Twisted Pixel v. Capcom Mobile

“Nuh-uh, Twisted Pixel, our exploding guy versus scientists and intentionally similarly titled game is TOTALLY different from yours!” — me putting words in Capcom’s mouth.

Thanks to the excellent round up by GameInformer for putting all of the info in one handy place. Do check out their article though I will embed the videos here, too.

Last summer Twisted Pixel released ‘Splosion Man on XBLA as part of the ‘Summer of Arcade’ series. Though it was well-reviewed, and friends of mine would just not shut up about it (and the extremely likable donut song), I never played past the demo. There were too many other games going on at the time and I figured I could always come back to it. You know how it is. Here’s what it looks like in action (starting around 11 seconds in):

 

You’re a man. You explode. You break stuff. Simple concept, great execution. gg TP (*giggle*). Then Capcom Mobile comes out with MaXplosion:

 

Hmmmmmmmmmmm, yeah. Everyone picked up on it. No foolin’, eh.

Base mechanic? check.
Sound style? got it.
Story concept? Big Science and M.A.D Science.
Title? Holy crap, have some dignity there.

It’s even easier to paint Capcom as super evil supreme picking on the much-loved Twisted Pixel thanks to the information that ‘Splosion Man was initially pitched to their console division. This incident has brought to light that Mobile is its own division, but when a company like Capcom, big and scattered around the globe as they are, makes this kind of move, it will not be ignored. Internet social media rallied behind TP and CEO Michael Wilford made a statement about the controversy.

“We’re definitely not going to pursue legal action. While I think the similarities are pretty nauseating, we’re too small to take on a company like Capcom. That, and we owe them one for inventing Mega Man, so we’ll let them slide. I just hope they’re not counting on the fact that indies can’t fight back.

“In general, anything that would take our focus off of making games would be a bad decision, I think. We just need to keep our heads down making the next thing so that Capcom has something to steal next year. But I have to say, the amount of support we’ve seen in the last 12 hours on Twitter and over email has been awesome, and I think that’s better than wining [sic] a stupid lawsuit or anything like that.

“We’ll just have to make our own mobile game and I’m hopeful that Capcom will see that robbing our *** wasn’t worth it in the long run. We’ll let you know when we have something on the mobile front to talk about, but now we have added incentive!”

Look at it the other way: just how fast would TP be smacked down were Capcom first to market here? Yeah.

Capcom’s response wasn’t really helping matters along, not that a large corporate entity often makes statements exactly like this. The non-apology, safe in the knowledge that internet rage is fleeting and the general iPhone market will completely not care, follows:

“While Twisted Pixel did have discussions with our console game team about publishing ‘Splosion Man’ on game consoles, Capcom Mobile is a different division of Capcom with separate offices and as such, had no prior knowledge of any meetings between the console game team and Twisted Pixel. ‘MaXplosion’ was developed independently by Capcom Mobile. Nonetheless, we are saddened by this situation and hope to rebuild the trust of our fans and friends in the gaming community.”

‘Saddened’. That’s up there with ‘I’m sorry if someone was offended’. A total fauxpology. An answer so that people will just go away. Which part are they sad about? Sad about the shocking similarities that Wilford called “complete theft”? Sad that people noticed? Sad that they are releasing it anyway? I truly believe they didn’t know about the meetings; that happens all the time. Anyone that has ever worked in even a medium-sized office knows that management is often clueless that two teams are working against each other by accident. But it’s not like ‘Splosion Man was an invisible release. It was also, oh, in June 2010. I cannot believe that Capcom Mobile has been working on MaXplosion for all that long. This is not the type of game that takes years of work in a bunker to complete. Even the title just feels callous. Had they waited another year or so (though that would run into Ms. ‘Splosion Man), it might not have attracted this kind of negative attention. You cannot do a search for MaXplosion without all the theft posts atop the results.

If studios weren’t free to use the mechanic of running and jumping and dodging, our gaming catalogues would be much, much thinner. MaXsplosion seems akin to having two guys from, uh, Newark fall into a pipe in orange and turquoise overalls, jumping on walking carrots and lizards to save a queen. Much too close, guys. This is why people are calling Capcom Mobile ‘Poopy Heads’ on social media sites.

Ok, so I’m calling them Poopy Heads on twitter, but maybe it can start a movement.

Since Twisted Pixel won’t be spending their limited resources on a court case, I hope that this exposure has led to more sales of ‘Splosion Man on XBLA. Should they release it on the App Store themselves, I’ll buy it. And maybe Ms. ‘Splosion Man will have some new twist that makes me grab it on launch

 

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