Chinese iOS Games With Familiar Faces

In many countries, one has to wait for the release of games like Super Smash Brothers, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, or SNK vs. Capcom to see characters from different franchises fight each other; one has to have WiFi to Pokémon battle their distant friends; one must have a computer to see and interact with the friendly faces of World of Warcraft or StarCraft.  What follows are four games that, if you lived in China, would alleviate these pangs of longing that afflict your impatient heart.
But first, a note on copyright laws in China: Yes, China has copyright laws, and yes, they enforce them. Tian Lipu, head of China’s State Intellectual Property Office has said, “China’s image overseas is very poor. As soon as people hear China they think or piracy and counterfeiting… We don’t deny (this problem), and we are continuing to battle against it.” However, within China, there is very little awareness that infringement of Intellectual Property Rights is a crime. The first laws for IPR protection weren’t drafted until the 1980s, and IPR training centers weren’t established until the late 90s. Furthermore, with restrictions on how many non-Chinese goods can be present within the media market, if a Chinese audience wants access to a certain work (film, literature, TV shows, games), often times their only option is piracy. Additionally, with the console ban, the only kind of access the majority of Chinese gamers have to any of our common franchises is through iPhone games or social network games.
And now, without further ado, let’s visit some friends abroad.

Q  (Q Heroes) by Shanghai RenRen Games Technology
This is one of the few games I was able to play from this list, as I downloaded it before Apple compartmentalized their international stores and made it so you can no longer view or download even free apps from different countries. In this game, you fight through different stages, battling guys who look a lot like Jet Li or Captain Jack Sparrow, until you reach the boss stage. The first boss is Little Red Riding Hood. Once you defeat her, she joins your party. All of the bosses are characters you will recognize from different video games, TV shows, comic books, pop culture, fairy tales, etc. If you’re interested, here is the full list, but some highlights include Kratos from God of War, Lara Croft, Link, Shrek, Chun Li from Street Fighter, Rei and Asuka from Evangelion, Spiderman, Superman, Superwoman, the Hulk, Hellboy, Doraemon, and even RoboCop.  As you fight, you level up and find weapons and armor that you can equip yourself or teammates with or sell; you can fight other players in an arena for rewards; you can do escort quests or interrupt the escort quests of other players; and once a day at a set time there’s a world BOSS that players can group together to kill for rewards and rankings.

宠物精(Spirit Pets), aka人人精灵by LV1 Inc.
Another game I was lucky enough to get my hands on before my phone started telling me, “The item you’ve requested is not currently available in the U.S. store” and, “Your account is not valid for use in the Chinese store”, Spirit Pets is really just Pokémon without the story, exploration, or gyms. The Mainland Chinese word for Pokémon is 口袋妖怪, literally Pocket Monsters; the Taiwanese word is 神奇宝贝, meaning Magical Treasures or Magical Darlings. So, Spirit Pets isn’t meant to be Pokémon, otherwise it would be called Pocket Monsters. Too bad this differentiation in names doesn’t apply to the spirit pets themselves. This little guy shares Zubat’s Chinese name, 超音蝠 (Supersonic Bat); Golbat (who for whatever reason is numbered before Zubat, implying that the evolution here is reversed) is also named Golbat (大嘴, Big-mouthed Bat). Hoothoot also gets this treatment; (referring to the onomatopoetic sound of birds, “gugu”) remains


That’s not true for all the Spirit Pets, though. Butterfree’s doppelganger is named 花蝴蝶(Flower Butterfly), compared to the Pokémon name of巴大 (partial transliteration followed by half of the character for butterfly). Ekans, originally阿柏 (transliteration of the Japanese Arbo) has taken the name 弯月蛇 (Bent Moon Snake). Mareep also goes from咩利 (a combination of sheep-related words) to 电花绵绵 (Endless Electric Flower).


Spirit Pets does have some innovations of its own, though. Such as 汗血鹿(the deer of blood and sweat), 喳喳鸟(Whisper Bird), and 香草猪(Vanilla Pig).

The Deer of Blood and Sweat
Whisper Bird
Vanilla Pig

In this game, you basically get your starter Spirit Pet, and then can battle other players (with a team of Spirit Pets or just 1v1) or wild Spirit Pets for experience and money, and you can spend that money on items for your pets or to unlock new locations to find new Spirit Pets. Along with battling, your Spirit Pets can do labor, work out, train (like you would a pet), and rest, all to increase certain stats. Additionally, you can synthesize two pets to create a whole new one (àla Shin Megami Tensei). LV1 also has other similar games in the App Store, like 宠物猎人(Pet Hunter) and 宠物猎人G (Pet Hunter G). Don’t get these games confused with Little Spirit Pets, which also appears to have a Pokémon theme.

The mobile game I’m MT has been advertised by its developer as a “pocket Warcraft”, and is an authorized adaptation of the animated TV show I’m MT, which has also spawned merchandise (toys, pillows, phone cases, coffee mugs) and comics. It follows the character MT (哀木涕; I suspect this comes from the common WoW acronym for Main Tank, as MT is a warrior) and his friends Shaman (a pink tauren), Rogue (an orc), Hunter (a troll), and Mage (undead). 

I really have no idea how this game plays, because I can’t access it and the App’s page has uninformative pictures and a description that is only relevant to the TV show and how much fun the game is. If you like the cartoony Warcraft feel, though, I think the game would be entertaining regardless. Almost as entertaining as my favorite book based on the WoW universe, World of Teh [sic] Gladiators (魔兽角斗士). Or my second favorite book based on the WoW universe, 咬人画的 (Biter’s Art), which is a WoW player’s diary, both in and out of game, in comic form. Basically, the big difference here between China and everywhere else is that fans in China are able to find publishers for their fan work. AND, they’re really dedicated to what they do.

Best classes; Hundreds of skills to choose from
Group adventure with friends
Words to emphasize how extreme this game is

Sticking with the Blizzard theme, our last game is Star Legend– not to be confused with StarCraft (even though that looks suspiciously like the StarCraft space marine icon). Star Legend is an “epic tower defense strategy game”, which is sort of like playing perpetual defense in StarCraft. From the screenshots of the game, it’s also evident that they borrowed SCV models from SC as well, along with map design, font choice, mineral design, and refiner/extractor/assimilator designs.
On the App’s page, the developers write, “Explore the mysterious starry sky, challenge the limits of wisdom in this shocking iOS debut of StarCraft!” I guess that’s why they tote it as Star Sequel rather than Star Legend; it’s a spiritual iOS sequel to StarCraft.

3 thoughts on “Chinese iOS Games With Familiar Faces

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