Mega Man stands among Mario, Sonic, and Hand Holding A Gun as one of gaming's most iconic characters. Debuting in 1987, the character has starred in about a billion sequels and spinoffs. Which is quite impressive, considering how his entire existence began as a last-minute, slapped-together take on another classic character. This guy:
Dark Horse Comics
Want to draw a schoolboy in his underwear but not risk going to jail? Make him a robot!
The original Mega Man began life as a game adaptation of Astro Boy, the Japanese cartoon and manga character that was at the height of his popularity at the time. The Capcom company put together plans to create a video game based on Japan's favorite prepubescent android, but they failed to secure the license to the character.
Again, if that were to occur today, we like to think they'd go back to the drawing board with a brand-new original character. But by this point in the article, you know that only one option remained on the table for Capcom: Change it juuuuust enough to give them a plausible argument should it go to court. This basically means they colored him blue, gave him a hat, and renamed him "Mega Man."
Discotek Media, Capcom
"They're nothing alike! Our guy's hand cannon is totally on the other ... shit."
The rest they kept. Both characters were created in a lab by a mad scientist in the image of the scientist's dead son, and both have a rival in the form of an older "brother," an original prototype created and rejected by their mutual creator -- for Mega Man, it's Proto Man, and for Astro Boy, it's Cobalt.
Of course, the game series went on to sell 30 million copies across multiple platforms, and the Astro Boy roots are long forgotten. And that, kids, is our lesson for today: The key to ripping something off and getting away with it is making sure your version is more successful.
If you have any ideas you'd like B.T. Doran to rip off from you, you can let him know here.
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For more famous characters that were straight stolen, check out 6 Famous Characters You Didn't Know Were Shameless Ripoffs and 5 Iconic Characters You Didn't Know Were Ripoffs.
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