Superhot isn't even out yet, but opportunistic developers have already cloned it and released a "sequel" on the App Store.
Super Hot 2 manages to clone the eye-catching first-person time-bending shooter Superhot, and in the same breath rip-off Mojang's block-building phenomenon, Minecraft.
Mobile game digital stores are flooded with clones, from copies of Super Mario to endless Flappy Bird rip-offs. Most lift gameplay and graphics from popular games and slap on a title that's close enough to the source material to dupe people into a download, but different enough to avoid the wrath of lawyers.
Super Hot 2, or "Super Hot 2 ! - Block Pocket Build It Mini Lab Edition", to give it its title in full, doesn't seem bothered by such matters. It's described as a "block shooter where you take control of the time". It costs £1.49 from the App Store, and yes, there are in-app purchases.
Here's the description:
Sound familiar? I've played "Super Hot 2", and the gameplay is remarkably similar to Superhot. Using a virtual joystick you move from a first-person perspective in a 3D environment, with a button for zoom and another to fire. It looks almost exactly the same as Superhot, with the same minimalist art style, save the Minecraft-style characters in the levels and rudimentary crafting for weapons.
The developer of Super Hot 2 is Hungary-based Level One Games (its games are published by LumiSys Kft). Level One's Adam Pataki emailed Eurogamer to ask us to cover the game.
"We are an independent game developer studio from Budapest, Hungary. We would like to promote our game via your site as a review or news. We hope that we can work together in the future, and brings quality titles to every gamer," read the email.
"Now we are proudly present you our brand new game called Super Hot 2!"
It turns out, Super Hot 2 is the sequel to Level One Games' "Super Hot! - Pocket Builder Lava Sky Lab Pro Edition 2", which was also released on the App Store and for Android devices on 25th August.
Tomasz Kaczmarczyk, from the Superhot development team (the real one), told Eurogamer he thought Super Hot 2 was "shady to say the least".
"As a general rule, we're feeling really flattered every time a game with the Superhot mechanics pops up," he said over email.
"When applied properly, the time control mechanics works great for a lot of different game types and we wouldn't be surprised if it ended up spilling into other game genres. We'll actually be super happy if that happens and we end up having played a part in unlocking an entirely new set of video game experiences for the whole industry.
"That being said, there's a fine line between games using the time control mechanics to innovate and create something of value (the SUPERHOTline Miami mashup is a great example) and games that are simply trying to make a quick buck by ripping off and hoping to be confused with existing, popular titles.
"I already had to take down a couple of mobile games that were built specifically to be confused with Superhot and I'm pretty certain the same thing happens for everybody who gets popular (Vlambeer's Radical Fishing being probably the most spectacular case here). Getting clones and copycats is kind of an expected side effect of being in the spotlight and I'm a strong believer in the importance of taking those clones down and protecting your fans from confusion."
On Super Hot 2 specifically, Kaczmarczyk called it "pretty borderline"... "Somewhere halfway between a Minecraft clone and a Superhot clone, it's innovative enough that I wouldn't regularly mind, but the intentionally deceptive use of our name makes me furrow my eyebrows a bit.
"I'll need to think about it for a bit but most likely I'll ask to get the authors to stop alluding to any affiliation with Superhot."
There's more shady activity from Level One Games. It posted in popular mobile game forum Touch Arcade to advertise Super Hot 2 as "from the creator of 1000000".
"1000000" (One million) relates to a few apps from Level One, such as this Minecraft skin uploader.
It looks like Level One is trying to trick people into thinking Super Hot 2 is from the creator of 10000000 ("Ten million"), that is, Luca Redwood. Redwood's well-received hybrid puzzle-role-playing released initially for iOS devices in August 2012, then later for PC and Mac.
"Cheeky bastards!" Redwood told me over email. "First time I've seen this one.
"I've been lucky enough to have some success with 10 and You Must Build A Boat [Redwood's other game] so unfortunately these kind of things are quite common. I had one fella even make a sequel to 10000000 and ask me to distribute it as my own work and we'd split the profits."
The issue of clones on the App Store is well documented, and while there are avenues through which developers can complain to Apple about apps that cross the line, keeping up with the conveyor-belt of copycats is often a thankless task.
Redwood told me when You Must Build A Boat was charting well, he spotted someone changed the name of their game from "Age of War" to "You Must Build A Kingdom" to pick on up the search results.
"Overall, I'm not too salty about people trying to hustle their way up the charts a bit, but the link you sent is just a lie and crosses the line to taking the piss in my book," he said.
So what do the people behind Super Hot 2 have to say for themselves? Well, they don't think they've done anything wrong. I received this statement over email:
Level One Games has yet to respond to further questions.
Here's the real Superhot, which is shaping up nicely: