Jun 23, 2021 - Technology

"Palworld" creator says game is more than Pokémon with guns

Image of an in-game scene from Palworld showing cute “pal” characters assembling guns
"Palworld." Image via Pocketpair

A recent trailer for a game called “Palworld” turned heads, because it appears to put cute Pokémon-style characters into a world filled with poaching and gunfire.

Why it matters: As corporate and polished as gaming is these days, small creators still regularly break through, often thanks to concepts that are too wild to ignore.

Between the lines: The game’s June 6 debut trailer (349k views so far) features human characters using the cute “pal” characters to explore, construct buildings and serve as shields during gun battles.

  • Replies to the trailer on Twitter were filled with references to “Pokémon Gun,” an existing meme about a fictional spinoff to the very real “Pokémon Sword” and “Shield” games.

What they’re saying: “I'm happy to see that it's gotten a lot of positive feedback, but I have mixed feelings about it,” Takuro Mizobe, head of the five-person team working on the game at Japan-based studio Pocketpair, told Axios.

  • “This is because ‘Palworld’ is completely different from ‘Pokémon,’” he said.
  • According to Mizobe, the most similar game to “Palworld” is “ARK Survival Evolved,” an open-ended survival game in which players scrounge for resources and build bases in a world filled with guns and dinosaurs.
  • The twist is the players use the cute Pals to get things done.
Gif of a blonde fisher hauling their fishing line into a blue lake in the animated game Palworld
“Electro-fishing” is optional, “Palworld” developer says. Image via Pocketpair.

“Palworld”’s official game description references depravity that wouldn’t suit a “Pokémon” game.

  • One line advises potential players not to worry about labor laws when enlisting the Pals to construct things; another notes players can slaughter and eat Pals (Flashback: In 2018, Pokémon’s creators dodged answering whether anyone cooks Pikachu).
  • “People talk about 'Palworld' as if it's an evil game with no heart, but that's not the intention,” Mizobe said, noting players aren’t forced to, say, use a Pal as a shield or a snack.
  • “When you're hungry and you're dying, you'd do anything to stay alive, right?” Mizobe said. “'Palworld' is designed to be a game with a high degree of freedom so that players can take action according to the situation at their own will.”

What’s next: “Palworld” won’t be out until 2022 at the soonest.

  • Mizobe points to his studio’s other recent game, Craftopia and its more than 100 updates for a reference on how they’ll support the game’s release.
  • Here’s Mizobe's take on whether actual Pokémon games should add guns: “Definitely not! Haha. Pokémon is a kind world.”
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