If you happened to overlook it, the most talked-about game of 2024 was released over the weekend, and it’s only January. If you’re already immersed in Palpagos Island or contemplating the purchase, here’s the lowdown on the contentious Pokémon doppelgänger.
As the last two words suggest, Palworld gained unexpected fame as the “Pokémon with guns.” Once this nickname took off, social media immediately embraced it, propelling the indie game to one of the most successful launches on Steam.
Labeling it a complete game might be a stretch, though. Palworld was introduced as an early access game on January 18 by the independent studio Pocket Pair. Drawing heavily from mechanics in other popular games, it features creatures that bear a striking resemblance to Pokémon and incorporates survival elements reminiscent of Ark: Survival Evolved, Minecraft, and Rust. The game’s exploration also evokes memories of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Genshin Impact.
In essence, players find themselves on Palpagos Island with a simple mission: survive. To achieve this, they must gather resources, research technologies, and construct bases. However, the island’s inhabitants aren’t particularly friendly. Boss battles abound, featuring a crime syndicate right on the island. Moreover, a police force is ready to apprehend players if they commit crimes.
Players don’t have to tackle the challenges alone. Palworld boasts over a hundred creatures known as Pals around the island. To catch them, players use ball-shaped items called Pal Spheres. Each Pal has its unique ability to assist in battles or base-building.
Unraveling the Controversy
The premise of catching adorable animals with balls for battles might ring a bell for many players. After the “Pokémon with guns” meme gained traction, the flip side of social media criticized the game for its apparent plagiarism of the popular Nintendo franchise.
Some users have even accused Pocket Pair of using AI to generate creatures for Palworld. However, there is no concrete evidence supporting this claim. At the very least, it’s evident that Pocket Pair heavily relied on existing Pokémon designs for its creatures.
Despite the controversy, Palworld remains playable on Steam. Nintendo, known for being litigious, hasn’t taken any legal action against the base game. Some Pokémon fans expressed their dissatisfaction and called for boycotts.
Addressing the Allegations
Despite the obvious similarities to the Pokémon franchise, Palworld is still available on Steam. Nintendo has not taken any legal action against the base game. To emphasize this, a modder imported Pokémon assets into the game, prompting Nintendo to remove the mod but leave the base game untouched. It appears that Nintendo is okay with the game, or at least has no legal recourse against it.
Pocket Pair has a history of drawing inspiration from Nintendo properties, as seen in their previous game, Craftopia, which features elements from The Legend of Zelda. Despite this, the game is still on Steam, indicating that Nintendo is comfortable with Pocket Pair’s approach.
To Play or Not to Play?
As with any highly popular game, play it if you want to. Palworld is currently grabbing everyone’s attention. If you’re interested, go ahead; it’s a fun game with a unique creature-catching mechanic. Alternatively, if the plagiarism issue is a deal-breaker, choosing not to play is a valid decision. Originality should be valued in the creative industry, but it’s essential not to impose your decision on others.
Regardless of your stance, Palworld is undoubtedly a significant moment in 2024. Its longevity remains to be seen, but for now, it’s providing enjoyment to a lot of people.