Jan 17, 2012
While perusing the Android Market lately, I saw a game in the free charts that seemed rather familiar: Zombie Dash. Visually, it looked rather similar to a Halfbrick game that released back in 2010: Monster Dash. Now, it never came out on Android, despite the appearance of other Halfbrick games Fruit Ninja and Age of Zombies on Android.
The problem is that Zombie Dash is nothing more than an unashamed clone of Monster Dash. The mechanics are identical to Monster Dash, with the same jumping and shooting, the same default weapon, similar environments; this is a clone of Monster Dash, through and through. I mean clone as in it’s pretty much a near-exact copy, not in that it’s an iteration on the same mechanics, it’s attempting to emulate them exactly. It is not original in any way, it is trying to imitate Monster Dash for its own profit.
Why is this bad? After all, if Halfbrick is clearly not going to bring their game to Android, what is the harm? Well, the problem is that game mechanics, while not legally patentable or copyrightable, are still something that shouldn’t just be copied by others for their own use, no matter which platform. There is a skill and craftsmanship that goes into making a game work well that shouldn’t just be lifted by others for their own usage. The developers of Zombie Dash didn’t do anything of their own accord, they just made a game that copied Monster Dash.
Similar to the cloning controversy that Vlambeer, developers of titles like Super Crate Box and Radical Fishing, found themselves in, there’s a difference between a game like Ninja Fishing, which lifted mechanics from their game exactly (with a dash of Fruit Ninja cloning added in as well). Then there’s Muffin Knight, which cuts very closely to Super Crate Box, yet at least tries to iterate and be a different game. Although these iterations don’t really improve on its originating game, they still at least make the game different, yet in the same genre.
The offensive part is that the Android Market is featuring Zombie Dash. For a platform that is often accused of facilitating plagiarism, for the Market to so blatantly feature a clone like this doesn’t exactly answer the critics’ assertions that the platform is the home of illegitimate material.