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Montopia: a Pokémon Rip-off... Or is it?


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http://www.idigitaltimes.com/articles/11271/20120917/zynga-montopia-cheat-gamers-mediocre-pok-mon.htm

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Might be slightly old, but I just remembered about it and I was thinking over the last while... Is it really a Pokémon rip-off?

I don't mean as in it's a totally original idea. That much is obvious. I mean, it is really copying Pokémon, or is it copying everything?

I can see where people look at one aspect of it, and swear it's a complete theft of every idea of Pokémon. But when watching it being played, I see more than just one game.

I see several key features that aren't used in Pokémon.

1. The grassy fields you encounter monsters in, nor a overworld map you can walk around freely in. Instead, they use a simple graphical representation on a road you "walk" down. Not used in Pokémon, but it is used in other games. Some of the older Fire Emblem games, I believe (correct me if I'm wrong, it's been a long, long time since I played any of the older ones), used a similar method of "travel" where is was just to show the idea of moving, without actually having to actually travel. You just saw your character/group move along a line to another spot, which represented a town or city. There was no actual traveling of that route.

2. I see how the stat systems works. You get EXP, and the you can put it into one of a few stats. That's not a mechanic used in Pokémon, as EXP is put into your level, and your stats are adjusted by a hidden layer of bonuses you don't have direct control over. But there are lots of RPGs (hell, even RPG hybrids like Borderlands) that do have you select stats and abilities to raise as you see fit.

3. Items and creatures appear from treasure chests you find on the "road" which you have no control over your direction or speed. Once you find one, it's randomly generated as either an item or a monster. You can also use a device that just gives you a free one. It looks like a gumball machine, and is pretty much a reference to Japanese capsule toys. This mechanic does not exist in Pokémon games.

In Pokémon, you are given items by NPCs or you have to walk around to find them in the open. Pokémon are also found in random battles, with some given to you by other characters. Not that dissimilar, but also not that close. You don't just walk along and BAM! Stuff given to you for no reason; you have to look for it actively.

4. There's wide-spread fusing of two or more creatures, something that was only done in Pokémon this generation, 15 years after the series started. Meanwhile, Digimon had fusing of monsters for years. Other games had similar mechanics as well. RPGs in general seemed to like the idea of fusion between characters for some time before Pokémon finally did it for only three of its creatures. Yugioh does this all the time, and it's been around almost as long.

5. Your character levels up. Not your creatures, they do level up, yes, but your player character. This is not done in the Pokémon series, but it is done in other games. You have your controlling character and your "army" or team or whatever you want to call it characters. Quite different from Pokémon, but very similar to several other series.

A few elements of Pokémon are clearly used, like choosing one of three creatures at the beginning... but that's hardly original in of itself. The fact they are a trio of fire, water and grass typed creatures is indeed very Pokémon-based, yes, but it's pretty much the only solid similarity I have seen so far. Choosing from a list of pre-made characters is also found inthe Mana series.

Given that the few similarities that Montopia and Pokémon share are also shared with many other games, it seems that people are only seeing the common aspects and not the specific ones. In which case, they would see far more commonalities with the Final fantasy series than with Pokémon series.

With all these similarities to multiple games from across the genre (and even some from other genres and sub-genres), I have to ask myself, why are people so adamant that this is just a Pokémon rip-off when it's clearly only using a tiny fraction of ideas from that series, and lots of ideas from lots of other games?

There is little doubt that Montopia is clearly trying to use familiarity to lure people in, that much is obvious. But just watching it, you can see that it isn't really trying to be Pokémon, so much as it is trying to be multiple games, and doing it rather poorly. It's kind of a card game, kind of an RPG, kind of a collection game, kind of this, kind of that...

I just wonder why everyone is harping on it forbeing a Pokémon knock-off instead of it just being a generic, lazy, uninspired game.

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Well, the thing I always hear is that Pokemon was technically a ripoff of Digimon (that happened to beat Digimon to the United States).

Well, except that Pokémon was released in 1996, versus Digimon's release in 1997, under the Digital Monster name. And even then, those were a response to the Tamagotchi series...

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Well, except that Pokémon was released in 1996, versus Digimon's release in 1997, under the Digital Monster name. And even then, those were a response to the Tamagotchi series...
Ah, I see. I never did like how effortlessly that was stated.

But my original point still stands: it's all a ripoff at this point. We're just noticing this because the presumed inspiration is still alive.

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Dragon Quest did monster collecting/battling before either Pokemon or Digimon, if I'm remembering correctly.

And I'm pretty damn sure that the original Megami Tensei did it before Dragon Quest did.

I bet if I looked hard enough, I'd find something that did it before Megami Tensei, too.

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Didn't they already get sued for this?

If it was over the Farmville thing, Farmville is a rip of a chinese game (which probably was "inspired" by the Harvest Moon games). I don't know how that whole thing went, but if the game came from China there's little that can be done, since copyright doesn't mean a lot there.

Besides, even if somebody won against Zynga, they'd probably just pay whatever fines/royalties ordered by the courts and keep doing what they're doing. They're swimming in money.

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If it was over the Farmville thing, Farmville is a rip of a chinese game (which probably was "inspired" by the Harvest Moon games). I don't know how that whole thing went, but if the game came from China there's little that can be done, since copyright doesn't mean a lot there.

Besides, even if somebody won against Zynga, they'd probably just pay whatever fines/royalties ordered by the courts and keep doing what they're doing. They're swimming in money.

Yes but if they keep doing it won't someone eventually slap some form of Court Order forbidding them from doing anymore business even if they can pay the fines.

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