Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior (1987) – based on Conan the Barbarian (1982)
For anyone who was a gamer in 1987, then you’re right, that is Wolf from Gladiators. And yes, that’s also former Page 3 girl Maria Whittaker on his arm (don’t pretend you didn’t already know that! And don’t pretend that you didn’t keep the “free poster with every copy” either!).
This game is a rip-off within a rip-off – a multidimensional rip-off, if you will. Because not only did it pinch the main points of Conan the Barbarian’s poster as well, it also usurped one of the most popular WWF stars of the 1980s, The Ultimate Warrior, for the subtitle too – a name which was almost certainly trademarked.
Prince of Persia (1989) based on Star Wars (1977)
It’s not enough that the hero on the box art of Prince of Persia is basically Luke Skywalker; they even tempted the copyrighting fates by having a stand-in for Princess Leia in slave form in the background.
The plagiarism is strong with this one.
Rick Dangerous (1989) based on Raiders of the Lost Ark (1982)
On a side note, I wish my name was Rick Dangerous, because that is a baller name. But anyway, before Spelunky and Temple Run, both of which riffed off Indiana Jones, we had Rick Dangerous on the Spectrum and Commodore 64, whose opening set-piece had you fleeing from a huge bolder in a cave whilst donning a fedora. Come on guys, at least give him a bowler hat instead.
But mad props for going all out on the actual cover, which doesn’t just replicate the “beige shirt and leather straps” rugged-archaeologist-style shoot, it even copies in the aggressive tribe from the start of Raiders that didn’t even get an outing on the film’s poster. Now that’s commitment. If you’re going to steal, you might as well do it properly. Not sure where the serial killer’s wandered in from, though. Not sure where the serial killer in the background has wondered in from, however. Actually…
Splatterhouse (1988) – based on Friday 13th (1980)
How’s this for a good idea? How about you try to base your whole franchise around a hockey mask, after Friday 13th? Oh yeah, that’ll work.
To be fair, there was a wonderful charm about this awful but amazing game, and the intense whiff of rip-off bootleg only added to its appeal. It always felt like a knockoff, even when it was in the arcades. The original always had that feel as if you’d just bought it off a bloke down the pub for a fiver.
Golden Axe (1989) – based on Masters of the Universe (1987)
Masters of the Universe was only Swedish hulk Dolph Lundgren’s third film, but he had nonetheless already gained a reputation for being one of the industry’s tough guys with roles in Rocky IV and in the Bond film A View To Kill.
So it’s clear that when Sega were trying to come up with the cover art for their Golden Axe game two years later, they were keen for the game’s central character to be a long haired blonde hunk with his perfectly toned muscles out. In fairness, there aren’t many better long haired blonde hunks with their perfectly toned muscles out than Lundgren.
Road Blasters (1987) – based on Mad Max (1979)
Mad Max was initially met with a mixed reception when it first came out in 1979, but would soon become hugely popular around the world and break the Guinness record for most profitable film. A sequel, The Road Warrior, was released two years later, with a third film, Beyond Thunderdome, following in 1985.
Indeed, there weren’t many better icons to draw upon in the 1980s, and that’s exactly what Atari’s RoadBlasters game did in 1987. I mean, look at those sunglasses and the car! They arguably made Max’s speed gun even better by upgrading it to a fully armoured bazooka cannon.
True Crime: Streets of LA (2003) – based on The Replacement Killers (1999)
There really isn’t much to say about this other than this is a horrific copy and paste job. The creators of the game True Crime: Streets of LA probably thought they could get away with it as The Replacement Killers was a massive box office flop four years earlier, but if you remove Mira Sorvino from the film’s cover, it is LITERALLY the same.
Liberators (2016) – baed on Fury (2014)