When I was younger, and the internet didn’t exist, or at least was in it’s infancy and all you really had to know about video games were from TV and magazines. One way to get your game noticed is to attach it to a franchise that people, kids in this, will notice. Heck the first video game I ever played was Atari Star Wars, so a franchise got me into playing video games! However there’s a catch to these, not all games based on franchises turn out good. I didn’t really own any terribly bad games as a kid, but one game comes to mind as one of the most dull games I ever owned on my childhood format of choice, the GameBoy. This game was We’re Back; a game based on the movie and story book of the same name. The movie was animated by a studio called Amblimation. The studio was funded by Steven Speilburg, and would eventually become Dream Works. Under the Amblimation name, they made the great An American Tail: Fievel Goes West that grossed a huge 65 million dollars. However, We’re Back only grossed a miserly 9 million dollars, because of this We’re Back was only officially released in cinemas in the US.
So how does a Brit like me know about this film?
When my parents were still married, my Mother took me on a three week vacation to Sicily where my Dad was stationed at a US military base in Sigonella. During my time there, I met a few families that my Dad knew at the base. Because there was only one TV channel broadcasted at Sigonella, all of these families would own huge VHS collections of movies and TV shows. One time I was invited to one of these families to watch this, We’re Back, animated film. Being a typical kid with no real taste in anything, I liked it to the degree of it was colourful and wacky. Looking back at it now it’s a really dull kids movie that had a weird way to tell kids to eat breakfast. Yup, it was an animated movie about reanimated Dinosaurs becoming intelligent because they were feed on a cereal that made their brains grow.
Before I continue to bore you to death with it, what I’m getting at was during this vacation I saw a copy of We’re Back on the GameBoy at the base’s AAFES store, and I nagged my poor mother into getting the game. This would involve me doing chores for the families that my Dad knew (doing chores on vacation sucked by the way) for a week before I could get the game, I got it, and it was a pretty poor pick…
The game is essentially a pretty lack luster Sonic the Hedgehog clone. The only thing that makes this game stand out from the Sonic games was that the cereal from the movie appear in the game as a pick up, and you can throw boxes of it at enemies to kill them. Unlike Mario’s fire ball power when he picks up a fire flower, the cereal boxes are limited ammo and you can run out of them, especially if you have a bad aim. There was nothing that was terrible about the game as such, it was just plain dull. Because of this, I would end up selling the game off a few years later to trade in for an N64 game, along with a few other games, one including Ninja Gaiden Shadow, which I really regret selling; but with the power of eBay I got a copy back.
Thing is, whilst looking up this game last night on Google, I came across an image of another game…
What caught my eye was the robot looking blue brachiosaurus thing on the right hand side of the box art. In We’re back on the GameBoy, its final boss was a robot brachiosaurus. So I began to look this game up on YouTube, and here’s what I found!
Not only is it the same game! It has slightly altered music, but the levels are the same. The player sprite looks different, the cereal boxes are replaced with rocks, and the cut scenes are different.
But that’s not all…
Amazingly, Australia got their own version of this game. The Aussie’s called it Agro Soar. It turns out that Agro was a puppet mascot for a range of children’s TV shows in the land down under. Think of it as the Australian version of Basel Brush, Roland Rat, and the Muppet’s Animal merged together with an Australian accent.
Yup, it’s the same game, except now the player sprite looks really ugly! It looks like an over sized tennis ball with a mouth! Whoever edited the sprite can’t seem to figure out how to make Agro look decent on a GameBoy screen!
You think I’m done yet?! Think again!
An exclusive version of We’re Back, Baby T-Rex, and Agro Soar was released in Sweden called Bamse. Bamse turns out to be a popular comic book in Sweden featuring a bear character who is very reminiscent of A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, but when he eats his favourite honey he’d become the strongest bear in the world; kinda like how Asterix would become mega strong from drinking his potion.
Yet again, it’s the same game, but the sprite is different, at least it looks like the Bamse bear this time unlike Australia’s Agro Soar. The cutscenes are different, and the rocks are now jars of honey.
Who would think that a dull Sonic clone with a throwing weapon mechanic would get cloned so many times!? The issue I have is that I have no idea what came first out of all these games!? Wikipedia states that We’re Back was the original game developed by Beam Productions with Baby T-Rex and Argo Soar later on. Even crazier was that the UK was going to get it’s own exclusive version of the game based on Children’s BBC Puppet mascot in the early Nineties, Ed the Duck, but apparently it got cancelled.
Could this be the most cloned game ever? Not really… After all Sokobon is pretty on every format of console imaginable, however I will say that for one game to be duplicated on the same format over and over again is pretty crazy! Granted there are Japanese games that will get localised to the west, but this isn’t even a Japanese game, but rather a game that was originally developed in Australia for an American audience.
So what do you think of my little discovery? Do you know of any games that got cloned on the same system many of times like We’re Back did? Write down in the comments below!