Indie developer Stephen Ddungu has claimed that Disney likely copied his indie game for use in a fighting scene in the recent Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness.
Ddungu is currently developing a JRPG called Sword of Symphony, a game which he says draws inspiration from Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy and NieR: Automata. In the game, musical notes play a prominent role in the mechanics, hence the name. In combat, the player can conjure up musical notes and fling them towards enemies as an attack.
Though Sword of Symphony is in early development, the game has developed a fanbase through progress videos that Ddungu has been sharing on social media. Fans of the game who were viewing the aforementioned Marvel movie quickly made the connection between a certain scene and Ddungu’s work. They pointed out as much on his TikTok and on Twitter.
During a fight scene in Doctor Strange, the titular character conjures up and shoots a bar of music at his opposition. While the creator admits that using music as a weapon is nothing new (Scott Pilgrim comes to mind) the similarities between the combo videos of Sword of Symphony and the scene are not to be understated.
The developer told Kotaku: “All the sources (which quote the people who made the film directly) strongly imply the scene wasn’t in the film’s original script and that it was a last-minute move executed at least three months after Sword of Symphony went viral and received praise for its concept. So when everyone’s telling me they ripped off my work, after scrutinising the surrounding evidence, I can understand why people have that view.”
— Stephen Ddungu (@Stephen_Ddungu) May 13, 2022
The timelines appear to match up with Ddungu’s statement which has led him to conclude that it’s likely “…another case of creatives ripping off ideas from other creatives, which is hardly uncommon for big production studios.”
Disney has not yet publicly responded to Ddungu’s accusations.