7 April 2006


Shortly after this issue went to print, I got an email from the author of Superstar Chefs with regard to the allegations of plagiarism. I publish the brief correspondence here in the interests of balance.

Hi Stuart,

Just got the opportunity to read your review of Superstar Chefs for PC Zone.

As the author of the game I'm glad you liked it. I've put much time into it, and had a lot of fun doing it. One of the primary goals was to get back the spirit and feeling of the C64 / Amiga and retro coin-ops, the kind of games I was grown up with and always loved.

After reading the review I felt a bit disappointed about one thing though, that the game was called a Qwak rip-off. I've played Qwak quite a bit myself, and I'm always very carefull to never do rip-offs and to not take everything from one game. Instead I take my inpiration from loads of games and mix in my own way.

I'm not sure, why do you think the game is such a Qwak rip-off?

The game is build up by loads of functions presented in early video games. The control is much more like Super Mario then Qwak, jump on enemies instead of shoot. The wrapping is like from the original Mario Bros (single screen, not Super Mario), Bubble Bubble and Snow Bros. To finish a level by collection all things on screen is another classic element (Bomb Jack one of my favorites) Then there is loads of those things that virtually every platformer have like springs, water, stompers, conveyors (Gremlin classics like Monty on the run comes to mind :)

There sure is similarities between Qwak and Superstar Chefs, but Qwak is just as similar to other games. Like for example FuzzBall (by System3, single screen, cute and colorful japanese style graphics, collect everything on screen, wrapping, shoot instead of jump etc.)

Thanks for the review anyway, just wanted to share my feelings on it.

Best Regards,

Ola Zandelin
Arcade Lab

I replied:

Hi Ola. Thanks for the email - it's always good to get feedback when you've said some harsh things about a game, that isn't just the author complaining and cursing.

To be honest, I feel I was probably a *little* hard on Superstar Chefs with regard to the Qwak comparisons, but only a little. I think if the website had admitted that Qwak was part of the game's inspiration I wouldn't have been so annoyed, but Qwak is *by far* the game it's most similar to (while I take your point about some of the different gameplay mechanics), and it seems very unfair that games like SMB and Bubble Bobble, which Chefs barely resembles at all, get credit while Qwak doesn't.

I know Fuzzball well - many years ago I worked on a magazine called Amiga Power - but I don't think Qwak owes it much. Fuzzball is much more of a puzzle/platform game, and it's really slow-paced, with irritatingly precise jumping, pathfinding and so on, whereas Qwak and Chefs are both much more fast-moving, reaction-based, arcade types of game. (I'm pretty sure Fuzzball didn't have wraparound screens too, but I wouldn't like to swear to it.)

Anyway, hope the coverage brings you a few more sales - we just found out this week that it was, accidentally, the second time Chefs has been reviewed in PC Zone in the last year - because it's a brilliant little game, but I really do think the website should acknowledge Qwak's influence on it, because I suspect even you might not know quite how much it may have (perhaps subconsciously) affected the design of Chefs. To someone like me who objectively analyses these sort of things professionally all day long, it's like they were twins separated at birth.

Good luck,

Ola's final response was:

Hi Stuart,

Thanks for your view of it. I think the main difference when we 2 analyse the games is that as a programmer I look very technical at it and you problaby look more on the overall feel of the game. That is why we only partly agree :)

Fuzzball had wrap around just like Bubble Bobble. If you think of it both Fuzzball and Qwak is pretty obviously Bubble Bobble clones. All those games have a basic play mechanism were you move and 1 or 2 characters on a single screen that wraps, and fire bullets to take out enemies. All games features super cute japaneese cartoon style gfx (that is otherwise not that common in Amiga games, although Galactic by Stavros Fasolous is another example featuring cute Icecreams and Teddybears :)

Superstar Chefs on the other hand has one important difference from those games. How you battle you enemies. You don't shoot, but instead you jump on enemies to take them out (like Mario) or you take Super Pills (like Bomb Jack or PacMan)

I think the biggest similarites between Superstar Chefs and Qwak I can find is that those games have a little more traditional "Amiga way" of creating tile based levels then for example Bubble Bobble. This might be the reason why you think the game feels so similar. Also both games wrap in both directions, unlike Bubble Bobble (only wraps vertical) and Mario Bros (only wraps horizontal) and as you say both games plays a little faster then for example Fuzzball as well.

The reason Bubble Bobble and Mario Bros is mentioned on our webpage got 2 reasons. First of all, these 2 games are the originals, that all the later games is based on ( note that Mario Bros isn't the same as Super Mario Bros, Mario Bros was the first single screen, 2 player simultaneously wrapping platform-game I can think of ) Secondy, it's because everyone knows what Bubble Bobble and Mario Bros is, so more people will understand what kind of game we try to describe.

Original Mario Bros: http://www.klov.com/game_detail.php?game_id=8624

BTW: Have you tried any of our other games? Is Superstar Chefs the favorite?

If you like to get the full version of any of our games, for a review or just for fun, just ask.


What a nice chap.


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