Palworld, and the infamous mod that changed its Pokémon-like creatures to actual Pokémon, have entered some sort of Inception-style vortex of copyright-violating complexity. After Nintendo DMCAd the living juices out of ToastedShoes’ mod, the group has returned, their work adapted, to now fill the game with “legally-distinct pocket creatures.” It is sarcasm in gaming form, and a spectacular middle finger to Nintendo’s feisty lawyers.
OK, let’s peel back the layers. Palworld is a game that plays like any number of other tree-punching craft-me-dos, but with the distinctive selling point that it’s set in a world filled with creatures that look an awful lot like Pokémon. The game’s “Pals” are obviously inspired by specific Pokémon, and its developers, Pocketpair, are engaging in some balletic dancing around the issue. Palworld became an overnight sensation, selling over seven million copies in its first few days, and that was enough to awaken the lawyers that sleep with their tails curled around Nintendo’s vast piles of gold coins.
Right, so add into this already complicated situation a mod that just cut to the chase, and switched the Pals’ models to actual, literal Pokémon. A video was posted to Twitter and YouTube ahead of its release, and Nintendo swooped down like a screeching Articuno to nip that shit in the bud. DMCAs were served, Twitter and YouTube removed the videos, and the mod has not been released.
Well, sort of. Because ToastedShoes has reappeared on his YouTube channel to announce the release of The Legally-Distinct Pocket Creatures Into Palworld Mod Pack. And it’s hilarious.
It’s also, if anything, a mod that makes Palworld far less potentially infringing on Nintendo’s IP, given just how arch and sarcastic are the redesigns of the creatures. Gone is Pikachu, and now we have Yellow Electric Rat. And it’s…a large, yellow rat. Because what’s happened here is modders Irastris, Kboy, George Chief and ExtraDan have picked up a bunch of Sketchfab models, mucked about with them, and compiled them into this monstrous creation.
So where Palworld had Lamball, and where the Pokémon mod had Wooloo, we now have Braided Sheep. Chikipi (Torchic) becomes—I’m really sorry—Fat Cock. Pengullet (Piplup) becomes Blue Penguin. Each an unimagining of the Pokémon’s inspirational animal, there simply to defiantly not infringe upon Nintendo’s copyrights. And each a grimly ordinary-looking version of that animal, made all the sadder as they’re beaten to death with a baseball bat.
In the first version of the mod, it changed the player character to a voiced version of Ash. Now you get to play as a red-and-white cap-wearing model of ToastedShoes himself. And Palworld’s ridiculous “Pal Spheres” are no longer regular Poké Balls, but instead mason jars. You capture the animals in mason jars.
You need to understand, this is a mod that adds a boss fight against Saul Goodman and a giant, walking DMCA takedown notice.
It’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to install this mod at this point, but it can all be downloaded from Nexus Mods right now. As ToastedShoes himself puts it, “It’s like public domain if it became a game.”
I mean, kudos to everyone involved. This is an excellent “fuck you” to every aspect of this daft mess, and a very funny way to respond to getting terrifying legal letters from Nintendo J.D.