24 Best and Worst Pokémon Knock Offs

Immense success always comes with the certainty of another property or person trying to emulate that popularity. Few franchises face this fact as much as the Pokémon series. The Pocket Monster-collecting adventures of the games and anime quickly garnered attention from fans and fellow creators alike.

Since the creation of the first Pokémon games in the 1990s, many have tried and succeeded in copying Game Freak’s turn-based formula. Some were fellow JRPGs on consoles across various generations, while others were fellow anime TV series. All tried to capitalize on the success of the Pokémon series.

Despite the literal hundreds of Pokémon knockoffs, not all of them are worthy of your attention. Some are popular for their welcome attempts at capturing the joy of the original series, while others are maligned for their cash-grab attempts.

In this way, here are 24 of the most notable Pokémon knockoffs.

Worst Pokémon Knock Offs

In terms of the worst Pokémon knockoffs, these are the games and anime that tried to capture the feel of the original Pokémon but failed considerably. These 12 are the worst examples of what a Pokémon-like property can be.

They failed in many areas, from the production values to the turn-based gameplay to the monster designs to even the overall animation. Though not all of them are complete failures that you should avoid at all costs, they at least warrant caution when playing or watching them.

1. Nexomon

Nexomon PQube MSN
Image Credit: PQube

The least egregious offender on this list, Nexomon, and its successor, Nexomon: Extinction, aren’t the worst Pokémon clones to exist. Appearing on mobile devices and modern platforms, these games feature familiar gameplay to anyone who’s played the original 2D Pokémon games.

Turn-based battles with cute monsters in a massive world to explore check all the boxes, but the problem is that Nexomon does so little outside of that. The monster designs are fine, but the gameplay is a bit too heavy and lacks the personality of the original games. Not to mention, it promotes its story so heavily, but it ends up being childish and immature in its writing.

Players can still check out Nexomon but do so with caution.

2. Dinosaur King

It took a long time, but Dinosaur King seemed like the prehistoric Pokémon clone many had waited for. The idea of the fossil Pokémon featured in their anime with T-Rexes, Stegosauruses, and more, sounded like a brilliant idea.

Unfortunately, the execution failed to live up to its potential fully. The animation isn’t anything special, the story was reasonably stereotypical, and the dinosaurs themselves had uninspiring designs. It certainly is not the worst Pokémon-like anime but far from a must-watch at the same time.

3. Monster Sanctuary

Monster Sanctuary Team 17 MSN
Image Credit: Team17

Monster Sanctuary’s idea of blending together the monster-battling genre with classic Metroidvania exploration is neat and novel. Sadly, it restricts itself, alienating fans who might not like both of these experiences within the same game.

Suppose you aren’t a fan of side-scrolling 2D gameplay with lots of backtracking, platforming, and monotonous exploration. In that case, Monster Sanctuary might not be worth a try for its turn-based monster battles. Speaking of which, those battles themselves are just passable on their own.

4. Cookie Run Kingdom

Cookie Run Kingdom Devsisters Corporation MSN
Image Credit: Devsisters Corporation

The first of several mobile Pokémon clones on this list, Cookie Run Kingdom is also one of the strangest. Instead of cute monsters, everything you’re collecting in this mobile game is cookies. From gingerbread to the vanilla latte cookie and more, the different cookies are the stars here.

The gameplay is as simple as it gets: the characters auto-run through the mission area, attacking enemies as they go. The player’s only job is to occasionally use the special attacks of their chosen cookies to deal extra damage. The real draw comes from collecting the various cookies and building out your kingdom, but even this is primarily a bore.

5. World of Final Fantasy Maxima

World of Final Fantasy Maxima Square Enix MSN
Image Credit: Square Enix

The idea of mashing together the most popular characters from the Final Fantasy series into a game where you also collect iconic monsters like Chocobos, Behemoths, and more sounds fantastic in theory. Unfortunately, World of Final Fantasy Maxima took the wrong approach.

The nostalgia trip with familiar gameplay could have been fantastic, but the idea was implemented for the youngest possible players. It ignores its older audiences entirely, opting for such easy difficulty and linear progression that it is a far cry from what it could be.

6. Monster Rancher

Monster Rancher Koei Tecmo MSN
Image Credit: Koei Tecmo

A considerable part of creating the monster-collecting game is ensuring you have at least some decent designs. Unfortunately, Monster Rancher struggles to do that despite having both a video game series and an anime, much like Pokémon.

For Pokémon fans who think the series has its issues these days with modern creatures, Monster Rancher will make even the strangest Pokémon design look a whole lot better. You know there’s a problem when your series mascot is an unattractive walking eyeball.

Worse still, the gameplay is an almost button-mashing arena fighter that isn’t fun in the slightest.

7. Fighting Foodons

Fighting Foodons is an attempt to try something unique, which is admirable at least, but it fails miserably in the end. Instead of adorable, memorable monsters, you have strange food people in this anime series that the characters command in battle.

The action is sometimes okay, but the story and characters are forgettable. There is some enjoyment in seeing the ridiculous food creatures that the anime comes up with, but you won’t find anything else beyond that here.

8. Neopets

Neopets is essentially the idea of the iconic pet-raising Tamagotchi franchise mixed with the monster-collecting of the Pokémon series. With an online setting far ahead of its time and even Pokémon’s online multiplayer, the tasks you could do were tedious and a chore.

All you could do was care for the pets, take care of their needs, build them a home, and engage in minigames. There were battles, but they were far too simplistic and not the game’s focus. With such a horrid art style and mediocre creature designs, Neopets was mainly meant for younger audiences who didn’t mind the simplicity.

9. Dragon Drive

In 2006, the Isekai genre of anime characters going into video game worlds was starting. In that way, Dragon Drive was a progenitor of the genre. However, rather than offer an intriguing idea to set itself apart, it opted for the safest approach possible.

In the virtual reality game Dragon Drive, Reiji uses his seemingly weak dragon to battle against others for supremacy. The dragon designs lack that special touch, underwhelming, while the plot meanders and goes nowhere fast.

10. Draconius Go

You would be correct if you guessed from the name Draconius Go that its inspiration is Pokémon Go. This is one of the most shameless Pokémon clones on this list, stealing everything from the mobile title’s art style, user interface, and gameplay.

Just like in Pokémon Go, you collect monsters (in this case, dragons) and battle them for command of landmarks in the real world around you. The dragons aren’t that bad, but this feels like a cash grab in the worst possible way, like giving money to a thief when you could play the much better Pokémon Go.

11. Spider Riders

Spider Riders features Hunter Steel, an 11-year-old boy who discovers a world in which kids use their massive spider partners to fight back against invaders. The premise is somewhat intriguing, but the series is as far as you can get from making good on it.

Even back in 2006, when the anime series began, it was outdated, and the spiders weren’t different enough from one another to make the battles interesting. The plot is a slog with bland writing and no clear progression, even across two seasons. How it managed to amass 52 episodes in the first place and some spin-off games is astonishing.

12. Monster Harvest

Monster Rancher Merge Games MSN
Image Credit: Merge Games

While other games and anime before this number-one worst pick are at least playable and watchable to an extent, Monster Harvest isn’t worth almost anyone’s time. The blend of Pokémon monster-catching with Stardew Valley-style graphics and farming makes even more sense than Monster Sanctuary’s blend.

However, none of the gameplay in Monster Harvest is worth checking out. The monster battles are stale and slow, the creatures themselves are so small that their designs are primarily blobs of incoherent creatures, the farming is passable at best, and the text is too small, even with prescription glasses on.

Monster Harvest is a disgrace to its beloved inspirations, and players interested in a blend of farming and Pokémon should look elsewhere.

Best Pokémon Knock Offs

With the negativity out of the way, on the other end of the spectrum are the games and anime that nail what makes Pokémon such a beloved franchise. These particular properties faithfully capture the aspects of the games, from the gameplay to the monster designs and more.

1. Temtem

Temtem Humble Games MSN
Image Credit: Humble Games

For many Pokémon fans, the allure of the series’ open regions with many towns lends itself well to the massively multiplayer online genre. Despite not having an official MMO in the Pokémon series yet, Temtem offers that long-awaited idea on modern platforms.

The MMORPG is exactly what a Pokémon MMO could be, capitalizing on the idea of dozens of strangers running around on the same server. You constantly see others around you battling with random Temtems, completing quests, surfing, and more.

The game doesn’t shy away from its MMO nature, offering full-on cooperative battles with others at any time and a housing system that welcomes everyone to the point of putting other MMO housing systems to shame. Its combat is a little slower and passable, putting it further down on this list of the best.

2. Medabots

Medabots came out soon after the Pokémon craze, beginning with games in the same manner and expanding to a few anime series, too. Whereas Pokémon focuses on cute little creatures, Medabots is all about the titular robot companions you can build.

The Medabots series goes full force into the customization aspect, letting players create their unique bot to take into battle. The gameplay of these games is a little bit simplistic, but the combination of fun games and action-packed anime makes for a solid mech series.

3. Loomian Legacy (Roblox)

Loomian Legacy Roblox Llama Train Studio MSN
Image Credit: Llama Train Studio

Who would have thought Roblox would have one of the best Pokémon clones out there? Alas, that is the case with Loomian Legacy, a game that avoids the pitfalls of straight-up knockoffs that persist on the Roblox platform.

In Loomian Legacy, it is similar to Temtem in an MMO-style adventure where you see other players all around. Where Loomian Legacy exceeds in its terrific monster designs, from the insane number of starters to even the colorful and exciting environments. With new content constantly coming out, this is one that you shouldn’t miss out on.

4. Dragon Quest Monsters

Dragon Quest Monsters Square Enix MSN
Image Credit: Square Enix

The Dragon Quest series predates Pokémon, but that didn’t stop it from trying to capitalize on the latter’s success with the spin-off Monsters sub-series. Here, the iconic creatures from the DQ games make their reappearance, from your slimes to the titular dragons.

This time, they aren’t just your enemies but beasts you can tame and add to your party. The charm and goofy nature of Dragon Quest is in full force in Monsters and its follow-up, Treasure, elevating it to one of the better turn-based monster-taming RPGs around.

5. Coromon

Coromon Freedom Games MSN
Image Credit: Freedom Games

A ton of indie developers have created Pokémon clones, but none are as high of quality as Coromon. For starters, the art style fully embraces the idea of the colorful 2D sprites from the older Pokémon games while injecting its own flair at the same time.

The monster designs are terrific from top to bottom, from the sharp beaks of the bird Coromon to the three adorable starters and more. While the elemental types are limited in Coromon, that doesn’t take too much away from the fast-paced and fun gameplay that sees you exploring a vast, diverse world reminiscent of the Gen 1 Pokémon games.

6. Zoids

When it comes to anime series inspired by Pokémon, one of the best examples of a knockoff done right is Zoids. Instead of stealing the idea for adorable monsters as other anime do, Zoids carved out its own path by blending animals and robots into one.

Zoids are massive animal robots, similar to a mix of creatures like sabertooth tigers and anime series like Gundam. The robotic creations are some of the best in the mech series, with top-notch animation and action sequences that are genre bests.

7. Beyblade

There is no doubt that Beyblade deserves points alone for its creativity. Instead of being a monster-collecting anime series, Beyblade is all about a sport involving spinning tops that battle it out in tiny arenas to knock the opponent out.

Dramatic, over the top, and passionate, there’s a reason that Beyblade has so many anime seasons. Except for the twist that each of the Beyblades happens to have the spirit of a particular animal that embodies it. In execution, this leads to wild special moves with Beyblades blasting one another to oblivion.

8. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Ni no Kuni Wrath of the White Witch Brandai Namco MSN
Image Credit: Bandai Namco

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a blend of Japan’s best properties: the obvious legendary Pokémon series and Studio Ghibli. The latter, the juggernaut behind some of the greatest anime films of all time, was the artful inspiration behind Ni no Kuni.

But, instead of an anime, it is a turn-based JRPG that features kids traveling to another world to collect monsters and save that fantasy planet from evil. The gameplay is tremendous, but the elevation to greatness comes from the gorgeous Studio Ghibli movie style and the emotional writing.

Ni no Kuni might feature kids, but it takes story and characterization to a level that even Pokémon refuses to touch, dealing with tough and depressing real-life subjects that kids go through.

9. Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin

Monster Hunter Stories 2 Wings of Ruin Capcom MSN
Image Credit: Capcom

From a pure gameplay perspective, there are few better examples of the Pokémon formula done right than Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin. Picking up from where its predecessor left, this sequel on Nintendo Switch upped the antics to give a spin-off game that gives the core Monster Hunter series and even Pokémon itself a run for their money.

The turn-based battles are exhilarating, with speedy turns and a deceptively simplistic trio of elements each monster has. Containing some of the greatest designs you’ll find in a monster-collecting adventure, Wings of Ruin has a massive world worth exploring and conquering together with your creature companions.

10. Yokai Watch

There is no property out there that is as much of a clear-cut knockoff of Pokémon as Yokai Watch. Everything from the art style to the Yokai designs to even the protagonist and story feels ripped right out of what Pokémon has been doing for decades.

Despite this, Yokai Watch proved that this creature-collecting genre still had space for a newcomer, both in anime and games. Somehow, Yokai Watch carved out a spot to be a successful franchise in its own right, with colorful characters and enjoyment in anime and video game form.

That said, the true standout in Yokai Watch is the fourth iteration released on Nintendo Switch, with its far more mature storyline, older protagonists, anime film art style, and engaging gameplay. Yokai Watch 4 is one of the best Pokémon games that doesn’t have the same name as its title.

11. Yu-Gi-Oh!

Released soon after Pokémon in the 1990s, Yu-Gi-Oh is one of the weirdest Pokémon clones but always the second-best that you’ll find. Instead of focusing on creatures battling it out with crazy attacks and skills, it is all about the heart of the cards.

The trading card game and anime series emphasize a level of strategy that even Pokémon shies away from. The gameplay in the card game and video games is rich and endlessly entertaining, and that is all before including the legendary anime series.

Though it has some misses, just like Pokémon, the anime series features iconic seasons like the original Yu-Gi-Oh series and 5Ds. Both of those are worthy of not just standing toe-to-toe with the best of the Pokémon anime, but surpassing them by a long shot, too.

12. Digimon

Digimon Bandai Namco MSN
Image Credit: Bandai Namco

In the end, the most famous Pokémon clone is also the very best that you will ever find: DigimonDigimon followed the opposite path of Pokémon, starting as an anime and then spreading out to other forms of media like video games.

In turn, this set the digital monsters of the digital world on a different path from Pokémon, still catering to kids but emphasizing the Digimon and their human partners. Because of this, the Digimon anime excels in every aspect, from animation to writing to characters, and has since its inception.

The Digimon anime is already leaps and bounds better across almost all seasons than anything that Pokémon ever offered, but that’s not all. There are also video games that were released over time.

While they may not consistently hit the highs of the Pokémon series, they challenge it in the best way possible with games like Hacker’s Memory that are more than worth the time of Pokémon fans out there. The combination of this level of excellence across both games and anime is something that no other monster-catching franchise has been able to do yet, outside of Pokémon itself.

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