Image via TVT

Metal Gear, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure veterans’ new game “Project Shaz” accused of plagiarism, apology issued

That does look mighty close.
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Japanese studio Tokyo Virtual Theory (TVT for short) was formed in 2019, and the staff includes a number of prestigious game developers. Among them are God Eater series supervisor Toshiyuki Yasui, Metal Gear series writer Tomokazu Fukushima, Patapon creator Hiroyuki Kotani, and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle director Kenei Nakasha. Other TVT employees worked on Bandai Namco projects like Scarlet Nexus. With such a cluster of talent, there’s a large number of influences on TVT’s upcoming games. Some of that influence seems to have gone a bit too far, potentially entering into plagiarism territory.

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One of TVT’s projects is a multiplayer action game currently dubbed Project Shaz. It’s directed by Nakasha, and it may wind up being a free-to-play title. Project Shaz is meant to run on TVT’s homegrown network, Theory Engine, as detailed in a recent interview with the previously named developers. The interview also contained a number of screenshots from the work in progress. These were quickly accused of being plagiarized from other creators. ResetEra user Gris compiled and compared the screenshots in a forum thread, where the plagiarism accusations are quite easy to understand.

The plagiarism accusation was two-pronged: Project Shaz was called out for character designs that closely resembled the work of a local Japanese painter and some heroes from the South Korean game Destiny Child. Today, as of the time of this writing, TVT has issued its apology. In the statement, written by Yasui, the studio says that its artwork is not final, and considering how close the images are, the art ought to change by the game’s full release. No launch date has been announced at this time, and the same goes for final platforms.

Plagiarism accusations are fairly common in the world of video games. PUBG: Battlegrounds publisher Krafton actually sued the makers of Garena Free Fire, alleging that it was plagiarized wholesale. Meanwhile, Mol Soccer Online looked like a Rocket League ripoff in its debut gameplay trailer.

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Tony Wilson
Tony has been covering games for more than a decade. Tony loves platformers, RPGs and puzzle games.