As a lifelong fan of Pokémon, I’m used to seeing other games in the “monster tamer” genre that are clearly inspired by it, from Temtem to Ni no Kuni, but nothing made me do a double take quite like Palworld, aka Pokémon With Guns. The first trailer of what looked like a heavily armed Pokemon Trainer using a terrified little pocket monster as a bullet shield was like a meme come to life. While the ridiculous concept is good for a laugh, what’s not so much of a laughing matter is how developer Pocketpair has seemingly copied elements of more than a few Pokémon designs when making its own creatures for Palworld, called Pals.
Well I’ve got a bone to pick with you, pal, because making a game with creatures inspired by Pokémon is one thing, but ripping them off – which, as I’ll demonstrate, is the case in some examples – is too much. I’m not a game designer but the inspiration for Pokémon comes from all around us. See those keys on the counter? That was an actual idea for a new Pokémon. And that ice cream cone? New Pokémon. That literal pile of trash? You get the idea. The fact Palworld doesn’t have wholly original designs, for whatever reason, seems wild to me. What’s more, by not coming up with its own designs, it potentially opened itself up to legal action from The Pokémon Company and, even worse, criticism from rabid Pokémon fans like me.
The CEO of Pocketpair, Takuro Mizobe, has denied allegations of plagiarism. While Pikachu doesn’t appear in Palworld exactly, there’s no denying that many of the designs are strikingly similar, whether it’s elements of different Pokémon thrown together to make a Pal that’s a bit Frankenstien’s monster, to more wholesale similarities. It’s at least enough to get on The Pokémon Company’s radar. The company made a statement saying, quote, “We intend to investigate and take appropriate measures to address any acts that infringe on intellectual property rights related to the Pokémon.” Well, lets do our own research and you can be the judge.
Before I get to the comparisons, it’s important to point out I have no issue with the fact Palworld has elements of Pokémon’s gameplay. Countless games do the same thing and anyone who has played the first 15 minutes of Palworld can plainly see that while it does have monster taming, its survival gameplay, crafting mechanics, and lack of glaring technical issues make it clear it’s otherwise nothing like a Pokémon game. For me, it’s all about the designs of the Pokémon themselves – the creatures I’ve spent years of my life getting to know and love, and to see some of many favorites presented in the way they are in Palworld genuinely breaks my heart. I’m really sentimental like that.
The following Pal/Pokémon comparisons are categorized by the nature of their resemblance. We’ll start with some examples of designs that are well within the bounds of good taste, then progress to designs that share more than a few commonalities.
Palworld vs. Pokémon Comparison
This first group is full of designs where you can tell which Pokemon inspired each Pal, but the Pal is a wholly original design. There are many of these, so these are just a few to show as an example.
The Pal called Sparkit is obviously meant to evoke the Pokémon mascot Pikachu. It’s a small, yellow furry electric creature, but it’s still very much its own design.
This little fire fox Pal named Foxparks obviously evokes the little fire fox Pokémon Vulpix, and the flaming tail bears a striking similarity to Charmander’s. But while those similarities are easy to see, they’re nothing more than just that: similarities. This is a great example of a Pal that puts its own unique spin on a Pokémon concept.
The same goes for the blue penguin Pal Pengullet, which reminds me of the blue penguin Pokémon Piplup. The same idea with distinctly different execution.
Most of Palworld’s 100-plus monsters are original designs like the ones above, but others bear a much stronger resemblance to specific Pokémon designs, although you might need to look a little closer to spot the similarities.
A Little Something Borrowed
These next Pals have faces that look just like those of certain Pokémon.
For instance, Mozzarina’s sleepy face is the exact same as Snorlax’s, except they reversed the direction of the teeth.
Grintale has the same facial features as Galarian Meowth, save for the pupils.
Dumud’s face is the same derpy one as Slowpoke’s, right down to the way the mouth hangs open. The only difference is Dumud has teeth on both the top and bottom, whereas Slowpoke only has one set.
A Striking Resemblance
These Pals are largely unique save for signature elements from certain Pokémon.
The crown on Kingpaca’s forehead looks a whole lot like Emploeon’s trident beak, plus they also share a tall, egg-like body shape when viewed from the front.
It’s easy to see that the Pokémon Zebstrika inspired the Pal called Univolt, but enough is different that you wouldn’t likely mistake one for the other.
This archer Pal called Robinquill has the same color scheme, cape, and bow and arrow weapon as the bird Pokémon Decidueye.
Similarly, Tocotoco is a weird bird with a green/yellow/black/red design, much like the Pokémon Xatu. It also has a similar beak to Toucannon.
The Resemblance Is Uncanny
The Pals in this group look like Pokémon doppelgangers, where the base model is similar but the design on top is different.
The humanoid body and pointy ears of the dog-warrior Pal known as Anubis looks almost the same as the Pokémon Lucario, although it’s dressed in Egyptian armor.
Grizzbolt has the same body shape, color, and design elements as Electabuzz.
The insect Pal named Elizabee has the same snatched waist, long arms with pointy bug-hands and dress-like abdomen as the bee Pokémon Vespiquen.
Astegon has a very similar build and shape as Mega Aggron.
Incineram looks like someone used a Fire Stone on a Zoroark.
Ever wonder what Garchomp would look like if it were an Electric/Bug Type? Palworld’s Orserk gives you a pretty good idea with its horns, wings, and new paint job.
This is where the Pals start to look a lot more like the Pokémon they’re based on.
The jet-dragon Pal named Jetragon is a dead ringer for the jet-dragon Pokémon Latios and Latias.
Sorry, giving Wooloo a haircut isn’t enough to make Lamball pass as a completely new design.
Fenglope just looks like Cobalion got caught in a strong wind.
Broncherry is Meganium with a new hairdo.
The Pal called Wixen might look like it was inspired by Delphox, and in a sense it might be, but it actually has more in common with a fan-made, alternate design of Delphox.
This is Cremis. Just because you drop an Eevee into a bowl of whipped cream doesn’t mean it’s suddenly a brand new creature. Suffice to say, Cremis looks a lot like Gigantamax Eevee.
The Pals in this group appear to be built from different parts of several Pokémon.
Verdash could pass as a copy of Cinderace that was colored green, then they stuck on the ears of Leafeon and the distinct mane of Hisuian Arcanine.
Azurobe is a blue snake-like Pal sporting a big head of blue hair, that has Serperior’s body and Primarina’s hair.
Add Lilligant’s crown and Meganium’s eyeballs to Goodra’s body, colored green, and you pretty much have Dinossom.
To me this is Mega Gardevoir’s ballroom gown look with Bellossom’s flowers on top.
Whoever created this unholy atrocity combining Mewtwo’s thicc legs with Salazzle’s feminine wiles will never see heaven. It may be Pal number 69 but this horror is anything but nice.
It’s Like Looking Into a Mirror
And finally, these Pals are almost mirror images of their Pokémon counterparts.
Boltmane is essentially just a shiny Luxray. However, it’s worth noting that while Boltmane was seen in preview footage, it is not currently available in the game. It could have been scrapped or it may be added at a later date. Only time will tell.
Direhowl is little more than a recolored Lycanroc and you can’t convince me otherwise.
These are all the Pals I thought had some similarities to Pokémon. Were there any others that caught your eye? And how do you feel about all this? Let us know in the comments.