Search KoopaTV!


Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The dissonant "Palworld" announcement

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I don't think it's a Team Rocket simulator.

During the Indie Live Expo 2021 over the weekend—and I didn't watch it and I never will—Japanese indie developer Pocketpair announced the game Palworld—with the moniker that it's a multiplayer open-world survival crafting game (definitely a personal turn-off)—that looks like this:

The Pokémon community certainly took notice of this Palworld trailer and you might have found reactions from them, despite Pocketpair describing the game as being inspired by ARK: Survival Evolved, not Pokémon. Nonetheless, several members of the Pokémon community described Palworld as a “Team Rocket simulator”, though as someone who has quite a bit of Team Rocket knowledge, I disagree with that description—and I'll get into why. Regardless, that trailer makes me feel... a lot of contradictory things. It's purposefully dissonant, and Pocketpair wants to give people mood whiplash. That's why it's getting attention to begin with.

Palworld sheep bulletproof Wooloo guns Pocketpair
Wooloo can have the Bulletproof ability, which this sheep likely also has.
...It clearly didn't have Run Away.

You may or may not know the name Pocketpair already. They're also the developers of the game Craftopia, which goes out of its way to give people The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild vibes... but with farming and crafting and careless treatment of bovine. Taking heavy “inspiration” from other games and then combining them with other game ideas and having way too many features for the hell of it seems to be a common theme with Pocketpair's games.

Craftopia released last year in Early Access—it's still in there, and players of it are worried that Pocketpair is abandoning Craftopia for Palworld. Pocketpair has put an announcement outlining Craftopia's roadmap (demonstrating their commitment to continuing the game's development), while claiming that “Palworld is completely separate from Craftopia, and a small team of 5 elite newcomers is working on it. For Pocketpair, the development of Craftopia is the most important, and we're focusing on it. The development of Palworld is the next challenge.”

I'm not sure if admitting to everyone that your new game is being developed by scrubs and that it isn't your company's focus is a great strategy, but I guess Pocketpair is in a tough spot. ...A spot they could have avoided if they finished their previous game before releasing the next one, but whatever. They've dug a hole.

Which brings me to the Team Rocket simulator (since Team Rocket has got some good hole diggers in their ranks). Team Rocket's goal is to dominate the world with strong Pokémon, profiting off their capture and sale and funding experiments with them.

Palworld, by comparison, explains its existence as,
“Palworld is a game about living a slow life with mysterious creatures "Pal" or throwing yourself into life-and-death battles with poachers.”

Living a slow life with Pokémon. isn't the Team Rocket way. Neither is fighting against poachers. While you can make your Pals construct buildings, do manual labour in factories, and mine natural resources (and they won't or can't say no)—and Team Rocket would do those things with Pokémon if they could—that first half of the trailer is still portraying relative peace, tranquility, and mutual benefit between people and Pals. The Pals seem to enjoy doing work, as long as they're fed. That's not a Team Rocket scenario. People think that when you get to the mood change in the second half, but if you look at it logically...

Palworld spiked turtle shell Bowser down-air
No one's talking about why this Pal took King Bowser Koopa's down aerial from the Super Smash Bros. series.
I mean, it sure LOOKS like a spiked Koopa shell...

I'm wondering why there are guns at all. They're clearly ineffective. Just like how Pokémon are significantly more impactful than firearms. That said, all of the gun usage in the trailer is either coming from these poachers and shooting at you (and none of them seem to have their own Pals), or your own gun shooting back at them in self-defence. (And there's one instance where a Pal has their own gun, suggesting some kind of... natural relationship between firearms and the creatures in this world.) Well, there is the one part where the player character snipes down a pal, which is apparently going to be devoured for consumption due to the world having food shortages. It's unclear how the Pals are fed in a world with a food shortage.

The game's genre is a total non-starter for Ludwig's game preferences. If it can be a multiplayer Team Rocket simulator (despite many indications that it is not), then that still might be worth checking out. What do you think? And do you have experience with Craftworld? Are you worried about that game's continued existence?


  1. Seems to me these people basically heard the various jokes about "what if the Pokemon world had guns" and decided "let's actually make that game." There's definitely chaotic indie energy in that, and I look forward to finding out what really happens with it being a thing.

    Also, that hole digging bit is definitely one of the best segways you've ever come up with, I liked it.

    1. There's a reason why the Pokémon win in "Every Pokémon vs. one billion lions" polls. "898 gun owners vs. one billion lions" would have the lions win!

      Thanks for the compliment. ^_^

  2. Is this thing crowdfunded? This kind of thing feels calculated to garner a lot of attention and money while the final product, if it ever comes out, doesn't come close to living up to expectations. The premise is cool, but all the information about the developer feels very suspicious in terms of following through on that.

    1. It's not crowdfunded but it'll probably be stuck in "early access" for its whole lifespan.


We embrace your comments.
Expect a reply between 1 minute to 24 hours from your comment. We advise you to receive an e-mail notification for when we do reply.
Also, see our Disclaimers.

Spamming is bad, so don't spam. Spam includes random advertisements and obviously being a robot. Our vendor may subject you to CAPTCHAs.

If you comment on an article that is older than 60 days, you will have to wait for a staffer to approve your comment. It will get approved and replied to, don't worry. Unless you're a spambot.