Five Knockoffs Of Iconic Characters On Arcade Machines | Feature

(Originally published on laurasambitiouswriting.wordpress.com on the 16th of February 2021)

I have no interest in gambling whatsoever and I am way more into winning tickets for prices in arcades, but there is an aspect of certain ticket machines and slot machines that fascinate me. During some of the times I went away to different counties in England with my boyfriend, I encountered some cartoon characters on arcade machine that look awfully familiar to some of the most iconic fictional characters of all time. I do not condone plagiarising and capitalising from unoriginal character designing, unless it is supposed to be a parody that provides plenty of legitimate aspects of being classified as one since parodies are under fair use. Nonetheless, at least some knockoffs can be almost as laughable as a Donald Duck puppet screaming in despair over the destruction of delicious food. Alternatively, they can at least be fascinating on their own accords, such as a Miracle Star, an animated series from China that is often described as a rip-off of The Amazing World of Gumball. Let us analyse five knockoffs of iconic IPs that seem to believe that not a single copyright law in the world will stop them. Not you, Sonic the Hedgehog!

No, Nintendo! Fanmade games do NOT count as plagiarism! Fanmade games, especially ones that feature engaging gameplay, an interesting plot with some originality and honourable portrayals of loveable characters are under fair use, as long as credit is given to you.

Anyway, where do I began with these rip-offs that can be seen in arcades?

Lara Jones

Here is a combination of Lara Croft and Indiana Jones I saw on two machines when I was away with my boyfriend. The way her artwork seems to be just traced all over some official Tomb Raider Legend artwork on one cabinet titled “Lara Jones: Ticket Raider” she got plastered on is utterly shameless. I am always up for a strong female character expressing herself and relishing in her own self-empowerment, but not like this. The same applies to the game titled “Unearthed: Trail of Ibn Battuta” that was considered to be a rip-off of the Uncharted franchise, resulting in only one episode of Faris Jawad’s quest to ever be established. Strangely enough, Lara Jones – Ticket Raider and Lara Jones – Temple Of Tickets are not the only times this stunt was pulled as there is a slots machine game developed by Spearhead Studios starring Lara Jones as well. Is this what happens when Ms. Croft gets happily married and changes her title to “Mrs. Jones”…or is this knockoff the reason why the two iconic explorers have some explaining to do?

I would tolerate Lara Jones a little more if she was a fanmade daughter of Lara Croft and Indiana Jones.

But wait! There is another theory! Lara Jones is the secretly girlfriend of Ibn Battuta, the Nathan Drake wannabe. High five, fellow gamers who ship the real Lara Croft with the real Nathan Drake!

Cash Bandiloot

The name for this rip-off of Crash Bandicoot is pun-tastic! It is also very fitting for a character who is designed to be fitted onto the design of a casino machine. His hair may remind me of Johnny Test, but let us hope his movements will not result in irritating whip cracks. Surely the Hawaiian shirt looks quite tacky, but I guess there ought to be a special edition of his cabinet that features him wearing a tuxedo, kind of like how there was a special edition of Deadstorm Pirates that featured two additional levels. I can briefly imagine him bellowing in an Australian accent, “Who said you can bring a minor with you. mate?”, which would be a rehash of how Crash spoke in an Australian accent in Skylanders Academy and a promotional video for Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. I supposed that the Japanese release of “Cash Bandiloot and the Temple Of Treasure” ought to feature Cash in some specific alternations, such as beady Pac-Man eyes to make him even more of a Crash Bandicoot wannabe.

Is this a sincere form of flattery…or just getting some gold out with help from some Crash Bandicoot wannabe?

Freddie

This familiar fella named Freddie seems to be enjoying a great vacation in the Stone Age in one machine he stars on named “Freddie’s Vacation”, as well as a busy day at work in the other he is plastered on simply named “Freddie”. Surely the blonde-haired woman who highly resembles Wilma Flintstone in red primitive attire could be named “Winnie”. Perhaps the other Wilma knockoff in pale yellow cave attire could be named “Wydoncha”. What is with the yellow horn on the Dino wannabe’s head in Freddie’s Vacation? I know it is to make him more “original”, but still. Freddie would need to file it before he can pounce onto him affectionately. I do not know what to say about the other Dino wannabe on “Freddie“, other than he appears to have a pink horn above his nostrils. As sure as I am Freddie’s surname might as well as “Flynstone”, a clone of him who is on vacation with him has blonde hair, which leads to me believing that he is meant to represent Barney Rumble, but very cheaply in a rather uninspired way. Are these cabinets a Yabba Dabba Don’t? Octavia from Helluva Boss would think so.

Knockoffs! See the knockoffs! Full of unoriginality!

You know…plagiarism. That should not be a priority.

The Winsons

And if you thought the early interpretations of The Simpsons from the Tracy Ullman were weird, wait until you play The Winsons. I suppose this is what Homer and his family would look like if Matt Groening did not choose to make the Simpsons’ skin tones yellow. The woman not only highly resembles Marge Simpson but also reminds me of the famous singer Amy Winehouse. You can tell that her son is obviously a clone of Bart by his spiky yellow hair and how he is preparing to fire a stone with his slingshot. Who the heck knows? Since The Simpsons is still on the air to this day, there might as well be an episode about the Simpsons meeting the Winsons and confronting them about their lack of originality without condoning any hatefulness towards their creator, which would be highly similar to an episode of The Amazing World Of Gumball satirising the fact that the show has, as previously stated, a rather unoriginal Chinese counterpart named “Miracle Star”.

With beer cans, images of a cat and mouse that highly resemble Itchy and Scratchy, familiar sofas and donuts with pink icing plastered on the cabinet’s design, it is safe to classify The Winsons as a rip-off of The Simpsons.

Route 66

On your mark…get set…NO!! I am terribly sorry, but…just no! This single-player ticket payout machine from Harry Levy consists of highly familiar folks, including a blonde bombshell whose name may not be “Penelope Pitstop”. At least the rip-off of Peter Perfect obviously seems like a great love interest for her. Oh, come on! The cabinet’s designer did not even bother to change the colour of the Muttley clone’s fur or the Dick Dastardly wannabe’s gloves. I am pretty sure that it would be more interesting and trustworthy to see a ticket machine that consists of a design based on Wacky Races, the late 2010s reboot of Wacky Racers. Nonetheless, at least Harry Levy were granted permission to use the real classic Wacky Racers from Hanna Barbera for one of their games about a year later or two after the release of Route 66. It was probably to make amends for the shameless cast of knockoffs, despite how gaining permission for using well-known fictional characters legally can be expensive.

Stop the knockoffs! Stop the knockoffs! How?! View them! Boo them! Sue them! Stop the knockoffs now!

These knockoffs sure seem shameless, quite like many infamous mockbusters, such as Ratatoing and a café in Cardiff that was open in 2012 with a highly familiar logo and colour palette. Surely that anthropomorphic blue jay in the second episode of Sexual Violence with the Birds and the Bees reminds me of Mordecai from Regular Show, but I would only consider the similarities between the two a coincidence. Unfortunately, not all similarities will get off scot-free as Maxis and Electronic Arts filed a lawsuit against Zynga for how the premise and gameplay of The Ville were all too similar to the overall experience of The Sims Social back in 2012. More interestingly about the future of arcade games, an arcade version of Catherine Classic or Catherine: Full Body might as well be available to be played in an all-pink arcade someday. As some of us hope to serenade these bootleg characters with “Be Your Own You”, we can still seek originality when it comes to developing new characters, including the characters in the other five episodes of the first season of Helluva Boss.

We all know that there is a fine line between inspiration and plagiarism. To avoid a lawsuit, originality should be the top priority, even though some inspiration from the positive qualities of already existing properties can be understandable and at least parodying one can lead to some funny moments with clever humour.

Aside from identifying knockoffs, we can still do actions that honour popular properties instead of mooching off their legacy by ripping them off, such as celebrating the tenth anniversary of Catherine. Stay golden!

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