mario Bros. X's website (which was "supermariobrothers.org")[23], although whether or not this extended to Super Mario Bros. X itself has been debated among fans.[24][23]

Super Mario Bros. Z[edit]

Super Mario Bros. Z: The Movie[edit]

Super Mario Bros. Z: The Movie was a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for a feature length episode of Super Mario Bros. Z, a flash-animated fan video series crossing over Sonic the Hedgehog characters into the world of Mario, and with a story and battle sequences patterned after Dragon Ball Z. The episode was meant to serve as a finale to the original series, which at the time had been officially canceled by its creator, and a pilot for another similar web series. The Kickstarter (and by extension, the project) was canceled after receiving a takedown notice from Miller Nash, a law firm employed by Nintendo[25].

Super Mario Bros. Z reboot[edit]

Super Mario Bros. Z was later rebooted by its original creator in late 2015, who set up a Patreon page to support the series. On February 15, 2016, the Patreon received a takedown notice from Nintendo.[26] The series creator has since created a new page to support him creating animations in general, as opposed to just Super Mario Bros. Z.

Super Mario ReMaker[edit]

Super Mario ReMaker was a fan-made level creating tool based on Super Mario Maker. The game was made by LuNiney, who released the initial version on September 14, 2015.[27] While similar to the game upon which it was based, Super Mario ReMaker only features the Super Mario Bros. theme while focusing primarily on adding features and elements not present in Super Mario Maker, and additional costumes based on other characters and properties. In January of 2016, the creator's YouTube channel was taken down, alongside the primary download links.[28] Despite this, the game can still be downloaded on other sites.

Super Mario 64 Online[edit]

Super Mario 64 Online is a ROM hack for Super Mario 64 released in September 2017. It adds online multiplayer for up to 24 players and other new features, such as new playable characters. On September 20, 2017, Nintendo took down all YouTube videos related to the game on the creator's account as well as his Patreon page, although the hack itself remains available for download.[29]

References[edit]

  1. Nintendo of America, Inc. v. Elcon Industries, Inc. (October 4, 1982). Google Scholar archive
  2. Andev products (retrieved 8th of September, 2016 through web.archive.org)
  3. Android game rips off Nintendo, has Yoshi as main character
  4. Android rip-off dev did not know who Yoshi was
  5. Era's Adventures (dead link)
  6. 5 Blatant App Store Ripoffs Of Nintendo Games
  7. Mole Kart iPhone trailer looks familiar
  8. [1]
  9. Retro Game Network article
  10. [2]
  11. Great Giana Sisters Gameplay
  12. Giana 2 – Arthur And Martha In Future World. GTW64. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  13. Ron jeremy: Kotaku Reports on Super Hornio Brothers (Note: NSFW ads)
  14. AVN: "The ‘Super Hornio Brothers’ Mystery Gets a Christmas Revival"
  15. 15.0 15.1 Full Screen Mario page. (Retrieved April 11, 2016)
  16. Ernesto (May 12, 2016). Game Over: Nintendo Takes Down "Full Screen Mario" Code. TorrentFreak. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
  17. DMCA takedown notice for Full Screen Mario on GitHub. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
  18. Game page for No Mario's Sky, before the DMCA notice from Nintendo (retrieved September 13, 2016 through archive.org)
  19. DMCA No Mario's Sky takedown notice from Nintendo (retrieved September 13, 2016)
  20. DMCA's Sky gamepage (retrieved September 13, 2016)
  21. Ross, Royston. Super Mario 64 HD (archived March 31, 2015). Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  22. Philips. Tom (March 31 2015). Nintendo issues takedown notice for Super Mario 64 HD Project. Eurogamer. (Retrived March 31, 2015)
  23. 23.0 23.1 Mario Fan Game Galaxy thread discussing the takedown
  24. Forum thread discussing the takedown
  25. Copyright notice on Kickstarter (accessed May 22, 2014)
  26. yoshiller (February 16, 2016), Super Mario Bros. Z creator faces Patreon trouble after a Nintendo DMCA claim. GoNintendo. Retrieved February 16, 2016
  27. [3]
  28. CM30 (January 9, 2016). Looks like Super Mario ReMaker Might Be in Trouble. Gaming Reinvented. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  29. David Lumb (September 20, 2017). Nintendo issues takedowns for ‘Super Mario 64 Online' mod videos. Engadget. Retrieved September 26, 2017