Fashion Police Squad

At first glance, one might say I was crazy; comparing a first-person shooter (albeit one with a more sprite-based art style) to a 2.5D side-scroller is like apples to oranges. And yeah, sure, at least on paper, that does seem like a bit of an odd comparison.

But just looking at trailers, it is almost impossible to miss the similarities — when I saw the trailer for Fashion Police Squad, I immediately assumed this must be developer Dejima’s next game (Dejima developed Firegirl: Hack ‘n Splash Rescue). But no, Fashion Police Squad — or FPS (I just got that…) — actually comes from a development studio called Mopeful Games.

Okay, so let me post the aforementioned trailers so you can see them for yourself. First up, here’s Fashion Police Squad:

Now, here’s the trailer for Firegirl: Hack ‘n Splash Rescue:

Am I just crazy, or do these games look like they could have come out of the same studio?

Take, for example, the similarities in the sprite characters that appear flat or two-dimensional, like old Doom or Wolfenstein assets (even Minecraft uses that effect occasionally). It’s not as if Firegirl invented this art style, so perhaps because it was just a recent example that popped into my mind when I stumbled upon Fashion Police Squad. So that can certainly be chocked up to coincidence, or perhaps the result of both studios maybe using the same development tools. In my defense, I must point out that both of these games also decorate those pixel characters with similar bloom effects.

But it’s the next similarity that is uncanny. At around the 18-second mark in the FPS trailer, an arcade-style voiceover can be heard highlighting a particular achievement when the player successfully upgrades a character’s outfit, I believe the voiceover says “Snazzy.” Now if we turn to the Firegirl trailer, at around the 29-second mark, when the player is successfully adding recruits to their firehouse, an arcadey voiceover can be heard excitedly saying “Recruit.”

It’s the same voice, is it not? I would think the developers of Fashion Police Squad, since the game released quite a while after Firegirl did, would catch wind of this similarity. They might even want to change it to avoid some know-nothing editorialist fanning the flames of conspiracy by pointing out the similarities of these two games (one of which was on my Game of the Year nominees list last year, while I have not yet played the other).

Fashion Police Squad

So where am I going with all this? On the one hand, who cares? A lot of games kind of look and sound like other games. And at the end of the day, if both games are good, and neither is a carbon copy of the other, no harm no foul, right? Sure. But at the very least, it is interesting to see how similar these games are in appearance, although thankfully not so much in the moment-to-moment gameplay that I have to get all Pepe Silvia on this one.

But if this is simply the trappings of similar (if not identical) engines, asset packs, and/or development tools, I hope this doesn’t mean that more games down the road will also adhere to such a unique and clearly recognizable art style and sound palette. Not only would this add fuel to my conspiratorial fire, but it might result in a slew of homogenized games that will perhaps stand less of a chance at success if players are barely able to tell them apart or are simply turned off by the cut-and-paste appearance.

Time will tell, I guess.

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