If you have been paying attention to the world of video games lately, you’ve likely heard of the breakout success of Palworld. It broke records on Steam in the opening week of its launch and has remained impressively consistent. But a huge conversation online right now is Palworld’s similarity to another hugely popular game franchise: Pokémon.
Pokémon, of course, is the long-running creature-collecting series of games that took the world by storm in the late 1990s. Today, Pokémon remains the single highest-grossing media franchise of all time and has not had much to rival it even within its genre. But then along comes Palworld. Many players have begun to compile lists of comparisons, varying in severity, between the pals of Palworld and the Pokémon of the Pokémon games.
Perhaps because this is the first game to potentially rival the Pokémon games in terms of sales, the comparison is necessary. But this could be the first breakout of a growing trend of unique and innovative games in the genre. Either way, if both Palworld and Pokémon don’t quite fit what you’re looking for, here’s a list of these other great creature-collecting games to take a look at. And it may just surprise you how many of them are even available on Nintendo’s own console.
Starting off the list are a few games that will look rather familiar to any Pokémon players. First is Coromon, from developer TRAGsoft, which has all the familiar Pokémon mechanics from turn-based battles, elemental type matchups, evolutions, and overworld puzzles. But of course, what draws all of these games together, is the collectible creatures. Coromon has over 120 unique creatures.
Where Coromon might distinguish itself the most is in its story. The primary protagonists of the game are three blue-skinned aliens who experiment with dark magic on Coromon. Meanwhile, the player is also investigating the six titans of the world of Velua, which seem to serve as boss battles.
For fans of capturing shiny Pokémon, Coromon has a unique mechanic where each Coromon has three separate forms: Standard, Potent, and Perfect. Each of these forms has a different color scheme and the Potent and Perfect forms are guaranteed to have better stats, meaning that encountering a rare Coromon with a color variation is automatically a strong addition to the team. Coromon is available on iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam.
Nexomon & Nexomon: Extinction
From Vewo Interactive Inc. comes the Nexomon series, with Nexomon: Extinction (2020) being the most recent game after the original Nexomon (2017). This series tends to follow the same basic gameplay principles as Pokémon. The player chooses a starting Nexomon (in Extinction the player gets to choose between nine options) and explores a vast world full of other unique creatures. Battles are turn-based with each Nexomon firing off various attacks that are either effective or not effective depending on the Nexomon’s elemental typing.
For those who would love a large roster of creatures to collect, Nexomon: Extinction has well over 300 Nexomon, which is far more than any individual Pokémon game ever introduced to the franchise. Most creatures also evolve from cute to powerful forms as well, and even though there are so many, the quality of the designs rarely falters. The story and writing often teeter between extreme goofiness and extreme edginess in ways that the Pokémon games generally avoid, but Nexomon rarely takes itself too seriously to be enjoyable.
As a long-time Pokémon player, the combat does take some getting used to. It’s much more fast-paced, which some players can probably appreciate, however, it can be tough at first to grasp what is happening on a given turn because the small text flies by so quickly. But paying close attention will go a long way in learning the battle mechanics, and maybe looking up a type chart online will help too.
If this looks interesting, the third Nexomon game has also been announced. It appears to be a major leap for the series as the game will make the jump to a 3D open world rather than the classic 2D experience that the games have been operating in so far. The third game was revealed this past summer, but as of now, there is no release date yet. Both Nexomon and Nexomon: Extinction are available on iOS, Android, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC via Steam.
TemTem from developer Crema focuses on making the creature-collecting, training, and battling into a massively multiplayer online experience. This choice has its ups and downs, it’s fun to play through the whole game with friends, but it also requires being connected to the internet to play at all. This means that buying TemTem on a console like the Nintendo Switch will require an online subscription as well to play the game.
TemTem has an eye-catching 3D cel-shaded art style, six floating islands to explore, and over 160 creatures to find, battle, and collect. Battles are exclusively in a double-battle format, meaning two creatures on each side of the field. They are still turn-based, but TemTem is also notorious for having far more challenging battles than the Pokémon games. The creatures evolve and grow stronger, and there is an elemental type chart as well, making the similarities to Pokémon relatively clear.
While researching and learning more about the current state of TemTem, it became apparent that the current fanbase is not too pleased with the way the developer has handled the state of the game. It’s hard to find official confirmation, but it appears that the sentiment among the fanbase is that the MMO creature collector will not be receiving any additional creatures. Fans say that the story is still worth playing, but in terms of typical MMOs that have a lot to keep players interested after that is done, this may not deliver in the way fans wanted. TemTem is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC via Steam.
Cassette Beasts, from developer Bytten Studio, stands out on this list for several reasons. For one, it is the first on the list that doesn’t involve capturing creatures in a small device. Instead, players record the beast with a cassette, allowing the player and their partner to transform into those beasts. This leads me to the other main distinction, rather than send out creatures to do the battling for them, players transform into recorded beasts and do the battling themselves. If a beast is taken down, the overflow damage then goes to the player, who also has a health bar in this game.
Players arrive in the strange world of Cassette Beasts by washing up on the shore. All the other people who live in this world don’t know how they got there or how to get back, but the majority of them appear to be from the real world. Beasts are threatening creatures that force most people to remain in the small villages, but the rangers venture out into the world, transforming into monsters to do battle. There’s a whole world to explore at your leisure, and capturing certain monsters also unlocks certain traversal mechanics like gliding and smashing rocks. And of course, it wouldn’t be fair to call a game Cassette Beasts if the soundtrack wasn’t excellent.
Cassette Beasts has a ton of great designs that mix animals with everyday objects, like the iconic Traffikrab which is basically a hermit crab with a traffic cone instead of a shell. The beasts even reflect this with typings like metal and plastic alongside the usual elemental ones. Ultimately, the goal of the game is to uncover the mystery of the world and find a way to return home, but there are a lot of great experiences along the way. Cassette Beasts is available on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S (including Game Pass) and PC via Steam.