Top 5: Retro Videogame Rip-Offs

For every successful video game to hit the market, there are dozens of clones that will try and cash in on its success. Join as we take a look back at the top 5 most most blatant and controversial retro game clones from the 8-bit and 16-bit era of the late 80s and early 90s. From the hundreds of shamelessly copied classic games of all time we take a look at the most extreme copies of The Super Mario Bros. The Legend of Zelda, Street Fighter 2, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Castlevania video game franchises.

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Top 5: Retro Videogame Rip-Offs

For every successful video game to hit the market, there are dozens of clones that will try and cash in. Welcome to and today we’ll be taking a look at the top 5 most outrageous retro videogame rip-offs.

Number 5: The Great Giana Sisters

Well, it’s no surprise that “The Super Mario Bros.” has been ripped off countless times for its innovative gameplay and iconic design, however few games have actually taken it upon themselves to just give it a new paint job.

Yet, in 1987 a shareware company called Rainbow Arts did just that for several home computer systems. Instead of starring the brothers, it starred Giana and her sister Maria. The game’s not so subtle differences included the gals ability to shoot bubbles instead of fireballs, replacing Goombas with Owls, and collecting diamonds instead of coins.

As you could imagine, the watchful eye of Nintendo’s legal team caught on and the title was pulled from store shelves, despite its offbeat bid for gender equality.

Number 4: Golden Axe Warrior

If any game could match the popularity of Mario, its “The legend of Zelda.” As it turns out, Sega sought to capitalize on its success by releasing a shockingly similar action-adventure spin-off of its own called “Golden Axe Warrior” in 1991.

While this game tried to hide the fact that it was a clone, it was obvious the moment you ventured into the forests. Complete with identical level art and similar spear-throwing pig monsters, the game even went ahead and ripped entire portions of Zelda’s dungeon stages and music. Ironically the one thing they couldn’t mimic was its fun gameplay mechanics.

Number 3: Fighter’s History

Everyone knows how big Capcom’s Arcade hit “Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior” was back in the day. And so did Developer Data East. Going above and beyond a standard act of plagiarism, they created “Fighter’s History” in 1992. Instantly sued for simply renaming its cast of characters and special moves, but somehow managed to get off scot-free, as the court didn’t buy the notion that Ryoku was based on Street Fighter’s Ryu.

Number 2: Battletoads

Yes, that’s right, anamorphic amphibians are not exempt from cloning. In this case, Konami’s hugely popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series was parodied by developer Rare in 1991. Labeled “Battletoads,” the arcade-style beat ‘em up at least had the decency to not give their fighters renaissance names. Instead, they gave us the Skin Disorders Rash, pimple and Zits.

Number 1: Ninja Gaiden

Since we started with the most obvious, let’s end our Top 5 with the most controversial. Believe it or not, 1989’s “Ninja Gaiden” is based on the design and layout of the original Castlevania, complete with identical life-bars, and ability to slash at lanterns to reveal hidden weapons.

However, unlike all of the other clones, Ninja Gaiden is different for having made several notable improvements on the original, which include an increased maneuvering speed, being able to stick to walls, refined controls and the addition of spectacular cutscenes.


Unfortunetly, these top 5 clones only represent the tip of the iceberg, as many game developers are too willing to rip off what’s popular at the time, instead of take a chance and create something completely new.

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