Bootleg Super-Hero iPhone Apps Are Hilariously Unlicensed
Here at ComicsAlliance, we are absolutely fascinated by bootleg super-hero merchandise, but as we move ever onward into the digital age, it's come to our attention that unlicensed knockoffs aren't just for Batman toys and The Greatest Backpack Ever. As it turns out, Apple's iPhone and iPad App store has become a hotbed of truly ridiculous software -- which isn't much of a surprise, considering that their content filters seem to be operate entirely at random, letting pretty much everyone and their brother from slapping a Superman logo onto software that plays Scrabble for you. And seriously, guys: Superman would never help you cheat at Scrabble.
But could there be something of value mixed in among all the nonsense? Short answer: No. For the long answer, get ready for the worst of bootleg super-hero iPhone apps!
Let's be honest here, guys: At one time or another, every single one of us has wanted to be Wolverine. The fighting skills, the functional immortality, the ability to rock mutton chops and a swept-back flat-top while still being attractive to people who are a foot taller and way out of his league -- the guy's got a lot going for him, and it's no surprise that there's an app out there designed to give that experience.
And with Claws, you too can become Wolverine... assuming that by "become Wolverine," you mean "shake around my phone while three silver triangles turn red."
The best part? In order to make money off of it, the app constantly displays an ad, which means that when you're re-enacting Wolverine's bloodiest stabbings, you're being invited to play "The #1 iPhone Fish Game" by an equally bootleg Finding Nemo.The actual mechanics are simple -- tap the screen once and the claws pop up accompanied by a sound the makers are legally required to refer to as "snickety-snick," then shake it around to get them "bloodstained" -- but that doesn't mean that options are limited. If you want to kick things up a notch, you can put away Wolverine's claws and select one of two computer-rendered switchblades, or, if you're truly x-treme, you can go with the amazingly hilarious BONECLAWS!!!
And as an added touch of manliness, there's no "Finding Nemo" in this one. Boneclaws are pure Shatner.
I'm pretty sure they don't give out awards for knockoff software, but if they do, the makers of Spider Jump have a good shot at this year's Hall of Fame for their tireless work in ripping off two properties at once. Not only is their game "inspired by" the extremely popular Doodle Jump (which they actually do mention in the description), but they've inexplicably decided to make the main character the Mr. Potato Head version of Spider-Man.
On one level, I can almost follow this logic. I mean, Spider-Man does jump a lot. In fact, I'd be willing to say that his ability to jump is one of his most defining characteristics, right after web-shooters, super-strength, Spider-Sense, super-agility, the tragic murder of Uncle Ben, the tragic murder of Gwen Stacy, his background as a scientist, his job at the Daily Bugle, the fact that he constantly has inexplicably hot girlfriends, the Spider-Buggy and his love of wheatcakes.
Really though, the worst thing about this is that it's oversaturating the Market and making it extremely unlikely that we'll get a proper video game starring this guy:
I hear he's the focal point of "Shattered Dimensions 2."
On the surface, there's not really that much wrong with Comics Maker Lite. It's a program designed to let users trick out their photographs, which makes it a distant cousin of Blingee, the single greatest website on the Internet. Rather than an animated dancing Snoop Dogg, however, Comics Maker allows users to add comic-strip style word and thought balloons to their pictures.
Again, no big deal, although the pictures do end up looking like... well, like they were lettered with an iPhone app. The problem is that the screenshots they put up to sell the thing are just a little bit off.
Seriously, with the possible exception of the party hats, there is nothing about this, up to and including the "I love parties!" balloon that doesn't scream "LAST KNOWN PHOTOGRAPH." Here, let me see if I can clean things up a little:
There we go. Maybe they can put something in the next version that doesn't make it look like she's speaking from somewhere vaguely to the left of her mouth.
The essence of a bootleg is that it takes someone else's content and presents it as its own, but rarely has it been more obvious than in the Superheroes and All The Comics apps. They are, quite simply, a bunch of Wikipedia articles about comic book characters copied, pasted and slapped underneath a different logo. That's it.
"All The Comics," however, manages to go one step further. Despite the fact that its icon features an ersatz Superman and its logo is a Gary Frank-drawn picture of the Legion of Superheroes (which I'm sure was used with permission)....
...All the Comics is devoted not to super-heroes, but rather to newspaper strips. On the bright side, though, that means that whoever made this had to suffer through the Wikipedia article on the monumentally depressing "Funky Winkerbean," at least for as long as it took to hit CTRL-A, CTRL-V.
Not to be outdone, the Superheroes app brings its own bit of amazing to the table: In addition to the main version, there are also versions specific to Marvel and DC, wherein they have brought out what may well be the Sensational Character Find of 2010:
No joke, I would totally buy a comic about that guy. And doing up the logo in Cooper -- the Archie Comics font -- only makes me want it more.
Back when I was a kid, we were still a few years away from everyone carrying around devices that could access clips from "The Snorks" whenever the hell we wanted. To tide us over in the meantime, we had electronic keychains where you could press a button and hear a machine gun, an 8-bit explosion, or -- as was very popular during my Freshman year of high school -- the melodious laughter of Beavis and Butt-Head.
With its promise of 36 "incredibly loud sound effects" that "activate and POWER UP," the Superhero Powers app seems like a direct descendant of those, except with one amazingly janked-up touch:
Growing up, I have fond memories of the knock-off sneakers that would add a fourth stripe to Adidas's three, and that's exactly what's going on here with Wolverine's claws, except they somehow make the fourth one look vestigial, like a sixth toe. Which, if you think about it, really does fit the whole mutation theme.
Also, I'm not exactly sure that "dynamite" really counts as a "superhero power."
Animated Joker is another one that makes a lot of sense when you first see it. It's essentially just a portable soundboard, where you press a button and you hear the Joker (usedwithoutpermissionofdccomicsnoownershipisimplied) delivering one of his classic catchphrases...
...like "U MAKE ME BLUSH DOC" or "LADIES AND GENTLEMAN." Remember all those awesome moments where the Joker said stuff like that, told his henchmen to "KEEL THE BATMAN?"Wait, keel? As in, keel-haul? Is this an app from a parallel world where the Joker is also a pirate?
Anyway, the big question here is just whose voice you're going to be hearing. Did they put together some clips of Heath Ledger's performance in "The Dark Knight?" Is it Jack Nicholson, the bright spot of Tim Burton's "Batman?" Caesar Romero? Or, since this is specifically the "Animated Joker," is it going to be clips of Mark Hamill, who's played the Clown Prince of Crime for almost 20 years in movies, games, and TV?
As you might expect by this point, the answer is, of course, None of the Above. Instead, you'll be getting the talents of British voiceover company Voice Express Ltd., and while I can't find any samples of their version of the Joker voice online, I will say this: If it's as close to Hamill as their version of Michael Caine is to the original (warning: autoplaying sound + hilariously awful impression), then it's safe to say that it's absolutely terrible.
iCosplay Lite is another app designed to let users trick out their photos, this time with an Anime theme, and OH MY GOD IT'S TERRIFYING!
Never wanting to go to sleep ever again? Yeah. Turns out there's an app for that too.
And finally, we hit the absolute bottom of the barrel with Super Hero Sex. I didn't actually spend the two dollar asking price for this one, but I probably should have, because I'm sure the people who make it need to pay artist Keron Grant for using his art on their splash page...
...although I'm not sure why they decided to use the Magic Wand tool to turn it into what is unquestionably the sloppiest cutout I've ever seen.
Even so, I understand that it's a guide to sex positions, and while they may or may not include the use of capes (which actually would make it useful in the sexier parts of Gotham City), I'm guessing that it's probably just amazingly stupid. Of course, that's just my opinion, and I'm sure there are those who disagree, like this five star review left by someone that I am absolutely positive was not one of the people who made the app:
And really, who am I to argue with Sho Kosugi, the star of the single greatest film to never be released on DVD, "Ninja III: The Domination."
And really, if you can't trust that guy's word on an art-stealing bootleg sex app for the iPhone, who can you trust?