It's said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It's also said that every idea worth doing has already been done. Over the course of gaming history, there have been untold numbers of developers who have taken these words to heart, sometimes to garish extremes. The results are often pale shades of great games, discarded into the void of mediocrity and/or consigned alongside the other shovelware to the bargain bin. Occasionally, however, a rip-off stands out from the pack, whether because it so expertly captures (and expands upon) the spirit of its inspiration or, in contrast, is so terrible that it sits as a reminder that execution matters as much as the idea behind it.
It's hard to call one first-person shooter a clone of another. A lot of such title share key elements, and particularly popular ones often inform game design for years to come. Halo's recharging health system and two-weapon limit have been aped dozens of times to the point where they, along with its dedicated grenade button, have become genre mainstays, for better or for worse. In the early days of Halo-mania, however, a small developer wanted to release a game that brought the insanely popular Xbox title's legacy to the PC. Chrome was their initial attempt, but its anemic shooting action, poorly scripted levels and drab graphics that so clearly drew design cues wholesale from Halo ensured that it never did particularly well. To add insult to injury, the game was later rereleased under the title Advanced Warfare: The Future of Combat, shamelessly echoing Halo's subtitle: Combat Evolved.
God of War doesn't have a monopoly on mythological monster-slaying, third-person action. That said, Garshasp is the effort of Iranian developers to bring fast-paced action and high-quality production values to the world of Persian mythology. To say that its combat system is inspired by God of War's is akin to noting that chickpeas and garbanzo beans might be similar legumes. There's less shame to be had in building a game that's practically identical to another if one's copy is a good one, as with reproductions of art, but Garshasp's combat felt wonky and its camera was painfully bad. Even attractive visuals couldn't save this game from its poor hit-detection and technical glitches.
Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi was supposed to be a three-hit fighting game combination. It promised the hand-to-hand brutality of Tekken mixed in with the weapon-based finess of Soul Edge/Blade, with the Star Wars license filling out the game's ranks with recognizable and popular characters. While NAMCO's famous fighters might have been the basis for Masters of Teräs Käsi, though, the game's developers apparently didn't understand that those games were so enjoyable because they had responsive controls and engaging graphics. Even for a title on the original PlayStation, this game has awful textures and low-poly character models. The environments are recognizable, and you can often tell who each character is supposed to be (aside from the generic oddballs filling out the roster), but that doesn't do much when those characters react to your inputs like you're sending them by telegraph.
Ah, Golden Axe Warrior is infamous. There was a time at which Golden Axe was incredibly popular in the arcades, but SEGA's existing home hardware—the 8-bit Master System—couldn't handle a port of the beat 'em up and make it recognizable/fun-to-play. So why not make a Zelda-esque top-down adventure? This could easily have been one of those cases in which the "pared down" console experience actually became a more engaging and enduring property than the arcade original. Golden Axe Warrior's developers, however, decided that, as long as they were drawing inspiration from The Legend of Zelda, why not just lift the game wholesale from the NES and put it on the Master System with a different main character? They may not have done quite such an exact job as that, but Golden Axe Warrior clearly took its enemies and level-design straight from the NES classic. The most offensive part? It didn't even play well.
This might be the single worst game of all time. Oh, doubtless people will disagree, and I'm sure that cries of "Superman 64" and "Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout" will echo forth in the comments, but Super Noah's Ark 3D was certainly bad in every way, shape, and form conceivable. Shall we count the ways? First off, it was an unlicensed title on the Super Nintendo. As such, it had to bypass the system's copy protection. How did it do this? It had a slot on the top (a la a Game Genie or Sonic & Knuckles on the Genesis) into which one had to insert a genuine Super Nintendo game. Secondly: due to this bypass method, Super Noah's Ark 3D did not have full access to the SNES's hardware. This led to pitifully bad graphics and sluggish gameplay. Third: it was supposed to be a SNES port of Wolfenstein 3D, and so it played exactly like this game. Only the levels were generic wooden rooms in an ark, and Noah's weapons, such as a slingshot, simply put his enemies to sleep. These enemies were animals, of course, such as sheep. Even taking into account the execrable history of bible games, this game was bad in every conceivable way.