Japanese developer, GameFactory Ltd., started a PC Beta test this Monday (March 27th) for its Free to Play puzzle game, Magical Stone. The game has caused a big controversy in Japan because its game mechanics are exactly the same as SEGA’s own Puyo Puyo (as you can clearly see in the video above), while its magical girl characters are pretty similar too. However looks like SEGA won’t be able to legally proceed against GameFactory, mainly because of 2 reasons:
- Former Puyo Puyo IP holder, Compile did not file a patent for the title’s game mechanics back in 1991, so there is no copyright protection. And even if it did, then again, the game release was back in 1991, so it would have become public domain by now because of the amount of years that have passed. Even worse, as we previously reported, Puyo Puyo’s creator, Niitani Masamitsu, admitted they took a lot from Ninty’s Dr. “Fat plumber” game system, which also borrowed a lot from Tetris, so it would end up being a huge chain of puzzle game cloning infringment for a lot of companies…
- Game Factory’s Magical Stone uses similar magical characters but are different in terms of style, story and more. So SEGA won’t be able to pursue them for this.
Regarding both facts, Japanese patent attorney, Shido Yasudaka, has issued a statement in which Magical Stone is out in the clear.
This problem opens a huge backdoor for SEGA, it means other developers can start releasing Puyo Puyo puzzle type clones as long as they are between the previous 2 statements, and that also means they can target the western territory as well. Fortunately for SEGA, Puyo Puyo’s big selling point has been its characters and VS competition features, fans have been very loyal to them. We even saw a huge backlash recently when SEGA of America tried to clone its own IP by releasing a Puyo Puyo Quest reskin called “Cranky Fruit Friends“, the game received a lot of hate by Puyo fans for not being a proper release and not including the Puyo Puyo / Madou Monogatari characters.
So yeah, kinda bad news for a year that celebrates Puyo Puyo’s 25th Anniversary…
Not all is bad news for the Puyo western fanbase, SEGA of America will finally release a Puyo title properly after 14 years of abandonment (being Puyo Pop on the Game Boy Advance the last one back in 2002). 3D Puyo Puyo 2 will arrive in the SEGA 3D Classics Collection on April 26th for NA territory. Will it be able to reach the western hearts before a copycat? Only time will tell if the western SEGA divisions can regain its fans.