Adorable little Pals from Palworld carry machine guns

Is It Ethical To Satirize Pokémon? Sigh. Twitter Debates.

Breaking news: Satire game satirizes game.

Wake up babe, a new Twitter discourse just dropped. Is it ethical to satire Pokémon? Is it bad? Is it wrong? Will you go to hell? Will God smite you where you stand? Should you simply pirate a game because it’s making fun of one of the most popular video games of our time, a series that literally made “Nintendo” a household name?

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Here we go again. Twitter, once again, is debating something that would fry the brain of a small Victorian child.

Is it ethical for Palworld to satirize hit franchise Pokémon?

Controversy — discourse, outrage, whatever you want to call it — began after one Twitter user demanded others avoid supporting the video game Palworld because it supposedly features Pokémon “rip-offs.” Per the tweet, Palworld seems to feature a wide assortment of “Pals” with very similar designs to pre-existing Pokémon, down to the “same exact idea,” “same body shape,” and “head and eye shape lifted from Meganium,” that Twitter user wrote.

Now is a good time to remind everyone that Palworld is a Pokémon satire game, an open-world survival game where players collect “Pals” in their “Paldex,” adorable pocket-monster-like creatures who love you unconditionally and will work to death on your behalf. They can grow crops, build your base, shoot machine guns, and sacrifice their life for your survival. You can even cook them for food if you’re hungry. Also, apparently one of the Pals is down bad for humans. Good news, Pokémon fans of e621: We’ve finally found the perfect game for you!

Given Palworld is clearly a super duper 2-edgy-4-you parody of Pokémon, getting mad at the game for its parody designs is like getting mad at Rick and Morty for ripping off Back to the Future. My bad guys, I didn’t realize Rick Sanchez was a Doc Brown parody! That’s SO problematic!!

“Why are you going to bat for a corporation’s intellectual property rights,” one Twitter user aptly tweeted.

To be clear, some critics have pointed out that Palworld’s monsters are a bit too on the nose, almost as if creator Pocketpair essentially created Pokémon OCs and slotted them into the game. But as I wrote previously for The Mary Sue, I think this just heightens the “Pokémon parody” immersion the game offers. Palworld is trying to be a bizarrely violent satire of Nintendo’s greatest RPG franchise, and no one is getting hurt if the game delivers that exact intention. Let the devs have some fun. Discourse isn’t necessary over this one.

(feature image: Pocketpair)

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Ana Valens
Ana Valens (she/her) is a reporter specializing in queer internet culture, online censorship, and sex workers' rights. Her book "Tumblr Porn" details the rise and fall of Tumblr's LGBTQ-friendly 18+ world, and has been hailed by Autostraddle as "a special little love letter" to queer Tumblr's early history. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her ever-growing tarot collection.