The massive success of Stardew Valley has inspired numerous other titles and indie developers over the past few years with its unique take on the farming simulation genre. Recently, however, an upcoming game known as Super Zoo Story has caused controversy due to the heavy resemblance it bears with Stardew Valley's art style and aesthetics.
Although plenty of similar games to Stardew Valley have been released over the years, Super Zoo Story has come under fire because of the possibility that it used stolen assets. The environment design in Super Zoo Story looks eerily similar to Stardew Valley and even the smaller details of the game such as character models or dialogue also bear a strong resemblance. As a result, Super Zoo Story has been accused of plagiarism and its similarities to Stardew Valley have generated controversy from fans.
The problem with Super Zoo Story isn't that it takes influence from Stardew Valley, but it appears to use nearly identical assets and art style in the previews shown for the game. In fact, many Stardew Valley fans assumed that Super Zoo Story would be a mod or update of some kind based on the images that have been released so far. The most obvious similarity is the environment design in Super Zoo Story where the trees and shrubbery look nearly identical to the ones in Stardew Valley and features a similar color palette. The water animations are also eerily similar to Stardew Valley, and as a result, there have been accusations that Super Zoo Story has been stealing assets. Furthermore, some fans have pointed out that a few sprites from Super Zoo Story also look identical to the ones found in Stardew Valley mods.
Ultimately though, it's difficult to tell whether Super Zoo Story has actually stolen assets from Stardew Valley or if its pixel-based art style takes heavy-to-the-point-of-plagiarism inspiration. Regardless, the controversy that this has caused will likely make it difficult for Super Zoo Story to carve out its own identity. The concept itself is interesting and could've made for a great Stardew Valley mod, but as a standalone game, its similarities cause far too much confusion for fans.
Unfortunately, the developer behind Super Zoo Story has also responded to criticism rather poorly on Twitter and Instagram. Some of its responses are quite aggressive, and it has even taken to hash-tagging preview posts with Stardew Valley. As a result, fans believe that the developer behind Super Zoo Story is doubling down and using the controversy as a way to generate more attention by directing Stardew Valley fans to its posts.
Super Zoo Story appears to have no intention of changing any of its assets or art style, and its poor social media presence has only made the controversy worse. ConcernedApe, creator of Stardew Valley, has stated that although he understands games taking inspiration from Stardew Valley, taking assets would be going too far. For now, while it's unclear whether Super Zoo Story has actually used Stardew Valley assets, it seems to be crossing the line from inspiration to imitation.
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