In the world of literature, they say there are only a handful of original stories and everything else is just a variation of one of these same plots. Could the same principal possibly be said for video games? There are plenty of games that fans consider "clones" of other titles. Some are God of War clones, Doom clones, Mario Party clones, the list just goes on. Most of these so-called clones are decent, some are actually really great, others are just blatant rip-offs of much better titles. Some take something like collect-a-thon platforming, others use extremely similar power-ups or weapons, but there are always a few things recognizable from other sources. So what clones make our list? What video game doppelgangers make us say"where have we seen this before?" Well, that's what's on the menu today.
Video game clones are any video game that uses any mechanic, gameplay, design, or layout that too closely resembles a more popular title. These games are not necessarily bad, but some might not be the most original. To be considered a clone, the game has to do more than just imitate a popular title. The entirety of the first-person-shooter genre could be considered Doom clones if that were the case. These are games that either take several pieces from inspirational titles or are literally the same game with a different coat of paint. Whatever the reason, these are games that we consider a bit too on the nose to be something one-hundred percent their own.
20 KILLER INSTINCT (CLONE OF MORTAL KOMBAT)
When the gory arcade classic hit the home console, it made a massive bloody splash. Because of its hardcore combat and famously fierce fatalities, many games attempted to recreate the bone-crunching action but toned down the ultraviolent imagery. Killer Instinct had some minor blood splatters but had the same fun combat style seen in its inspiration.
The game featured more fantasy/sci-fi inspired characters duking it out against one another with satisfying battle animations and cool combos. Some characters wield swords, some shoot fire, and one's even a giant velociraptor. It's a slightly more fun approach to the fighting genre; not quite as blood-drenched as we're used to, but fun for a little one-on-one beatdown.
19 ROCKBAND (CLONE OF GUITAR HERO)
The rocking rhythm game from Harmonix did more than just copy Guitar Hero, it improved upon the formula. Why limit the gameplay to just the guitar? A rock group is more than that, right? Harmonix expanded the gameplay to include multiple instruments as well as multiple players, making it possible to share the music with everyone.
The game has essentially the exact same rhythm-based gameplay consisting of falling notes and instrument-shaped controllers. The only difference is the coloration and the addition of the additional instruments, an element that Guitar Hero would later take for themselves. Imitation really is the best form of flattery it seems.
18 SHOVEL KNIGHT (CLONE OF DUCKTALES AND MEGA MAN)
Yacht Club's Shovel Knight is a piece of platforming perfection that every 3Ds owner should play. It's a tribute to classic NES styled platformers, but it does take away some things that are impossibly obvious. Shovel Knight appears to have taken some platforming lessons from Scrooge McDuck of the Ducktales game, and the Order of No Quarter is composed practically of medieval Mega Man bosses.
The game is as addictive and sharp as any good platformer should be, but its influences are not subtle winks to the player. Side by side, the controls are almost identical to Scrooge's cane bounce, and the power-ups are magically redesigned versions of Mega Man's master powers. It's a proper tribute to these platforming legends, but the resemblance is uncanny.
17 AXIOM VERGE (CLONE OF SUPER METROID)
There are dozens of Metroidvania titles on the market today, but not all of them are blatant clones of the original source material. Axiom Verge, however, is what happens when you take Super Metroid and toss it in a salad spinner with H.R. Giger's designs and the complete menagerie of Lovecraft's horrors. A few tweaks here and there, but its still Metroid.
Stop us if you've heard this one before, you're an explorer on an alien planet infested with eerie caves, monsters, and weapons you need to progress. It's practically Metroid with a male protagonist, right? Its graphics, aliens and spooky sci-fi atmosphere definitely show where its inspiration came from.
16 CANDY CRUSH (BEJEWELED)
There are many slide-and-match puzzle games out there, but Bejeweled is considered by most fans of the genre to be the original. It was a fun time-waster game that had its own beautiful zen. That being said, it's sad to say that the jewels have fallen from the crown and have been replaced by sugary substitutes.
Candy Crush has certainly replaced its predecessor as the most popular matching game, but it's still almost the exact same thing. There are a few innovations like the gummy and soda-based levels, but like so many of its kind, the match for points drive is still there. Though it tries to copy the classic, it still lacks the zen-like quality of Bejeweled.
15 SHADOW OF MORDOR (CLONE OF BATMAN: ARKHAM SERIES)
The Lord of the Rings series has always lent itself well to the video game medium, and Shadow of Mordor is no exception. Its dark-fantasy atmosphere and gripping combat are always invigorating, but perhaps a bit too familiar. The combat, stealth mechanics, and tracking abilities are all extremely reminiscent of another cape-wearing hero.
Take away the orcs, swords, and high-fantasy storyline, Mordor has few differences from Arkham Asylum. It's not a bad game by any means, some even prefer it over Batman's title, but the fact remains, it's still a copy of another popular game. In this case, however, it's not necessarily a bad thing.
14 DISNEY INFINITY (CLONE OF SKYLANDERS)
The toys-to-life platforms took off way bigger than many of us originally thought. Bringing collectible figures to life was a new way to play, and kids ate it up. After the first Skylanders flew off the shelves, it was only a matter of time before others jumped on the bandwagon. Lego, Nintendo, and others soon had their own toys-to-life, but none were as glorious as Disney Infinity.
Disney Infinity brought the magical world of Disney to life and allowed players to build and explore their own worlds. It had echoes of Minecraft, but with enough Skylanders's elements to take notice. This magical alternative to its aforementioned influence was, unfortunately, shut down some time ago, but players will always remember the fun they had in this enchanted toy-box.
13 DOCTOR MARIO (CLONE OF TETRIS)
Tetris is one of the most accessible and addictive games on the planet. When it first debuted in 1984, it took the world by storm. Naturally, with a popular game such as this, there are bound to be a few imitators. Who knew Mario would be one of the biggest perpetrators?
Doctor Mario, released for the Gameboy and NES, was essentially Tetris with a colorful twist. Instead of completing lines of shapes, the player matched colors of pills to eliminate viruses in a Petrie dish. The falling of the pills easily emulates the patterns of the falling blocks, and the end result of the gameplay is just too similar not to notice.
12 OCEANHORN (CLONE OF LEGEND OF ZELDA: WINDWAKER)
There's a fine line between imitation and copying in any element of media. The IOS game, Oceanhorn, teeters on that line. From the semi-top-down perspective to the colorful island setting, this is not only an obvious Zelda clone but a painfully-obvious Zelda clone.
Most Zelda clones tend to take influence from the 16-bit era, but this is perhaps the first we've seen take influence from Windwaker. The sailboat, setting, and swordplay are nearly identical, like Nintendo-needs-to-keep-tabs identical. All it needs is a pair of green tights.
11 DARKSIDERS (CLONE OF GOD OF WAR, ZELDA)
One of the greatest hack-and-slash games to be turned loose on consoles, the Darksiders series is a demon-hacking slice of dark fantasy not to be missed. Players ride into battle as the horseman of war, tearing through a post-apocalyptic wasteland and wielding massive blades. It has an original story and design, but it has very familiar, and somewhat mythic, gameplay.
The combo-heavy and gory combat of God of War seem to have been blended splendidly with the puzzles and exploration of The Legend of Zelda. It's an odd combination of elements, but a compliment nonetheless. Familiar territory, yes, but not an unwanted adventure.
10 CUPHEAD (CLONE OF CONTRA)
A new member of the run-and-gun gauntlet Cuphead takes the gun-happy and difficult gameplay of Contra and the whimsically silly art style of Fleisher Studios and Early Disney. This radical retro platformer has everything that made the original Contra nail-bitingly difficult but has a fresh take with its design, bosses, and jazzy soundtrack.
More of an homage to the classic, Cuphead has certainly won the hearts of Contra fans, and retro-style games in general. It's a fun but brutal romp through a crazy cartoon world presented in glorious Technicolor. With DLC recently revealed, hopefully, we can see more of this colorful clone.
9 STREETS OF RAGE (CLONE OF FINAL FIGHT)
In the golden days of gaming, Capcom was the king of the arcade beat-em-ups, and there were few as gripping as Final Fight. But like so many cabinet classics, they faced some competition when developers brought arcade action to the home console. The Streets of Rage series was Sega's answer to Final Fight.
Essentially, the controls and gameplay are the exact same, But Sega took a good game and made it great. Streets of Rage had more characters, more varied enemies, more weapons, and more ways to punch, kick, and karate chop street gangs to save the city. Though Final Fight had its charms and sequels, its clone was the one that came out on top.
8 YOKAI WATCH (CLONE OF POKEMON)
The Pokemon franchise is one of the biggest juggernauts of gaming. Since its early days on the Gameboy, this monster-hunting masterpiece has thrilled gamers of all ages. There have been a few imitators, but they've never come close to perfecting the formula of the original. The series seemed to have no contest... that is, until Yokai Watch.
Yokai Watch has players pick a boy or girl character, find a cutesy animal companion, and set off on an adventure collecting more cutesy animal companions. What makes the game different is the fact that it focuses more on one town than a collection, and its collectible monsters are all mischievous ghosts causing problems for the living. It's an obvious clone, but it certainly has a deeper story.
7 DANTE'S INFERNO (CLONE OF GOD OF WAR)
Dante's Inferno is not a good God of War clone... it's an amazing God of War clone! The poet has been reimagined into a fallen crusader on a mission to save his beloved from Lucifer and the nine circles of Hell, and the designers at Visceral Games could not have done a better job.
The combos, the finishing moves, the mythological monsters are all God of War, but Dante's Inferno does something special. Instead of focusing in on the brutal deaths of Greek gods and hardcore combat, this game focuses on button-mashing action and butchering the army of the damned. It's one of those games where you can just turn your brain off and have a little fun.
6 DIDDY KONG RACING (CLONE OF MARIO KART 64)
Mario Kart 64 is, to this day, one of the most imitated games in the medium. From Nintendo to PlayStation, everyone wanted a piece of the kart-racing genre, including the minds behind Donkey Kong Country. Seeing how the big ape is often out karting with Mario, it seems appropriate that Diddy brought the track to the jungle.
Diddy Kong Racing took the Mario Kart basics and added multiple vehicles and boss battles. The controls and multiplayer gameplay were still very similar, but this is certainly a standout on the N64. It's a fun clone with a few new additions; a solid entry to the racing genre.
5 ALUNDRA (CLONE OF THE LEGEND OF ZELDA)
This game is literally the PlayStation's answer to Zelda, right down to the elven hero and 16-bit graphics. You play as a blonde, pointy-eared protagonist, you wield a bladed weapon, bombs, and hook shot, and you're on a mission to save a magical kingdom from an evil wizard. It certainly sounds like standard Zelda fodder to us.
The gameplay is certainly a bit more difficult and more puzzle oriented than its inspiration, but it does have a few quirks of its own. The dream sequences, mysterious atmosphere, and anime-inspired design help it stand out from the rest of the pack. Just different enough to be its own game, Alundra is really an adventure to behold.
4 KC MUNCHKIN (CLONE OF PAC-MAN)
Pac-Man, like Tetris, is another one of those classic games that always allows itself for an easy makeover. Any game can have a character run through a maze, eating various bits and pieces and collect power-ups, all while trying to avoid monsters in the process. It's one of the most common titles around, but perhaps the most blatant copycat appeared in the early days of the home console.
The Odyssey was one of the earliest consoles released. Somewhat similar to the Atari, it played with a few bits of color and simple games. KC Munchkin was literally Pac-Man with monsters. The player would control KC through a shifting maze, eating dots, and avoiding the Munchers. In short, it was a Pac-Man of a different color.
3 BRAID (CLONE OF MARIO)
The indie game scene has always been a farm for new, artsy, and more visual focused titles. Take the simplistic yet sharp gameplay of Super Mario Bros., add a Prince of Persia time shifting mechanic, and mix it all together with some beautiful art; in the end, you get Braid. Braid is one of the pillars of the indie game market, but it does take quite a bit from its obvious muse.
Braid has the same platform jumping, enemy bouncing, princess saving gameplay of an early Mario title, but turns it on its head with its design, time turning, and impressively surprising storyline. A bit more than a clone, but definitely an experience. We highly recommend this title for those looking for an alternative platformer.
2 BLOODSTAINED: CURSE OF THE MOON (CLONE OF CASTLEVANIA III)
Bloodstained is an upcoming gothic platformer considered to be the successor to the Castlevania series. To keep the fans' attention, they released a sort of prequel in the style of Castlevania III. When we say "in the style of Castlevania III" we basically mean Castlevania III with four new characters.
It's unbelievably uncanny how much this game resembles not just Castlevania in general, but a specific title. An 8-bit, NES-styled, monster hunting platformer where one of the main characters uses a whip, is a bit too close for comfort. Even some of the level designs are mirror images of the worlds in Castlevania III. Richter Belmont would be getting a severe case of deja vu in this 8-bit indie title.
1 CASTLEVANIA: SYMPHONY OF THE NIGHT (CLONE OF SUPER METROID)
More of a hybrid than a verbatim copy, Symphony of the Night took the weapons mechanic, sprawling map, and backtracking to create not only the best game in the series but a new genre as well. It's equal parts of both games, but that doesn't mean the influences of the game aren't felt. Even one of the first bosses has a strange resemblance to Ridley.
Castlevania is one of the few games on our list that have copied and been copied as well. And since the birth of the Metroidvania genre, every title under that umbrella has been trying to recreate that same castle-climbing experience. From Axiom Verge to Steamworld Dig, all of these puzzling action platforms owe their origins to this amazing Metroid clone.