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Follow The Leader: Video Games
"Well bugger my bumblebee's breadbin! First weeks of Twenty-Ten are going to be fun, aren't they? Darksiders, Bayonetta, Dantes Inferno, and God of War III...God of War rip off, God of War rip off, God of War rip off, and God of Wa— ...Well, God of War."
Yahtzee, Zero Punctuationnote 

  • During the mid-1990s, the success of Sonic the Hedgehog let to a glut of the Mascot with Attitude, especially in video games released during that time. All of them failed, either because they were just a Theme Park Version of Sonic himself, or because they hit the Polygon Ceiling hard when gaming made the move to 3D later that decade, such as Bubsy the Bobcat (though in fairness Sonic has had issues himself in that department). There's still one or two, like Earthworm Jim, that are remembered a bit more fondly, but Sonic is the only Mascot with Attitude to escape from this time, due to being the Trope Maker.
  • The popular mobile physics game Angry Birds is rather similar to many other physics-based projectile games, most notably Armor Games' Crush The Castle, inevitably leading to some fans of the latter to become detractors of the former.note 
  • Doom is generally considered the progenitor of the First-Person Shooter genre, and Halo unleashed a flood of the genre on set-tops.
    • This has in a strange way become somewhat of a Discredited Trope, as the first-person shooter has shed the "Doom Clone" image it had during the mid-90's and become possibly the most popular genre in all of video games, thanks in no small part to the way games like Halo, Half-Life and GoldenEye refined and improved upon the classic Doom formula. Thus, the "first person shooter" has lost the Doom Stigma and is now its very own unique genre. Up until Call of Duty 4, at least; now the only FPS's that aren't Call of Duty clones are sequels to games that came before CoD started, and even those tend to take a lot of inspiration from that series (using ironsights to get your gun to work properly and adding a Sprint Meter are particularly popular).
  • Myst sparked a slew of point-and-click CD-ROM adventure-puzzle games, hastening the death of the older LucasArts/Sierra Online adventure genre.
  • Although there were Real-Time Strategy games before Dune II, it was the one responsible for making it a genre.
  • In spite of MUDs and GMUDs languishing in obscurity for ages, their day would only really come in the rechristened form of MMORPGs. The entire MMO craze was started with Ultima Online, refined with EverQuest and Lineage, then given a further kickstart by the massive success of World of Warcraft.
    • World of Warcraft in particular has spawned a number of imitators, Tabula Rasa and Age of Conan among them, that copy not only its gameplay style, but major chunks of its interface (right down to yellow exclamation points over the heads of quest-givers.)
    • Guild Wars is one of the other successful MMOs. It got that way by aggressively not imitating WOW; the original development team was made up of former Blizzard employees. Everything from its design to its classes to its pricing (free after purchase) seeks to differentiate itself from its big brother as much as possible. Guild Wars 2 seems to be trying to go even farther, with such things as completely eliminating a class for The Medic; every class has some sort of healing ability.
    • Everquest in particular had so many features in common with DikuMUD that they were often challenged by hackers and developers familiar with the MUD libraries to show their code.
    • To be more specific on how future MMOs would imitate World of Warcraft, Blizzard's ambitious little title set itself apart with cartoony, comic book inspired graphics and a two faction system. The basic idea of that being that players would have to choose sides when making a character and all players on the opposite faction are their enemies to be fought in PVP battles. These days it's hard to find a MMORPG that doesn't have cartoony graphics and/or doesn't try to imitate the faction system.
  • After taking note of the success of Mario Party, Sega came out with the Alternate Company Equivalent Sonic Shuffle. Funnily enough, Hudson Soft developed both games.
  • Cabal, a third-person arcade shooter spawned many "Cabal clones", such as Blood Bros and Wild Guns. Sin and Punishment also used a similar format to Cabal.
  • City of Heroes. When Marvel Comics realized they couldn't sue the MMORPG to oblivion, they hired the developers to make a Marvel Comics-based MMO. Then Microsoft got involved and demanded it run on the Xbox 360. There was lots of hype, but the game never materialized. Then DC Comics announced they would make an MMO for the Sony Playstation 3. Then there was Champions Online, headed by the president of the City of Heroes dev team, but which was near-immediately dumped into bargain bins before becoming free to play.
  • Grand Theft Auto III is credited with starting not one, but two threads of Follow the Leader: gritty urban crime games and "sandbox games."
    • Saints Row being a prime example, with a lot of its acclaim coming from the fact that it decided to be as wacky and out-there as the PlayStation 2-era GTA games, at a time when Grand Theft Auto IV was trying to be more serious and realistic.
  • The massive success of Capcom's Street Fighter II resulted in a massive glut of fighting games; big-name arcade manufacturers rushed to produce such knockoffs as Irem's Superior Soldiers, Konami's Martial Champion, Namco's Knuckle Heads and Sega's Burning Rival. This continued well into the PlayStation years and switch to 3-D gaming. Indeed, SNK made itself a major player in the arcade market by imitating and refining the formula.
  • Tokimeki Memorial pioneered the Dating Sim genre with a clean but lovable game, showing that these games weren't just for the hentai. This trend continued with Kanon (ironically, itself an H-Game), which spawned many other H and non-H romance games that focused on the story and characters.
    • One of those followers was Memories Off, which established itself the genre of clean games with sad stories.
    • This still happens with the ero-ren'ai game market — a game will come out with an interesting UI enhancement, gameplay trick, or oddball fetish, and upon being successful, will be mimicked by dozens of companies.
    • A more tasteful example would be the success of Katawa Shoujo, who is already spawning some independent imitators, including one based on mental rather than physical defects.
  • Nintendo's Mario Kart spawned the Kart Racer, and Super Smash Bros. popularized the Mascot Fighter, bringing forth cute cartoony variants of two previously popular genres. Diddy Kong Racing (Nintendo 64), Konami Krazy Racers (Game Boy Advance) and Super Tux Kart (PC) are all clones of Mario Kart, whereas Playstation All Stars Battle Royale incorporates elements and concepts which were originally popularized by Super Smash Bros.
  • Tetris inspired the entire Falling Blocks genre of video games.
  • Columns inspired hordes of color-matching three-in-a-row games. And Bejeweled popularized three-in-a-row-with-swapping-pieces video games.
  • Though some earlier Falling Blocks games had competitive multiplayer, it was Puyo Puyo's success that inspired developers to make puzzle games with head-to-head combat as the main attraction. The various imitators it spawned during the 1990s include Baku Baku Animal, Deroon Dero Dero (Tecmo Stackers), Hebereke's Popoon, Panic Bomber, Super Puzzle Fighter II and Taisen Puzzle-dama (Crazy Cross).
  • The success of the Sonic the Hedgehog games (which themselves were created to compete with the Super Mario Bros. games) led to a slew of similar "animals with attitude" games on the Genesis/Mega Drive and SNES. Some of these are considered classics but were sadly overlooked, such as Rocket Knight Adventures and its sequel Sparkster, but others were simply overhyped, unimaginative tripe such as the unfortunately titled, Anviliciously environmental Awesome Possum Kicks Dr. Machino's Butt, and the infamous Bubsy. The testament to Bubsy's complete failure is no doubt their attempt to reintroduce him to the gaming world: Bubsy 3D, no doubt one of the worst games ever made, which killed the franchise.
  • The surprise of Final Fantasy VII becoming a Killer App and introducing Role-Playing Games to a more general audience resulted in a slew of games starring blond, spiky-haired, moody young men who turn out to be the Tomato in the Mirror. The Legend of Dragoon was probably the most notorious of those.
  • The PlayStation's other killer app, Metal Gear Solid, spawned a lot of stealth-game imitators that failed to realize that the glory was as much the story as the sneaking.
    • Bizarre aversion: Syphon Filter was widely derided prior to its release as a MGS clone and a blatant attempt to capitalize on its success...then turned out to be an entirely different type of action game (that actually began development before the release of MGS), being a action shooter with the stealth elements being a really minor aspect for most of the game.
    • A more accurate example of this would be WinBack, a Stealth-Based Game hyped as the Nintendo 64's answer to Metal Gear Solid. While the game actually received fairly positive reviews upon release (which probably had more to do with the slim selection of "mature" N64 games than the quality of the game itself), it was a commercial failure and immediately forgotten, barring a silent rerelease on the PlayStation 2.
    • Another, odder example: MGS was the first video game to feature Claymore mines - but they were essentially regular tripwire mines, as opposed to remotely-detonated as in the real world. Every single video game released afterwards that features Claymore mines has them work exactly the same way as the MGS version, even though in the real world this sort of setup would technically be illegal.
  • You can thank the mega-success of Nintendo's Brain Age and Big Brain Academy games for the endless stream of portable Edutainment Games coming to a DS near you. We're still waiting for another company to make something comparably decent.
    • This trope could have been as well called Birdman Syndrome. In short, Wii Sports was done by many of Nintendo's best developers and is a game which is easy to pick up and play but offers five completely different disciplines which have relatively deep physics and has the amount of polish you usually expect from a Nintendo game. After its' rampant success, many third parties looking for a quick buck only saw the pick-up-and-play nature of it and made shallow, unpolished minigame collections done by the companies' cheapest development teams. Nintendo's Wii in general seems to have caused many developers to try and cheaply cash in on its success by haphazardly using motion controls whenever they get the chance.
    • Sony's PS3 and Vita combo, and Microsoft's smart glass, following the announcement of the Wii U.
    • Did anyone here ever the see the original designs for the PSP? It looked like just like the GBA SP, only with a disc slot.
  • You thought this trope was bad in video games? Well, it's even worse with Casual Video Games! Seriously, just try and count how many Time Management/Match Three/Hidden Object Games there are on the Internet! The games made by PopCap did this for the entire casual game genre.
  • After the Tamagotchi fad (itself strongly reminiscent of the Pet Rock) and the virtual pet craze it inspired swept the world, hoards of Gotta Catch Them All video games, Collectible Card Games and Mons Of The Week anime were spawned in its wake, and have been a popular market segment to this day.
  • Certain technologies and gameplay features became popular in video games as tacked on features for brief periods;
  • The Full Motion Video "Interactive Movie" genre. While it had existed in more basic form using analog video controlled by a computer (I.E.: Dragon's Lair,) it wasn't until the fully digital Cinepak-based CD-ROM format that it became practical as a consumer format. While it was also used to add cutscenes to existing genres, nearly all early CD titles consisted of immensely similar crosses between a B-Movie and a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Occupying somewhere around So Bad, It's Good or unplayable depending on the cheesiness of the invariably low production values, the genre has only managed to live on in the form of the Visual Novel, and there often only thanks to overlap with adult games.
  • Tomb Raider and Lara Croft herself spawned many copycat attempts.
  • Diablo, which created its own genre called "Diablo clones" (Torchlight, Dungeon Siege, Untold Legends, etc.), was itself a graphical spin on another fine tradition in Follow The Leader, Roguelike games, of which NetHack is the most popular. As Diablo is the model of many MMORPGs open-world game that followed inn of MMOs and Diablo clones often incites accusations of Diablo killing the western RPG genre from fans.
  • To elaborate on the previous entry- Rogue, the Genre Popularizer for the appropriately named Roguelike genre, inspired a number of games, most notably Nethack and Angband. Both of which were essentially more advanced versions of their predecessors, which were in turn, descended from Rogue. Nethack went on to create a line of "hack-likes," while Angband created "band-likes", games that were heavily similar to their respective ancestors.
  • Also, the Might and Magic series started a new trend of Group Based RPGs in the late '80s and '90s, including the excellent Baldur's Gate. Ironically, it died off with the same series, in Might and Magic IX, thanks to the less than kind time and development constraints given by its Publisher, 3DO. Sure, some came before it, but it was MM that popularized it. It shows signs of coming back with Neverwinter 2, but more than a few wishes Ubisoft puts a X in the front of the franchise they bought.
    • Speaking of bought franchises, the series Heroes of Might and Magic spin-off of the Might and Magic series also gave the kick to both Turn Based Strategy games that aren't incredibly boring and nerdy Electronic Tabletop Wargames AND to Hero-Based Strategy games, being the first strategy game to put "generals" into the equation (other than the player himself as an order giver). Warcraft 3, Age of Mythology and listless others owe to the franchise. Strangely, many players weren't very understanding when Heroes IV reminded their audience of the Sci-Fi background of the MM franchise (mostly because a large portion of the Heroes fanbase didn't even know there was a Might and Magic RPG franchise that it was spun off from). Still, what really killed it was the same 3DO that killed MMIX.
    • Might and Magic was largely inspired by Wizardry, so it shouldn't really be considered "the" staple party-based WRPG of its era, but rather one of the top three series. The open world elements and vast world of Might and Magic are a huge source of inspiration for Bethesda's open world games, even starting as early as Daggerfall, though most (all?) of Bethesda's games lack parties.
  • X-COM gave birth to a large follow-up of Squad Based Tactical games. Some were doomed because most of X-Com's appeal (that had been just a minor title at UK) was because it came down in the middle of the X-Files hype (the game even had its title changed from UFO: Enemy Unknown to the more X-Files-like name of the anti-alien corporation you play with in the game). One such clone is Commandos.
  • Halo is a good example, as almost every FPS these days has copied the 'recharging health bar' thing (to varying degrees of success). It also eliminated the Hyperspace Arsenal concept that most prior FPSs had and limited it to a primary and secondary weapon only.
    • Two often-overlooked mechanics that Halo brought to the table were melee and grenades always being available and having a dedicated button to use them. Many previous games like Half-Life had grenades and melee, but only as specific weapons in the character's Hyperspace Arsenal (for example, Gordon Freeman only hits enemies with his crowbar, while Master Chief can club someone with anything he can pick up). Most newer FPSs incorporate a dedicated melee and grenade button whether they have a traditional hyperspace arsenal or modern two- or three-weapon layout. Some games (like F.E.A.R., Gears of War, and Darkwatch) have built explicit melee options or even entire combo systems based on a dedicated melee button.
    • Halo itself was remarkable primarily for bringing many earlier concepts into a single game. From the early days of the genre in particular, Duke Nukem 3D had a dedicated melee button years before Halo, though it was nowhere near as useful. Rise of the Triad meanwhile did away with Hammerspace arsenals, albeit to a lesser degree - pistol, dual pistols, an MP40, one heavy weapon, and one magic superweapon.
  • Back when the C64 was still kicking around, the arcade conversion of Gauntlet resulted in a large number of similar games to appear, including Dandy (actually a reformulated version of the dungeon crawler for Atari 8-Bit Computers that inspired Gauntlet), Druid, Gothik and Into the Eagle's Nest. Some "Gauntlet clones" were actually better as they had an objective while Gauntlet was mainly aimed at making players want to keep inserting more coins: Avenger and Ranarama focused more on adventure than action. Though Gauntlet was never converted to the BBC Micro, similar four-player games titled Dunjunz and White Magic were produced.
  • Want a headache? Try following the evolution of the Guitar Rock game genre:
  • Taomee is a fast growing Chinese company that makes very popular browser games in China aimed at children that copied not only the gameplay but sometimes the visuals of that game. Here are some examples of their games.
    • Mole's World (Club Penguin)
    • Seer and Seer 2 (Pokémon)
    • Magic Haqi (Wizard 101)note 
    • Flower Fairy (Pixie Hollow)
    • Magic Monster (Moshi Monsters)
    • Boke Central Travels (Poptropica)
  • Konami's Magician's Quest: Mysterious Times/Little Magician's Magic Adventure can essentially be summed up as: Animal Crossing, but at Wizarding School!
    • Not a style of game but Animal Crossing has helped popularize chibi-style casual games.
  • Rare, in their SNES/N64 times, had great success imitating popular Nintendo series. Diddy Kong Racing for example built on the success of Mario Kart, but adding an adventure mode and more vehicles. Prior to that, Donkey Kong Country was Super Mario World in the jungle. They eventually got tired of doing that, though, birthing Conkers Bad Fur Day, originally another cutesy platformer.
    • They've done it again. The Xbox 360's Avatars, which were developed by Rare, look suspiciously similar to Nintendo's Miis.
  • Although not the first spaceflight "simulator", Wing Commander spawned a lot of them, from good ones like the X-Wing and Freespace series, to... well, others.
  • The use of isometric projection. Nobody's sure whether Q*bert, Zaxxon or Ant Attack got there first (Ant Attack might have been the first to actually use the word "isometric"), but what people are certainly sure of is that Knight Lore is the one that blew it apart into the behemoth it became, inspiring a slew of similar games from the crud (Molecule Man, Return of R2) to the self-recycling (Alien 8, Pentagram) to the sublime (Head Over Heels, Get Dexter) to the just plain weird (Movie, Sweevo's World).
  • Gears of War didn't introduce the concept of duck and cover shooters but they are the most famous for making such a game enjoyable. Now it seems like there are two ways to do a shooter game, traditional FPS or Gears of War style.
  • Platform Hell, while first started by Jinsei Owata no Daibouken and Super Mario Forever, was codified by Kaizo Mario World, leading to a huge flood of imitators made purely for either the difficulty or to annoy people on Youtube and other video sharing websites (and half the examples on Platform Hell did this, complete with the exact same traps as Kaizo itself).
  • Mario's Picross helped speed up the amount of nonogram games to soon follow, mostly in Flash form.
  • Many urban-themed Beat 'em Up were made to ride on the success of Final Fight. Just look at Streets of Rage, Rival Turf!, 64th Street: A Detective Story, Burning Fight and Riot City. Though some of these games wound up becoming popular in thier own right (mainly streets of rage)
    • History repeated itself when Capcom tried to revive the Urban Beat 'em Up with Final Fight: Streetwise. Namco tried to take the wind out of Capcom's sails by making and releasing Urban Reign around the same time. Both games flopped.
      • The two examples are more cases of them trying to catch the Western crowd using "urban" themes, and like the "we want the Call of Duty audience" example, it alienated old fans and failed to bring in new ones. Sort of ironic as Streetwise's western development team wanted to make a true homage to the original Final Fight series.
  • Flat Out is often nicknamed Burnout's redneck cousin. Instead of crashes with cars only, they focus on cars crashing with the drivers being ejected.
  • God of War, as well as popularising Action Commands, seems to have spawned a genre of violent, gory third-person beat-em-ups with Sociopathic Hero protagonists. Examples include No More Heroes and MadWorld, but even the Wolverine movie based game is made in the style. The 2007 Conan the Barbarian game resembles God of War even further, right down to the spell-powers (which many Conan fans saw as a complete betrayal of the character).
  • God of War itself followed Devil May Cry as a spectacle fighter, and both being successors of the Beat 'em Up genre. In addition, the success of Devil May Cry led to the rise of stylish-action games (before God of War) in the early 2000s. Mainly the type games with an end of level rank such as Bujingai, Chaos Legion, Viewtiful Joe, Shinobi (PS2 version), and the Ninja Gaiden reboot.
  • The Mario Party games inspired a bunch of similar multiplayer "party" games like Shrek Party and Monopoly party.
    • Nickelodeon even has their own free, online version called Block Party.
  • Resident Evil may not have invented the Survival Horror genre, but it did invent the name, and it proved the concept could sell. Cue Silent Hill, Fatal Frame, Carrier, Capcom's own Dino Crisis, and so on.
  • There is a natural law that goes something like this: "Given continued development and infinite time, all open-source FPSes will eventually turn into Counter-Strike."
  • Shortly after Fallout 3's success, several RPG/FPS hybrids with a wasteland setting were announced.
    • So far, we have FUEL (a Open Sandbox racing game set in post apocalyptica,) Borderlands (where the developers have gone so far to say they loved Fallout 3, and decided to make the game, 'but with co-op'. It gets a little more confusing than that.), and Rage.
  • Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars, an incredibly popular homemade custom map (bordering on Game Mod) for Warcraft III, has spawned a commercial imitator in Demigod, with more titles on the horizon. League of Legends is the product of the original creator of the map making a game out of it.
  • Call of Duty fans are instigating the future Medal of Honor game is doing this, although technically it's the other way around, Infinity Ward being formed from people who worked on the early MoH's. Go figure.
    • And besides that, MoH is set in the War on Terror, in Afghanistan, while CoD 4 is set in Ultranationalist Russia.
    • Battlefield: Bad Company 2 does take a few plot elements from Modern Warfare 2, but for the most part it's for the purpose of parodying them.
  • Countless shmups in the '90s imitated Raiden... which itself was inspired by Twin Cobra and other Toaplan shmups, as was Konami's Trigon / Lightning Fighters, which came out the same year as the first Raiden.
  • Ever17 is a popular Visual Novel. Soul Link is a less popular visual novel. Ever17 is about a group of people trapped in an underwater theme park. Soul Link is about a group of people trapped in a hotel IN SPACE.
  • Wizard 101 is Toontown Online in a magical school setting.
  • First Person Shooters and RPGs have been a Takahashi Couple for a while now, but it was Mass Effect that really woke up developers to the potential money involved. Ironically, while Alpha Protocol is often billed as Mass Effect IN A SPY SETTING, and was launched on the wave that Mass Effect started, it's actually more of a Spiritual Successor to Deus Ex.
  • Ever since Starcraft numerous games seem to have followed their theme on formation of factions. Balanced Terrans, bio-tech Zergs, and high-tech Protoss.
  • LittleBigPlanet seems to have spawned a wave of co-op Platform Games, as well as a run of console games with level editors.
  • Nintendogs was popular enough to spawn a wave of virtual pet series. An especially tragic example is Ubisoft's Catz and Dogz titles: the game, by PF.Magic, pre-dated Nintendogs and was more comedic (such as being able to paint your cat or spritz it with water repeatedly). After the Learning Company/Mindscape/Brřderbund sales, Ubisoft owned the franchise and reinvented it except as an extremely girly knock-off of Nintendogs.
  • Although Railroad Tycoon started the "tycoon" brand, RollerCoaster Tycoon started a wave of games, each with "Tycoon" in its name. By the time it died circa 2006, games like Fairy Godmother Tycoon were on the market.
  • Young Merlin tries very much to be a Zelda game with some new twists.
  • Gameloft's method of making games is copying a currently popular title's graphics, gameplay, and frequently even name, and releasing it onto a platform that doesn't have a version of the game they copied. In a way, they're the video game version of The Asylum. Gameloft does at least try to make fun games and acknowledge that they're not exactly being original, and a lot of their products have received critical acclaim. Examples include:
  • On the same vein as Gameloft, Triniti Interactive has made their fair share of blatant clones of popular games for the iPhone, which they sell individually and in their GAMEBOX compilations. To be fair, they have made some decent original stuff and sometimes acknowledge their sources of inspiration. Examples include:
  • Professor Layton seems to be inspiring a subgenre of "cinematic game with quaint anime cutscenes and gameplay divided up into small, brainteaser-based chunks." One follower, Zack And Ombras Amusment Park Of Illusions, took a more mini-game based approach. And one DS title, Professor Lautrec And The Forgotten Knights features similar puzzles and anime cutscenes, but with a more traditional Gentleman Adventurer (with a Badass Mustache, though the top hat is still Layton-esque) and more Thick-Line Animation.
  • Thanks to Touhou, all modern Shoot Em Ups have to feature little girls and magic. Faux Symbolism is also common, thanks to Touhou's use of mythology. The few that don't bite pretty close to Gradius, Raiden, or Geometry Wars.
    • Touhou's use of mythology is more fodder for characterization, not an attempt of symbolism, though it hasn't stopped some other shmups from going that path.
    • Though various bullet hell games tend to copy CAVE's lead as they were the ones to popularize it.
  • Katamari Damacy, believe it or not. After the unexpected success of the game, Namco tried to follow up on it by creating other quirky, colorful games with a "growing" game mechanic, which resulted in Noby Noby Boy for the PS3 and The Munchables for the Wii.
  • Steve Ballmer's claims that the Xbox 360 is not a games console, but a "family entertainment center", along with his insistence that it was "the only console" with a variety of features, were systematically and viscerally debunked by the Machine CAST:
    "'It's the only system where you are the controller.' To be honest, that last one's just weak. That's like me trying to sell you a bicycle by saying it's the 'only vehicle where you are the engine'! Leaving aside the fact, of course, that the Wii and PlayStation Move...well, exist."
  • Ever since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare introduced the at-the-time new and innovative class customization multiplayer ideology to the mainstream, many games have copied it exactly, including the experience points and ranking system. Most of them have also copied the "perks" that the Call of Duty games are known for. Examples include:
  • The rather innovative destructible environment system of Infiniminer, after it was made open-source, spawned dozens of clones, most of which weren't that successful. There were exceptions though, one of them being Minecraft.
    • Minecraft, in turn, brought the genre into the mainstream, and it too inspired a wave of imitators. The most successful of these was Terraria, which shifted the concept from a fully 3D environment to a 2D side-scrolling one, and added Metroidvania elements. Minecraft also inspired other games to mimic its blocky art style in various forms.
  • Super Mario Bros. 3 had many clones/imitations, including Mc Kids, Bugs Bunny's Birthday Blowout, Armadillo(Japan only), etc.
  • Contra imitations included Data East's Midnight Resistance, SNK's Cyber Lip, Treasure's Gunstar Heroes (although it was made by former Konami employees who worked on Contra III), Sunsoft's Bay Route and Irem's Gunforce. Gunstar Heroes was itself imitated by Gunner's Heaven (also known as Rapid Reload).
  • Espial and HAL 21 were both carbon copies of Xevious, as was Data East's Zaviga. Another very similar Arcade Game was Sega's Gardia. Alphos for the PC-88 was apparently developed as a clone but released under license from Namco because this early Enix game resembled Xevious too much. The original MSX versions of Zanac also look a lot like Xevious, as does the original Thunder Force, which was actually dolled-up in Korea as Super Xevious.
  • Copying R-Type was quite the thing for a long time (e.g. Pulstar, Konami's XEXEX, Allumer's Rezon), to the point that Irem ended up suing a company called Factor 5 for making Katakis, a crass ripoff even by the very low standards of video game thievery.
  • Love Plus made money in Japan, and attracted media attention (perhaps because of obsessive fans). In May 2011, the company Teatime created an adults-only game called Renai+H with similar gameplay.
  • After Just Dance became a surprise hit, several similar dance games were made, for the Wii, Xbox 360 Kinect, and Playstation 3 Move, including Dance Central, Dance Masters, Dance Paradise, Singstar Dance, Country Dance.
  • Square's 3-D NES games The 3-D Battles of WorldRunner and Rad Racer were clones/imitations of Sega's Space Harrier and OutRun, respectively. Square's still earlier Kings Knight borrows a lot of elements from Konami's MSX game Knightmare.
    • Other Space Harrier derivatives/ripoffs included Rocket Ranger, Cosmic Epsilon, Attack Animal Gakuen, Jimmu Densho Yaksa and the second level of Savage.
    • Other Out Run imitators in the arcades included Taito's Top Speed (also known as Full Throttle) and Jaleco's Big Run.
  • Nichibitsu's Terra Force follows in the footsteps of Konami's Salamander (Life Force), alternating between vertical and horizontal scrolling, and featuring similar weaponry and attack drones.
  • Castlevania was copied a lot, most blatantly with the Sega Master System game Vampire: Master of Darkness and the PC-98 game Rusty.
  • Ninja Gaiden (NES) inspired Wrath of the Black Manta(which also has elements of Shinobi), Vice Project Doom, Shatterhand, Shadow of the Ninja (which ironically was dolled up as Ninja Gaiden Shadow on the Game Boy), the NES Batman game et al.
    • Speaking of ninjas, Irem's Ninja Spirit followed The Legend of Kage, but was far superior, although it was mostly overlooked.
  • Rolling Thunder was imitated by ESWAT Cyber Police, the aforementioned Shinobi, Crime City, Rough Ranger, Code Name Viper, etc. There were even two attempts to fuse it with themes from James Bond movies: Sly Spy and ThunderJaws.
  • In the late 1970s to early 1980s, a large number of video game companies rushed to release their own Space Invaders-like games. Some of these were hardly distinguishable from the original, e.g. Leijac's Space King and IPM's IPM Invader by two companies now better known as Konami and Irem, respectively. Of all the early imitators, Namco's Galaxian is probably the best remembered, while Nintendo's Space Fever and Sega's Invinco! may be regarded as mere footnotes to history. TI Invaders for the TI-99, Avenger for the VIC-20, and Space Assault for the Color Computer were first-party Space Invaders clones for systems that never received authorized ports.
  • Pong Tennis and other clones were extremely common in the 1970s despite technology allowing to make different games. These came out with most of the first-generation video game consoles after the success of Pong, which was released in 1972. Atari even published an ad in May 1973 mocking the band-wagon behavior of their competitors.
  • Ace Combat inspired a few modern air combat games combining over-the-top scenarios and an unrealistic flight model. Examples include Air Force Delta, the Sidewinder series (released in the west as Bogey Dead 6 and Lethal Skies) and more recently, HAWX.
  • Quake ended up being the leader in a different way - there are a whole slew of games running on its engines (particularly Quake III: Arena's) or derivatives of them (such as Call of Duty's IW Engine or Valve Software's GoldSrc and Source), in comparison to the competing Unreal engine.
  • Metal Slug led to an handful of fast-paced run and gunners with a cartoony yet intricate art style. Examples include Demon Front, CT Special Forces, Commando: Steel Disaster, and Alien Hominid.
  • Pac-Man gave rise to such a wave of unauthorized clones that the arcade version of Ms. Pac-Man and the Apple ][ version of Pac-Man were originally developed as such. K.C. Munchkin for the Odyssey2 was close enough to get sued, though it became something a bit different. Munch Man for the TI-99 was almost too much like Pac-Man in its prototype version; the final release had a different maze and the superficial substitution of laying chains for eating dots. ADK's Crush Roller (also known as Make Trax) similarly switched picking/eating stuff up to laying stuff down, and originally ran on an arcade board that cloned the Pac-Man hardware. Some developers of dot-collecting Maze Games were a bit more inventive, and Lady Bug, Lock 'n' Chase and Mouse Trap were respectable enough games in their own right to see release on multiple platforms.
  • Living Books inspired a whole slew of clones, done in a very similar format (Almost all of them had the option to read the story automatically, or read a page and click on everything). The most notable of these is the Disney Animated Storybook series, although several others had given it a shot too.
  • The great wave of "Breakout clones" actually followed the release of Arkanoid, in whose wake came Arcade Games like Gigas and Quester, and on European 8-bit computers Batty and Krakout.
    • One game, Sorcerer's Maze, is a Breakout clone made for the PS1. It was given a misleading title in order to fool gamers because it's just another Breakout clone. The game is actually fairly decent, and it has bosses.
  • Pokémon spawned its share of imitators, like: Spectrobes, which gets lampshaded in Game Informer's review of the first game. Gotta Dig Up Fossilized Remains Of 'Em All!
  • Mini Robot Wars seems like a clone of Plants vs. Zombies, except that the game is in a horizontal view with platforms you have to place your units on.
    • There are alot of Plants vs. Zombies clones in China, ranging from online role-playing games to arcade games.
  • Singles: Flirt Up Your Life is essentially a mature copy of The Sims 2.
  • Activision quite obviously copied the Cooking Mama concept to a T and made it into Science Papa.
  • Super Mario 64 started the "Collect-a-thon" genre of platform games, spawning games like Donkey Kong 64, Spyro the Dragon, Banjo-Kazooie, the latter two Gex games, Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, and the first Jak and Daxter. As with most instances of this trope, the quality varies wildly.
  • Kung Fu Master led to other single-plane Beat Em Ups starring Bruce Lee Clones: Dragon Wang for the SG-1000, Kung-Fu Road for the Super Cassette Vision, and China Warrior for the Turbo-Grafx 16.
  • Farmville is an interesting case. The game was inspired by Chinese web game called Happy Farm, which itself is inspired by Harvest Moon. Now with the popularity of social network farming games, Marvelous decided to follow the leader that was following Marvelous...
  • The Portopia Serial Murder Case, especially its menu-based Famicom port, led to an enormous wave of murder mystery adventure games from Japanese video game companies in the 1980s; Irem and Taito produced licensed adaptations of popular mystery novels by Kyotaro Nishimura and Misa Yamamura, and even Nintendo jumped on the trend with the Famicom Detective Club series. This trend went unnoticed in English-speaking countries, because very few of these games were ever localized, though some of them (Déjŕ Vu and Murder on the Mississippi) did begin as American computer games.
  • Once again with the Beat 'em Up genre, Konami also started something with it. This version of follow the leader went into three different directions:
    • 1.) The success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game led to the rise of the company itself doing arcade adaptions of popular cartoons/cartoons based on comic books, with up to 4 (6 for X-men) player co-op. Titles such as X-Men, The Simpsons, and Bucky O'Hare during the 90s. Konami did face some competition in the 4-player comic book Beat 'em Up field: Captain America and the Avengers and a Sega Arcade Game starring Spider-Man, Sub-Mariner, Black Cat and Hawkeye.
    • 2.) This also led a couple of "me too's" on Ninjas with weapons and 4 player co-op. Taito's The Ninja Kids (most of them wield bladed weapons) and Irem's Ninja Baseball Bat Man (all fight with baseball bats, duh). One of the stages in The Ninja Kids looks like April's burning apartment. The final stage in Ninja Baseball Bat Man takes place on top of a scaffold in New York, at night, just like the first stage of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time. Both games failed in arcades not because they were bad, but due to poor advertisement and being over shadowed by other, and more popular beat'em ups and fighting games. In fact they had decent (Ninja Kids) and excellent (Ninja Baseball Batman) game play respectively.
    • 3.) There were games that hitched on the Teenage Mutant Samurai Wombats craze. Mainly the Battletoads franchise is guilty of this, but it started on the home consoles and worked its way up to the arcades. The console versions used lots of Nintendo Hard platforming to differentiate itself from other brawlers, but the arcade game is just a more straight foward brawler and plays more like Double Dragon with gory finishers. Wow. Now that's a doozy!
  • Jaleco's Ninja Jajamaru-kun series, after the first two games, abandoned its original style of gameplay in the later Famicom installments, which instead imitated Dragon Quest (Jajamaru Ninpou Chou), The Legend of Zelda (Jajamaru Gekimaden) and Super Mario Bros. 3 (Ginga Daisakusen).
  • The Monster Hunter series is huge in Japan, and has already inspired a handful of multiplayer-party-vs.-giant-monster successors, namely Square Enix's Lord of Arcana, Namco Bandai's Gods Eater Burst, and Game Arts' Ragnarok Odyssey.
  • Although it was a pre-existing franchise, when Zone of the Enders got an installment for the Game Boy Advance it ended up remarkably similar to the Super Robot Wars games on the platform, complete with a morale system and equippable parts.
  • Modern Warfare didn't just create a lot of similar shooters using its concept. It also turned newer shooters to having MUCH darker narratives.
    • And by "darker narratives", we mean "Red Dawn as an FPS".
  • To say that Xuan Dou Zhi Wang is Tencent's Chinese equivalent of The King of Fighters is like dividing by 1; it's already implied. That being said, it does the job well enough, but the blatant similarities to KOF (especially after the game was demoed by two of China's best KOF players) seem like a lawsuit waiting to happen.
  • After the success of the Wii, Sony and Microsoft joined in with the motion-control fad with Kinect and Playstation Move. Even though Playstation Move is widely regarded as a rip-off of the Wii, Sony actually had the idea of a motion controller since 2001, five years before Nintendo.
  • Secret Weapons Over Normandy inspired several arcadey story-driven WWII flight games. Followers include Blazing Angels, Heroes Of The Pacific and Combat Wings.
  • The Xak Action RPG series began in the footsteps of the Ys series, and followed its format to the point of remaking the first two games as a single story on the PC Engine CD, much like Ys Book I & II. Other Ys-like games included Lagoon, Technosoft's Shin Kugyokuden and Data East's Makai Hakkenden Shada (whose title suggests Tengai Makyou Ziria, whose highly-anticipated release came three months later).
  • Compile Heart announced Monster Monpiece, a Vita JRPG starring much fanservice and monster girls as enemies. It's likely not a coincidence that Monster Girl Quest was one of 2011-2012's more popular games beforehand. Oh, and they're not known for being subtle about it.
  • A number of later NES/Famicom Platform Games show a huge Mega Man influence, including Magical Doropie (also known as The Krion Conquest), Power Blazer (whose international version, Power Blade, turned into a rather different game) and Little Samson.
  • Super Mario Bros. greatly spurred the development of Platform Games for the Nintendo Entertainment System and later consoles, though surprisingly few took it as their primary model. Some computer games imitated Super Mario Bros. more brazenly, most notoriously The Great Giana Sisters, which was withdrawn under pressure of Nintendo almost immediately after it was published. (Maybe the makers should not have written "the brothers are history" on the cover of the C64 version...) Ironically enough, it got a remake on the Nintendo DS of all platforms.
  • Many Rainbow Islands clones, such as Top Banana, can be found on the Amiga (among other computer systems of the time), due to the game's popularity in the UK.
  • "HD remakes" of games are suddenly all the rage. Started as just a one-off thing for some classic games approaching ten years old (Serious Sam and Call of Duty were among the firstnote ), but now anything and everything that wasn't made for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is getting an HD remake for those consoles.
  • The hugely popular mod DayZ inspired the makers of Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing to create an MMO zombie survival game called The War Z, a game that contained none of the advertised features and being an obvious cash in towards people looking for DayZ or a game like it. Since then, several MMO first-person zombie survival games have started showing up on Steam, even though a couple of them are just The War Z being re-released under a different name because the original release was literally criminally deficient.
  • Zyclunt (exported as Blade Warrior), one of the first games developed by Korean studio Phantagram, takes its lead from Genocide 2, a Japanese PC game that was not distributed in Western countries but had recently received an IBM-compatible port from a rival Korean company.
  • You know how so many third person shooters have Always over the Shoulder camera? Yeah you can thank Resident Evil 4 for that. Not only that, it also popularized quicktime events and "realistic brown" environments. It's probably one of the most influential games of it's generation and it's influence is very, very present in this gen. Hell, Dead Space might as well be called "Resident Evil 4, IN SPACE!!!".
  • The Platform Hell I Wanna Be the Guy was based off a Japanese flash game called The Life-Ending Adventure... and when the latter game was finished, its final areas are based off of IWBTG, with The Kid as the final boss!
    • Likewise inverted in the sequel - part of level 1-3 is based off the first game, and it starts right where The Life-Ending Adventure starts its own recreation! Word Of God confirms this was intentional.
  • The original Dragon Quest practically created the Eastern RPG, and Final Fantasy and Phantasy Star were only the two most successful of the many imitators springing up in its wake, which also included Glory of Heracles and Momotaro Densetsu. MOTHER 1 tried hard to be different in terms of setting and aesthetics, though its gameplay was still pretty much the same.
    • Dragon Quest itself was explicitly inspired by the first Wizardry game (which Yuji Horii was enthralled by; the original concept behind the game was to create something that combined the combat system of Wizardry with the overhead view of Ultima. The first Final Fantasy drew on the granddaddy of the RPG itself, Dungeons & Dragons, both in terms of Vancian Magic (a distinction shared by Wizardry) and monster artwork and design.
  • Before Punch Out had its NES release endorsed by Mike Tyson, Elite Systems Ltd got an endorsement from a Real Life prizefighter for its own knockoff, Frank Bruno's Boxing.
  • PAYDAY: The Heist was heavily inspired by Valve's Left 4 Dead series by taking the core concept of tight teamwork and enemies that rush the players in large swarms, but with SWAT teams instead of zombies. The game has done incredibly well and Valve even helped the developers create the crossover No Mercy DLC. The sequel still retains the core concepts of the first game, but differentiates itself from Left 4 Dead by having character class skills and weapon mods.
  • World of Tanks free-to-play model has spawned thinly veiled clones using the exact same mechanics - MechWarrior Online's primary gamemode is a copy+pasted version of World Of Tanks base capture/team annihilation. Online uses an identical "garage" system (renamed to "mechbay"), and like in Tanks, Online has no-respawn gameplay. And both have obscenely expensive cosmetic items.
  • Dwarf Fortress prompted a several games based around what can best be called "Dwarf management" (such as Dwarves!?, A Game of Dwarves, and Survivors of Ragnarok), as well as a number of other games in its general style, like Towns. Most of them play differently in one way or another, though, and all of them try to offer an alternative to Dwarf Fortresses' somewhat steep learning curve and minimalist graphics.
  • Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was not the first game to include a near-unstoppable, Implacable Man enemy that repeatedly shows up with a single-minded focus on killing/stopping you, but it was one of the most popular and influential. After Nemesis, this sort of enemy started showing up frequently in a variety other games (a good example being Silent Hill 2's Pyramid Head), to the point where other games in the Resident Evil series tried to copy this success with their own versions of Nemesis.
  • In the early 1990s, Naxat Soft organized the Summer Carnivals as a rival to Hudson Soft's Caravan series, both being contests to see who could score the most points in a certain number of minutes. The game featured in Naxat's first annual contest, Seirei Senshi Spriggan, was developed by Compile, who had also developed Gunhed for Hudson to use in their '89 contest. For Summer Carnival '92, Naxat developed Alzadick, a short game strongly reminiscent of the Star Soldier series that was Hudson's mainstay.
  • Capcom's Gun.Smoke was closely imitated by the European computer games Desperado and Wanted (alias Outlaw); Desperado actually became an authorized version of Gun.Smoke in the UK.
  • "We want the Call of Duty audience." These words have marked countless game series for death and will mark countless more to come. Game companies try so hard to make their games appeal to said audience that they alienate fans of previous games in the series (apparently the companies assume that they will just buy it anyway). Meanwhile the Call of Duty audience doesn't really care about much else but Call of Duty, so the game falls flat and the franchise is considered a lost cause due to poor sales. You would think people would stop trying, but Call of Duty makes so goddamn much money that it's hard for them not to.
    • This could extend to the whole craze of "Western-developed remakes of classic Japanese series" as the two best known examples (Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and Dm C Devil May Cry) have encountered mixed reviews from old fans at best and not so much interest from would be new ones. This trend was mainly caused by various Western games (such as GTA and CoD) making more money in the US than most Japanese-made games.
  • The success of the physics-based stunt bike-racing game Trials spawned two imitators: Tate Multimedia's Urban Trial: Freestyle and Bakno Games' inventively titled Motorbike.
  • Koei's breakout success with Nobunaga's Ambition inspired other Japanese Video Game Companies to create their own Jidai Geki Turn-Based Strategy games. Examples include Game Arts' Harakiri, Irem's Hototogisu, Namco's Dokuganryu Masamune and Wolf Team's Zan series. Given the lack of appeal of these games to non-Japanese players, it's surprising that even one of the imitators (Hot-B's Shingen the Ruler) was localized.
  • Arcade rhythm game which uses collectibles as part of its game mechanic started with Pretty Cure arcade, followed by Lilpri - Yubi Puru Hime Chen! & Love&Berry by Sega, Pretty Rhythm by Takara Tomy and Aikatsu by Namco Bandai.
  • Many, many Super Mario World ROM hacks attempt to copy either Brutal Mario, Kaizo Mario World or both. Sometimes it's fairly 'subtle' (like how Scarlet Devil Mario 2 takes many a level idea from the former and recodes them), sometimes it's a deliberate homage (ala Mario's Wacky Worlds ripping off Kaizo Mario's first level to annoy ProtonJon) and sometimes it's blatant enough that any commercial publisher would probably sue as a result (Super Mario Kollision and Hammer Bro Demo 3 take entire levels from said games, complete with the graphics, music and level design).
    • For the more general ROM hacks that attempt to copy the success of Kaizo Mario World or similar hacks, many designers try to be as brutally difficult as the original hacks or cranks the difficulty Up to Eleven. The massive flooding of ROM hacks that try to be as difficult as possible slowly killed off ROM hacks in general.
  • The Horace games for the ZX Spectrum, though never entirely derivative of arcade games, were fairly close in spirit. Hungry Horace played like Pac-Man but with a very different approach to maze design; the first screen of Horace Goes Skiing loosely resembled Frogger; and the final screen of Horace and the Spiders was very similar to Space Panic.
  • The Real-Time Strategy Genre that doesn't fall under the Point Buy System is either "Command & Conquer Style" or "StarCraft Style". Even point buy RTS games can be said to have actual combat based off these two.
  • The Commodore 64 game Uridium had a few imitators, including Ultima Ratio and Mirax Force. Psycastria for the BBC Micro was more popular than that platform's official conversion of Uridium.
  • The Amiga Shoot 'em Up Blood Money takes blatant inspiration from the contemporary Irem Arcade Game Mr. Heli.
  • Mortal Kombat Trilogy's "Brutality" Finishing Moves are quite obviously their interpretation of Killer Instinct's Ultra Combos.
  • Much as there is the Diablo clone, Japan also has the Wizardry clone. The games really hit it off in Japan for being harder than hard first-person dungeon crawler RPGs, and the Japanese version of the series has more than 20 entries. The games had a notable influence on the earliest Shin Megami Tensei games, as well as Etrian Odyssey. There's also the Japanese Generation Xth trilogy, which is MegaTen's even more cyberpunky Science Fantasy Wizardry cousin.
  • Surgeon Simulator 2013 became an instant hit with the gaming community for having the concept of playing as a clumsy surgeon who only operates with one hand and his fingers move individually with different buttons, making gripping tools difficult but funny to handle as the surgeon tears out all the vital organs to reach the one organ he has to do a transplant on. Several games have followed the trend of badly controlled "simulator" games with various results, such as Probably Archery (which tries to mimic Surgeon Simulator 2013's bad controls a little too well) and Goat Simulator (has everything as a total wreck for shits and giggles with the exception of any Game-Breaking Bug). The success of Surgeon Simulator 2013, and Goat Simulator also caused a slew of copycapts to create their own "X Simulator" games on the concept of being clever with things like Rock Simulator, Water Simulator, and even a Black Screen Simulator, reaching the status of a Discredited Meme.
  • The success of the Neo Geo inspired the creation of several arcade arcade boards with easily-swapped game cartridges. Examples include the Taito F3, Capcom's CPS Changer (which was basically a consolized release of the venerable CPS1), Jaleco's Mega System 32, Kaneko's Super Nova System and IGS's PolyGame Master. Data East's MLC System went for interchangeable daughterboards instead, though Data East's own Neo Geo games were more successful.
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent inspired an explosion of first-person Survival Horror indie games taking what separated Alone in the Dark, Resident Evil and Silent Hill from their action-packed predecessors and pushing it even further. So much so that the "wandering a dark place avoiding a monster" genre quickly became a parody of itself, with hordes of inexperienced developers making low-effort, lower-execution freeware titles in entry-level engines such as Unity and Game Maker. Case in point, Something Awful founder Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka has a YouTube channel dedicated to such "projects" and these sorts of games are the predominant genre.
  • Slender has had similar impact in the Indie Survival Horror genre, taking the "first person helplessness" mechanics of Amnesia and distilling it into a simple formula of item collecting and Jump Scares in a minimalist environment. Unsurprisingly, countless home-brew spinoffs have been unleashed upon the Internet and, just as unsurprisingly, are one of the most common targets of Lowtax's channel.
  • The huge success of Ao Oni (it's even got a movie and novelization now) led to the boom of the "Oni Game" genre (4-ish people trapped in a Closed Circle with a Palette Swap of the aforementioned Oni as the implacable stalker), and the RPG-Maker Horror Game genre (which itself has been helped along more recently by titles like Ib and The Witch's House).
  • Operation Wolf set the model for most Light Gun Games of the late 1980s. Lethal Enforcers revamped it for the 1990s with digitized graphics, which were then taken up by Data East's Locked 'N Loaded and (ironically) Operation Wolf 3.
  • Adventure Quiz: Capcom World was the first of a wave of board-game-style trivia quiz games that Capcom and other companies great and small produced in every popular theme to flood Japanese arcades in the early 1990s. The high fantasy-themed Quiz & Dragons was one of the very few to be localized, though one character from the pseudo-Dating Sim Quiz Nanairo Dreams would make her Western debut in Marvel vs. Capcom.

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