While the endless debate about what does and doesn’t constitute a clone will forever rage on, I found myself playing a little something this past weekend that was a perfect homage to two of my favorite things: Donkey Kong and Alien.

Donkey Me, a freeware trip down memory lane from developer Bruno R. Marcos, takes the Donkey Kong formula and reskins it using classic movies from the 1970s and 1980s. Star Wars, The Exorcist, Big Trouble in Little China – the selection is surprisingly rich. I won’t spoil all of the surprises, so I’ll just say this: Alien/Donkey Kong is exactly the game you want it to be.

 

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Instead of battling against the big ape, the first stage gives you the space jockey. Rescuing Kane at the end of the second stage results in a pixelated chest-burster. There’s even an appearance from Jones the cat if you can push through to stage number three.

Donkey Me seems to break every copyright rule in the book, and yet it’s a wonderful little oddity that has me absolutely charmed. Gamezebo recently spoke with Nothing to Hide creator Nicky Liow, who believes in the importance of an open source/copyright-free world of video games. “[Copyright law] is about holding a measure of power over things that don’t belong exclusively to anyone,” Liow told us. And after playing Donkey Me, it’s not hard to see what he’s talking about.

Both Donkey Kong and Alien seem to belong as much to the public as they do to their creators. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not advocating for a world where creators have no rights, or where people can profit off their work without authorization. But if some fans want to get together and make a loving homage like Donkey Me? I can’t see anything wrong with that.

 

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For just a minute, I was able to close my eyes and imagine an alternate history where – instead of creating Mario – Nintendo partnered with 20th Century Fox to create a Shigeru Miyamoto-powered Alien game. And it was a great.

Don’t think it could have happened? Don’t forget: Donkey Kong (and as a result, Mario) only exist because Nintendo couldn’t make a Popeye game.

Donkey Me is available for PC, Mac and Linux on bruneras.com, as well as OUYA.