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Remembering Limbo of the Lost

What began in the early 1990s as a simple graphic adventure game became one of the most infamous cases of video game plagiarism in modern video game history. The final product completely ripped assets from games such as The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Thief 3, Painkiller, and even a scene from the Spawn movie. It's a sight to behold and after being reminded that it existed I just had to share it with those who may not know of it. You're in for a treat.

Limbo of the Lost began it's development for the Atari ST in the early 1990s by Steve Bovis and Tim Croucher under the name of Majestic Games. The game is about real life sea captain of the Mary Celeste, Benjamin Briggs. In 1872 the ship was found empty and the whereabouts of the captain and its crew remains a mystery to this day. The game puts him in Limbo and he must help Destiny in a war again Fate. After finishing a portion of the game the two began shopping it around to publishers but none would consider publishing it until the game was completed. After trying to expand their development team to finish the game it was eventually shelved as no one was interest in publishing games for the Atari ST anymore.

In 1995, with a new team member by the name of Laurence Francis, the game started back development. Though this time it was changed into a point and click adventure game (instead of a graphic text adventure) for the Amiga 500. Grandslam Entertainment agreed to publish the game for the Amiga 1200 and Amiga CD32 but this never happened since both platforms were no longer as popular and games were not being made for them.

So at this point the game was all but dead. It wasn't until 2003 when the team had learned how to use 3D development tools for the PC that the game was finally brought back and their dream of finishing it was at hand. And good god what a game they made.

In January of 2007 they released the first trailer:

After watching the trailer nothing really special jumps out. It looks horribly dated for a game that was released in late 2007 and that's about it. The game was published in late 2007 in the UK by G2 Games and by Tri Synergy in the US in June of 2008. It wasn't until video game website GamePlasma got a hold of it for review that the dark secrets of Limbo of the Lost were exposed to the world.

The game had stolen entire assets from many different major games. The majority of which came from Oblivion.

That looks kind of familiar
That looks kind of familiar
Yep, it's Thief
Yep, it's Thief
Oh, yeah, that's what it is
Oh, yeah, that's what it is
That looks an awful lot like...
That looks an awful lot like...
No Caption Provided

There is even some anecdotal evidence that maybe they even tried plagiarizing games back when it was being developed for the Amiga.

Full assets for these games weren't outright stolen. They are in fact just screenshots with the shoddily animated Briggs character superimposed over the 2D image. It's quite a site to behold.

Once the shit hit the fan and what they had done was exposed to the public (leading to a lengthy NeoGaf thread that dissected the game piece by piece exposing even more stolen assets) the developers immediately disassociated themselves from the game and denied all knowledge of how it came about and distribution for the game was immediately halted. They are quoted as saying:

"In response to the shocking notification that some alleged unauthorized copyrighted materials submitted by sources external to the development team have been found within the PC game Limbo of the Lost, we (the development team) have given our consent and full cooperation to both publishers who are recalling all units from all territories immediately. [...] To the best of our knowledge no one at Majestic, [European publisher] G2Games or [North American publisher Tri Synergy, Inc.] knew about this infringement and knowingly played any part in it."

So it just kind of just put itself there I guess? What baffles me is the fact that this game was shipped in the state it was in. And I'm not talking about the rampant plagiarism. The fact that a game this poorly made got a publisher and was put on shelves in the UK and North America in 2007, even for as short lived as that was, is just insane to me. You can even still buy the game from Amazon as I'm writing this. It even features "state of the art graphics", "immersive (being there) sound effects", and "each Level feels different in play".

Limbo of the Lost. Man, what a game. What a THING. I think the best way to end this retrospective on one of the weirdest games to have ever been released is to watch the ending. It may be a godawful horrible monstrosity of a game but it has one of the best endings in video game history.

Extra Things

GamePlasma's article that broke the story here

Rock, Paper, Shotgun's article on it here

An old magazine article previewing the game back in the 90s here and here