Check it out, Lady Miss Kier (of Deee-Lite fame) is suing Sega, claiming that Ulala, the retro-sci-fi diva protagonist of Space Channel 5, is a rip-off of her own personal image.

Now, I am reluctant to say that the revered Lady Miss Kier is doing something dumb, but Space Channel 5 came out 3 years ago. Has it really taken her that long to see the game, especially since Sega once offered to pay her for licensing her likeness for the game? Clearly, Ulala is inspired in part by Miss Kier's image, but she's not Miss Kier, and I hate to break it to Kier, but she's not the only person in the world who says, "Ooh la la." Why she didn't just take the $16,000 Sega purportedly offered her to use her likeness originally? If someone wanted my likeness in a game, I'd totally let them do it for free. Any money on top of that would be gravy. Especially if my disco-house diva career weren't going so well. Hell Michel Jackson let Sega use his likeness and name, although I think he lets pretty much anyone put him in whatever game they want (I wonder if he'll be pulled from the SP5 sequel since that whole documentary foofaraw?).

It's a pretty established technique to base characters in games, especially fighting games, on real-life people. Dead Or Alive's Bass is obviously a Hulk-Hogan-alike, Tekken's Marshall Law is pretty darn Jackie Chan, Mortal Kombat's Johnny Cage is so Van Damme it's ridiculous, and every fighting game has a character based on Bruce Lee. Typically, though these characters are parodies and tributes, not blatant copies, and no one gets sued.

Sometimes they can come a little too close to their real-life counterparts, though. Not too many people know that the Street Fighter 2's ex-boxing champ Balrog and militaristic supervillian M. Bison originally had their names transposed. The bozer was known in Japan originally as "Mike Bison", and one can, of course, see how that might get them into a little legal hot water, so the names of the two characters were swapped, and the North American market was left wondering why the hell the last guy in the game was named M. Bison.

Hmmm, come to think of it, that "Ken" character looks an awful lot like me when I have blond hair! And he shoots balls of pure spiritual energy from his hands just like I can! Where's my lawyer?!

Note: Miss Kier's real last name is Kirby. If I were Nintendo, I'd watch out, they may be next.


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