Limbo Of The Lost – An Astonishing Tale

By John Walker on June 12th, 2008 at 12:08 pm.

Recognise it from anywhere?

A quite remarkable story has emerged about a PC adventure game from Majestic Studios called Limbo Of The Lost. It has, it is alleged, entirely lifted locations and art from at least five other games, apparently proven in a number of screenshots posted by GamePlasma yesterday. Oblivion seems the main target, along with Thief 3 and others. Because, hey, who bought those games? But this is a larger story of peculiarity.

The development of Limbo Of The Lost has been talked about for over a decade, the first announcement of its release finally appearing in 2006 when signed to G2 Games. The press release oddly chose to boast that it had been in development for more than ten years. A lot more than ten years if the following statement is true.

“Originally created as a graphical/text adventure game for the Atari ST and then a traditional point & click game for the Amiga CD32/A1600.”

Not too sure there were many text adventures for the ST kicking around in 1996. Nevermind that the A1600 wasn’t an Amiga model at all.

Is this your skeleton?

Skip ahead two years and the game has released the vaguest of releases via G2 at some point in 2008. According to Adventure Gamers,

“The game’s European release through G2 Games late last year resulted only in a few copies available through eBay or from a small Asian retailer, casting doubt about the legitimacy of the release.”

By 7th May, US publisher Tri Synergy announced that they would be publishing the game in N. America (including the feature, “Immersive (being there) sound effects”). As recently as the 5th June a teaser trailer was released, then swiftly replaced due to failing to meet ESRB regulations with this one:

After watching this, it’s not possible to ignore last year’s “behind the scenes” trailer developers Majestic Studios put up:

Um, isn’t that Poser? And I’m not quite sure you can claim your pencil sketches are an “all star cast”. But the most stand-out part of this surely being the name of one of the characters, “Cranny Faggot”. What? Sure, we get the spoonerism. But WHAT?

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

You may wonder why we’ve not linked to Majestic Studio’s website. Well, that would be because it’s on GeoCities. It’s like there can be nothing about this story that isn’t brilliant. Anyway, it’s either been whipped down, or overloaded by the attention the plagiarism accusations have brought, and you can fail to look at here.

Right, so the best bit. The screenshots. We don’t want to take anything from GamePlasma, and their fantastic discovery, and they deserve the hits they’ll be getting for this story. So head over there to see the full selection. But below is my favourite.

Limbo Of The Lost
:
brilliant design!

Oblivion:
Bethesda - how could you copy them? Ten years they spent on that!

It gets better. Neogaf posters have been spotting loads more, including scenes that appear to be from Silent Hill 4, Painkiller and Return To Castle Wolfenstein, and screen decor from Diablo 2, while at Just Adventure someone has claimed spoken dialogue has been lifted from Rune. A JA poster also spotted this story about the motley crew behind the game.

RPS readers reckon they’ve spotted more similarities, including further Thief 3 nabs, Pirates of the Caribbean game FMV, and bits from Crysis, Spawn, BioShock, UT2004, and Baldur’s Gate, although we can’t verify any of them yet. Collect them all!

My favourite is the Thief 3 inspiration, linked in this GR thread:

Thief 3:
Thief 3

Limbo Of The Lost:
Limbo

Note the addition of the skulls on the shelf. The skulls from Diablo 2.

Tri Synergy have responded, issuing a press release stating:

“Tri Synergy is just as shocked as everyone else is by the recent screenshot comparisons. At no point during our dealings with Majestic Studios up until the point that the comparison was first publicly made by a third party did we have any knowledge of these similarities. Additionally, Tri Synergy will discontinue distribution of Limbo of the Lost in both retail and online outlets.”

It’s impossible to imagine more won’t show up. We’re trying to get a copy to see what we can find. If you want to play at home, I’ve put all 76 available screenshots here, as a 20Mb zip.

For now, let’s finish with this quote from an interview with Majestic, as spotted by QT3.

Gordon: So have any more recent games influenced your current project?
Steve: The project is more influenced by film and literature rather than other games, we want the experience to be as original as possible and as such we have made a calculated effort to keep away from other games in the genre. Limbo of the Lost is an experience first and foremost, secondly wrapped up in a game media and genre.

Thanks to Michael for being the first to tip us off to this.

EDIT: I can confirm that it’s a real game – no hoax – and that it is a point and click adventure, with a loosely animated character superimposed on static screenshots.

ANOTHER EDIT: Courtesy of RPS reader Joachim, here’s a preview of Limbo of the Lost from the June 1995 issue of The One. Page 1 and Page 2.

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229 Comments »

  1. Cunning Stunt says:

    I literally choked when I saw this article, christ this has to be the funniest thing I’ve seen all year!

    What a trio of talentless bell-ends.

  2. sbs says:

    This is just incredible
    I can’t seem to stop laughing
    This has to be true, it’s too good to be a lie. Nobody could come up with something like this even if they tried.

    And even if – Thanks for the very good laugh

  3. Aya says:

    Being the one that wrote the review for Just Adventure, I can assure you this is not a hoax! I have tried to register at NeoGAF to post some details about playing the game, but registration has to be manually validated! So I am waiting to get permission to post. Stay tuned over there if you are interested.

  4. malkav11 says:

    What astounds me is this: if this is truly the same game being worked on by the same people as the Amiga one being previewed back in ’95….they clearly had an artist capable of doing original work then. It doesn’t look good to my modern eye, but I can’t imagine it was in vastly superior company back then. What happened to that? How do you go 13 years and then some on making a game, only to lazily plagiarize a bunch of graphics from other sources for the final release?

  5. Al3xand3r says:

    None of them were into game development for years before attempting this again. One of them was actually working a pub. Go figure. I mean, come on, they used a freeware adventure game engine and created a game out of screenshots of other games. It sure doesn’t show any real dedication, just a bunch of older dudes looking to make a quick buck. They probably achieved it too. Just goes to show what kind of dumbfuck publishers rule this industry if they can fall for the bullshit talk of such an unlikely group and fund and actually release their game. It’s a good example of what the industry has degraded to. Someone with flashy talks and mock up screenshots can dazzle a publisher while people with a real vision rarely get the chance to realise it. Screw this. Yay for (REAL) independent developers.

  6. capital L says:

    Honestly, I kinda want to play the original version of this game, some of the screen shots from the Amiga mags look boss. (I don’t know about the 20 minute “historical” intro video though…)

  7. Laurence says:

    Check out the menu button (first screenshot of the zip file). They are exactly the same as Battle for Middle Earth.

    http://pnmedia.gamespy.com/planetcnc.gamespy.com/features/reviews/bfme/mainmenu.jpg

  8. Andre says:

    Tragic!

  9. Sucram says:

    Maidstone! I’m surprised they even had Amiga’s.

  10. Muzman says:

    We need a definitive expression for this particular ‘party dance’.
    The Limbo of The Lost: An arhythm game where one tries to get over by bending over backwards to scrape the bottom of the barrel, with or without a sock puppet. (Yes, I can’t give a citation, but I just know I have to apologise to Yes Minister for most of that one)
    To pull a Limbo Of the Lost: to scam in gross ignorance or underestimation of the All Seeing Internet and suffer subsequent mockery.
    corrupt usage “There’s so much Limbo there I don’t know what hurts more, my sides or my spine”

  11. Zed says:

    Am I the only one who thinks their protagonist did a chinplant in a chocolate cake?

  12. Vollgassen says:

    Oh it’s going to be so sad and painful to see their dreams crushed to nothingness.

    Where do you think they stole their logo from?

  13. Lukasz says:

    @Laurance
    now that’s just ridiculous….

    Story of the year!

  14. Dinger says:

    Majestic Fail.
    No, the real story is a year from now, after their publishers get their pound of flesh from the poor guy, and the copyright holders finally stop laughing (really no benefit in suing, even if you can probly sue the whole pub as gavelkind heirs). Then some journalist with an eye to a feature heads up Kent-ways and gets the full and honest story of how exactly one does such a thing.

    I was thinking Mr. Bovis might post that he’s shocked to hear what his artist has done, but the credits lay the blame pretty squarely on his shoulders. My guess is sheer stupidity. You’d be surprised how many cases of idiotic plagiarism go through the university: heck, people still turn in term papers with the IE-provided URL at the bottom of the page.

  15. Paul Moloney says:

    Aya,

    (1) How. Did. You. Not. Notice?
    (2) How does a P.O.S like that game deserve a grade B review?

    P.

  16. Jochen Scheisse says:

    Looks like a Publisher con set up by a bunch of stoners.

  17. YogSo says:

    Duncan:

    SBOVIS’s 400-odd posts on the wintermute forum would imply to me that this is not a hoax. ;-)

    But there aren’t “400-odd posts”, there are exactly 404 posts, or so it says his forum profile. As in 404 File Not Found, you know? Just a coincidence?

  18. batak says:

    I got it.. just had to download it. My god, it is real… and it is bad.

  19. Aya says:

    @Paul Moloney:

    1. I did not notice simply because i have played none of the games it ripped off. 90% of the games I play are adventure games, and I play a few survival horror here and there and a lot of Kick Off 2! :)
    1a. Majestic was clever enough to not rip any adventure games off. Trust me when I tell you that I would have picked it up if they ripped off even the most obscure of adventures, since I’ve played hundreds of them.
    1b. Did you notice that NOBODY noticed even when screenshots and previews were posted? I posted sshots of the game when I wrote the preview for Just Adventure. Nobody noticed then. That is because the people who read JA, and other adventure sites, are mainly adventure gamers who rarely play games like Oblivion, or, even more, UT or Painkiller.

    2. I review and judge adventure games based on their substance ONLY. My grades come from puzzles, characters, story and atmosphere (depending on the kind of adventure I am reviewing). I have mentioned that many times in my reviews. A game can LOOK like a pos, but if it scores high in the aforementioned areas, it will get a good grade (example, review of the indie game Other Worlds). LotL, as you will read in my review, was pretty decent as an adventure, and even though very unbalanced between chapters, for an adventure gamer (note: NOT for a gamer that may casually play an adventure) would be a fun experience to play. Adventure gamers are JA’s target audience.
    2b. As you may have already noticed, I have added a disclaimer to my review and have changed the grade to F. Regardless of what the game is about, what they did is an absolute disgrace and they do not deserve one penny out of it. I do hope Tri Synergy (the publisher) don’t get too much damage out of this. Even though they should have been more careful, they certainly shouldn’t pay dearly for somebody else’s fraud.

  20. Cooper says:

    Not sure if that magazine got scanned, but in the meantime:

    http://hol.abime.net/4305
    http://hol.abime.net/4305/screenshot

    Scans:
    http://amr.abime.net/review_35215

    Could someone upload pages 32-33 of The One issue 81, please?
    Check out the contents page here:
    http://amr.abime.net/issue_364_pages

  21. fluffy bunny says:

    “Could someone upload pages 32-33 of The One issue 81, please?”

    Those were uploaded yesterday, and are linked to in this RPS post. Check the last edit.

  22. John Walker says:

    And in fairness to Aya, a B on JA is the equivalent of minus eight hundred million percent elsewhere : )

  23. Cooper says:

    Sorry, I didn’t notice that.

    Anyone have any old copies of CD32 Gamer? Apparently one of their issues had a demo… I’ve done some hunting, and it’s not in issues 1-10…
    http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=28161

  24. Chris Keegan says:

    Here it gets a good review:
    http://www.justadventure.com/reviews/LimboOfTheLost/LotL.shtm

    Have i seen these guys before from somewhere?
    http://www.kentonline.co.uk/images/paper/PD1403578_l.jpg
    and dont say lock, stock and two smoking blah blah?

  25. Aya says:

    @John & Paul: When it comes to grades, I honestly wish they didn’t exist. I do not want to grade games. People tend to focus on grades way more than they should. I believe that if a review is well written it can tell you if you will like the game or not, regardless if it gives an A or a D, since somebody’s A is somebody else’s D and vice versa.

  26. X-K says:

    Hmmmm.

    Two con-artists and Ricky Gervais in the middle…

    Seriously though, I’m sure I’ve seen the guys either side of the middle one on programs about gangsters/criminals from the 80s/70s…

  27. John Walker says:

    Chris, your comment had better have been a joke, or I’m firing you out of the comment canon.

  28. Chris Keegan says:

    It sure was, i guess i forgot to put :p at the end of my sentence.
    We need more rogue developers :p

  29. Paul Moloney says:

    There does seem to be an awful lot of A and B score in the JA review list.

    There’s a Dungeon of Shame listing 5 games which score F, but that seems a very low proportion of the overall number of games.

    Also, the definition of “adventure game” seems a bit odd – BloodRayne is included, but no mention of “Vampire the Masquerade – Bloodlines”?

    P.

  30. Aya says:

    Just Adventure does review a few non-adventure games occasionally. Since 2004, when I started writing for the site, non-adventure games reviewed are marked with their proper genre, eg Action/Adventure, RPG etc. In their majority, those reviews are written under the adventure gamer’s pov, ie whether those games would have an appeal to somebody who mainly plays adventure games.

  31. Paul Moloney says:

    “In their majority, those reviews are written under the adventure gamer’s pov, ie whether those games would have an appeal to somebody who mainly plays adventure games.”

    Well, I guess my point is that a FPS/RPG V:MB, with lots of dialogue, interactivity, multiple plot lines, etc, would be far more suited to an adventure gamer than a linear button-masher like BloodRayne.

    Haven’t played many adventure games, but I did pick up “Broken Sword” for my little GBA recently and really got into it; handhelds are a good platform for those old-style adventure games, I think. I’m tempted to pick up with a Nintendo DS or an an open-source GP2X so I can play the old Lucasarts games.

    P.

    P.

  32. Ryan Lodata says:

    I completely support Aya on this. There are tons of adventure games out there that are deep and involving. Some people like physical puzzles and some like the kind in electronic form.

  33. Lukasz says:

    but you guys gave Broken Sword II a grade ‘C’ Aya.
    :)

    do you still have the game? can a person who loves Oblivion play it? I want to see more rip offs screens.

  34. Aya says:

    One thing that needs to be perfectly clear is that grades within JA (or any site for that matter) cannot be compared when given by different reviewers. So a C game by reviewer x and a B game by reviewer y don’t necessarily mean that you will like B more than C. One needs to, first of all, read the review text and, if a certain site is a site of preference, learn the reviewers’ likes and dislikes, and in that way you can eventually know if you would agree with a certain grade. Personally, I have favorite reviewers (within and outside JA) who I blindly trust, as well as “hated” reviewers with whom I disagree 99.9% of the time.

    About non-adventure games, it’s true that one game may have more appealing aspects than another, but there is no certain guideline which is followed. So you do see reviews of Half Life 2 or Doom 3 on JA too, but may not see a certain survival horror game (survival horror, imo, is the closest an action genre comes to adventure).

  35. Dan says:

    I love that this comment thread has become emblematic of the game. People who posted the comments first, quickly sue the people who repeated them!

    (Sorry, somebody had to do it)

  36. AndrewC says:

    Yes. John Walker 30 or so posts above.

  37. AndrewC says:

    Unless that was a joke. In which case: dsfluasgdvmnkl;asd;niasdfvb

  38. Krono says:

    I’m sorry Aya, but when JustAdventures gives Monkey Island 1 and 2 less than an A, you’ve got to think “do these people really know what makes a good adventure game?” And the answer has got to be an affirming “No, not now, not ever.”

  39. Noc says:

    At first, it occurred to me that maybe we were being a little unfair. Not very much, but a little. Maybe the team simply didn’t have an artist, and the cobbling-together of other works was the result of a sort of “Make due with what we’ve got” collage. Which puts me more in the mind of “Unfeasible and misguided” than “Maliciously plagiaristic.” It made me wonder what the game would have ended up like if they’d actually known someone capable of putting together some proper artwork for it.

    Then I read the GameBoomers thread and stopped worrying about it. Even (especially) if we’re looking at it as a personal project instead of a business venture, the whole “Backing yourself up with alternate accounts” thing is pretty slimy.

    And Krono: I agree with the sentiment, but . . . seriously, that’s a pretty loose ball of mud to be slinging. It’s like saying “You don’t know what makes a good RPG because you thought that Planescape:Torment wasn’t the best thing ever.” Despite the fact that it did, you know, get off to something of a slow start and had clunky combat.

  40. Krono says:

    Limbo of the Lost got a higher score than the Secret of Monkey Island. That’s like giving those crappy Kawasaki racing games a higher score than something like Burnout.

    edit: And Planescape: Torment was the best thing ever. :P

  41. Gap Gen says:

    Yeah, I mean if you sell something filled with stolen artwork you pretty much deserve to be sued. If it were just a free online project it might rate more favourably. I fail to see how anyone could think that bodily ripping stuff from other sources isn’t plagiarism, or at least anyone over 15.

  42. Noc says:

    Krono: Remember the article like, two days ago on here about the problem with scores in game reviews?

    Your response to this is EXACTLY the problem they’re talking about. And I agree with you, too: LoL looked, if nothing else, lazy, and the atrocious grammar from the previews (“Mankind are the one that creates evil on earth!”) doesn’t give me any confidence that the game itself, even if it wasn’t stitched together out of (I’m still suspecting) Google Searched screenshots is anything but mediocre. And Monkey Island had me laughing right up the point where I got stuck.

    But . . . but but but, “You don’t know what you’re talking about because some other guy on the site you post at gave this other game a lower score” is a tremendously lazy judgment to make. And if you read the Monkey Island review, then you’d discover that it’s from the perspective of someone who doesn’t come to the table with a tremendous amount of patience for the genre. He uses the phrase “Third Person Inventory Click-fest,” even, which (while a little odd a take to find on JA) is a perfectly apt way to describe the game and a big part of the reason why I lost patience with it and tend to avoid similar games.

    Aya clearly has neither this problem or this perspective. LoL still looks like shit to me, and I’d argue against his judgment if I’d actually played it and this was the place for such a discussion . . . but my point about the “Omg this other game got a lower score” argument still stands.

  43. Some Guy says:

    It could simply be that they outsourced material to a 3rd party and this is what they got back. Maybe they assumed it was original and it simply was not. When outsourcing art you could run this risk.

  44. Krono says:

    Read the reviews on JustAdventure, hardly any of them are professional, and mostly are opinionated, crap reviews. I seriously doubt anyone there has a degree in Journalism, which is a requirement in the REAL gaming press. And since they are a review community, it doesn’t matter who did the review, they’re represented as a whole. For example, if I’m complaining about a review Seanbaby gave in EGM, I don’t say “Seanbaby’s an idiot, he gave X a crap review, but gave piece of crap Y a 9 out of 10!” I say EGM, not Seanbaby.

  45. Aya says:

    @Krono: You are right about what you are saying about a reviewer representing the site and not him/herself, and yes, it is what most ppl do – saying “EGM/JA/Gamespot/etc gave such and such grade” and not “reviewer x did”.

    When it comes to older reviews (LONG before my time), I try to not criticize or judge when it comes to their content or their writer. But let’s just say that JA had a “different kind” of reviewers in general in the beginning. I have very often heard the example of the Monkey Island reviews. To tell you the truth, I have suggested some of the older reviews to be redone…

  46. Stumo says:

    Could it be that in fact the guys who did the recent rip off are completely separate from the guys who did the one 10 years ago – i.e. they’ve just ripped off that history and title along with everything else?

  47. The Hammer says:

    Maybe they’ve stolen their very identities too.

    I’m really thinking that these guys musn’t have known that it’s generally considered a bit naughty to copy assets. Otherwise, how the hells did they have the idea?!

  48. Lukasz says:

    LoL belongs to this obscure, low profile, adventure genre! They probably hoped that nobody will notice. Justadventure did not.

  49. John W says:

    “I seriously doubt anyone there has a degree in Journalism, which is a requirement in the REAL gaming press.”

    That’s utter nonsense. Of the four of us here, Alec has a journalism qualification. Kieron has a biology degree, Jim has philosophy degree, and mine is a BA Hons in Youth And Community Work & Applied Theology. First class!

    I have issues with JA and the specialist adventure press. Richard Cobbett and I once spent many days discussing these on the excellent AdventureGamers forum (search it for my or Richard’s names). To sum it up, and to nab Richard’s line (which I’m sure I said once too), it’s like reading a battered wife defending her husband’s actions. “Adventure games don’t mean to push me down the stairs. They do it because they love me.”

    However, there’s no call for personally bashing anyone, so please stop that.

    Also, why aren’t I yellow today?

  50. Kaerb says:

    The characters and monsters are copied from Lands of Lore games (the hounds and the goblin guy with the huge nose).

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