Is Indie Game Enchanted Portals a Ripoff of Cuphead?

Enchanted Portals

Enchanted Portals is a new title that is being made by a two-person team called Xixo Games Studios. Those who are curious can check out the trailer that has been released for the upcoming Kickstarter campaign, which should provide interested individuals with plenty of information about what they can expect. Unfortunately, while Enchanted Portals has received a lot of attention, it seems safe to say that this isn’t the kind of attention that Xixo Games Studios wanted.

Why Do People Think That Enchanted Portals Is a Ripoff of Cuphead?

In short, Enchanted Portals has caused an Internet uproar because there are a lot of people out there who believe that it is a ripoff of Cuphead. Something that Xixo Games Studios seems to have expected to some extent. For those who are unfamiliar, Cuphead  is a run and gun game. This means that it is a shoot ’em up in which the protagonist moves about on foot, thus explaining the name of the genre. However, it is interesting to note that there can be a fair amount of variation in run and gun games, as shown by how such titles can feature side-scrolling movement, vertical-scrolling movement, and even isometric viewpoints. Still, some of the most famous run and gun games that can be found out there such as Contra and Metal Slug are side-scrollers, which is why interested individuals might associate the genre with such titles.

Cuphead is an excellent example of a side-scrolling run and gun game. However, that isn’t its most stand-out characteristic. Instead, that would be its look, which is very much inspired by the American cartoons of the 1930s. Moreover, the people behind Cuphead made an enormous effort to make sure that the content of their game wouldn’t look out of place in its source of inspiration, thus further strengthening that resemblance. On the whole, this combination makes for a charming presentation that has presumably contributed much to Cuphead’s incredible success.

Is Enchanted Portals a Ripoff of Cuphead?

By this point, it should be clear to people who have watched the Enchanted Portals trailer that it is being called a Cuphead trailer because it is a run and gun game with a look that was based on the American cartoons of the 1930s. It isn’t a complete one-for-one copy of Cuphead, as shown by how some of its content isn’t what one would expect from its source of inspiration.

For example, the cyborg cow on the UFO is not something that could have shown up in the relevant cartoons because some of those elements didn’t become well-established until later periods. To be exact, cyborgs were invented much earlier than what most people would expect, seeing as how the first cyborgs had already started showing up in fiction in the early 20th century. Meanwhile, the connection between cows and UFOs wasn’t a thing until 1967, though even then, the mutilation case that received nationwide attention was about a horse named Lady rather than the much more often-talked-about cows. Likewise, it should be mentioned that the greaser chicken isn’t something that would’ve shown up in the relevant cartoons either. After all, the greaser subculture didn’t become well-established until the 1950s, though it is possible that it was inspired by the motorcycle clubs that started up in the late 1940s. As such, greasers are very much associated with either the 1950s or the 1970s because of the 1950s nostalgia in those times rather than the 1930s when they didn’t exist.

Having said that, there are other bosses in the Enchanted Portals trailer that look less polished than their Cuphead counterparts but could otherwise fit into said title with no issues whatsoever. This is particularly important because both Cuphead and Enchanted Lands look like they are boss-focused run and gun games, which is one more reason for Internet-goers to call the latter a copy of the former.

As for whether Enchanted Lands is indeed a ripoff of Cuphead or not, well, the answer is rather complicated because “ripoff” is a very loaded term with a lot of very negative connotations packed into it. Theoretically, it is possible that Enchanted Lands is the same kind of run and gun game with the same source of inspiration for its look as Cuphead because it was based on the same sources of inspiration. In practice, that seems rather improbable because Cuphead is one of the most prominent indie games that can be found out there in the present time, meaning that the chances are very low that Xixo Games Studios wouldn’t have heard of it. In fact, we know that they have heard about it because their statement about expecting complaints comes with an implicit statement that they are awareness of what Cuphead is as well as why people would call their product a ripoff of Cuphead. As such, whether Enchanted Lands can be called a ripoff or not depends on how negative an attitude interested individuals have towards a very common practice in not just the video game market but also other markets for other kinds of entertainment.

Does This Matter?

Simply put, when a piece of entertainment becomes popular, that will convince other people to make more pieces of entertainment by following in its footsteps. This is pretty simple and straightforward business logic. After all, producing entertainment eats up a lot of time, effort, and other valuable resources, meaning that people tend to be less than enthusiastic about doing so in exchange for uncertain outcomes. However, if they choose to base their entertainment on something that has already proven to be successful, they can expect a higher chance of success by targeting the same consumers that made their source of inspiration successful. Of course, they are by no means guaranteed success with their endeavor, but they can nonetheless expect better chances in exchange for a reduced expenditure of their resources.

Due to this, it seems like more trouble than it is worth to get upset about Enchanted Portals “borrowing” from Cuphead when there are numerous Call of Duty clones being put out on a regular basis. One could make the argument that this isn’t the way that the video game market should be, but that would be a whole other conversation.

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