For many, Pokémon served as a gateway drug into anime and video games. We all remember the times we tuned in to Cartoon Network at 5 PM to catch the latest episode or downloaded one of those GBA emulators to play the pixelated adventures of our “custom character” — who, oddly enough, looked way too similar to Ash Ketchum. Since then, the franchise has come a long way, sprawling into movies, plushies, card games for avid collectors, and even an augmented reality game – Pokémon GO.
Through their journey, the global sensation inspired many developers to create or adapt some of their gameplay mechanics into their own titles. So, if you are looking for a change of pace or a way to relive your childhood gaming memories in a unique way, here’s a list of titles that are similar to the Pokémon games.
If you don’t own a Nintendo console, Temtem is the closest thing you could get to Pokémon, and in fact, it might even be better. The title, which is currently in early access, serves as a quote-unquote clone of the iconic franchise and features a massively online multiplayer system. Same as the “original,” players create their own custom characters and explore the six islands of the Airborne Archipelago, discovering and catching new species or fighting monsters and tamers in matches.
Temtem is possibly the closest thing you could get to Pokémon. (Screenshot – Temtem)
A gym battle system is included as well, where you have to defeat eight Dojo Leaders to become the ultimate Temtem tamer. Using the prize money, you can then buy your own house and decorate it with new furniture and accessories. The similarities are quite blatant, yet none of the monsters directly infringe on Pokémon’s intellectual property, preventing Nintendo from ever suing them.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
A far cry from the family-friendly nature of Pokémon, South Park: The Stick of Truth follows the adventures of Cartman and friends through the eyes of a custom character. It features a playful, RPG-like medieval theme where you fight against other kids of the town in a turn-based combat system. Each character has different powers and movesets ranging from fart attacks, poking in the eye, scratching with dirty nails, and more, that can be used one at a time.
The turn-based combat system in South Park: The Stick of Truth. (Screenshot)
Some of these also have poison or buff mechanics, where peeing on your opponent can cause them to feel disgusted and puke on-site, leading them to skip a turn – similar to the “confused” mechanic in Pokémon. As an added bonus, it features a Pokémon-based side quest where you need to hunt ‘Chinpokomon’ plushies from around the world.
Monster Hunter: World
This is probably a grittier take on the monster hunting meta but has all the essentials. Capcom’s latest instalment in the series, Monster Hunter: World pits the player in the vast “New World” brimming with bloodthirsty monsters. Adopting the standard formulas of the franchise, the plot tasks you, the hunter, to capture or slay these beasts and gather information or materials for weapon upgrades.
Monster Hunter: World (Screenshot)
Similar to Pokémon, there are no character attributes or skills here, and your abilities are entirely dependent on what weapon the player is equipped with. The gameplay here is extremely addictive, where you can collect a diverse arsenal, fight new monsters in epic-scale battles, and gather tonnes of loot for upgrades or trading. It also features Palicoes, which are nothing but cute comrades/pets that stay by your side at all times. Think of it like Pikachu riding on your shoulder.
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth
The rivalry between Digimon and Pokémon in the 90s was an iconic one to see. And though, the latter came out on top, the digital monster franchise never truly suffered what anyone would consider a “defeat”. Cyber Sleuth takes place over an array of engaging storylines, where the player assumes the role of a detective or a hacker to solve diabolical digi-mysteries.
Combat in Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth. (Screenshot)
Similar to Pokémon, it lets you pick a starting partner at the beginning of the game – between Palmon, Terriermon, or Hagurumon. Making your way into new areas, you will encounter other Digimon from a vast ocean of 249, which can be collected, raised, and evolved to produce better results in classic turn-based battles. It also features a new game plus mode where you can replay the entire story with your loot and collected Digimon intact, giving a fresh perspective.
Set in the vibrant world of the ‘Far, Far Range,’ Slime Rancher features the combined themes of Pokémon and Animal Crossing. As Beatrix LeBeau, our job is to explore the lands with our trust vacpack (vacuum) and suck up all the cute slimes blobs bouncing around in the world.
Tossing the slime blobs into ranches for earning resources. (Screenshot – Slime Rancher)
You can then plop these critters into your ranch and feed and raise them to well… poop out “plorts,” which is an in-game currency used to purchase upgrades for your equipment. Raising the slimes right will result in them evolving, leading to better droppings or they could go rogue and attack you.
The only thing keeping Nexomon from being a blatant ripoff of Pokémon is its stamina system, which in all honesty, makes the gameplay quite engaging. The mechanic forces players to rotate between their builds, instead of focusing on that one-party-beats-all playstyle. Every element in this title is similar to Pokémon, including the use of Pokéballs to trap and tame the 381 Nexomon from nine elemental types.
World exploration and player challenge system in Nexomon: Extinction. (Screenshot)
But here, instead of a ball, you have a prism that funnily enough follows the same red and white colour scheme. Also, most monsters in this game are drawn like 2D budget furry art that you would find on websites like DeviantArt, which I think is funny. The game is meant to be a parody, and it succeeds in that aspect.
This 2D side-scrolling Metroidvania started its life as a Kickstarter campaign and has sure come a long way. Monster Sanctuary is essentially a pixelated platformer where you take control of a Monster Keeper and explore the vast lands ranging from snowy forests, hidden caverns, lava-laden tunnels, and even the bottom of the ocean.
Unique attack selection menu for your monster(s) in Monster Sanctuary. (Screenshot)
Players can hatch eggs, collect, and train monsters on their journey to customise their team and take part in battles. It also features a levelling system, where each beast in your roster has a different skill tree, resulting in unique attacks that can be upgraded over time. Online PvP matchups are available as well, where you can go head to head against friends or other online players. Think of this game like The Witcher 3 meets Pokémon.