Vlambeer vows to fight back against 'terrible' Luftrausers clone

Rami Ismail speaks out

Vlambeer vows to fight back against 'terrible' Luftrausers clone
A supposed clone of Luftrausers, the flash prototype for Vlambeer's upcoming PlayStation Vita shooter of the same name, has hit iOS.

Called SkyFar and developed by an outfit by the name of Rubiq Labs, it's claimed the game borrows Luftrausers' stylised shooter gameplay, while marketplace screenshots suggest it also lifts Vlambeer's distinctive art style.

Of course, it's not the first time Vlambeer has been at the centre of a cloning row.

In 2011 Gamenauts released Ninja Fishing, a game bearing startling similarities to the studio's Radical Fishing, another Flash title that would go on to become the App Store hit, Ridiculous Fishing.

Speaking to, Vlambeer's head of business and development Rami Ismail outlined his anger at the situation, as well as his exhaustion with an issue he's all too familiar with.

SkyFar hit iOS and Android at the end of March as a paid app. The game went unnoticed for a couple of weeks before it was bought to Vlambeer's attention just a few days ago.

"Someone had told us," says Ismail, "but it never had any attention. We had hoped it would just disappear into obscurity and save us from the whole discussion again."

Ismail, who has played SkyFar, claims that it's "quite frankly - a terrible game," but claimed its debts to Luftrausers are undeniable.

Before the row exploded on social media, Vlambeer contacted Rubiq Labs to confront the outfit about the two games' similarities. The response was a flat out denial of any wrongdoing.

"They denied taking anything from us and refused to take the game down or modify it," says Ismail.

In Vlambeer's official statement on the matter, Ismail quotes Rubiq Labs – in somewhat broken English - as saying, "Acttuly we genrated our assets, Codes and all newly... We just done those screnshots for public attraction... we really dont think it links your game at all."

As a result, Vlambeer is being forced to fight back.


So what can be done in such cases?

"Since they stole our assets and doctored their screenshots to be more like Luftrausers, we're going to request Apple and Google to handle this," says Ismail.

But beyond that, no other course of action is available.

Internally, the studio's reaction is one of disbelief. "We have just released Ridiculous Fishing and the first big thing that happens to us is this," says Ismail. "It's pretty unbelievable."

The Radical Fishing cloning case hit Vlambeer hard last year, with the studio suffering from long periods of inactivity, questioning whether it could continue making games.

And while the success of Ridiculous Fishing has gone some way to heal those wounds – the subtitle of the game is 'A Tale of Redemption' – Vlambeer has nevertheless been left drained by the experience.

Ridiculous Fishing

"It's disheartening to know this is still possible," says Ismail. "We're exhausted."


Traditionally Vlambeer discusses its ideas and in-development games openly. It’s an approach that spreads the word on upcoming titles without the need for big marketing spends.

Yet it also arguably makes the studio vulnerable to cloning. Both Ninja Fishing and SkyFar were lifted from Vlambeer's free Flash prototypes.

Despite this, Ismail feels he cannot change Vlambeer’s working practices.

"We can't be more secretive," he says. "The only way people know about our games is if we make sure people can learn about them as early in development as possible. We simply don't have huge marketing budgets."

Rami Ismail

The truth is, all Vlambeer can do is strive to make good games, spread the word, and hope consumers sort the fakes from the originals.


In an attempt to make light of the controversy, Vlambeer’s fans and contemporaries have suggested a Vlambeer Clone Jam, with devs working together to riff on the studio's ideas.

"Someone argued it'd be a nice idea on Twitter," says Ismail. "We like it, so after we're done crunching, we might organise that. We really don't have any ideas beyond that, we're way too exhausted from dealing with this."

And that’s perhaps the most dispiriting thing about the whole affair. Vlambeer is just two developers, Ismail and designer Jan Willem Nijman. The duo lacks the resources, energy and time to deal with anything properly beyond completing the Vita release of Luftrausers.

As yet another cloning row erupts around the studio, Ismail and Nijman are left in a potentially fragile state.

Contributing Writer

A freelancer for just about anyone that will have him, Lee was raised in gloomy arcades up and down the country. Thanks to this he's rather good at Gauntlet, OutRun and fashioning fake pound coins from pennies and chewing gum. These skills have proved to be utterly useless in later life.