The Top 7… shameless rip-offs

7. Banjo Kazooie

Ripped off: Super Mario 64

The photocopied premise: A fat character jumps through portals into a series of colourful 3D platform worlds, collecting valuables in an effort to rescue a loved one.

What it borrowed: Rare are fine developers in their own right (well, in their halcyon-coated N64 heyday). But that didn’t stop them rolling into the Mushroom Kingdom, holding up all the idea banks and stealing as many of the Italian toilet jockey’s mechanics and moves as they could stuff into dollar-branded bags.

Levels that were accessed through a central hub, the obsessive hoovering up of collectibles to further your progression, even Mario’s athletic collection of jumps, all ripped straight from Miyamoto’s magnum opus. To be fair, two years had passed since Mario 64’s release and Banjo was the first real AAA platformer released after the N64’s launch. So the borrowed ideas seemed fresher than they might, had the game been released closer to Mario’s Mushroom Kingdom escapades.

How to make a Mario 64 knock-off

Is it really just a rip-off?

No. Thanks to Rare’s superior dry British wit and ninja-esque N64 programming powers, Banjo was both an imminently likeable and beautiful looking platformer. While it may have stolen many of Mario 64’s structural ideas, it succeeded by being more ambitious and varied, if not anywhere near as groundbreaking.

Ripped off: Metal Gear Solid

The photocopied premise: A crack government agent is aided by a sexy Asian operative as he tries to avert a nuclear holocaust.

What it borrowed: Most of the Gear’s storytelling techniques. Filter’s multilayered, convoluted plot about government conspiracies, nuclear weapons and backstabbing were taken straight from Snake’s sweaty palms.

Both games also feature protagonists who unwittingly infect innocent civilians with viruses. And Gabe Logan’s cinematic cut-scenes were obviously influenced heavily by Kojima’s earlier overly talkative, yet superbly directed story scenes.

How to make a Metal Gear Solid knock-off

Is it really just a rip-off?

Oh yes. And an overrated one at that. For some reason, folks seemed to think the game’s ridiculously dark and fairly boring levels constituted grit. The stealth also paled in comparison to the Gear, thanks to A.I. so inbred it makes Deliverance’s hillbillies look like Harvard graduates. At least Gabe Logan was every bit the charismatic equal to Solid Snake… minus the cool one-liners… or charm… or personality.

David Meikleham
Google AMP Stories Editor

David has worked for Future under many guises, including for GamesRadar+ and the Official Xbox Magazine. He is currently the Google Stories Editor for GamesRadar and PC Gamer, which sees him making daily video Stories content for both websites. David also regularly writes features, guides, and reviews for both brands too.