ByLiv Sommerlot, writer at Creators.co
Liv Sommerlot

You can spot a clone, right? They're usually poorly executed, filled with (sometimes disturbing) not-quite-right artwork or sprites, and plagued by poor grammar and spelling. They try to ride on the coattails of a popular name or character to rake in cash and downloads (at least, until they're slapped with a cease-and-desist order). Easy to spot, right?

...or is it?

Oh, sweet! New 3D Pokemon game!
Oh, sweet! New 3D Pokemon game!

A new mobile app has hit the Play Store, and it looks so much like an official #Pokémon game, even the most dedicated of Pokémon fans are being thrown for a loop!

New Mobile Game Hey Monster Blatantly Rips Off Pokémon

A Pokémon MMO would be pretty sweet, right? A lot of Pokémon fans have thought an online Pokémon world would be the bee's knees for some time now, and a new mobile app seems to offer just that! But Hey Monster, the seemingly newest entry in the Pokémon series, isn't actually licensed by Nintendo (and strangely enough, that title has me instantly thinking of a decidedly different monster-filled anime...).

When I try to click on the developer's name, it gives me an error message. Coincidence?
When I try to click on the developer's name, it gives me an error message. Coincidence?

Wait a minute, Monster Park? When did the name change?! Its Facebook page name has changed, too, but entries still refer to it as Hey Monster...

At any rate! Hey Monster, from the outside, doesn't look a thing like Pokémon. Its icon, its screenshots, and the images on its Facebook page reveal cute little monsters, yes, but nothing directly ripped from the popular monster-catching game. But upon loading the app...

I spy at least three direct violations of copyright here.
I spy at least three direct violations of copyright here.

The game is literally a Pokémon clone. It doesn't even hide it once you're in the game! There's no altered artwork or tweaked names—Pikachu is still Pikachu, Professor Oak is still Professor Oak, and you're on a quest to become a Pokémon master!

Maybe we're all a product of Professor Oak's crazy cloning experiments?!
Maybe we're all a product of Professor Oak's crazy cloning experiments?!

Just as in Pokémon Red, Blue, and Green, you start out in Pallet Town where you're given your very first Pokémon by Professor Oak (Charmander, Squirtle, or Bulbasaur), test your strength against Gary (who has an Eevee), and then set off to make a name for yourself in the world of Pokémon.

The only difference now is that it's become an MMO. The screen is cluttered with exact replicas of yourself—other players on the same server—and you'll find yourself taking on quests, paying for "gachas" (the standard term for lottery/draw events in MMOs and mobile games), buying stuff from the item mall, participating in (or ignoring) in-game events, and a whole slew of other gimmicks designed to take your money. There's even an auto-route feature for crying out loud!

Just look how crowded this screen is...
Just look how crowded this screen is...

Despite Its Shortcomings, It's Actually Pretty Well Done

Despite my inherent distaste for typical F2P gimmicks (must be all that time I spent localizing them), the game itself looks, dare I even say, polished? Sure, it may not be perfect, but the graphics are well-done, the battles and interface stay true to the Pokémon games themselves, and the atmosphere itself feels like, well, Pokémon!

I loved treasured Pokemon.
I loved treasured Pokemon.

It's like playing Pokémon, only with updated graphics and thousands of other people all cluttered around you trying to do the same quest or battle the same trainer. Even the writing isn't horrible! It may feel a bit awkward and unnatural at times, but it doesn't appear to be machine-translated garbage (which is saying something!).

Erm, okay, well, except for the promotional images...
Erm, okay, well, except for the promotional images...

In fact, the game looks so legit, it's already thrown some fans for the loop! Especially since the developer got a paid advertisement spot on YouTube to promote the game, and that commercial isn't all nudge-nudge, wink-wink subtle like its cleverly crafted Play Store and Facebook pages.

Unfortunately, the ad has already been taken off of YouTube, but you can see a screenshot of it below thanks to a user on NeoGAF:

Nice touch with the Japanese there.
Nice touch with the Japanese there.

He/she accompanied the images with this statement:

Wow, it actually tricked me, they put in the official voices and everything in the trailer, and someone actually paid Youtube to advertise this video. I mean, it's one thing for unofficial clones to exist, but the way this was advertised was just asking for trouble.

Yeah, yeah, it's a stupid clone... but maybe this is what the Pokémon series needs?

The whole thing is pretty shady, especially with the paid advertisement and in-game purchases. Who knows how long the game will remain available, or if it will need to be completely reworked like that one Pokémon GO clone from months back.

But in spite of it all, there's something to be learned here—this may be just what fans want. It has definite issues and could use the hand (and money) of a bigger developer, but the thought of a Pokémon MMO is actually pretty damn cool.

Issue #1: Nidoran Female is... male?!
Issue #1: Nidoran Female is... male?!

Maybe this is what Nintendo and The Pokémon Company should be working on next. Maybe this is what Pokémon GO should have been. And maybe, just maybe, Nintendo will let this one slide (they won't).

How do you feel about this Pokémon clone? Interested in trying it out? Wish we could get a Pokémon MMO for real? Let us know!