I’m working on a fairly simple, kind of postmodern 2D platformer, and one direction I was considering is having different levels that parody other games (eg Cuphead, and 16 bit games like Streets of Rage, and the ubiquitous Sonic and Mario). What can I get away with in terms of utilising elements from those games? As I see it there’s kind of a spectrum running from directly ripping art from those games and sticking them in mine (not something I have any intention of doing) through to creating entirely new assets that could be seen as inspired by the other games. But where does the line between permitted and not permitted lie? Am I allowed to name-check other games? How about creating a character that is an explicit reference to another character, but heavily modified in my own (probably crappy) art style? For instance, say, a stick figure with a red hat called Mario… and that’s just an example by the way, not something I intend to do!
I’m sure there are other factors, like some copyright holders being a lot more defensive of their IP, and whether or not the game I’m working on ends up becoming a commercial product. And please don’t think I’m just looking for an easy way to get recognition/notoriety. But any advice would be greatly appreciated