Xixo Games Studio, the developer behind a new indie game called Enchanted Portals, is getting a ton of heat right now. The small studio released a trailer for Enchanted Portals yesterday and people really don’t like how similar it looks to Studio MDHR’s Cuphead.
The trailer starts off innocently enough. There’s a familiar graininess to the art style but there’s nothing especially egregious yet. It isn’t until we’re shown gameplay that the comparisons become unmistakable. Watch the trailer below and see for yourself.
Again, the early parts seem fine. The premise of the story is that two young magicians are fooling around with various spells and open something more powerful than they anticipated. They’re dragged through a portal far from home. They must recollect all the pages of their spellbook to make it back, defeating bosses all the while. It’s simple and cute even. But it becomes incredibly difficult to see this game as anything but a copycat trying to safely capture the success it’s seen others seize with ingenuity when that gameplay starts.
Everything about the animation is virtually identical to Cuphead‘s. On one hand, that’s a compliment. Cuphead looks great and Enchanted Portals does too. On the other hand, it’s identical. There’s a fine line between being inspired by a work of art and making it your own–and straight-up copying it. Enchanted Portals seems to have stepped over that line towards the latter. The jumps, projectiles, and boss designs are all the same. One YouTube comment points out the soundtrack might be more upsetting than anything. Whimsical, fantastical music would’ve fit this game’s magical aesthetic well, but everything is taken so directly from Cuphead that we’re given familiar big band jazz instead. The trailer has nearly 40,000 views with almost 2,000 dislikes and 600 likes at the time of this writing.
Xixo Games Studio is comprised of two people: a director and programmer named Daniel and an artist and composer named Gemma. Polygon spoke with Gemma about the overwhelmingly negative feedback they’ve received in the past 24 hours.
“Yes, of course Cuphead was a huge inspiration for Enchanted Portals,” Gemma wrote over Facebook. “We’re both avid fans and we wanted to make something similar, but always from a place of respect and admiration for the original.
“We were prepared for some backlash, but the trailer definitely reached way more people than we could ever anticipate, and all the hate and negativity coming our way has definitely had a huge impact on us.”
Gemma said that despite this reception, some have reached out to the studio to express their support. Xixo Games Studio’s plans are to focus on this positive feedback and continue working on their game.
The Kickstarter campaign for Enchanted Portals launches on Oct. 24. I’m extremely curious to see how well it does. Cuphead was undoubtedly successful–so much so that it’s getting its own animated TV show on Netflix called The Cuphead Show. We haven’t seen many other games created in that same style, perhaps because it requires so much work. I could see Enchanted Portals flopping due to all the negative publicity just as easily as I could see it being successful because of that same publicity and because it fills a relatively open market.
Enchanted Portals is expected to release on the PC and Nintendo Switch. Studio MDHR has yet to comment on the trailer. We’ll let you know if and when a comment is made, as well as if anything changes with Enchanted Portals. In the meantime, Cuphead is available for just $20, so go play that if you haven’t already (or if you have).
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