We have our first hit video game in 2024, and it’s surprising. The eccentric one World Pal, an early access game now available on PC and Xbox Game Pass, broke Steam records as developer Pocketpair sold millions of copies. This is largely due to the odd elevator pitch, which is succinctly described as “Pokémon with guns.”
That success came from some heated debate. World Pal received a lot of criticism in its premiere weekend when players discovered monster designs that looked almost identical to some designs in Pokémon. Accusations of plagiarism escalated into suspicions of unproven use of AI. A group of loyal fans have rushed to his defense with their exaggerated claims. That squad included disgruntled Pokémon fans who saw the new game as an antidote to such buggy titles Pokemon Red And Purple. World Pal defenders have dubbed it the “Pokémon Killer” and hope Game Freak learns from its success.
Whether you love it or hate it, that last idea is absurd. World Pal can’t be a Pokémon killer because it’s not like Pokémon.
Arguments about World Pal and the threat it poses to Pokémon can be turned off minutes after the game starts. Pokémon is a narrative-focused RPG with an emphasis on team building and careful strategy. World Pal is a survival crafting game where players mostly build a base. Own more in common with Fortnite than Pokémon. I have to imagine that every claim is World Pal can beat Pokémon coming from people who have never played it.
The whole train of thought falls apart there, but it is further eroded when considering the crowds for each game. World Pal it seems clearly aimed at a slightly older audience, appealing to teenagers with its edgy humor. Players can eventually create sweatshops where they can force their creatures to mass-produce realistic rifles. It’s a funny joke, but it makes it very clear World Pal not targeting Nintendo’s audience.
Pokémon’s main appeal is that it is child and family friendly. The RPG combat is pretty easy to understand, and little ones who don’t yet understand it can still have fun just collecting cute creatures. That’s always been a winning formula for The Pokémon Company, even in the series’ lowest moments. Both of them Sword/Shield And Scarlet/Purple has sold over 20 million units on the Nintendo Switch despite a problematic release and poor graphics. World Pal can reach those numbers, given its longevity, but its audience isn’t exactly the same.
While the idea of World Pal “Killing” one of gaming’s most profitable series is absurd, other fans have a more grounded view here. So far, the common expression among fans is that they are hopeful World PalThis success will force the developers at Game Freak to take note of what players want. That is a more realistic result. When World Pal in no way resembles the mainline Pokémon series, it shares some very loose similarities Pokemon Legends: Arceus. There are some ideas here that could inspire Game Freak for a follow-up.
That said, I’m still having a hard time seeing what signal the studio is going to take here. World Pal featuring a loose current battle system that takes the basic ideas of Pokémon but spreads them out into a much thinner passive system. It’s hard to see Game Freak taking a deconstructed version of its tight combat system and rebuilding a version that doesn’t involve it as much. You’re more likely to see studios learning from fighting-heavy titles like Cassette Beast.
World Pal is a one-way creative path, borrowing ideas that cannot be transferred in another direction. The monster designs, for example, mostly just imitate monsters that pre-existed in Pokémon. That’s not a problem; World PalThe appeal is that it is a sharp satire of Pokémon. It takes the ethical questions about monster collecting that fans have entertained for decades and brings them to their logical conclusion. You are literally enslaving these creatures. But that doesn’t mean Game Freak can take much advantage. Pokemon takes inspiration from World Pal it would be like Marvel took the idea from him Boy.
However, there was a different thought that confused me the most over the weekend. Some knee-jerk reactions suggest that World Pal could force Game Freak to improve its quality control after a disastrous launch Pokemon Red And Purple. That would be a good argument if World Pal itself is in top condition at the moment, but that’s not the problem. is currently available in early access with a big emphasis on earlier. The UI consists of small text and menus haphazardly copied from other games. My short time checking it out was filled with bugs and unstable gameplay — understandable for an early access game. There is almost no story or hint of world building. A lot of effort has gone into replicating and perfecting the basics of the crafting genre, but it’s not a perfect game by any metric.
Latest conversations around World Pal too eager to play in such early conditions. It felt like fans were eager to use it as a “gotcha!” so they can stick with the Pokémon Company struggling to please legacy players in the Switch era. I empathize with the instinct, but World Pal is not a bargaining chip. This is a completely different beast, even though the surface appears similar.
World Pal available in early access on PC and Xbox Game Pass.