Die Gute Fabrik's hugely enjoyable screenless indie game Johann Sebastian Joust is the latest victim of app-store cloning. An iOS game called Papa Quash released yesterday apes not only Joust's core mechanical idea, but shamelessly lifts its marketing, imagery and overall vibe.
Both Joust and now Papa Quash are games that are played outside of the screen — players all jostle and attempt to knock one another off balance, and their status is monitored by a PSMove controller (Joust) or an iPhone (Papa Quash).
It may sound like an idea that's difficult to claim ownership of. But let's put questions of legality aside for the time being and just watch the two games' trailers:
Here's the promotional video for Joust, which centres around demonstrating the rules while showing people playing in the street. I've seen many a Joust game in process, and their feel, look and pace feels distinctive and fresh. It's like some sort of weird, slow-mo dance and unlike any game — video game or otherwise — I've ever seen.
Here's the trailer for Papa Quash. Note how it lifts not just the rules of Joust but the entire vibe — except for the wub-wub music, if you just replaced the iPhones with Move controllers, this may as well be a trailer for Joust.
Gamasutra spoke with a representative from Ustwo, the company who published Papa Quash, who essentially redirected the blame for the clone on to its developer, Sam Pepper, claiming that "It's not a Ustwo app. It's a Sam Pepper App", and saying that Pepper had emailed Die Gute Fabrik to tell them about the app and get them to OK it.
Die Gute Fabrik has not yet issued a statement, saying only that they would have an official response tonight, and saying on Twitter, "Just to be clear, we have never and would never approve, give permission, or encourage anyone to clone of any of our games."
Kotaku has reached out to Sam Pepper and will update this story if and when we hear back.