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Palette Swap

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Wait till ya meet Reptile, Smoke, Noob Saibot, Ermac, Rain, Chameleon...

"It's just like the old days, reusing the boss, changing its color and pretending it is completely new."

In 2D game development, the creation of sprites is labor-intensive. One cost-effective method for increasing the variety of game characters is to reuse the same sprite, but using a different color palette.

This is seen in some platformers, but it most often appears in Role Playing Games and Fighting Games. In fighting games, this is commonly used to differentiate players using the same character, but it is also employed to create "new" characters. In the 8- and 16-bit era RPGs, it was pervasive: because of console limitations, disk and screen space were serious concerns. Palette Swapping was used to create a large variety of different enemies, often using different colors for various power levels. The most famous group of these are probably the Slimes, topped by the powerful Metal Slime, of Dragon Quest fame.


A more elaborate variation found in 3D games is the Texture Swap, where the textures on the character's uniform are changed, but the actual model used remains the same. While the concept is a little different, these are often called Palette Swaps anyway as they're still easier for developers to make than a full-fledged alternate costume or character. The Head Swap is another tried-and-true technique for making more out of less.

Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (MMORPGs) are often set in a very large world that must be populated by monsters. Palette Swap to the rescue! By changing the size and textures used on the same model, the designers can make many types of monsters from only a few basic meshes. Sometimes even bosses are simply re-textured and are huge versions of weaker monsters.


Some fans of fighting games use the term to refer to characters that use the same animations and move sets, even if the characters look very different. Such characters are also known as "clones". Individual characters may also have a choice of several different colors or costumes (or both).

Caution: Tropes Are Tools. Palette swapping may be a shortcut, but it does allow designers to create enemies that keep pace with the player's progress while still hinting that the enemies will follow a familiar pattern. This is especially important when a given area is intended to be fast-paced or lead up to a climax, and the designers don't want the player stopping constantly to study "new" enemies. Also, can be used for worldbuilding: using palette-swapped monsters can hint at connections between otherwise disparate locations. In the case of bosses it can be used to hint at relationships between creatures that might not otherwise be apparent to the player.

One of the best ways developers found to make this trope smarter and loved by the audience, is use it as references, usually to other aspects of a franchise, when videogames have sequels, characters can have their original clothes from previous games back, superheroes in videogames can have multiple uniforms from their history in comics, TV shows and movies, characters who were completely redesigned over the years or with reboots can get reverted to their original designs, characters who appeared or debuted in the early days of 3D graphics like the PlayStation 1 or the Nintendo 64 can get turned into their low-poly models from those times, and even pallete swaps that are just alternate colors can work as references, this trope can also be used to reference other unrelated works.

Palette Swaps are also used in Sprite Comics, where they're known as recolors. They are frequently looked down upon. Outside of videogames, nearly all toylines will reuse parts with some colors changed, as much of the cost of a new toy comes from making the steel injection mold used to create parts. This can sometimes result in most of the line effectively being the same character with a different head and accessories, and is a major reason for the prevalence of the Environment-Specific Action Figure.

For a similar time-saving technique, see Ambidextrous Sprite. See also Colour-Coded for Your Convenience. Often associated with Moveset Clone in fighting games. Separate, but Identical is this trope for strategy games, which can also be Palette Swaps. For the level/world equivalent, see Remixed Level and Hard Mode Filler.

Palette swaps can be used to make Underground Monkeys, different colors to show different elemental affinities with Color-Coded Elements, Palette-Swapped Alien Food, or just a different variant.


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  • The Sheredyn of Endless Space were original a clone of the United Empire, albeit with gold/red/black ships rather than gunmetal gray, and were exclusive to the Emperor Edition of the game. Following the release of the Disharmony Expansion Pack, all owners of the base game were upgraded to the Emperor Edition, and the Sheredyn received a unique Affinity and bonuses separate (but similar) to the United Empire, though their ships remain as palette swap.
  • Endless Legend continues the tradition with the Mezari, exclusive to owners of the Founder Pack for an entirely different spinoff game. They have a unique leader in the diplomacy screen and alternate texture layouts for their units, but are otherwise identical to the Vaulters.

    Action Adventure 
  • Anodyne 2: Return to Dust: Played for Drama. Zera, Nova's Replacement Goldfish looks exactly like Nova except their skin is darker, their visor is gold, and their skirt is red instead of green.
  • In Blaster Master, the Stage 6 and 7 bosses are palette swaps of the Stage 2 and 4 bosses, respectively. The palette-swapped versions were very hard to beat.
  • Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King: True to the early Zelda games it's paying tribute to, most later enemies are simply recolored versions of earlier ones, with maybe a few more hit points or a new attribute.
  • Castlevania: The handheld games since Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance have been accused of palette swapping (some point out the Saturn Port of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night had Maria's spells being copied out of Gradius games, showing that this practice has been around much longer then most initially suspected). The palette swapping of the Metroidvania games shares a common source point: Castlevania: Rondo of Blood. Almost everything else is from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night instead. This is literally sprite reuse going from 1993 to about now. Harmony was worst about this though: many enemies had level 2 and even level 3 versions.
  • Earth Defense Force 2025: The game and the first DLC make extensive use of larger palette swapped elite enemies.
  • In Golden Axe Warrior, most enemies appear in at least two of the three basic colors: green, blue and red.
  • The Hobbit (2003): Several of the dwarves look the same except for their hoods. The book doesn't give them any more traits than that either.
  • Keith Courage in Alpha Zones: The Final Boss is a gold-colored version of the Area 4 boss accompanied by an invincible purple walker drone.
  • Legacy of the Wizard: Many of the game's colorful dungeons use a specific color scheme for similar background sprites.
  • The Legend of Spyro:
    • Apes are recolored to fit the various levels they are found in, without affecting their strength or abilities. In the first game there are gray, unadorned Apes in the Swamp, frosty white ones in fur coats in Dante's Freezer, red ones in Mayincatec costumes in the Tall Plains, golden-furred ones in iron armor in the Munitions Forge, and white ones with spiky purple armor in Concurrent Skies. The second has Apes in ninja clothes during the Dragon Temple attack and purple-furred and -armored ones in the Mountain Fortress.
    • The Apes' dreadwing mounts similarly appear in regionally-appropriate palettes, with blue-grey ones with tan manes in Dante's Freezer, blue ones with orange wings and manes in the Tall Plains, dark purple ones with lighter, more reddish wings and manes in the Munitions Forge, and gray ones with cyan manes and pink wings in Concurrent Skies.
    • A number of minibosses — the Ice King, Electric King, Executioner and Elemental Spirits — use the same base model of a giant armored warrior, just with different colorations and elemental effects.
    • The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night: The Elemental Dragon is a recolor of Cynder's giant form from A New Beginning, minus her jewelry and plus a translucent effect. In-universe, this is specifically because it takes the form of its foes' greatest fears and, at the time, Spyro's is the thought of Cynder returning to evil.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • It's common to palette swap even Link for his different tunics or mails. Same style and cut, different color. Like the fire-proof tunic (red), and the inexplicable water-breathing tunic (blue). It wasn't until The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess that the different tunics actually looked different beyond their colors.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Most monsters come in red and blue, with one color (usually blue) being tougher than the other.
    • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link: Orange is added for weaker variants of enemies, with red being stronger than orange and blue being stronger than red, though with armed enemies the weapons often change with the color (such as the orange variant of the Daira enemy in Death Mountain swinging its axe at Link and the red variant throwing axes at him).
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has two elemental versions of Wizzrobe (ice and fire). The ice version is the Mini-Boss of Snowhead Temple, while the fire version appears as a miniboss in Ikana Castle and is degraded to an enemy in Stone Tower Temple.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks: There are two forms of Geozard, green and red. The red one is stronger, to the point that it's a Mini-Boss.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword:
      • The first few enemies Link faces in Lanayru Mine and Lanayru Desert are electric versions of monsters he met in Faron Woods and/or Eldin Volcano: Electro Spume, Thunder Keese, Yellow ChuChu, Technoblin. Afterwards, he finds more unique enemies.
      • The primary bestiary in the sixth dungeon, Fire Sanctuary, consists of dark-purple versions of enemies (Cursed Spume, Dark Keese, Dark Lizalfos), while the boss Ghirahim (first fought in Skyview Temple) takes a form that has some parts of his body turned black. Notably, the dungeon is still fire-themed. There's also the Cursed Bokoblin, but it only appears in the Ancient Cistern.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:
      • The monsters come in red (green for the Lizalfos), blue, black, and silver (with the DLC adding gold) and get progressively stronger along that spectrum, with their eyes also getting progressively redder.
      • Pebblits and Taluses come in purely aesthetic color variants depending on where they're found — most are the same light grey as most common rocks, but others are dark gray, sandstone-red, or mossy green, and one Talus found in the Zora's Domain area is blue like the local rocks.
      • Most of the dogs found around stables are colored like border collies, but a few are a uniform dark grey or light tan instead.
      • Most of the small ambient critters, such as pigeons, sparrows, lizards and various insects, have several recolors each found in different areas of Hyrule.
    • Hyrule Warriors: Fiery Aeralfos are flaming red-versions of Aeralfos. Icy Big Poes are icy blue-versions of Big Poes.
  • Tomb Raider III has Sophia Leigh, one of the artifact holders, whose face texture looks exactly like Lara's although Sophia has makeup.
  • Three of the bosses in Wonder Boy in Monster Land have their sprites reused later in the game, Death becomes the Poor God, who steals your gold coins, the Giant Kong is palette-swapped as the Snow Kong, who summons ice cube-throwing Mini-Kongs instead of throwing rocks, and the Red Knight has Blue and Silver variations.

    Action Game 
  • The Bomberman series generally gives the combatants their color based on their player slot (Player 1 is white, Player 2 is black, Player 3 is red, etc.) A notable variation of this is the Fan Game Power Bomberman, where the palette swaps give a few characters such as Hige Hige Combatant new outfits, and others like Land Bomberman change their design entirely.
  • The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle (a port of a Famicom Disk System game starring Roger Rabbit-don't ask) has differently-colored enemies of the same type that behave slightly differently.
  • The Special Edition of Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening plays this perfectly straight. When playing as Vergil and you come to the boss battles against Vergil (the game is usually played as Dante, with the Vergil playability a feature of the Special Edition), the Vergil you fight is dressed in red instead of his usual blue. Apparently it's to give the impression that you're fighting Dante, but the only difference between the two versions is the colour; the boss' moveset remains the same.
  • Devil May Cry 4:
    • The only difference between Bael and Dagon lies in their color palette; the former has a white body with a blue Rusalka, which are inverted by the latter. This is even lampshaded by Dagon's Boss File description:
      "A demon much like a Bael, adaptation has caused it to evolve a different body color. This proves to be the only difference between the two, including the particularly weak tongue."
    • When playing as Dante in the Bloody Palace mode, an all-black Mirror Boss will be fought in the 101st floor.
    • In the Special Edition, all of the playable characters' EX costumes are just palette swaps of another character's color themes; EX Nero has Vergil's colors, EX Dante has DmC Dante's colors, EX Vergil has a red theme just like his red-clad boss version when playing as him in the Special Edition of Devil May Cry 3, while EX Lady and EX Trish simply reference each other's default colors.
  • Devil May Cry 5:
    • The "mirage" versions of Goliath, Artemis, and Cavaliere Angelo are completely recolored in a ghostly pale white to differentiate them from their original counterparts.
    • Alternate "EX" costumes don't modify much detail apart from changing the color palette, although there are subtle exceptions. Most of these costumes are just palette swaps of pre-existing color themes from the previous games; EX Dante has DmC Dante's colors, EX Nero has Credo's colors from DMC4, EX Trish has Gloria's colors when she was disguised in DMC4, EX Lady simply references Trish's default colors, and EX Vergil references his color palette from DMC3.
  • In the Rolling Thunder series, the attack patterns and hit points of the Maskers can be determined by the colors of their clothes and hoods.
  • Steve's jacket in Shatterhand turns from green to red when he buys the double strength Power-Up.

    Beat 'em Up 
  • Captain Commando: Plenty to go around. For example, three of the bosses, Shtrom, Shtrom Jr, and Druk, are all the same body with different colors- purple, yellow, and pink respectively.
  • Exaggerated in Cosmo Police Galivan. The game has mooks in each stage, but appearance-wise (excluding bosses) there's actually only 4 enemy designs - the skinny "Shade" foes (ninja-like mooks with Wolverine Claws), the caveman-like "Oger", the robotic "Borg" and perhaps the only one that's remotely unique, the Starfish Aliens-esque "Grader". The entirety of the game have you fighting recoloured, palette-swapped incarnations of these four, over and over again, for around eight levels (or at least 40 minutes of gameplay). What's more baffling is that it's not like the game suffers from graphic limitations - the backgrounds have plenty of scary-looking foes, like those reptilian horse-creatures in the amusement park stage, the flying oversized piranhas, the skull-headed giants armed with gigantic swords and Snake People creatures, but in the context of the game itself, these are either background objects the players couldn't interact with or statues meant to fill up space.
  • Cyborg Justice: The player character can choose torso, weapon and legs which are interchangeable and used by virtually every other cyborg in every level at some point including bosses. The only unique enemy in the entire game is the end boss who is a giant brain. If you play with two players, then player 1 is primary gold and player 2 is primarily purple.
  • The arcade version of Double Dragon, in addition to the two player characters (Billy and Jimmy Lee), has a set of three enemy mooks (Williams, Rowper and Abobo) that it uses for every stage, but with a different palette each time, along with the occasional black variants. The two bosses, who are themselves head swaps of other characters, reappear in the final two stages as well (in particular, the third boss is the first boss with green skin). The only enemies who don't have palette swapped variants are Linda (who wears the same purple outfit in all of her appearances) and Machine Gun Willy (the final boss).
  • Fairy Bloom: V3.03 has red versions of the protagonist as the enemy horde's components.
  • The character designs in Fear Is Vigilance are basically limited to three: male, female, and Marcy in disguise. Everything else is palette swapping.
  • Final Fight mostly averts this by making variants of the same enemy head swaps as well, but there are a few notable exception:
    • Roxy is just Poison with orange hair and everyone in the Andore clan are identical except for the colors of their clothing (lavender for the standard Andore, red for Junior, gold for Father, black for Uncle and blue for Grandpa). There are also red-clothed variants of Holly Wood who carries Molotov cocktails instead of his usual knives.
    • Final Fight 2 for the SNES has a cheat code that allows both players to use the same character if selected, distinguishing the second player with a different palette.
    • The GBA version of the original game, Final Fight One, also allowed two players to choose the same character after defeating a certain number of enemies.
  • Some of the enemies from The Gladiator are just modified sprites of each other, notably the bandit legions which are The Goomba - brown for foot soldiers, reds are sergeants, greens have ranged attacks, etc. For the heroes, the Shang-guan sisters, Shang-Guan Jin and Shang-Guan Xue, are palette-swapped as well, though there's an in-universe justification that they're twin sisters (on different sides).
  • Golden Axe has a huge amount of palette-swapped characters, from the mooks to the bosses to the Bizzarians to the energy-replenishing elves.
  • Some of the enemies from Jitsu Squad are recolored versions of existing sprites. Notably, the green-clad goomba-variety ninja gets recoloured as brown versions armed with Wolverine Claws and blue versions who uses bombs. There's also the recurring red Oni enemy, and their green brethren in the final stage, using the same sprites.
  • Legionnaire have numerous enemies which are recoloured versions of existing sprites. In particular, the Dual Boss, Dragon and Tiger, uses the same body but wear different-coloured robes (one wears blue with magenta markings, one wears magenta with blue markings, no we can't tell which is which).
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers for the SNES did this. While the unmorphed rangers are distinct from each other, when they morph, the suit they wear is basically Jason's (Red Ranger) suit colored five different colors. You can tell because of how the helmet looks, how buff the less physical rangers get, and the fact that Kimberly (Pink Ranger) doesn't have her skirt.
  • Negative Mazinger from Mazin Saga: Mutant Fighter is a clone of your titular character, recoloured white instead of blue, but otherwise using your own sprite all the way. You also face a Boss Rush late into the game, where the revived bosses are just recoloured sprites of the bosses' previous forms.
  • In Ninja Combat for the Neo Geo, the main characters, Joe and Hayabusa, are red and blue palette swaps of each other. This Lazy Artist technique is painfully obvious in the cutscenes, which have obviously the same renderings of these characters being horizontally flipped and palette-swapped between shots.
  • The arcade version of Ninja Gaiden (aka Shadow Warriors) features six stages, the same four staple adversaries, a few novelties here and there, three distinct end of stage bosses, one final boss, and a different palette for each stage. There are also ninja mooks who are just palette swaps of the player characters (who are already themselves palette swaps of each other).
  • River City Ransom recycles the same enemy gang of nine members by changing the colors of their t-shirts, as well as modifying their stats and attack patterns.
  • Karate Blazers recycles the sprites for it's mooks. Notably, there's an unnamed dreadlocked enemy (which gamers call "Jamaican thugs") which uses the same head three times over.
  • In Robo Army, while the player characters' humanoid forms are Head Swaps, their Super Buggy forms are identical except in color. One enemy is a green version of the second player character.
  • Shui Hu Feng Yun Zhuan, an unofficial Chinese remake of Knights of the Round (based on The Water Margin), blatantly plagiarizes sprites from various games as their enemies and bosses, to laughable levels (and nicking some musical scores here and there too). There's notably bald axe-wielding mooks lifted from Golden Axe, spear-wielding enemies taken from Knights of the Round, and shielded soldiers from The King of Dragons, with some minor edits here and there. Even without prior context of the plagiarism, something still feels a bit off in the game, since it's set in Ancient China, yet enemy soldiers are wearing Medieval armor that looks more fitting for the Authurian Era, holding long lances fitting for European knights, or viking-like shields and armours, because they're practically transplanted from a bunch of unrelated games set in Europe.
  • The Streets of Rage series used palette swaps for enemies very often
    • In the "Dueling" mode featured in the sequels, the second player is assigned a different palette if he chooses the same character as the first player.
    • In the first game, Onihime and Yasha (aka Mona and Lisa), the twin bosses in Round 5, were both palette swaps of Blaze but with a green outfit instead of red. In Round 8, they appear one more time with a dark purple outfit. When the twins returned in Streets of Rage 3, they were given a unique design.
    • In the third game, the boss of Round 3 was a robot copy of Axel, only difference was his gloves were purple instead of red so that players who played in co-op wouldn't attack each other by mistake if one of them was playing as Axel.
    • Also in the third game, Shiva and Roo (plus Ash in the Japanese version) change palettes when they become player characters.
  • The Super Spy, owing to it being an old arcade title, will constantly reuse sprites for enemies. The recurring balaclava-clad mooks, for example, are faceless goons in black, blue, purple, white armor, and sometimes a mix of colours.
  • The Foot Clan ninjas in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game and Turtles in Time come in numerous colors in addition to the standard purple variant from the 1980s animated series. The Foot Soldiers are color coded to indicate their weapons of choice. For example, the white Foot Soldiers attack with katanas, while the orange ones wield boomerangs.

    Edutainment Game 
  • In Disney's Math Quest with Aladdin, the Wizard Pharaoh Very Ankh-Amman appears as a ghostly mummy head with a different color scheme each time you meet him.

    Fighting Game 
  • Akatsuki Blitzkampf:
    • In the earlier versions, Adler and his clones the Elektrosoldats had almost exactly the same sprites, portraits, voices, etc. When Adler was made playable the sprites were still similar, but there were noticeable differences in their stand and walking animations, their moves started to change, and Adler's voice got much deeper.
    • Perfecti used to be a blatant palette swap of Mycale, plus a Battle Aura. The Updated Re-release Ausf. Achse solves this and made them completely different from then on.
  • BlazBlue takes the palette-swapping tendencies of fighting games and runs right off the rails with them, often designing alternate color schemes to be visual references to other franchises. Observe Tager as GaoGaiGar, Noel as Major Kitsurabami, Rachel as Hatsune Miku, Es as Ruby Rose, and Hazama as a Smooth Criminal. There's more, but the full list would probably eat the page. There's also Ragna as Sakata Gintoki. Made even better as they share the same voice actor (as parodied here).
    • There's also Lambda-11, who's pretty much this to Nu-13, down to sharing the same moveset. This could be excused in Continuum Shift due to the latter having fallen into the Cauldron at the end of Calamity Trigger, with the former taking her place. Then their roles got swapped in Chronophantasma, with Nu taking Lambda's place for story reasons. Following the latter's return in Chronophantasma Extend, her moveset received some overhauls to differentiate her more from Nu.
    • And then there's Mu-12, who shares a similar sprite with Nu and Lambda with some difference, though she has a more different moveset utilizing Attack Drones as opposed to sword-spamming the opponent.
    • BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle took it a step father with character palettes that referenced each other (so now Ruby could be in Es' colors too), or other characters from their respective series'.
  • BloodStorm sported secret characters that were, for the most part, mere palette swaps of the ordinarily available characters with slightly different moves.
  • Capcom's Versus series do this, both mirror match style and new character style. Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes features War Machine, who is a palette swap of Iron Man from Marvel Super Heroes. Also, both Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom use palette swaps in creating the secret characters. Sometimes an attempt would be made to make them logical characters — MSHvsSF featured U.S. Agent as a Captain America swap, for example. Others are more esoteric, like MvC's Orange Hulk and Red Venom, which some fans justify by suggesting they're meant to be stand-ins for The Thing and Carnage.
  • ClayFighter:
    • The first game handled this very oddly, with the color your character was being tied to what controller port you used to play the game (as Player 1, you would never face computers using their "default" palette; this was reversed if you were Player 2). Starting with the Tournament Edition update palette swap selection was handled more like it is in Street Fighter, where you pick a color based on the button used to choose a character. There are also palette swap stages, where the second fights against Taffy, Tiny and Bonker as well as the N. Boss fight (who shares his stage with The Blob) having different palettes on their stages.
    • In the second game, there is an Evil Twin palette swap of every playable character that serves as each character's last boss.
  • The original Eternal Champions notably didn't have any. The sequel had palette swaps, Head Swaps and even leg (Riptide has Jetta's stance and Shadow's legs) swaps.
  • When Bandai released Gundam: The Battle Master 2 in the US as Gundam Battle Assault, they replaced one of the mecha with the titular Gundam from Gundam Wing in order to cash in on the show's then successful run on Cartoon Network. Despite going through the trouble of making a separate sprite for it, however, they gave it the same moveset as the Zeta Gundam. Further annoying is the fact that its super move involves grabbing the opponent instead of shooting its BFG.
  • In Injustice: Gods Among Us, the John Stewart Green Lantern appears as an alternate skin for Hal Jordan. He has the exact same moves and animations, just with a different appearance and voice. Injustice 2 expands on this as Premium Skins and gave more characters alternate skins with the same moveset but different everything else. It includes both different identities for the same superhero (Ex. Jay Garrick skin for The Flash) and characters with very similar themes (Ex. Mr. Freeze skin for Captain Cold).
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Battle of Aces and its sequel Gears of Destiny, the three Materials are not just recolors of the Chromatic Arrangement trio, but full-on Evil Twins with distinct personalities. The movie adaptations gave slightly more individualized weapons and armor so that they weren't straight copies, though their status as dopplgangers remains.
  • Several champions in Marvel: Contest of Champions are obvious palette swaps for each other, often an alternate version of the same character. For instance, X-Force Deadpool has the exact same power set as regular Deadpool with a different colored uniform, and WWII Captain America is this for regular Captain America. The Vision also has both a comics version of his costume and one based on the movie version in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Palette swapped characters are also generally Moveset Clones of each other.
  • A large percentage of the fighters in Melty Blood are alternate versions of the same character (for one reason or another), so many of them share a lot of attack animations with the other. However, the degree of them being a Moveset Clone varies.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. Full Boost had a variation on this with Pilot Swaps rather than Palette Swaps, mobile suits which were mostly Moveset Clones of existing MS with minor tweaks and entirely new voice clips. For example, Elle Vianno's Gundam Mk-II can't become the Super Gundam like Emma Sheen's, but instead she gets extra Assist Characters. Pilot swaps were also generally lower cost, giving them some strategic value; some examples, like Lacus Clyne's version of the Infinite Justice Gundam, were actually preferred over the standard version for this reason.
  • Legend (1994) have the two main heroes, Kaor and Igor, being recycled sprites of each other's models, wearing the exact same armour (in different colours) and having the exact same animations. The only distinguishing factor is that Kaor uses a sword while Igor wields an ax, but that's it.
  • Mortal Kombat was one of the most notorious examples of this trope with its "Palette Swap Ninjas". There was an increasing number of ninja characters of three basic types — male (Scorpion, Sub-Zero [seen above], Reptile, Noob Saibot, Ermac, Rain, Chameleon), female (Kitana, Mileena, Jade, Khameleon), cyborg (Smoke, Cyrax, Sektor) — in the games, almost all of whom used the same basic set of sprites, with the color scheme altered to match the individual character. Illustrated here. With the transition from sprites to polygons in Mortal Kombat 4 and beyond, the various ninjas have been redesigned to give them more individualized looks, especially with Reptile and Rain. According to Ed Boon, they did this originally because the software they were working with didn't have enough memory for too many individualized characters, but they figured out that filming only one ninja (Daniel Pesina) with only a few different animation cycles for special moves and such functioned as a workaround to this memory limitation. Thus, the multicolored ninjas were born.
    • Mortal Kombat Trilogy was seriously getting short on colours for male ninjas: Classic Sub-Zero (blue), Scorpion (yellow), Reptile (green), Rain (purple), Noob Saibot (black), Ermac (red), and Human Smoke (gray). In mirror matches, the twin was usually a slightly different shade of the same colour.
    • The original MK had this in the case of Sonya Blade's Mirror Match (the other Sonya being dressed in red). Notable that she was the only one to have this. All other characters just got shaded slightly darker.
    • Note that the default ninjas in all four 2D Mortal Kombat games for the arcade (counting the original version of 3 and the Ultimate edition separately) actually had different fighting stances from each other, so they were not full-fledged palette swaps. However, the hidden variants played this straight.
      • In the first game, Reptile used Scorpion's fighting stance.
      • In Mortal Kombat II, Smoke uses Reptile's stance, Noob Saibot uses Scorpion's, and Jade uses Kitana's.
      • In Mortal Kombat 3, Smoke uses Sektor's stance. Since none of the "human" ninjas were in the third game initially, Noob was instead a palette swap of Kano and had no special moves.
      • In Ultimate, all three female ninjas used their own stances; Noob, Ermac, Masked Sub-Zero, and Human Smoke used Scorpion's.
      • Rain was originally created as a red herring in the arcade version of Ultimate MK3, only showing up in the game's attract mode running towards Shao Kahn. The 16-bit console ports made him an actual fighter in gameplay, but his idle stance was not consistent between the two versions. The SNES version has him using Scorpion's stance, while on the Genesis he uses Reptile's. The same holds true in Trilogy, where he uses Scorpion's stance on the PlayStation version and the later Saturn and PC ports derived from it, while on the N64 version he uses Reptile's.
      • In Trilogy, Khameleon and Chameleon's stances would reflect who they were currently copying.
  • My Little Pony: Fighting Is Magic Tribute Edition includes palette swaps of some of the characters to make them look like other characters (see also Whole Costume Reference). For instance: palette swaps of Twilight Sparkle make her look like Twilight Velvet and Lyra, palette swaps of Applejack make her look like Granny Smith, Big McIntosh and Cheerilee, a palette swap of Pinkie Pie makes her look like Cheese Sandwich and a palette swap of Rainbow Dash makes her look like Spitfire.
  • Epic Megagames' fighting game One Must Fall makes extensive use of palette swaps. The game has 11 distinct (sprite) models of robots, but many more colour-schemes, all of which are achieved by changing parts of the game palette. In tournament mode, you can customize your robot's colour-scheme in three areas, and the game provides you with 16 colours to choose from.
    • There is an external free tool that lets you create your own tournaments, and you can give the computer opponents anything you like for their colour-schemes by editing the palette of the picture to go with their character.
  • Phantom Breaker has two characters who are quite literally this: White Mikoto to regular Mikoto and L to Mnote . They have noticeably different personalities compared to their originals (while Mikoto is a Martial Pacifist, White Mikoto is more brash and aggressive. L meanwhile is more benevolent in comparison to the Ax-Crazy M). In addition, they're also locked into certain styles when selecting them (White Mikoto is locked to Hard style, while L is locked to Quick).
  • Primal Rage does this for the stages where you're fighting the character you chose to play as. Does have a benefit there as it helps you stay sure of who's who. In addition, Blizzard and Chaos seem to be palette swaps of each other, as do Sauron and Diablo.
  • A famous example of the skin-color aspect of this trope was the character Nakoruru from the Fighting Game Samurai Shodown. The swapped palette used on her portrait in the character select screen made her look like her own Evil Twin. Naturally, the idea quickly entered Fanon, and Samurai Shodown V actually turned "Evil Nakoruru" into her own character and the local anti-heroine, Rera.
    • This was most likely also a result of SNK actually intending the "Slash/Bust" division to represent good and evil sides (or at least different personalities), never being able to pull it off, and ultimately simply deciding to just make a couple variant characters and call it a day. The other, BTW, is Rastesumaru, a much, much different version of Haohmaru. (He has purple skin, for one. He's completely psycho, for another.)
  • Skullgirls:
    • There are 25 palettes for every playable character (with one hidden exception), some of which are Official Fan-Submitted Content and many, many of which are referential. More distinctly, it also has an alternate palette for its story mode boss and a shifting rainbow palette for one of its characters, Double.
    • Initially just an April Fools' character, Fukua, a clone of their pre-existing character Filia was created as a jab at the popularity of palette swaps. Despite being a palette swap, she has a very different moveset, although it reuses Filia's assets, for example by making one of her projectiles shoot a ghostly clone of her, and giving her two command grabs that have the same animation as her normal grab but different startup times and damage. Also, nearly all of her palettes are referential to other games' palette swap characters.
  • Soul Series:
    • The character Kilik is a Palette Swap — in the "shared motion data" sense — of Seong Mi-na, but the games make it seem as if Mi-na is the clone character: with the exception of Soulcalibur III, Kilik is always available from the start whereas Mi-na needs to be unlocked, and many of the moves they do (or did) share weren't added to Mi-na's move list until after Kilik's debut in Soulcalibur. (This is explained in-game by both characters using the same fighting style: Ling-Sheng Su since Mi-na's master, Kong Xiuqiang, is a runaway monk from the Li-Sheng Su temple where Kilik spent his childhood, with Mi-na later training under Edge Master, Kilik's master, for a time prior to events of Soulcalibur III.) Kilik's appearance in Stage 2 of Mi-na's Soulcalibur IV story has him call attention to this little conundrum.
    Kilik: "That move! It's one of mine."
    • Hwang is an odd case. In the original game, Soul Edge, he was a "motion swap" of Mitsurugi for Korean localization. In Soulcalibur, he became a swap of Xianghua, but shared some kicks with Seong Mi-na (as they both trained under Mi-na father, Seong Han-myeong). By Soulcalibur III, he was the representative of the Chinese Sword style.
    • Succeeding Hwang as Mitsurugi's localization replacement is Arthur, a Blond English-born Samurai. He returned in Soulcalibur III as the representative of the Katana Moveset. He also appears in Soulcalibur VI as part of a set of Side Quests where the Player Character initially thinks rumors about him are referring to Mitsurugi.
    • Actual palette-swapping entered the Soulcalibur series with Custom Characters, as well as the ability to alter the colors worn by the standard fighters. Meanwhile, Tekken 5 offered color choices along with custom items as unlockables.
    • A bizarre instance in Soulcalibur VI cropped up involving Guest Fighter 2B from NieR: Automata. Since palette swaps are near-omnipresent in fighting games she was given an alt color with black hair, dark skin and white clothing. Yoko Taro loved this alt color so much he dubbed her "2P"note . "2P" wound up working her way into pseudo-canon status for her home franchise, making an appearance as a separate character in the YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse questline in Final Fantasy XIV and getting her own merchandise.
  • Street Fighter:
    • When the series started featuring same character matches (beginning with Street Fighter II: Champion Edition), the game changes the palette of one player to distinguish it from the other. Depending on the character, some alternate palettes will simply change the color of the character's clothing (i.e. Ryu's gi and bandanna), while others (such as Dhalsim's and Blanka's) will change the character's skin tone to improbable colors such as blue or grey. (Though in the case of Blanka, his natural green is impossible in real life).
    • Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers in particular features eight palettes for each character, matching the maximum number of players allowed in the game's Tournament Battle mode. However, the control panel only has seven buttons for each player (six attack buttons and Start), so the eighth palette can only be chosen by pressing any button and holding it down for a few seconds.
    • Super Street Fighter II Turbo gave all of the returning fighters a new default palette (such as Ryu's black gi and yellow headband or Ken's silver gi). An unusual design choice, given that all the promotional art for Super Turbo and even the game's intro and ending sequences still depict the game's cast in their traditional colors. To seemingly compensate for this, each of the 16 main fighters now has a "classic" counterpart that sticks to their traditional palette while also retaining their move set from New Challengers (meaning that also lack the ability to use Super Combos). Some of the later console ports, such as Revival and HD Remix, went back to the traditional default palette.
    • Ultra Street Fighter II adds Evil Ryu from the Alpha series and Violent Ken from SVC Chaos, who in this game are palette swaps of the standard Ryu and Ken.
    • In the arcade version of Street Fighter Alpha 2, the character's palette changes depending on whether the player is using the Manual fighting style (three-level Super gauges) or Auto (one-level gauges, simpler inputs for Super Combos and Alpha Counters and auto-blocking). This was carried over to Alpha 3, when the fighting styles were expanded to A-ism (Alpha-style), X-ism (Super Turbo-style) and V-ism (Variable Combo-style).
    • Some versions of Alpha 2 (specifically the U.S. arcade release and the Zero 2 Alpha released in Asia) allowed players to control alternate versions of certain characters such as Zangief, Dhalsim, Ryu, Ken, classic outfit Chun-Li, Sagat and M. Bison who used their movesets from Street Fighter II Dash and had alternate color schemes. Evil Ryu and Shin Akuma were also palette-swaps of their regular counterparts.
    • In Street Fighter III 3rd Strike, there are a total 13 palettes for each character (except for Gill, who only has two). There are six standard palettes chosen by simply pressing any of the attack buttons, six alternate palettes chosen by holding Start and pressing any of the other buttons and a hidden 13th palette selected by pressing LP+MK+HP.
  • The Super Smash Bros. games use this for alternative costumes, and if players choose the same characters for team battles, the brightness on the characters are changed. But some characters get additional costumes in addition to different color palettes, which in some cases are enough to transform them into different characters:
    • Super Smash Bros. 64: Since this game, Yoshi has had his green color as his default and many alternate color swaps, and the games give many hints that every different color is actually a different Yoshi. In 64 and Melee, his eggs are always green, but in Brawl, the eggs match the skin color of the Yoshi.
    • Super Smash Bros. Brawl:
      • Pit has a "fallen angel" costume, which turns his clothes and wings black and served as the inspiration for Dark Pit. It eventually came full circle with Dark Pit's inclusion in 3DS/Wii U, where he played as a Moveset Clone of Pit and had a color variation that made his clothes resemble Pit's.
      • Wario's costumes are divided between his overalls from the main series and the biker jacket outfit he wears in his own games.
      • In Japan, R.O.B. was sold with red and white colors, to match the Famicom; outside Japan, he was silver and grey to match the NES. Both colors are available in Brawl, his red and white colors were the main pallete in all versions; but after that, versions outside Japan make the grey color his main pallete.
    • Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U:
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate:
  • Super Smash Bros. Crusade:
    • The game has its characters' palette swaps resemble other characters. Examples: Mario -> Dr. Mario, Peach -> Shadow Queen, Bowser -> Dark Bowser, Mewtwo -> Charizard, Ryu -> Ken, Goku -> Piccolo.
    • One of Waluigi's palette swaps has been interp reted as being inspired by either Super Mario Glitchy 4 or Brawl in the Family.
  • Super Smash Flash:
    • The original game didn't have playable palette swaps, but the Multi-Mook Melee modes used playable characters colored pure grey.
    • Super Smash Flash 2 initially settled for shifting RGB/HSV channels, which applied to whole sprites at once and resulted in strange effects like turning characters' skin green along with their clothes; eventually full palette swaps were developed and began to be implemented. As in Crusade, some palette swaps are based on other characters (Pichu becomes Plusle, Minun, or Mimikyu; Naruto becomes Izuku or Saitama). As well, characters who debuted on the NES or Game Boy (Color) have Retraux palette swaps that match their original appearances, complete with system limitations.
  • Tekken:
    • Mokujin (Tekken 3) and Combot (Tekken 4), which randomly emulated all the characters fighting styles, one per round, and Unknown (Tekken Tag Tournament), who looked sort of like Jun Kazama (thus leading many to believe she was Jun, only subject to Demonic Possession note ), but could only emulate about 15 or so characters out of the 30+ available (and, in addition to the resemblance, always started with Jun's moveset, further bolstering the fan theory). However, pressing down on the right stick on the PS2 controller (R3, as it is) would let you change fighting styles on the fly instead of having to tag out and back in all the time. Notably, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 leaves Mokujin as the only mimic character on the roster; Combot is instead retooled as an All Your Powers Combined-type who can use an amalgamation of other characters moves in the vein of Dural (essentially, what Tekken 4 states Combot was meant to do instead of simple mimicry due to software bugs), while Unknown uses a variation of Jun's moveset combined with more supernatural influences like stage hazards created from the goop that covers her body (as this incarnation of Unknown actually is Jun gone One-Winged Angel).
    • Mokujin itself has two palette swaps in the more traditional "colour variation" sense. Tetsujin is an iron version of the wooden puppet, appearing only in the Tag Tournament spin-offs. Kinjin is a gold version with a crown, a moustache, and a slightly different appearance who only appears in Tekken Revolution.
    • Namco's games also did tend to have fighters who shared many moves. Examples include the Jack "clones" (ironically, of the ones with that label, only Kuma's been in all the games in some playable form), as well as characters with similar styles in game (Anna and Nina Williams, King and Armour King, Yoshimitsu and Kunimitsu). They've been working on making each character more unique, though.
    • Tekken 3 introduced a new generation of fighters who had stances and fighting styles taken from previous characters that had supposedly killed off. So Hwoarang was meant to be a replacement for Baek, Bryan Fury for Bruce Irvin, Xiaoyu for Wang, and so on. When the predecessors returned in future installments, Namco altered the various characters accordingly to prevent redundancies. Tiger Jackson was also a Palette Swap of Eddy Gordo, even though they both debuted in the same game.
    • Christie Monteiro from Tekken 4 was introduced as a replacement for Eddy, while Asuka Kazama from Tekken 5 was meant to be a replacement for her MIA relative, Jun Kazama.
    • In Tekken 2, most characters had two separate character models to give them an alternate costume but Kuma, being a bear, just had a different-coloured texture that gave him a white coat. In future titles Kuma's alternate costume was replaced with Moveset Clone Panda.
  • Them's Fightin' Herds: The playable ungulates all have alternate color palettes, with a lot of them being Whole Costume References to other works, whether made by the devs or as a backer reward.
  • In Verdict: Guilty!, each playable character has a second character who is this.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • BioShock only had a few distinct Splicer models, with palette swapping used (mostly on their clothes) to make them slightly less identical. Of all the characters in the first game, only Sander Cohen, Andrew Ryan, and Frank Fontaine in his final boss form have a unique model. This would be largely averted in the sequel, where most of the game's principal characters have their own model.
  • Blood:
    • The only visual difference between various types of cultists is the color of their robes: regular cultists wear brown robes, fanatics wear black robes, acolytes wear green robes, zealots wear blue robes and the priest wears red robes.
    • Stone gargoyles look exactly like regular gargoyles, except that they have a different texture and are bigger in size.
  • Borderlands:
    • Visually, this is the only difference between gun brands. Each manufacturer has a palette with a few variations.
      Atlas: White with black contrasts.
      Dahl: Military camo (shades of green, bluish-grey, or brown with dark brown).
      Hyperion: Bright red or crimson, sometimes with grey details.
      Jakobs: Reddish-orange or brown, like wood.
      Maliwan: Blue of varying hues.
      S&S: Yellow, sometimes faded orange with pale yellow contrasts.
      Tediore: Light grey of slightly varying hues.
      Torgue: Grey to jet, like raw iron and steel.
      Vladof: Bright orange with steel-grey or white highlights.
    • In a more general sense that goes beyond the first game, there are bright lines or accessories with colors that denote the element the weapon fires. Fire elemental guns have them in red, electric ones get them in vibrant blue, corrosives are green, explosives were yellow (before Torgue took the element for itself from Borderlands 2 and on), slag is purple, and ice is light blue.
  • In Conduit 2, the models of the soldiers are all the same, but the armor they wear is chosen randomly.
  • Doom, on the other hand, use palette swaps mostly for changing the uniform color of different players in multiplayer mode (the green armor becomes indigo, brown and red for players 2, 3 and 4); however a variant of palette swap is used for one of the monsters: the Spectre is a Demon whose sprite's shape is replaced by a zone of transparent static. In Doom 2, a palette swap was used to create the Hell Knight from the Baron of Hell; however both sets of sprites are present in the game's data and the two are treated by the game as totally separate enemy types, other than being hard-coded against the usual rules for taking and responding to friendly fire. Doom RPG, however, had "classes" of enemies that changed palettes according to their type and subsequent difficulty.
  • BUILD Engine games, such as Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior, make use of palette changes on sprites and surfaces for a number of uses.
    • A number of surfaces which basically look the same, but have something a different colour (such as a row of tiles on a wall) use an internal palette change to provide more graphical variety without needing to include more textures.
    • Coloured lighting uses a palette change over the whole palette of anything in the area in question.
    • The ever-common alien Troopers and Captains in Duke Nukem 3D use the same sprites, but different internal palettes. The base sprites use blue for the uniform, but the Troopers use a palette that replaces it with green and the captains use one that replaces it with red.
    • On a similar note, the different colours of the trousers on the player sprites in multiplayer games are the result of palette swaps.
    • Putting the same palette used for blue light onto a sprite such as a weapon or switch in the level editor will (at least for Duke Nukem 3D) make that sprite only appear in deathmatch games.
    • Different palettes on special sprites which control level functionality can have various effects, ranging from simply changing the colour of a light to making a teleporter that doesn't show the usual teleporter effects, to determining what kind of enemy teleports in.
    • Palette swaps combined with translucency are also used to give the enemies shadows. Squash a copy of the sprite vertically, put it on the ground, put an all-black palette on it, then make it translucent. Some levels also use all-black translucent palette swaps of sprites to add nice shadows to certain areas.
    • Then there are user-made levels which give oddly-coloured enemies via palette swaps just for the fun of it. Some sadistic authors put the all-black palette on the enemies and make them transparent. Great, now you're fighting almost-invisible aliens.
  • Half-Life 2: The Overwatch transhuman infantry serving guard duty in Nova Prospekt prison have a unique uniform; while the standard Overwatch soldiers have a navy blue camo pattern and blue optics, Nova Prospekt prison guards have yellow optics, a dark ultramarine-ish color with blue stripe and a Nova Prospekt insignia. This is also the case with Shotgun Soldiers, whom have orange optics and dark reddish-brown uniforms, but otherwise behave identically to standard Overwatch soldiers with shotguns (and in fact replaced those following the update that added them in).
  • The original Halo trilogy does this with almost all of its Covenant enemies, with you being able to tell how powerful they are simply by the color of their armor/shields. The in-game explanation is that their armor is color-coded by rank. Halo 3 started to move away from this by giving each Brute rank a different set of armor (though each rank was also split into different colored sub-ranks), and games from Halo: Reach onward have extended this to basically every Covenant species (with Elite Mooks getting the fanciest suits, obviously).
  • Halo 5: Guardians's Warzone has a lot of boss enemies, but most of them are just palette-swapped versions of regular foes.
  • Ebitan, one of the zombies in House of the Dead 2, comes in three different colours; green, brown and black. Kageo also has multiple skins.
  • Left 4 Dead 2:
    • The laser sights and special ammo using the same world model, but with different textures.
    • The common infected use similar models, but have different skin/clothes colors. The original game only did this with their shirts.
  • The Marathon series used palette swapping extensively. An alien's uniform color denoted its rank, while a human's denoted his department.
  • Several of the enemies in Overload have super variants, characterized by a red glow, increased armor and considerably stronger weaponry.
  • PAYDAY: The Heist:
    • The game has the Clown mask model recycled for other masks and use different textures, namely the Golden and Secret masks.
    • Dallas' Vyse mask is also the Clown mask retextured while Hoxton's Vyse mask is a different textured version of his Beeef mask. Chain's Vyse mask is the same model as the Moderator and Overkill/Dev mask and those two masks are palette swaps of each other. The Alienware masks are a single model with different textures as well.
  • Perfect Dark for the N64 had Joanna (the main character) and her head-swap Velvet (controlled by Player 2 during Co-Op Mode). Since they were both Carrington Institute agents, they both wore the same uniform.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • Not only are the classes identical save their team colour, at least three levels contain what are basically palette swapped bases, with changed materials and propaganda posters. Not only that, but the September 30, 2010 update allows players to paint their hats.
    • Player-created maps are sometimes guilty of this as well. There are several variations of 2fort with the exactly same layout, but one is at nighttime, etc.
    • Every Capture the Flag map is just two bases that are exactly the same except they're mirrored and palette-swapped, with a few paths in between that connect them.
    • There was actually a contest to "dress up" a Valve-designed map that only had basic geometry. The winners of which were later used for the Mann Manor Halloween update.
    • Several other maps also had Halloween versions.
    • Referenced in the Developer's Commentary. They noted that, for balance's sake and outside of Attack/Defend maps, they had to make both the RED and BLU bases identical, as otherwise it would offer a tactical advantage to one team over another. To help players not get lost however, they had a strict set of materials, colors and styles they could use for each side; Red was wooden, red (obviously), and used sheet metal and hay. Blu, on the other hand, used concrete and industrial pressed metal, as well as having an overall blue tone. Red was also suppose to be more rustic while blu was more industrial design-wise.
  • Turok 2: Seeds of Evil has a few of these; the Cave Worm is a giant version of the Swamp Worm, the Fireborn is a fiery version of the Endtrail, the Blind One Sentinels are a palette swap of the Flesh Eater Sentinels, and the Trooper is a palette swap of the Mantid Soldier.
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus:
    • Wolfstone 3D, the Nazis' parody of Wolfenstein 3-D, borrows a lot of the Palette Swapped versions of the original Wolf 3D characters. Examples include:
      • Elite Hans = B.J. Blazkowicz
      • U.S. Army soldier = Guard
      • Russian soldier = Schutzstaffel
      • Naval officer = Officer
      • Set Roth = Dr. Schabbs, with a beard and a white lab coat
      • Fake B.J. = Fake Hitler
      • B.J. "Terror-Billy" Blazkowicz = Adolf Hitler, though more like Staatmeister
      • Bombate = Otto Giftmacher
      • Caroline Becker = Gretel Grosse
      • Anya Oliwa = Gretel Grosse, but with the weapons of General Fettgesicht

  • In Burly Men At Sea, the three Beard brothers are distinguished only by the different colours of their huge beards and co-ordinated boots.
  • DRL has "nightmare" demons, imps, cacodemons, arachnotrons and even arch-viles on higher difficulties and in deeper levels. They are dark blue, faster and tougher, they deal a lot more damage, and worst of all, they're silent.
  • The Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, and the Super Game Boy (for the SNES) allowed users to palette-swap original Game Boy games entirely (at least the ones that weren't designed to take advantage of the color features of the devices).
  • Some old games palette swap everything after each level to give the player a sense of progress. Desert Falcon for the Atari 2600 looped between about eight colors as enemies moved slightly faster, so even field below changed from yellow to green to pink. Even the NES version of Tetris does this as the game's level increases.

    Hack and Slash 
  • The Diablo series is infamous for this, frequently featuring the same enemy 3-5 times by recoloring and renaming it.
  • Dynasty Warriors and its spinoffs use this frequently. Most generic units and officers are recolors of each other, and several games give each playable character a second color palette to use. The DLC maps for Hyrule Warriors and its subsequent releases turned this into an art form, adding over a hundred unlockable recolors for most of the cast, most of which reference different characters from across the Zelda franchise.

    Idle Game 
  • In Crush Crush, the Dark One looks like a goth reskin of Mio which she lampshades in her introduction cutscene by saying that her appearing almost identical to another game character is most definitely not the game devs being lazy or making an in-joke.

    Maze Game 
  • One of the first games to use Palette Swaps was Pac-Man. Also Colour-Coded for Your Convenience as each ghost had a different way of chasing the player. note 
  • Being the second game Luigi ever showed up in, Wrecking Crew once again has him as a recolored Mario.

  • City of Heroes makes frequent use of Palette Swapping in uniformed enemy groups such as Arachnos, where different ranks (and sometimes entirely different classes!) of enemies share the same uniform with a modified color scheme. I.E. Psychic Fortunatas wear red versions of the normal Night and Blood Widow uniforms. Arbiters (who are the highest ranking members of Arachnos, said to be above even the four Archvillains in terms of authority) wear shiny versions of the Wolf Spider uniform.

    Also interestingly enough, a player using the Mission Architect can actually palette swap preexisting enemies! Even AVs! And, of course, due to the game's customization system, the vast majority of models use one of three basic animation sets anyway.
  • Dynasty Warriors Online. Given that all mooks on different sides are simply palette swaps of each other, but the custom outfits can also be. You can individually "dye" each item so that they change color, There are three different dyes that give you a unique color for each one. the Weapons also change color when you add an innate element to it. They will take on a basic color for the element, but other colors on more complex looking weapons will change to fit the theme of the main color (like gold might change to silver). You have ice (blue and silver), fire (red and gold), wind (green and silver), Lightning (yellow and bronze), vorpal (purple and bronze).
  • Faction ship models in EVE Online are their base ships with different color schemes. This is true of their pirate counterparts as well.
  • zOMG! is a prime offender.
    • Most fluffs are recolors and/or upscales of one another with minor details changed.
    • Kat's Kokeshi Doll and the Kokeshi Collectibles are palette swaps of normal Kokeshi Dolls.
    • Gift Boxes from the 2008 Christmas event were Christmas-themed recolors of Flying Giftboxes.
    • Lightning Bugs, Shockroaches, and Deathroaches share the same base model.
    • Landstriders are green and black versions of the Walker.
    • Outlaw Wolves are green Outlaw Pups.
  • Granblue Fantasy: Enemy mobs sometimes have color-coded variants of the same model that appear in other quests:
    • The brown, silver, and gold slimes in the "Slimy Search" quest lines.
    • The crabs, "Elemental Sprites", and the "-Gyre" type enemies whose color varies depending on their element. These are common in the Rotating Trial quests.
    • The Mimics, whose color theme varies depending on the type of treasure that it drops when defeated.
  • Marvel Heroes had the concept of "Enhanced Costumes," which could be used to turn your character into another Marvel hero or villain with similar abilities and the same moves and stats. These included Spider-Gwen for Spider-Man, Shuri for Black Panther, Beta Ray Bill and Jane Foster for Thor, Sam Alexander for Nova, Captain Mar-Vell for Captain Marvel and Kate Bishop for Hawkeye.
  • Phantasy Star Online plays this straight for their non-unique weapons. All basic weapons only differentiate in color and name to denote how powerful they are (from weakest to strongest, the colors are green, blue, purple, red, and yellow.)
  • Phantasy Star Universe takes this a step further. In addition to non-unique weapons differentiating in color, both non-unique and rare weapons have a bland-looking "Kubara" version that usually has worse stats, but offers larger grind bonuses.
  • RuneScape Classic used this trope: the game environment was 3d but the enemies were 2D sprites, so enemies such as "thief" "man" and "farmer" were often simply palette swaps of one another. Also, the customizable player character models could be considered this as well.
  • SD Gundam Capsule Fighter has the "-U" rank units, "User-Created" special units from the Korea server who color certain units (all but one being a C-Rank) and are granted different skills and stats, usually having the skills make up for the weaker stats.
  • Temtem: Every Temtem has a rare alternate colour scheme with a glowing effect, known as Lumas. Ones encountered in the wild are guaranteed to have three perfect stats.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • The first expansion, The Burning Crusade, introduced armor sets that used the same models as Vanilla WoW's Tier 2 raid armor sets. For example, here's Vestments of Transcendence, the priest set, and here's an assortment of cloth armor pieces from TBC dungeons.
    • There are thousands of different types of "mobs" (monsters) a player can encounter, but only a couple hundred different animated models. Most of the variety comes from putting differently-colored skins on the same model. For example, the grizzly bears in Elwynn Forest or Dun Morogh use the same models as the polar bears in Icecrown and the disease-raveged bears in the Western Plaguelands, and the same animations. They just use different-colored skins and, in some cases, enlarge or shrink the base model.
    • Mounts are this way. For instance there are several drake mounts obtainable in Wrath of the Lich King, however the all use the same drake model with different colors or patterns - from the free bronze drake you get from "Culling of Stratholme" heroic to the black drake you get from finishing Sartharian with three drakes up.

    Platform Game 
  • Blinx: The Time Sweeper does this with at least two pairs of bosses. In one, the first monster is yellow; later, you face an identical red counterpart.
  • The main characters in the arcade versions of Contra and Super C used different sprites for Bill and Lance (Bill wore a white tank top, while Lance was shirtless). Due to hardware limitations of the NES, their versions of both games used the same sprite for Bill and Lance, changing only the color of their pants, making Bill the "blue guy" and Lance the "red guy". Oddly enough, Contra III: The Alien Wars for the SNES followed this convention as well. In Super C and Contra III, the red colored enemy soldiers are usually the ones who actually shoot their guns. Also, the four main characters in Contra 4 (Bill and Lance, and their "counterparts", Mad Dog and Scorpion) are all palette swaps of the same sprite, with no real playing differences between them. This was due to a 4-Players Mode that was Dummied Out from the final version of the game. The extra characters (Probotector, Sheena, Lucia, Jimbo/Sully) all happen to have four selectable color palettes each as well.
  • Played for laughs in Distorted Travesty, with the Sentinel and the Palette Swap Sentinel, the latter of which is slightly tougher. Jerry and Jeremy declare their opinions about how cheap and uncreative this is.
  • Donkey Kong Country:
    • Lampshaded by Cranky Kong in the Game Boy Advance version of Donkey Kong Country, after a boss battle with "Really Gnawty", a recolored version of the first boss, "Very Gnawty", which is itself a big version of a normal enemy called "Gnawty". The quote at the top of the page appears after defeating Master Necky Sr., a palette swap of Master Necky Jr.
    • Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!:
      • In the SNES version, there is a hidden code to give Kiddy and Dixie Kong different colored clothing. It doesn't affect the game, but the alternate colors look cooler than the regular colors.
      • Koindozers are similar to Klobbers from the second game, but are a palette swap of Koin (a Kremling that uses a DK Coin as a shield). The rest of Donkey Kong Country follows suit with different coloured Kremlings and other mooks, this gives away whether or not some are Demonic Spiders (the grey Klobbers that rob you of lives) or Invincible Minor Minions (Red Zingers and Nigh Invulnerable Green Zingers). Red Zingers can only be killed with Squitter's webs (unreliable because Squitter is only in a few levels), while Green Zingers can be killed with barrels as well.
  • This is used heavily in the TurboGrafx-16 game Dragon's Curse, where eventually you will run into three colors—red, green, and blue—of every enemy in the game.
  • Name-dropped in Gamer 2, when Kevin enters the game as Player 2. Hailey asks why he looks like a blue-furred version of herself, and he laments that such a feature is hard-coded into the machine.
  • Kid Icarus both does and doesn't rely on this trope. The first game had multiple sprites for several monsters that otherwise varied only numerically. Given the wildly different descriptions in the game manual, it can be quite a disappointment to realize that you've just run into yet another version of Monoeye. Some of these enemies also come in palette swaps, with three sprites for Kobil, each in two colors, for a total of six.
  • The two teams in Killer Queen consist of the same sprites with gold or blue color schemes. Four of the characters on each team also look identical to each other except for the patterns on their shirts.
  • Kirby:
    • In Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, you get three palette-swapped helpers and the ability to change your color. You can change colors in Kirby: Squeak Squad as well. Many of Kirby's hats for his copy abilities are palette swaps of each other, including bandannas, backwards baseball caps, and crowns.
    • Kirby Super Star uses different palettes for the Helpers and their enemy counterparts (with the exception of Wheelie). Of note is that the Helpers' colors are in fact their standard palettes as Mooks in other Kirby games. Milky Way Wishes adds a third palette to most (all?) enemies, and the Helper to Hero mode in Kirby Super Star Ultra adds a fourth to their playable versions. Several of the bosses reappear under different palettes, as well, though they aren't acknowledged as different bosses.
    • Ultra did begin the trend of subgames with difficult versions of main game bosses, differentiated by the pallete and the additional moniker to their name. Ultra had the Revenge of the King subgame with its "Revenge" bosses. Kirby's Return to Dream Land had the "EX" bosses. Kirby: Triple Deluxe had the "DX" bosses. Kirby: Planet Robobot had the "2.0" bosses fitting the game's technology theme. Kirby Star Allies broke this trend, as the main campaign did have two boss fights that were consided of harder, pallete swapped versions of earlier ones, with completely different names, and didn't have distinguished set of difficult bosses until the Heroes in Another Dimension subgame was added via an online update, where it had "Parallel" bosses.
    • Ultra also began the trend of having "Soul" versions of final bosses, which are basically pallete swapped harder versions, usually only available through the more difficult level of the Boss Rush mode.
  • Mega Man's Variable Weapon System allows him to adopt enemies' powers along with a new color scheme.
  • Metroid:
    • Several games have enemies who are palette swaps of each other, though Super Metroid mixes it up by making some common enemies larger instead.
    • Metroid:
      • Activating missiles turns Samus's arm cannon blue when in her armor. The Varia Suit upgrade turns her armor white (pink/purple when missiles are activated), without the shoulder pads introduced in the (monochrome) Metroid II: Return of Samus. Unarmored, the Varia Suit turns Samus's hair and gun from brown to green (and adds some green pixels to her boots).
      • A few enemies are also palette swapped, usually appearing together in the same area (typically, one variant takes twice as many shots to kill as the other) while other enemies with the same function get different sprites in other areas. Particularly, red/brown Metroids are slow but more likely to come after Samus while green Metroids are fast but likely to lie in wait (or get caught on bits of scenery).
      • Fake Kraid is physically distinct from Kraid by being brown with blue hair and not yellow with green hair.
    • The Metroid Prime Trilogy uses this fairly often. For example, the Phaz-Ing in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption are reskins of the Inglets in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, the Mechlopses in Echoes are reskins of the Triclopses in Metroid Prime, Echoes uses reskins to create "Dark" versions of many enemies, and so on. In a somewhat odd aversion, the Bombus from Prime were reused as Luminoth drones in Echoes with no changes to appearance and only the most minor alterations to activity. Even the weapons get this; the Ice Beam and Plasma Beam in Prime show up in Echoes slightly reskinned as the Dark Beam and Light Beam, respectively. The scan for the Metroids in Echoes even mentions that they're vulnerable to the "freezing effects" of the Dark Beam.
  • Mickey Mousecapade has a seasonal-themed level where you walk through the woods in all four seasons, with only color changes to represent the seasons. Purple leaves for the trees in spring, green leaves for summer, brown leaves for fall, and white leaves along with white "grass" and "ice" replacing the path for winter.
  • In Mystic Defender, Round 6 recycles the background tiles from Round 3, recolored green this time.
  • In the original Prince of Persia most of the guards only differ by clothes colors. Shadow sprites are created from Prince sprites by XOR operation (selective inversion), at least on Apple ][ and some earlier ports.
  • Purple reuses enemy sprites with different colours and gives them different behaviour.
  • The very first Rayman game had the very first boss and second/third (depending on player's choice) one being palette swaps of each other - originally. However later editions of the game infamously removed the palette change partially or completely, leading many players to believe they were fighting the same character again - which absolutely did not make any sense in context.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • The character running sprite from the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Special Stage is the same no matter if you're playing as Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles when locked-on to Sonic & Knuckles. Only the head (and Tails' titular appendages) is changed - the body is palette swapped.
    • The Shadow Androids from the Multiplayer Mode of Shadow the Hedgehog are palette swaps of one another. There's a gold-striped Shadow that's a palette swap of the regular Shadow, and the "Metal Shadow" models are also palette swaps.
    • Mephiles from Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) is a demonic creature that has taken the likeness of Shadow. The only difference between them is that - unlike Shadow - Mephiles lacks a mouth and while Shadow has red stripes and cufflinks, Mephiles has green-ish grey ones.
  • SOS: You'll encounter many dead passengers on the ceiling (now the floor) who look the same except for the color of their hair and clothes. Sometimes even passengers in your group will exhibit this.
  • Spyro the Dragon provides a 3D example. About midway through the game, Spyro encounters wizard enemies that shoot lightning bolts and wear green robes. Later on in the game, he encounters the same exact enemy model, except these wizards have blue robes and the additional ability to animate suits of armor. Also shows up in Spyro: A Hero's Tail with Ember and Flame who use the same basic model of Spyro but slightly changed and when you unlock them as costumes no new voice clips for Ember the girl.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Mario's brother Luigi began life as no more than a palette swap, but he later evolved into the taller, thinner look that he is known for when the Japanese game Doki Doki Panic was ported to the west as Super Mario Bros. 2. This differentiation between Mario and Luigi has stuck ever since, as did the alteration of their shirt and overall colours (switching in SMB2 from red/green overalls and blue shirts to the more natural blue overalls and red/green shirts). This was parodied in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door: Mario could change his shirt and hat color to green by wearing the L Emblem badge. Despite this being the only change, the president of the Luigi Fan Club can be fooled when Mario uses this badge. In fact, this is how you solve one of the troubles.
    • Super Mario Bros.: Red Koopa Troopas are smart enough to turn around when they come to a ledge, while Green ones walk right off, even into a Bottomless Pit. Water and lava used the same sprite with different colors. It wasn't until the All-Stars port that gave water and lava their unique sprites. This article reveals that the clouds and bushes are actually the same graphic sprite. Fire Mario is a palette swap, and star power switches through palettes rapidly.
    • Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels: The Poison Mushroom is black with brown stains, almost an inverse to the normal mushroom (brown with red stains). It gained a more distinct appearance in later versions of the game to make the game slightly less frustrating. The game also introduces red-colored Piranha Plants, which unlike the green ones will always pop up from the pipes even if Mario is standing above them.
    • Super Mario Bros. 2: There are actually two colors of Shy Guy, although the two colors are closer. The difference is exactly the same: Shy Guys in pink turn around when they hit edges; Shy Guys in red walk right off. The three kinds of Birdo have more strikingly different colors, and they indicate what they spit: eggs only, fireballs only, or both. Snifits come in even more colors with a wider variety of behavior, from walking off of cliffs to turning back to spontaneously changing directions to jumping and firing more rapidly. Also, the flicker of damaged enemies or things about to explode changes based on what character you're using. This is because all sprites on an NES screennote  can only make use of one of four sets of three colours (chosen from a palette of 53). In most games, the player character gets one of these sets, and in SMB2, each player character uses a unique colour set. But since you don't want enemies changing colour based on which character you're playing, that only leaves 3 sets left for every single other sprite, which includes vegetables and anything else that has to move around the screen.note  You can't change the colour scheme assigned to the enemy without changing all other enemies and whatnots using that colour choice, but you can switch that particular enemy's sprite to one of the other colour sets, and the player character's colour set is about the only one that's at all predictable.note 
    • Super Mario Bros. 3 has brown Paragoombas that hop along the ground, and tan Paragoombas that actually fly around, dropping Mugger Micro-Goombas. The game also introduces the Fire and Boomerang Bros., the latter one being actually more frequent than the Hammer Bros. (though it's not an issue since their boomerangs are easier to dodge than the hammers or the fireballs). Gold Cheep-Cheeps (which later debuted in New Super Mario Bros. Wii) and green Parabeetles were among the Dummied Out enemies.
    • Super Mario World expands on this by having four colors of Koopa. Yoshi gains different powers by swallowing shells of different colours, and Yoshis other than green ones add the corresponding shell color's power as long as they have shells in their mouths, so you could actually have two powers at once. A Koopa that climbed into a Yellow Shell would become invincible and chase you down, and a Koopa stomped out of a Blue Shell would become a shell-kicker.
    • This happens less frequently in the 3D games, but notably these few cases have included bosses: Dino Piranha and Fiery Dino Piranha in Super Mario Galaxy, Gobblegut and Fiery Gobblegut in Super Mario Galaxy 2, and King and Queen Hisstocrat (the latter, too, having a Playing with Fire affinity) in Super Mario 3D World. There's also the Venus Fire Plant in 3D World, a black Piranha Plant with red dots which shoots fire (since the normal Piranha Plant doesn't).
    • Paper Mario has different colors of Shy Guys seemingly just for variety; however, most color changes in enemies do indicate an increase in difficulty. Red and Blue Goomba, the minibosses for the Prologue, have slightly different HP, for example.
    • Mario Party 6: Since the white Boo is playable in this game (and became so since the previous one), Pink Boo appears to play the former's role as the stealer of coins and Stars.
  • In Theta vs Pi 7 this is the whole idea of the Delta Guards. One attacks you then as soon as it's defeated a new one comes out in a different colur.
  • amiibo support in Yoshi's Woolly World allows you to play as a Yoshi texture-swapped to look like that character. Characters such as Mario, Ness and Sonic are supported. The Pokémon amiibo, though, just give you a Yoshi with an amiibo logo.

  • Some lower level monsters in Elemental Story are just recolors with slightly different designs.
  • Several of the monsters in the New Yankee in King Arthur's Court series, such as ice wraiths, gorgons, and sand spirits, are this. They're the exact same sprite with identical design, movesets, and noises; they just come in different colors.
  • This Starry Midnight We Make: Some of the stars, since their names are just color swapped; for example, the Contrary Stars, which come in Blue, Red, Yellow, White and Black.

  • Excite: In Truck and Bots, vehicles have several color variants to choose between. In Truck, all colors are unlocked by default. However, in Bots, each vehicle comes with a unique color, plus default red, blue, and yellow, with other options, including special costumes, as unlockable content.
  • Forza Motorsport uses a bit of this with its cars; some manufacturers have what is essentially two cars that are exactly the same sold under different brands. The standard Acura NSX and Honda NSX are prime examples, being identical except for the badges, default colors, and which side the steering wheel is mounted on. Purpose built racing cars by the same manufacturer hit this as well, as many of them are based on the same car, with the same internals, but with the livery and maybe the default tuning setup (such as suspension height) changed; once the player adds his own livery, the difference between them is almost nonexistent. Some cars also have performance versions, which are generally the same thing but with slightly different bodywork and some more power (such as the standard Lamborghini Murciélago and the Murciélago LP640).
  • Gran Turismo 5:
    • Famous for having around 40 versions of the Nissan GT-R / Skyline, though many are separate generations (and thus, have different bodywork and internals).
    • The Vauxhall and Opel car list are the same car list, the difference being the brand. The reason is that Gran Turismo 5 ownard, all region-exclusive cars are in every region game.
  • Mario Kart:
    • In Mario Kart 8 and its Updated Re Release, certain drivers are given alternate colors, some of which affect the colors of some of the vehicles they are driving.
      • If the player preorders the Zelda/Animal Crossing DLC for 8 they get access to all the Yoshi and Shy Guy color variations. In 8 Deluxe, Yoshi and Shy Guy's color variations are unlocked by default.
      • In 8, the male Villager can be switched into the other gender, but this is more of a subversion as the female Villager has different stats compared to the male Villager. 8 Deluxe averts this by giving the female Villager her own slot.
      • Both genders of Inkling each have three palette swaps. The color chosen also affects the color of the ink that is shot out from the Splatoon themed ATVs when getting a boost.
      • Completing every course on 200cc unlocks Golden Mario, who is a palette swap of Metal Mario.
      • A later update to 8 Deluxe allowed Link to be swapped between his typical green tunic and his appearance in Breath of the Wild.
    • Most of the Palette Swaps in Mario Kart Arcade GPDX are only obtainable via DLC. The only exception to this is Tanooki Mario, who can be unlocked as costume for Mario.
      • Yoshi and Toad can resemble other color variations (red and black for the former and blue for the latter.
      • Mario and Luigi have colors that resemble their appearances when picking up a fire and ice flower, respectively.
      • Dry Bowser and Gold Mario are Palette Swaps for Bowser and Metal Mario, respectively.
      • Don-chan is given Strawberry and Hero costumes.

  • Uphill Rush 1 opponents look like you with a different coat of paint, for instance the quad opponent has a purple helmet and quad as well as a green shirt for differentiation purposes.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • Pikmin:
    • The whole series does this with some members of the Bulborb subspecies. There's red, white, black (Bulbear), and orange. Others, like the Whiptongue Bulborb or any of the Bulblaxes, have more unique features.
    • Pikmin 2: Most members of the Dweevil family only seen in the game are identical aside from color, which corresponds to their element. The Fiery variety is red, the Munge variety is magenta, the Anode variety is yellow, and the Caustic variety is blue. The Volatile (orange and black) and Titan (black when armored, tan when not) varieties downplay this, as they also have bombs carried on them and a much larger size, respectively.
  • Sacrifice has five sides with 9 unique units each. A few of these 'unique' units are palette swaps. The manual explains all of them: Some are the same creatures that defected to the other side, and were granted different powers by their new god. Or were killed by Charnel and raised as The Undead.
  • Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption example: Grand Admiral Thrawn's flagship, the Admonitor, is a blue version of the Accuser, Captain Piett's ship from the original Empire at War, but with a different special (all Star Destroyers have a tractor beam special).
  • Warcraft does this a lot.
    • World of Warcraft is notorious for reusing character models and animations. Although it's understandable why a polar bear would share the same model as a grizzly bear, it's slightly jarring when you encounter a boss like Murmur who is clearly a copy of Ragnaros with only minor changes. Even in the RTS games, some units share the same model as another one. Like how a tinted Acolyte model was used for a "Fallen Priest" and "Heretic" in the Orc campaign for Reign of Chaos. But some are more subtle like how Harpies use a modified Gargoyle model.
    • If you lacked 3D rendering skills, this was what you were reduced to doing for custom maps with custom creeps in Warcraft 3's World Editor. The game itself gave you some flexibility in changing their sizes and tinting them different colors, but apart from that you had to work with what was shipped.
    • In the original game (Orcs and Humans), the Acolyte, Warlock and Medivh all used the same recoloured sprite.
  • A common example of palette swaps in Real-Time Strategy games is the team color of units.
    • In Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun and Red Alert 2, the 3D models of each units used a palette with some "remap" colors, which were assigned to the team colors. The rest of the palette didn't change. In fact, the entire franchise does that, and the first two games had unit sprites in common: The first two games made no attempt at a distinction between the basic infantry and some of the buildings. This even carried over games, as the Soviets had the same tanks and infantry as GDI, except they were red as opposed to yellow. The Allies and Nod had some tiny variations, since they changed the sizes of some of the tanks to differentiate them, but otherwise the Allies was a palette swap of Nod.
    • This eventually carried over to Command & Conquer: Generals and the later 3D games, which had proper 3D models for everything as well as every faction having a completely unique military, by virtue of keeping the "house color" visible as stripes, blocks or other parts on the units and structures to some degree to tell the various players apart even if they play the same faction, but most of the skin of any given object would remain the same. Using changed skins for units with the otherwise same model is popular with Game Mods, however.
    • In the StarCraft campaign, special units were often assigned a different team color so the player could tell them apart from their normal counterparts. Only Kerrigan in her Zerg form had a completely unique character model.
    • Incidentally, the way this was done (put the "hero" unit on another team and set that team/unit to "rescuable" status, meaning that you gain control of it when you get close enough to it, then put it right next to your starting units) also led to the unit's appearance being accompanied by a short audio jingle, as if to say, "I'm important, so don't go getting me killed, kthx".
    • StarCraft II averts this with differently modeled sprites for heroes and mercenary units. In the Protoss mini-campaign in Wings of Liberty, enemy protoss were given a rare full model palette swap of Dark Grey/Black and Green. In Heart of the Swarm, the developers got a little lazy as certain NPC units in wildly varying contexts were given similar, if not nearly identical, sprite models. Legacy of the Void merges palette swap and model change in several cases, particularly the army building component.
  • In Rome: Total War, the Lombardi and Burgundi factions are otherwise identical Palette Swaps of each over in every way possible. The same holds true for Sarmatian and Roxolani units, being colourcoded yellow and blue, respectively.
  • Total War has many of its factions having the same units, but with different aesthetics and availabilities. In the Rome games, the Romans have a wide range of infantry units, but have a few average cavalry. Nomadic factions have many types cavalry units but only a few melee and missile units. The Greek factions possess formidable spear men, but have very little cavalry.

    Rhythm Game 
  • DanceDanceRevolution character dancer's outfits are palette swaps of each other. In Hottest Party 1, and each new character introduced in Hottest Party 2-3, gets 1 outfit in four colors:
  • Friday Night Funkin': Not in the official game, but there exist many Game Mod's that recolor the whole cast with the addition of denser remixes, all kickstarted by one of the earliest reskins/overhaul mods Friday Night Funkin': B-Sides. See here and here for a comparison.
  • Most characters in pop'n music have palette swaps that can be selected by pressing a yellow button on the character select screen. Sometimes the character's palette-swapped form takes on a different name (i.e. Vic Viper's swap is called Lord British), and sometimes you'll get a different character altogether.

  • The Binding of Isaac:
    • Most Champion varieties enemies take the appearance of the enemy and layer a color over it. Afterbirth adds size swap Champions and Champions that fade in and out of certain colors, and Afterbirth+ adds two Champion types that have no color difference, and instead have an icon hovering over them.
    • Sloth is a green recolor of the Globin enemies, and Super Sloth is a larger, green recolor of the Gazing Globin enemies. This is a meta-joke about the sin of sloth — the other Seven Deadly Sins and their Super Sins have unique sprites, but Sloth is an intentionally lazy recolor of a basic enemy.
    • Super Envy's "whole" appearance is different from Envy's, but when he takes enough damage and splits, his "segments" have the same sprites as the "segments" of Envy's, just blue-violet instead of gray.
  • Dwarf Fortress is one of the few roguelikes to use Windows-1252, sometimes known as "ANSI" instead, which has 255 characters to standard ASCII's 128. It keeps the 16-colour limit for tradition's sake, despite requiring modern (future?) hardware.
  • Roguelike games such as NetHack use standard ASCII characters in place of actual graphics, so using different colors is the only way to have a large number of distinguishable objects or creatures. Roguelikes can usually only support 16 colours due to graphics rendering limitations in early hardware, giving a potential maximum of 2040 unique enemy symbols.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book:
    • Minor NPCs in the town — a few models with different coloured clothes.
    • Used a lot for monsters. The different colours do not represent different strengths though: for example the weakest Puni is blue, the weakest Ghost is white (with a blue hat), and the weakest Beast is brown and black.
  • Baldur's Gate:
    • Players can choose various races or classes, both male and female, but each combination has basically one repeated model with only colors (and obviously gear) customizable. Some classes don't even have their own paperdoll but share the model of another one (i.e. bards and thieves). Before the Enhanced Edition, the first game even had female models only for humans and elves: female dwarves, halflings or gnomes were the same as their male counterparts.
      • The same for various weapons and armors of the same types.
    • Some joining characters became iconic and immediately recognizable from other characters with the same class also thanks to their colors: i.e. Imoen is the trumpery fuchsia (BG1) or violet (BG2) hooded thief, Quayle the fuchsia shortie, Aerie is yellow and orange, Keldorn the paladin in orange armor (unless you change it), Nalia is sky blue and brown, Shar-Teel is bright red, Minsc has white hair (despite his portrait shows a bald head).
    • The cowled tutor monks in Candlekeep have the same texture, available in red (Tethoril, Ulraunt), yellow (Parda, Feldane, Piato), pink (Shistal), orange (Jessup), grey (Bendalis) and green (Karan) variants.
    • Civilians have very few models (from commoners to nobles) and a huge variety of color palettes.
    • Flinds are just stronger blue gnolls.
    • Gauths are just smaller green beholders.
    • Ogre berserkers are just sturdier pink ogres.
    • Dryads, nymphs, sirines and succubi. They visually differ just by skin, clothes and hair color. Sirines and nereids are of some shades of blue or pale blueish-gray, thus are easily distinguishable. Succubi usually have dark or orange skin and white hair (except Kirinhale who has human-like colors). Dryads and Nymphs both have pale or human-like skin, various colors for hair (from white to yellow, black, bright green etc.) and clothes (usually green, light blue or brown).
    • Firkraag, Draconis and Abazigal are the same red dragon model, but the latter is palette-swapped in blue for the purpose of representing a blue dragon (Draconis in green).
    • Stone, clay, iron and adamantite golems are the same model with different colors and sizes.
    • Magic golems instead are fire elementals with purple flames.
    • The four warders in Durlag's Tower are dwarves assigned to the golem class, with the same clothes except Pride. Love is red, Fear is grey, Avarice is light blue.
  • Brave Story: New Traveler not only plays this straight, but takes it a step further by having palette swaps within the same species of monster. Taken to a ridiculous extreme when one particular event has you fight two sets of triplets; three Cat Girl sisters and three Lizard Folk brothers. Each of the siblings look exactly the same, with the colors of their hair/skin being the only difference.
  • Chrono Trigger was brutally honest about its use of palette swapped enemies. The imps that you fight early in the game are named "Blue Imp" and "Green Imp" respectively. The bestiary in the DS version differentiates between the two versions of the "Hench" monster by designating them (Blue) and (Purple), and does similarly for the green and purple versions of the Reptite mooks. Other palette swapped enemies are given unique names, however.
  • Chrono Cross, unlike Chrono Trigger, had a wide variety of diverse enemies with little palette swaps, mostly the human soldier grunts were recolors and dwarf enemies having different names.
  • Cthulhu Saves the World switches palettes on several early goons to be used again later. The trope is called out sarcastically in one monster's description, "Not just palette-swapped. Honest!".
  • Most wizard enemies in Dink Smallwood mods are darker recolors of Martridge, the wizard from the original game. Occasionally one of the other characters or monsters gets color-swapped, such as the ice-blue pillbugs in Dink Smallwood's Christmas.
  • In .hack//G.U.:
    • Atoli and Shino are palette swaps. Of course, this is easier to understand when you remember that this takes place in an MMORPG; that, and the fact that they look the same is a major plot point. Also, all the NPCs running around "The World" consist of palette swaps.
    • A number of characters from .hack//SIGN and the first PS2 game series are palette swaps of each other, including Bear and Orca, Mimiru and BlackRose, and Tsukasa and Elk. This is Played for Laughs in the .hack//Gift OVA, where one of the Blademasters (Bear and Orca's class) is killed in-game, and because dead characters are grayed out, nobody can tell which one of them it is.
  • In Dragon Quest:
    • Palette swaps are used extensively throughout the series as a whole. Dragon Quest I had palette swaps of every single monster save the final boss.
    • In later games many of the early boss monsters would eventually show up later with a palette swap as a Degraded Boss.
  • The Uderfrykte Matron in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is just an extra-strong troll with a blurry shader applied to it.
  • In Epic Battle Fantasy 1: There are different colored versions of enemies:
    • Crabs: Purple and Red
    • What would be called "Eyeballs" in later games: Brown, Green, Purply-Red.
  • In the Etrian Odyssey series, palette swaps of regular enemies are common, and each successive version that appears is more difficult to defeat than the previous one(s). Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan has a notable example with the Lion: While all of them are asleep by the first turn, the attack power of each new version is higher; and by the time you meet the Red Lion in the Bonus Dungeon, expect to deal with an attack so strong (Biting Flurry) that will likely instantly kill many or all of your party members if their defense isn't high enough.
  • The Fallout series uses palette swaps for certain subtypes of non-human creatures, as well as giving some the Underground Monkey treatment with different models and abilities.
  • The Final Fantasy games feature a lot of these, including Underground Monkeys. Perhaps the most noticeable example is Final Fantasy X's Monster Arena, where all the bonus monsters (save for Neslug) are simply previous enemies and bosses (often not even colored differently).
    • Final Fantasy VIII is just about the only game that does not use palette swaps in copious quantities, and even that game has Ultima/Omega Weapon and Elnoyle/Elvoret as swaps (the Japanese names of the latter, Aile Noire and Aile Violette, even lampshade this as they mean Black Wing and Violet Wing respectively). This was because the monsters leveled up with you. The other games had to make palette swaps from necessity.
    • Final Fantasy IX had just about as little of it as possible too. The only palette monsters are the friendly monsters, the Black Waltzes and the crystal versions of the four chaos bosses. Mind you, while the -enemies- were almost all unique, the NPCs could be another story (though they too were often more varied than expected).
    • Alongside the aforementioned example, Final Fantasy X had an extremely odd example. The (unusually strange and unsettling) enemy Mimic uses a somewhat unique 'floating debris' model, but the real kicker is that instead of reusing previous enemy palettes/textures, they reuse their animations, giving the floating pile of rubble a 'body' used by a random fiend (or machina).
    • Final Fantasy X-2 at least tries some mild deviation, by making its palette swapped baddies progressively bigger. Although the game still suffered this trope for a few enemies, including the Final Boss; the final boss is basically a copy of the main character from Final Fantasy X in different clothes and uses the exact same battle animations, right down to his critical HP and KO animations! This fact is what kickstarts the entire plot.
    • Final Fantasy XII still uses Palette Swaps, but rely on them a lot less than the past games did. For example, dragons and wolves will still come in different colors, but will also have other features added to make them different from their weaker counterparts, such as spikes on the skull, sport flaming eyes, being larger than the previous monsters, etc. However, the animations are still recycled for all monsters that are in the same family tree. There are mentions of migration and evolution of creatures occasionally in the lore, though, which explains a good few examples... but not why the wolves' basic attack is an uppercut performed with their snoutsnote .
    • Final Fantasy XI has similar explanations for why monsters of the same family had such bizarre separations across environments. On the other hand, FFXI barely even uses palette swaps; including many 'Bosses' (rare monsters referred to as NM, although mostly not storyline related) using the same sprites as the regular mobs that surround them (although occasionally with an inflated size). This was particularly bad where, for quite awhile after they were introduced, five of the most powerful monsters in the game (at the time of their release) used the same models as far more mundane creatures. They've since been reskinned, but still use the same base models.
    • In Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, all the regular summons (bar the ones like Levianthan, Ifrit, and so on), are palette swaps of each other, so that like the above example the player can tell them apart.
    • Dissidia Final Fantasy works this into the plot by having most of the enemies be Manikins, which are player character models with a coloured crystal texture all over and Glowing Eyes. Most of Cloud's animations are also recycled from Zack's in Crisis Core, which was developed just a little earlier - although this makes sense due to Cloud's powers being copied from Zack.
    • Final Fantasy Mystic Quest has palette swaps for virtually every enemy besides the Final Boss. There are two or three different palette swaps of each normal enemy type, each mini-boss comes back as a Degraded Boss enemy(for example, Medusa, the boss of the Volcano, comes back as Stheno in the Lava Dome), and each of the four major bosses returns with a palette swap as bosses of The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • The Geneforge series uses recolors for the second tier of each creation type, and extra enemy exclusive variants are usually colored accordingly. During character creation, the player can choose between 4 colors and a darker shade for each of those colors.
  • The vast majority of enemies in Golden Sun have three recolors throughout the game. The few that don't generally have a Dummied Out third color. Even about half of the bosses are derived from this.
  • In Jade Cocoon 2, some Divine Beasts come in multiple elemental varieties. For example, Mau Divine Beasts come in Fire, Wind and Earth varieties, each with their own stats and attacks, but not Water because it is the opposite to the Mau family's main element, Fire.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • The standard editions of the games mostly avoid this (surprising for a Square Enix game), only using palette swaps to denote the elemental affinity of the mage-type Heartless; however, the Final Mix editions of both games use palette swaps in interesting ways. First of all, nearly all of the standard Mooks in the Final Mix games have had their colors changed from the original game's colors—for example, the first game's purple and pink Wyverns became blue and gold in the original Final Mix, and the second game's blue Hook Bats became red in Final Mix+. Some enemies, such as the black Shadows, remained the same in all editions, and though there was a rumor that the palette-swapped standard enemies had their stats tweaked, they really are the same enemies. The Final Mix editions of the game also included extra monsters; of these, many of them are palette swaps of standard enemies with slight changes in the mesh, high stats, and a host of annoying special abilities.
    • This isn't the case in 358/2 Days. Most of the bosses are larger palette swaps of average heartless you fight normally, with a few other minor aesthetic alterations. Also, some of the Keyblades are palette swaps of each other, and when you equip the Zero Gear, the Kingdom Key+ is just the Kingdom Key with higher stats.
    • Also from Days: Xion is a palette swap of Roxas minus the dual-wielding.
    • The dream eaters in Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] are perhaps the most notable examples of this in the series, with the friendly Spirits having bright colors, the Nightmares having dark colors, and the rare Nightmares using a blueish-white as their primary body color instead of whatever the normal versions used. The only differences they possess aside from color are the shapes of their eyes; the Nightmares all possess circular red eyes, whereas the Spirits have four different shapes per variety that change based on their disposition.
  • Kingdom of Paradise's field enemies consist merely of differently-colored versions of a few models (archer, swordsman, golem). The color of the uniform lets the player know which clan they're from.
  • The Of Pen and Paper series:
  • All drell characters in Mass Effect 2 look exactly identical save for skin colour. Multiplayer characters in Mass Effect 3 are palette swaps of various Mooks and player's armor suits. This is also true for the case of the Earth DLC's N7 kits as only players who are very familiar with various armor sets are likely to recognize that: The Fury is Kasumi with a metal mask; The Destroyer's skin is based on the Terminus armor; The Demolisher has reskinned Cerberus Ajax armor; The Paladin has Inferno armor; The Shadow has a skin similar to a Phantom; and The Slayer is Kai Leng with an Alliance fighter pilot's helmet.
  • The pre-"Extended Cut" ending to Mass Effect 3 was a rather infamous example of this. While there were some minor differences between each of the Multiple Endings, the difference between the vast majority of the footage was a matter of the color of the particle effects.
  • Mega Man Battle Network uses this a lot - while there are numerous viruses over the six games, each has three to six different palette swaps, e.g. Mettaur, Mettaur 2, Mettaur 3, and MettaurOmega, just to name one set. Third-level and Omega viruses often have slightly changed attacks, but for the most part, the only difference is increased HP, speed, and damage output.
    • The Omega versions of the bosses in the fourth game also receive a palette swap, perhaps to help indicate that they're on a completely different level from the previous versions strength wise.
    • The same is true of Mega Man Star Force. Met viruses, for example go yellow -> red -> blue, with their health, damage, and the speed at which their attacks move increasing; the later ones are also more likely to retreat into their helmets. Star Force 2 also has different colours of Mu wave soldier, denoting elemental alignment rather than power.
  • Might and Magic VI and VIII used this, along with size differences, to help differentiate the members of many of the creature sets. VII, having prioritised its limited development time differently than VIII would, used it more sparingly... as it resorted to re-tinting for many monsters.
  • Monster Hunter uses Palette Swaps to differentiate standard wyverns from their Subspecies upgrades. For example, a low level Rathalos is Red, a medium powered one is Azure (dark blue), and a high level one is Silver. While many of the Subspecies that debuted in the first generation are simply harder versions of their original versions, over the course of the years the series has added Subspecies that are more unique and easily distinguishable: Their elemental attacks may be different, their attacks may be the same but done in different patterns or ways, and they may be found in very different habitats from those of the main species. There are also Variants (regular monsters that are going under abnormal conditions) and Deviants (monsters that have mutated into more aggressive versions), which are present as palette swaps as well.
  • Mother:
    • EarthBound Beginnings gave most enemy types multiple palette swaps, but had the decency to occasionally add subtle changes to their swapped sprites (a dog-collar on the wolf sprite to make a 'stray dog', rust marks on the robot sprite to make the 'scrapper'...)
    • EarthBound parodied this by giving the palette swaps goofy names — "Plain crocodile," (to suggest more varieties are to come) "Manly Fish's Brother," "Starman Deluxe," etc.
  • The Other: Rosie's Road of Love: Apples and Tomatoes are both foods that restore 20 HP.
  • The Persona games make use of this. All enemies in 3 and 4, even bosses, save for the plot related ones, are palette swaps of their base-type, although some enemy types have slight differences (for example, the Fuzz enemies wear different type of police uniforms depending on their strength).
  • The various Phantasy Star games have used this. The first Phantasy Star had one notable (for an ancient 8-bit game) detail: the skeleton-type enemies had a different shield design for all three of their swaps.
  • Pokémon:
    • The series generally avoids doing this too much with their own Mons. That being said, a few species like Plusle and Minun are purposely designed to look very similar to each other. Later species may have differences between individuals of the same species. These can vary from being purely cosmetic (such as male and female Hippopotas or East Sea and West Sea Shellos) to working differently in battle (Meowstic's moveset varies between the male and the female and Gourgiest's various sizes differ in base stats).
    • Backlash ensued when in Gen V, the Kami trio turned out to mostly be this (there are some minor differences, such as the number of horns and the shape of their tails). It's alleviated a bit in Black and White 2, however, as the Kami trio are all given alternate "beast" forms that are very different from each other (being a bird, a dragon and a tiger, respectively).
    • Pokémon X and Y use this often for overworld NPCs. For example, Ace Trainers, Veterans, Rising Stars, Sky Trainers, and Psychics all use the game two models (one male and one female) with different skins.
    • However, the most popular examples of palette swaps in the series are Shiny Pokémon, an extremely rare variant from the Pokémon's normal colors. The colors themselves range from being only slightly lighter or slightly darker than the original, such as normal Gengar's purple to shiny Gengar's dark indigo, to very dramatic examples such as regular Eevee's brown to shiny Eevee's stark white, but due to the fact that they're incredibly rare (roughly a 1 in 8192 chance without modifications, 1 in 4096 from the sixth generation and onwards, and increased by repeating certain tasks enough,) they're highly prized by collectors. Even so, they're functionally no different then regularly colored Pokemon. Can also function as a Metal Slime if the shiny is one that gives tons of EXP when caught or killed, such as Audino or Chansey. As of the eighth generation, there are palette swaps OF the palette swaps in the form of Diamond Shinies, which emit square sparkles as opposed to the standard stars. Set overworld encounters, Max Raid Bosses, and Eggs have a 15/16 chance of being standard and 1/16 chance of being Diamond, while grass and spawned encounters are the inverse.
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon introduced regional variants of existing Pokémon. While some variants have distinctly different body shapes, others just have a different coloring.
  • Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure has palette-swapped dungeons, among other things.
  • In Secret of Mana, most enemies have at least a few palette swap variants, and the vast majority of the bosses return with a palette swap later in the game- for example, the Mantis Ant, the first boss, returns as the Metal Mantis midway through the game. A few late-game bosses have unique models, though.
  • The Shining Series:
    • The various enemies in Shining in the Darkness.
    • Shining the Holy Ark was really bad with this, to the point where simliar looking enemies would reappear in the dungeon after the next. It was probably because they were all heavily animated (for the time) so the game couldn't physically have as many enemies.
    • Shining Wisdom is split into two areas, east and west. Most of the enemies in the east (the latter part of the game) are just the same enemies with a different colour scheme and new attacks.
  • The earlier Shin Megami Tensei games loved to do this. The most notorious example? The three seraphs' sprite when they are in your party is the same as the archangel's: the second demon of the "divine" clan.
    • This even happens in newer games. Tam Lin looks like a palette swap of of Cu Chulainn, and Chorozon looks like a blue Legion without the tentacles.
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV does this with the four DLC demons that you don't fight. Asterius is based on the Minotaur, Oread is based on Napaea, Plasma is based on Chemtrail, and Aeshma is based on Asmodeus. These are actually pretty clever examples - each of these pairs are connected in some way. For example, Plasma and Chemtrail are both demons based off of deadly conspiracy theories that put humans at fault while Asterius is an alternate name for the Minotaur.
  • Skies of Arcadia had the Looper enemies - as Arcadia has six colored moons, a different colored Looper is founds depending on what region you're innote . There is also a far-reaching area in the world where you can find all six varieties of Looper, in addition to a giant orange Looper that you must fight with your ship. Finally, a Bonus Boss, Elcian, is a black Looper that is found in the Dark Rift.
  • Sweet Home (1989) has several enemies with more powerful recolours in later portions of the game. (Wisp and Bane, Hound and Wolf, etc.) One interesting variation is Ghoul, in which the more powerful version is not only slightly redrawn (Missing an arm) but is also flipped upside down. (Indicating that it's dropping down/hanging from the ceiling.)
  • Sword of Vermilion was a heavy offender from the 16-bit era. All the common enemies came in six different colors (in order of ascending power: green, blue, red, black, silver, gold). Also, only the Final Boss was truly unique, all other bosses were palette swaps of four different models (dragon, giant, fire demon and necromancer).
  • Tales of Legendia is a big offender. The same twelve enemies appear constantly throughout the game, sometimes twice in the same dungeon, with only their palettes swapped out. This gets ridiculous within the first ten hours of the game, but in a seventy hour game, it begins to feel incredibly monotonous.
  • In Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land:
    • A number of enemies are recolored for stronger versions. Most apparent in the enemies based on the playable classes like the sorcerer or ninja as there are many versions of them that show up.
    • There are only a handful of base bodies which were recolored and given slightly different features such as a different weapon and a different face. It is done well enough that until a conversation that shows a number of them back to back happens you may not even realize that this is the case.
  • The World Ends with You does this with the Noise. There are sometimes cosmetic differences between the various versions of each Noise species, and the boss versions of a few of the more powerful versions often have tattoos all over their bodies in addition to more threatening characteristics (bigger horns/tusks), but overall most Noise are palette swaps of about fifteen or sixteen different species. Unlike all of the other bosses, who except for the two bat bosses and boss versions of normal Noise all have unique sprites, the Bonus Boss Panthera Cantus is a palette swap as well, of two of the bosses, one on each screen.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X: Nearly all the different indigen species have a counterpart that looks and acts very similar to them. For example, Liceors are swaps of Saltats, Caros are swaps of Grexes, Viragoes are swaps of Vigents, and Jaculs are swaps of Auravis. Usually, the two species live on different continents (Liceors are only found in Sylvalum, for example, while Saltats are everywhere else), but there is some occasional cross-over.
  • The 7th Saga has the Bounty Hunter Pison, who, after begin defeated the first time, shows up unexpectedly later in the quest and proudly announces that he is now Red-Pison. Turns out to be Exactly What It Says on the Tin, and you immediately fight a stronger version of the original enemy, now palette-swapped to red. He even does this again even later on, becoming Metal-Pison and getting a gunmetal gray recolor.
  • Roughly half of the Yo-kai in Yo-Kai Watch are palette swaps of each other. In most cases, the game does at least give them different abilities and strengths from the original variation. For example, white and blue Komasan uses fire magic, while brown Komajiro uses thunder magic. Only a few are properly characterized, like Komajiro and Damona. Also, there are also over 200 variations of series mascot Jibanyan, and only a handful of them can be obtained in regular gameplay, with the others all from bonus quests from the toy Yo-Kai Medals, that were either in the blind packs (so good luck finding those) or included in other products, and in one case another game by Level-5.

    Shoot 'em Up 
  • Harold and Benny Balacera from Balacera Brothers uses the same model, with the difference being the colour of their outfits and Benny wearing a cap. They could be twin brothers though, justifying the trope.
  • The different enemy factions in BLOODCRUSHER II are just reskins of the same basic enemies.
  • The old Bullet uses the same sprite for all the bosses (except the last one, which is a Cyber Cyclops), recoloured again and again.
  • One of the final bosses in Darius Gaiden is a palette swap of the first boss, making for a nasty trick for any unprepared player.
  • Galaxian was the first game to have palette-swapped enemies where sprites were multi-colored. In fact, this is the oldest game to have multi-colored sprites.
  • Hardcore fans of the Gradius series were disappointed to discover that in Gradius V, the Player 2 ship was not Lord British (the red, single-nosed 2P ship of Life Force), but just a red-colored Vic Viper.
  • The Guardian Legend does this with bosses Fleepa, Optomon, Bombarder, and Clawbot, each of which recurs in different colors, and the last of which reuses the top half of the Bombarder sprite.
  • Raizing's "Bat" series of shmups does this differently. Pressing certain buttons or button combos not only changes the palette of player ships, but also gives them different abilities, such as enhanced speed, bomb, shot and option firepower, and in some cases, a smaller hitbox.
  • Ninja Commando allows both players to choose the same character, where their only difference will be their clothing. For instance, both players selecting Joe Tiger will have two Joes onscreen wearing red (P1) and blue (P2).
  • Super Spy Hunter has you fight upgraded palette swaps of the second and fourth bosses prior to the final boss.
  • Done with an attack of all things in the Touhou Project series. In Double Dealing Character and Hidden Star in Four Seasons, due to the circumstances surrounding the incident in each case, Marisa's signature Love Sign "Master Spark" gets a Palette Swap in each (In the former, she Bewitched Weapon "Dark Spark" due to her Mini-Hakkero being possessed, and in the latter, she gets Love Sign "Master Spark Frozen" due to being infused with the power of winter).
  • Yars' Revenge does this quite oddly. The Qotile constantly palette swaps as part of its normal function, going through a rainbow of the colors that the 2600 could produce. When it turns red, it becomes a Swirl and tries to kill you. After the player has scored 70,000 points, the shield around the Qotile turns blue, and the Qotile will turn into Swirls when it turns blue and yellow as well. Of course, the original red Swirl is faster and usually trickier to avoid/kill. The shield goes through two other palette swaps as well - at 150,000 points, it turns grey, the Qotile's transforming frequency turns back to normal, but the Swirl can now turn in flight to home in on the Yar; and at 230,000 points, the shield turns pink, and the Qotile now has triple-frequency and homing ability.

    Simulation Game 
  • In Descent and Descent II, some enemy robots would have textures that looked like textures found within the games' walls or floors. Although some were for camouflage, some 'bots had their textures changed to denote different behavior (such as dropping bombs, instead of firing laser or missiles or what-have-you). Red Medium Hulks are three times tougher than Brown Medium Hulks, and use homing missiles, in barrages, nonetheless. Class 2 Platforms have a green Demonic Spider variation that shoots rapid-fire concussion missiles. In Descent II, the goddamned Red Hornets later have a more demonic green variant, the Spawns.
  • Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar: While the other games will use palette swaps for minor characters and other insignificant things (items, animals, etc.), a lot of the major townspeople in Grand Bazaar share sprites with at least one other villager. The two main character choices (a male and a female) are just swaps of each other. Claire shares the same sprite with Nellie, and Isaac with Wilbur; Cindy with Lauren, along with every other young girl (including your daughter); Kevin with all other young boys (including your son); Ethel with Joan; and Raul with Diego and Enrique (they're all brothers). They at least get somewhat different Character Portraits, but because of this they wear really similar clothing in their artwork.
  • Idol Manager: Idol portraits are a mix and match of a large, but still limited, pool of poses, faces, hairstyles and outfit designs.
  • In Viva Piñata, every pinata species has multiple colour variants that can be obtained by feeding them certain items. The Flutterscotch variants have different models in the Xbox 360 games, but they're just palette swaps in Pocket Paradise.
  • In the SNES ports of Wing Commander and Wing Commander: The Secret Missions, the Jalthi was a color-swapped version of the Salthi model, due to storage limitations of the cartridge. However, the Jalthi retains its hard-hitting armament of six guns, making it easier to dismiss the heavy fighter as one of the disposable mook fighters with only two lasers until it's too late.
  • Wings of Dawn: Lampshaded in-universe with a direct reference to the trope namer with the Sweeper and Astray, two Fura'ngle fighters that look identical save for their colorations.

    Sports Game 
  • In Backyard Skateboarding, Old School Andy is a palette swap of Andy MacDonald.
  • Punch-Out!!: In the earlier games, many boxers have each a swapped counterpart with a different face:
    • The first arcade game has Glass Joe and Kid Quick, Piston Hurricane and Pizza Pasta, and Bald Bull and Mr. Sandman.
    • The second arcade game (Super Punch-Out!!) actually has the first two of five fighters, Bear Hugger and Dragon Chan, have their own distinct palettes. Vodka Drunkenski and Super Macho Man share similar bodies. Great Tiger is Piston Hurricane with a turban and slightly longer mustache.
    • The NES version has Glass Joe and Don Flamenco, Von Kaiser and Great Tiger, Bald Bull and Mr. Sandman (returning from the arcade game), Vodka Drunkenski / Soda Popinski and Super Macho Man (returning from the arcade sequel Super Punch-Out), and Piston Honda and Mike Tyson / Mr. Dream. The only character with a unique model is King Hippo.
    • Super Punch Out for SNES has Gabby Jay and Bob Charlie, Bear Hugger and Mad Clown, Piston Hurricane and Aran Ryan, Bald Bull and Mr. Sandman (again), Dragon Chan and Heike Kagero, Masked Muscle and Super Macho Man, and the two Bruiser Brothers (sharing their own model). The only original palettes are Narcis Prince and Hoy Quarlow.
    • The Wii game gave all of the characters distinct character models, although they still have similar appearances, indirectly referencing this trope.
  • In Mutant Football League, there are five player races: 'Human'/Superhuman, Troll, Alien, Skeleton, and Robot. Robots are actually palette-swapped Skeleton sprites with the ribcages, arms, and legs "filled out"; the only team with robots, the all-robot Turbo Techies, is thus essentially a palette swap of the all-skeleton teams, the Deathskin Razors and the Sixty Whiners.
  • Mutant League Hockey:
    • There are just three races in this one (Skeleton, Troll, and Robot), with robots now having completely unique sprites. The Deathskin Razors and Turbo Techies are again guilty of this, but not relative to each other — they have swaps in the form of the Dead Things and Chilly Liars (Razors) and the Bruiser Bots (Techies)
    • Of the coaches, only Bricka of the Mutant Monsters and Doc Whizz of the Bruiser Bots have unique portraits and quotes (though Doc Whizz shares his player evaluations with the Robot coaches). The rest are palette swaps of one of the following "molds" — the Robot, the Troll, the Barbarian, the Wimp, or the Hellspawn.

    Survival Horror 
  • Dead by Daylight:
    • To tie in with the Silent Hill DLC, Behaviour made available some skins that allow series protagonist and DBD Survivor Cheryl Mason to instead become NPCs Lisa Garland and Cybil Bennett, with a later update adding James Sunderland.
    • Instead of making entirely new Killer slots, they introduced crossover content with Crypt TV by making unique skins available to purchase for existing Killers. Specifically, the Hag can become the Birch-Witch, the Doctor can become the Look-See, and the Huntress can become the Mordeo.
    • The Resident Evil chapter came with two Survivors, Leon S. Kennedy and Jill Valentine, who in turn can be skinned up as the Redfield siblings, Chris and Claire. Another chapter based on Resident Evil was released later on, which gave Leon and Jill skins of Carlos Oliviera and Sheva Alomar. The second chapter also introduced a skin for The Legion that turns them into HUNK.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • While the Octarians are the main enemies of all three Splatoon games, Octo Expansion colors them a blue-to-neon-yellow gradient to signify how they've been "sanitized" by whatever's running the Deep Sea Metro, while Splatoon 3 gives them all fur to fit with the "Return of the Mammalians" theme.

    Tower Defense 
  • Dragon Wars has a lot of this with its dragons. Kinnara and Garuda, Kastor and Borg, and probably others, are palette swaps of each other.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Age of Wonders, very few fabric units (Larva-Maggot, Gold-Black Dragon) and most modded units.
  • Almost all of the non-plot-related enemies and characters in Disgaea have higher class ranks that are palette swaps of their base class, each with slightly better stats than the last.
    • Disgaea 3 introduces a service that allows one to change a unit's color to that of any of their other creatable ranks for a fee, and 4 expands on it by introducing unique colors that aren't used by any of a class' ranks, and extends the palette swapping privileges to unique characters.
    • Also in 3, various Palette swaps of Mao are important to the plot as "Inner Mao"s, such as the orange-colored "Saucy Maos" representing his love of hot sauce, and the green-colored "Maos who Say Dad", representing Mao's repressed trauma of accidentally getting his father killed. Another green-colored one acts as "Mao's True Heart", portraying a much more mature version of him.
    • A similar effect is seen in most other Nippon Ichi titles, including La Pucelle and Makai Kingdom. Phantom Brave did it with the titles attached to characters instead of classes.
    • In Disgaea 4 Des X is a palette swap of Desco. This being Disgaea, is pointed out and lampshaded.
    • Etna turns Blue for a chapter in Disgaea Dimension 2. This is a plot point, as Etna herself points out, she looks like she's "Player 2". All of her alternate unit palettes are also swapped.
    • Most of the named plot characters in D2 - such as Laharl, Etna, Sicily and Flonne - have unique sprites. Lanzarote, on the other hand, is an Archer recolour. Given that Lanzarote is plot-relevant for one chapter and is then basically only notable because you probably won't have a caster of aggressive buffs before then, this was probably done just to save time.
    • Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance took this to a whole new level: every character can have their entire palette changed how you want it to look. This applies twice over to any character that has a transformation-style Overload skill, allowing you to custom color their alternate form.
    • Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny: In the game's final chapter, Zed has to contend with a version of himself from a differing timeline where he ended up giving in to his destructive impulses and resumed being the God of Destruction he once was. Zed even complains of how the other one is merely a palette-swap of him.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics:
    • Nono from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance wears a green version of his job class, the Gadgeteer's clothes.
    • All generic units, enemy and ally, in the series are color swaps of each other so players can identify units from each other. Example, a Nu Mou Black Mage is generally clothed in blue while an enemy one has red clothing. This makes things moderately confusing when you have to fight Blue Mages dressed in red and Red Mages dressed in blue. In Tactics A2 this becomes funny. The red king is dressed in blue, the blue king is dressed in red, the black king is dressed in red, and the green king is dressed in purple. Not only that, but they aren't masters of their namesake magic, they use other types more often. So apparently magic types can get palette swapped as well.
  • The Fire Emblem series plays this in several different ways:
    • There is usually just one or two (if both genders are possible) character models per class; everyone in a particular class is a palette swap of that model. Generic units are coloured by affiliation, while playable, boss and other important characters have their own unique colour scheme. Some characters have their own individual class (e.g. Lord) and thus look unique. Radiant Dawn alleviates this to some extent by giving every player and important character a unique skin to their model which reflects their actual appearance, but the model's animations do not change at all. That is why the fans clamor for the official character art—these portraits tend to add a touch of personalization that the in-game models often do not portray. Several exceptions exist to this tendency, particularly in the GBA era. The Sacred Stones introduced three apprentice classes; there is only one character each that as such looks rather unique... until he/she promotes into a proper class. Blazing Sword's Hawkeye - comparatively not that important a character - has his own completely unique Berserker sprite which differs significantly from the normal in its movement, whereas all other Berserkers use the generic sprite. Weird.
    • Boss portraits are perhaps the more obvious example of this trope in the series, as after the NES era it wasn't really an acceptable break from reality based on technical constraints, unlike everyone's battle sprites being identical. The older the game, the more likely you'll run into a lookalike boss with a random palette. The Jugdral duology is most notorious for this since it was done with semi-important villains, though the original game was even worse. After The Binding Blade, which memorably had six palette swaps of the same boss character all as the bosses of the same chapter, the practice waned through the following handheld games before finally ending for good in Path of Radiance.
    • Fire Emblem: Awakening: All of your allies' outfits for their classes tend to either be blue or have blue lining. There are a few exceptions, however:
      • In the true tradition of the red/green cavalier duo, Sully and Stahl, have red and green cavalier outfits, respectively, and the red and green lining is used for their paladin and great knight uniforms.
      • Kellam, an armor knight, has orange lining on his uniform. Like Sully and Stahl, he keeps that color for his great knight outfit; ditto goes for Sully's future daughter Kjelle, only with light purple instead.
      • Lissa has a yellow dress for her cleric and war cleric classes, and she gets a green and yellow sage robe - it's actually identical to her sister Emmeryn's outfit. Lissa's future son Owain also gets a dark yellow colored myrmidon/swordmaster outfit.
      • Both Miriel (first generation) and Brady (Maribelle's son) get unique-looking sage's robes (Miriel's is black with a thin gold collar, while Brady's is dark purple with the same Roman Numeral collar as Lissa's), and Brady also gets a black and purple war monk outfit.
      • Cordelia and her daughter Severa have red lining for their Pegasus knight and mercenary/hero outfits. Flavia's hero uniform also has red linings.
      • Nowi, Nah, and Tiki are green, red, and bright yellow-colored dragons, respectively.note 
      • Both Anna and Gangrel have red and yellow/black colored Trickster outfits, respectively.
      • Finally, Say'ri has a light purple swordmaster outfit.
      • There's also an odd variant for the second-generation playable characters: palette swapping their hair colors depending who their parents are.
    • Fire Emblem Fates retains the unique color palette for each character's base class model as well as their "canon" promotion. (For instance, Kaze and Saizo wear green and red as Ninjas and Master Ninjas, respectively.) It also keeps Awakening's use of palette swapping the second generation characters' hair based on their parent's color.
    • Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia takes this to its logical extreme, with each character getting their own unique palette regardless of what class they're currently in. So, Gray and Tobin will always be wearing green and yellow versions of their classes' uniforms, respectively.
  • In Fossil Fighters: Champions:
    • All of the Super Evolvers are palette swaps, except for Kaishin and Buldor. They also include similar attack sets.
    • Strangely enough, Teffla and Papygon are palette swaps of each other, despite evolving from completely different vivosaurs.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic suffers from a bad case of palette swapping when units upgrade. Granted, some bells and whistles are usually added, but it's painfully obvious the models were built from the same sprite.
  • Surprisingly for a game of its complexity, Jagged Alliance 2 has this. All enemies, mercs and militia are basically the same 3 models (Big Male, Regular Male, and Female) with a different palette for each. Mercs have the most diversity, as each has a different clothing color combination, and of course there are all sorts of combinations for hair color and skin color for everyone in the game.
  • Luminous Arc and its sequel are horrible about this. There are probably less than ten different monster sprites that are recolored to make all the generic enemies you face.
  • The economic edutainment game M.U.L.E. does this with the players' characters if any of them are the same species, but since they only share the screen during auctions, it's not really a problem.
  • The Koubu mecha in the first Sakura Wars game are identical aside from color and weapons. The second game added another set of sprites for the two characters with European designed mecha. Once the games entered 3D with the third game, each character's mecha became more individualized with unique emblems, animations, and weapon models.
  • Shining Force III does a pretty good job of averting this, until around half way when you notice the earliest monsters reappearing but with a different colour. The humble bat, one of the earliest enemies, reappears in Chapter 4 as the Vampire Bat which is bright red.
  • In Super Robot Wars V, 2 units reused from Z3 had their sprites' colors changed, in the process turning them from Char's Counterattack units to Unicorn units: the Earth Federation's Jegan mobile suits (more or less becoming the Jegan Type A2 without changing the name) and Neo-Zeon's Musaka-class ships.
  • Despite Unicorn not being in the Super Robot Wars X cast, the Neo-Zeon mobile suits Gaza-D and Zssa are still reused from V, only changed to their original coloring from ZZ.
  • In Telepath RPG, shadowlings get different color palettes to show how old they are. In the original, every shadowling is red except for Festus, who is blue, and Nala, who is green. (Tastidian and Nelis are different colors too, but they get unique models instead of just a palette swap.) In later games, blue shadowlings are always psy healers, probably as a Call-Back to Festus.
    • In Telepath Tactics, every class has a colored uniform of some kind that changes color depending on what side they're on. (In the campaign, Emma's army is blue, her enemies are red, and neutrals are a variety of colors, usually green.) In a departure from previous games, shadowling color is no longer tied to age — they don't have a uniform, so they have to change the color of their eyes and hands instead.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories does this in a way to mitigate the infamous ped clumping issue that has plagued sixth-generation installments of the franchise due to artistic and hardware constraints.
  • Pedestrian models in Mafia II utilise a variation of Mortal Kombat's palette swap scheme, where a single model is used for a pedestrian type, with certain parts of the character's texture recoloured on the fly. It works somewhat, though players may still notice clones of the same model being clumped together on-screen at points.
  • Minecraft:
    • Cave Spiders are smaller, blue versions of the regular Spider enemy.
    • The first five ores added to the game were originally all palette-swaps of one-another, having the texture for stone but with bits of the material in it. Black for coal, beige for iron, yellow for gold, red for redstone, and cyan for diamond. This has since been changed in future updates.
    • Horses come in thirty-five varieties (five patterns and seven colors), while Tropical Fish come in over three thousand (two body shapes, six patterns per shape, sixteen colors for the main body, and sixteen colors for the pattern).
  • [PROTOTYPE] has both lighter-colored USMC and darker-colored Blackwatch palettes of military vehicles, the ones you can actually hijack. Blackwatch ground vehicles are tougher to kill while their aircraft carry more ammunition(and are also slightly tougher), than their Marine counterparts. They can also be easily identified with their respective logos too.

    Also the civilian populace, where any given civilian model has a few color themes affecting attire and skin.
  • In Saints Row: The Third, you can unlock new skins for your gang members (like hookers, cops, mascots, National Guard soldiers, and even rival gang members) by completing story missions and minigames. If you actually apply these skins to your gang, it quickly becomes obvious that they are simply palette swapped versions of the originals, right down to the ones modeled on rival gangsters continuing to make disparaging remarks about the Saints during battle.
  • Terraria:
    • There are seven different versions of the basic Slime monster.
    • There's also two versions of the basic Skeleton monster, two of the Skeleton caster, two of the Bat, two of the Man eater (a jungle-based killer plant), and many of the Zombie.
    • In 1.2, Lead, Tin, Tungsten, Platinum, Palladium, Orichalcum and Titanium are practically alternate (and slightly better) materials of Iron, Copper, Silver, Gold, Cobalt, Mythril and Adamantite respectively, that can be generated in a world in the place of the latter materials. The weapons, bricks and furnishings made from them are appropriately different-colored as well, while the 'alternate' Hardmode Metal armor suits have unique properties that the Cobalt, Mythril, and Adamantite armor suits lack.
    • Wood can be found in different forms depending on the biome, including Shadewood (Crimson), Ebonwood (Corruption), Pearlwood (Hallow), Boreal (Snow), Palm (Beach/Sand), and Rich Mahogany (Jungle).
    • Most of the console-exclusive content, including enemies and equipment, were reskinned or recolored versions of existing content. The 1.2 patch to console Terraria changed this, giving the content in question actual unique graphics.
    • Gemstones all originally had the same elliptical shape while changing only in color before 1.2 update gave them all different cuts.
    • The character sprites in alpha were rather blatantly based off of Final Fantasy V combat sprites, but they were changed for the game's release on Steam.
  • Red Dead Redemption:
    • In I, adult Jack Marston is just John with a different head and voice.
    • 1907 John in II zig-zags this. He has a slimmer build than Arthur and his own animations for movement, but examining the model shows his body is just Arthur's but scaled down, and he reuses a ton of animations with him - in some circumstances his animations actually revert back to Arthur'snote  His hair is also Arthur's but recolored, and he reuses Arthur's vomiting sounds if he eats a poisonous plant.
  • Subnautica uses this trope on several occasions, including the Spinefishnote , the Magmarangnote , the Lava Eyeyenote  and the Crimson Raynote . The Oculus may seem at first glance to be this to the Peeper, but in reality, its model is slightly different, having no beak and a row of tentacles instead of tail fins.
  • The majority of the Space Pirate fighters in X3: Reunion and later games are standard faction fighters (mostly Argon and Teladi), but with sweet Nose Art. They retain the turrets and most of the stats of the base ship, though they often can carry a more varied loadout, at the cost of being inferior to the standard ship. X3: Terran Conflict introduced several Ace Custom pirate ships with unique models, and proper Pirate capital ships.

Non-video game examples:

  • Every year people get ads in their newspapers showing collectibles for the big local pro or college sports team. Ceramic villages with the team logo on it, Santa wearing the jersey, etc. What you don't really see until you go online to their website is almost every city got the same ad for the same village and often the only thing different in the picture is the team logo and colors.
    • USC and UCLA have a particularly intense rivalry to where any merchandise deal one university gets is soon followed by the same deal with the other. They turn to the same manufacturer most of the time, and as a result, the products are exactly the same, only with different packaging and images printed on them.
  • Proto, the mascot of Protegent, is a palette swap of Whyatt from Super Why!.

    Anime & Manga 
  • [C] - The Money and Soul of Possibility has several facets of one basic design.
  • The Tendou sisters in Day Break Illusion are triplets, which sort of justifies them often being literally copy-pasted and colour-tweaked. Also, Etia and Ariel's outfits are identical except for colour and the pattern on their circle-things.
  • Devilman has Akira Fudo, and Ryo Asuka, when they both appear, Ryo is literally a blond Akira, luckily, other adaptations give them different haircuts... Most of the time.
  • Common throughout the Digimon franchise; though it has well over one thousand mons, it is slightly padded with palette swaps:
    • Perhaps the most understandable examples are the Evil Counterpart palette swaps, darker versions of certain heroic Digimon. The most prominent example, both in the anime and otherwise, is Digimon Adventure 02's BlackWarGreymon, whose contrast with the actual WarGreymon was played up for all it was worth.
    • Sometimes, the difference in color is used to denote a variant of a different level, attribute type, or associated with different elements/powers. For example, Otamamon's has water powers and is of the Virus attribute, while Otamamon Red is associated with fire and is of the Data attribute. Both are of the Child level. On the other hand, sometimes there are less reasonable instances: there's Monochromon, an Adult, and Vermillimon, a red Monochromon of the Perfect level. There are many more examples.
      • Digimon World is horrible about doing this to differentiate random enemy Digimon from recruitable ones. You can recruit Betamon and Drimogemon (frog and drill-nosed mole, basically). You fight ModokiBetamon and NiseDrimogemon. (Modoki means 'seems like' or 'looks like;' Nise means 'false.') The only difference at all between them is that ModokiBetamon is a slightly different shade of green and NiseDrimogemon has a mustache instead of whiskers.
      • If they're bad, Soulmon is worse. The only difference between him and Bakemon would be a pointy sorcerer's hat.
      • Not as bad as Gottsumon, a Child-level golem Digimon who has two palette swaps, Icemon and Insekimon. At least Icemon (Adult-level) is clearly white as opposed to Gottsumon's grey so you can easily tell them apart, but Insekimon is distinguished from Gottsumon and Icemon solely by being a slightly lighter shade of grey with a green tinge, and what really takes the cake is that he is a Perfect. You heard correctly, a Perfect is a palette swap of a Child. This was lampshaded neatly in Digimon Data Squad - when Gottsumon evolves to Insekimon, Yoshino comments that all that seems to have changed is his colour.
      • Gururumon has to be Bandai poking fun at themselves over this practice. The difference between Garurumon and Gururumon is that Gururumon's blue stripes are slightly more purplish in hue; I dare you to tell them apart if you don't have their pictures/trading cards side by side. Many are the fans who thought that "Gururumon" was just a typo.
      • There's also ClearAgumon, which is basically a transparent ToyAgumon! Incidentally, they also have an Evil Counterpart palette swap.
      • Vegimon has two palette swaps: Zassoumon and RedVegimon. RedVegimon, at least, has the decency to differ in design somewhat insofar as having large clubs at the end of its tentacles instead, but otherwise it just looks like a Vegimon that is blue.
      • Digimon Xros Wars: The Young Hunters Who Leapt Through Time marks the debut of such a palette swap as a main character in the anime - Ryouma Mogami's partner is Psychemon, a rather garish palette swap of a particularly famous former main character, Gabumon.
      • Digimon Adventure tri. has a mysterious villain who drives much of the series' plot and normally looks like an evil version of Gennai wearing a black version of his outfit. While disguised as the Digimon Emperor, he summons a purple version of Imperaldramon to cover his escape while kidnapping Meicoomon.
    • The third kind is random recolourings which serve no purpose at all, are given little to no context, are not differentiated from the main Digimon at all, and seem to be there for the hell of it. Like in Digimon World 3. The entire Amaterasu Server (before you free it) is a Dark World-themed palette swap of the Asuka Server, and most of the Digimon in it are palette swaps of the ones from Asuka.
  • The Future Card Buddyfight anime does this whenever more than one of the same monster appears in a single match. With Drum, at least, it's at least explained as him being part of an entire clan of dragons that all look the same aside from differently-colored hair and armor. Gemclone also generally appears as a blue, crystalline copy of the monster whose Super Mode they are copying at the time.

  • Kaze no Stigma: Ryuuya Kazamaki is this for main protagonist Kazuma Yagami.
  • Shion, the heroine of the Non-Serial Movie Naruto Shippuden: The Movie, is aside from hair and eye color identical to Hinata Hyuga, one of the supporting characters of the main series. They even both have pupil-less magical eyes.
  • The "Rose Bride dress" of Revolutionary Girl Utena: The original dress is red and worn by Anthy during the duels. In the first ending sequence and in episode 38, Utena wears a light pink version of the dress, and in the third story arc, Kozue and Shiori gain dresses that match their hair colors (indigo and purple, respectively).
  • Sgt. Frog: It's used a lot in the anime for background Keronians, which generally share a few sets of generic designs (eyes with small irises, star emblems, hats similar to Keroro's or Kururu's, headphones included.
    • Later episodes also use it for random background aliens.
  • During Yu-Gi-Oh!'s DOMA Arc, Jonouchi / Joey adds the Blue Flame Swordsman to his arsenal. This is, unsurprisingly, Exactly What It Says on the Tin—a blue Palette Swap of his already existing card, Flame Swordsman, with the exact same stat (ATK: 1800, DEF: 1600, Level: 5). On the plus side it does have a useful ability that the original card does not possess—when it's sent to the Graveyard it allows Joey to summon a regular Flame Swordsman to take its place.

    Asian Animation 
  • Noonbory and the Super 7:
    • All of the Dotoris look identical, with only their hats being different colours.
    • The Builder Borys all have the same character model, just with different skin and clothing colours (one is pink-skinned wearing red, one is yellow-skinned wearing orange, and one is cream-skinned wearing pink).
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf:
    • Wolffy's grandfather Yellow Wolf looks exactly like Wolffy, but colored yellow. Identical Grandson indeed.
    • The Rainbow Beans from the season Flying Island: The Sky Adventure are all literally the same character, right down to their cephalothorax-like designs. The only thing that distinguishes them is their color schemes, with each one made to match the colors of the rainbow.

  • The Hobgoblin is effectively a palette swap of the Green Goblin, albeit with a hooded cape. There is an in-story reason, as the person behind the Hobgoblin mask intentionally dyed it a different color.
  • In Ultimate Comics: Avengers, Gregory Stark is introduced as Tony's twin brother. He has blond hair and wears white suits.
  • In the short lived Continuity Reboot Wonder Woman: Odyssey Artemis's costume and build are identical to Diana's in all but coloration, to reflect her former status as Diana's rival.

    Fan Works 
  • Calvin & Hobbes: The Series has Thunderstorm, who is described as his brother Brainstorm with a black lab coat and jet-black hair.
  • In Expelled Harry wears a gold robe with red trim for his marriage to Hermione, while her father has a red robe with gold trim.
  • In Finding Heather Padma and Parvati wear pink/orange and orange/pink dresses for the Yule Ball.
  • In Harry Hadrian Snape and the Sorcerer's Stone when Harry and Draco go to Diagon Alley for first-year school supplies, Draco is wearing a silver robe with green accents, while Harry's is green with silver accents.
  • In Let's Try Again Fred and George's Animagus forms are red foxes with black tips on their ears and tails, while Hadrian's is a black fox with red tips on its ears and tail.
  • My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic: According to the author's vids and artwork, many of the characters greatly look like each other with the only differences being colour and hairstyles. In the stories themselves, characters are often described by their similarities to others, such as Cerise Wonder being someone "whom greatly resembled princess Cadance— same color, same mane style, even same voice— but Cerise had a golden horn like Lightning had."
  • Ojamajo Doremi: Rise of the Shadows: The Shadows all look exactly like their Light Halves, except for color; most of them just have darker colors than their Light Halves. Black Queen and Evil Rin take this a step further; the former replaces all the white on the Queen's garb with black while the latter is black, gray, and silver.
  • SuperSaiyanKirby Adventures has Anti-SuperSaiyanKirby, who's literally the main character with some changed colors.
    • That's just the tip of the iceberg. There's also Mattboo Sux, Sidney, Casy, "Evil Pac-man 64 clone", etc.
    • That may be explained by the fact that the original character designs were made in MS paint.
  • In Veiled Threat Harry's Animagus form is a black phoenix with red wingtips and Ginny's is a red phoenix with black wingtips.
  • The Matrix homemade pinball machine was made by altering a Johnny Mnemonic machine in this way, and a Genie's theme was repurposed into that of The Ramones. This is the preferred method for aspiring creators who don't have enough technical knowledge or money to build one from scratch and no intention to sell.

    Films — Animated 
  • Barbie movies:
  • Little John from Robin Hood (1973) is basically Baloo from The Jungle Book (1967) but with brown fur (instead of gray) and wearing clothing. Not only that, but they also share the same voice actor.
  • The character model for Queen Iduna from Frozen bears a striking resemblance to Elsa, such as her wearing her hair in a crown-twist bun (only with brunette hair instead of platinum blonde).
  • Word of God for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse revealed that the silhouette of the Lizard from Spider-Gwen's flashback was made by heavily modifying the character model for the Green Goblin (helped by this incarnation of Goblin being a hulking and brutish monster based on the Ultimate Spider-Man version).
  • Rapunzel's wedding dress in Tangled Ever After is actually her homecoming celebration dress colored white instead of pink.
  • The villain in Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo summoned several Palette Swapped copies of previously created villains for the final battle.
  • Andy's birthday guests in Toy Story are recolors of his model with the occasional baseball cap. Given how Pixar was struggling with humanoid models at the time, this was to be expected.
  • In Turning Red, each of the members of 4*Town wear white versions of their usual clothes when performing at the SkyDome.
  • Wreck-It Ralph used this for several of the background Sugar Rush racers. Both meta and in-game. Of course, when you have a racing game featuring tons of characters, and especially one from 1997, this is to be expected.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - The machine guns (which are black) in the Exploding Candy scene in the elevator show up in the very next sequence in white as the cameras in the Television Chocolate room.
  • Children's Party at the Palace has Mary Poppins, who first appears wearing a black coat when she chastises the Baddies for their attempted sabotage. Later during the "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" performance, her coat is blue instead.
  • Grandma's Boy (2006), which is about video game designers, references this tendency when one tester recommends differentiating between two types of enemies by changing the colors of one of them.
  • Brad and Janet's guest rooms in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Lampshaded by an audience callback ("same room, different lighting, cheap movie!")
  • The Starfleet uniforms seen in Star Trek: First Contact are an inversion of the uniforms worn on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager, being predominantly black with grey shoulders and colored shirts, unlike DS9/Voyager's uniforms which had gray shirts and colored shoulders. The DS9 crew would shortly switch to these uniforms for the rest of the series, whereas Voyager's crew, stuck in the Delta Quadrant, stuck with their uniforms till the end, though subsequent episodes involving the Federation at home featured these uniforms.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past:
    • Magneto always had some red and/or purple colour on his outfit, but in 2023 his uniform is completely black and grey, signifying that he's now part of the X-Men.
    • Costume designer Louise Mingenbach described Past Xavier's switch from his brown-and-pink casual wear to his more formal blues and greys that is typically associated with the character in the other movies.
      "At the beginning of the film, Charles is medicating, and very possibly on hallucinogens, so we had that come through in his shirt. As he pulls himself together, he wears a nice blue oxford like all good, put-together men—a progression from that psychedelic Cat Stevens-wear."

  • Many multicolored candies, such as gummy bears, are this. Though some will swear otherwise, many colored candies all have the same flavor unless explicitly advertised otherwise.
  • Novelty cake pans in special shapes (of the sort often used to make children’s birthday cakes) often come with a little insert suggesting how the pan can be used to create numerous different cake designs. Given the baker’s creativity will be somewhat limited by the shape of the pan, these “alternative design” suggestions are inevitably just palette swaps of whatever the “main” cake design is. So for example, if the pan is shaped like a truck, the alternative suggestions may be an “army truck” in camouflage colors or an “ambulance” which is just the truck in white with a red cross on it.

  • The Fold explores the possibility of duplicates from an alternate dimension, several of which are palette swapped for clarity and convenience.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Barrier: In a presentation including photos of children who were taken away from their parents by the government under false pretenses, some photos are altered to change the color of the subject's eyes and/or hair. One boy has very light blond hair in the presentation despite his real hair being significantly darker, while a girl with relatively light hair has it much darker on her presentation photo.
  • This is the difference in the Community episode "Physical Education" between Abed and his Identical Stranger, Joey. Or, in other words, Brown Joey and White Abed.
  • In Denji Sentai Megaranger, the suits, which often have some sort of variety per season, are rather homogenous this time around save color. Perhaps a moment of Fridge Brilliance, since this season was about video games, particularly ones made in the mid-90s.
  • Dinosaur Planet: The show heavily reused the CG models of the animals for different species in each episode to cut down on cost, and only with slight colour changes. Allodaposuchus and Notosuchus, Aucasaurus and Tarascosaurus, Saltasaurus and the unnamed titanosaurs in "Pod's Travels", Alvarezsaurus and Shuvuuia, Troodon and the unnamed troodontids in "Pod's Travels'' to name some.
  • Kamen Rider frequently recycles its rubber suits, since these costumes are expensive and repainting them is cheap. At times this is the suits used for each Monster of the Week, but more commonly the components of a Rider suit that has become obsoleted by the story, such as a Mid-Season Upgrade form, will be recycled for a new form. With the advent of direct-to-DVD movies giving secondary Riders a day in the limelight, this trend became much more prominent, as each movie often only has the budget for a single brand-new costume per film while everyone else who gets a new outfit will use repainted or slightly retooled parts of old costumes.
    • Gold Drive from Kamen Rider Drive is a very literal Evil Knockoff of the title hero created by the Big Bad stealing Belt-san's tech (a recurring theme with him).
    • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid has Kamen Rider Genm, a palette-swapped Super Prototype of the title character, as part of its videogame theme. Multiple crossovers feature Genm being mistaken for Ex-Aid or vice-versa.
  • In the Psych episode "We'd like to thank the academy", Shawn shoots two civilian cardboard cutouts in a training exercise. His justifications:
    "The first woman with the groceries was exiting a library that doesn't allow snacks. I know this because we've tried on several occasions. And the second woman was simply a replica of the first woman, but they painted her face brown, which is both offensive and suspicious."
  • By the time of Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger, it's has become quite obvious that Super Sentai not longer has the budget to create unique monster suits so all we've got are the same body suits with a different head and/or weapon. Even so, there's still plenty of palette swaps like Milk World being a dairy themed repaint of Bullfighting World or Carrot World being an orange version of Daikon World.
  • In Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger and Power Rangers S.P.D., Make My Monster Grow mostly took the year off, in favor of each alien criminal of the week having his or her own Humongous Mecha. While the monster suits each looked original, the mecha started to repeat themselves, with minor details, and yes, colors, changed. (A few times, there wasn't even a repaint!)) Two once-used monster suits per week was just not gonna happen.
  • The Trickster in The Sarah Jane Adventures actually invokes this in ''The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith,'' appearing in white instead of his usual black to Peter Dalton as an angel. Lampshaded by the Doctor.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced Starfleet Academy cadet uniforms that were largely a partial palette swap of the standard Starfleet uniform, moving the department color from the upper body and sleeves to the shoulder yoke and leaving the rest of the uniform black, while adding large pockets on the pant legs. When it came time for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to send Nog off to the Academy, the cadet uniform's primary color was swapped from black to gray, in order to contrast against DS9's black jumpsuits. Following the introduction of the First Contact uniforms on DS9, new cadet uniforms were introduced; the outer uniform was a gray version on the movie version, with quilted shoulders and divisional stripes on the sleeve cuffs, but with the department colors on the shoulders and the gray undershirts of the original DS9 uniform.
  • Walking with Dinosaurs was guilty of this. Similar looking animals (like Utahraptor and Dromaeosaurus, as well as Dryosaurus, Leaellynasaura, and the small ornithopods in "Death of a Dynasty") were just these. Certain animals (like large theropods and ornithopods) only got new heads. You can tell, because many creatures have the exact same folds and blood vessels on their skin. Then, there is Plesiopleurodon, which is just Stock Footage of Liopleurodon from the previous episode, only tinted lighter. Quetzalcoatlus is the worst offender, as in its case it's obvious that the animators didn't have much time; it's just the Ornithocheirus from "Giant of the Skies" with a few minor tweaks. They didn't even edit out the teeth!


    Music Videos 

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The MAD Magazine comic Spy vs. Spy features the titular black and white spies, palette swaps of one another.

  • Pin*Bot was repurposed nine years later into Jack*Bot. It uses the same characters as Pin*Bot and The Machine: Bride of Pin*Bot, as well as the same layout, but reskins it into a casino theme and changes the rules substantially, as well as updated electronic parts. It also swaps out Pin*Bot's alphanumeric display with a dot-matrix display, allowing it to show pictures and animations instead of just numbers and simple phrases.
  • The Shrek pinball machine has a layout, parts, and rules identical to Family Guy, the only differences being artwork and sounds. That being said, it was not a careless adaptation: Shrek has hundreds of new lines of dialogue written specifically for the pinball machine, the new art fits the theme perfectly, and the Family Guy rules are retrofitted to be as faithful to the movies as possible. The idea is that Family Guy did not meet sales expectations, and operators requested a more family-friendly theme, so Shrek was conceived to be quickly put together to meet operators' demands.
  • Some home-made pinball machines consist of taking an existing machine and replacing the artwork and changing the rules, but the machine is physically unchanged. See Fan Works for examples.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • WWE started doing this big time with their belts since 2016. With the exception of Raw's Womens title (which was originally intended to make the Women's division more on par with the men), these new designs were brought out during the revival of the brand extension and made to be Colour-Coded for Your Convenience (Raw's belts being red-based and SmackDown being blue-based).
    • Three of their new belts are palette swaps of the WWE World Title which has black leather and a black background behind the front plate. The Raw Women's title is on white leather with a red background, the Universal title is on red leather with a red background (the WWE logo on the front plate also features a unique black underline) and the SmackDown Women's title is on white leather with a blue background.
    • SmackDown's Tag Team titles are also a palette swap of Raw's Tag Team Titles, replacing the black leather and bronze plates with blue leather and silver plates. And then an updated design of the Raw Tag Team Titles became a palette swap of SmackDown's, with a red leather and silver plates.

    Puppet Shows 
  • A number of Muppets are actually the same puppet with different clothes, hair, and other accessories. The Creature Shop calls them "Anything Muppets." Sesame Street fans reading this will probably not be surprised to learn that the characters Prairie Dawn and Betty Lou, for example, are the same puppet, plus Zoe and Rosita.
  • The same thing happens quite frequently in Dinosaurs. Every single puppet not used for a protagonist was used as countless different characters, made male or female simply by changing the clothes.

  • A number of competitive racing series have contestants racing in nigh-identical vehicles in order to level the playing field, so that teams without millions to throw at aerodynamics research can stay competitive, though most allow minor modifications. NASCAR is the most prominent example, with each racing having dozens of completely identical vehicles painted in different colors with some token customized front fascias (See, this 1000+ horsepower RWD monster is totally an ecoboost Ford Fusion!). BK Racing's two cars (Toyota #83 and #93) are literal palette swaps; one is red, one is blue.
  • Averted by Formula One. Each team is allowed only 2 cars and outside of the driver number both cars must carry identical liveries. This can be confusing for fans at the track (meaning palette swaps would actually be welcome in this case), though these days it's mostly mitigated by phone apps that will give you the running order. In addition, F1 is definitely not a spec series, and while the two cars used by each team are in theory identical to each other every team custom builds their cars from the chassis on up and has a choice of four different engine manufacturersnote , couple that with pretty loose regulations that have plenty of loopholes and you end up with 10 pairs of dramatically different (though visually very similar) cars, some of which are much, much faster than othersnote .

    Tabletop Games 
  • Miniatures wargames will often have this. The players will actually play the same army by the same rules, but represent in-universe alignments by paint scheme. For example, one player may represent the WWII 10th Mountain Division and another may represent a US Ranger Battalion by using the same miniatures and rule set, but simply paint the 10th in snow and the Rangers in drab greens. This is especially prevalent in Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 where many in universe armies might follow the same rule set. In the case of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 a number of factions started out life as simple palette swaps, but have developed over the years to get their own models and/or rules. The Space Marine chapters are a good example - originally Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Ultramarines and Space Wolves were just red, dark green, blue and grey versions of the same thing, but now they have their own distinct stylings and rules. Other factions, such as Eldar Craftworlds and Ork Clans, are still just different colour schemes, though each can be characterised somewhat by choice of units taken as well as the livery.
  • The fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons and its player base have been noted for actively embracing the concept of "reskinning" powers, monsters, and potentially even entire character classes to allow for more variety in play — that is, basically taking one mechanic, stat block or the like and simply reusing it as-is (with perhaps some minor tweaks along the way) to represent something potentially described entirely differently from the original.
  • The early days of Yu-Gi-Oh! was very fond of recycling monster designs, with a lot of random monsters having at least one counterpart. The localization had a habit of changing their names to be variants of "[monster name] #1" and "[same name] #2." Curiously, while the designs were identical bar colors, the artwork was always completely redrawn, depicting them in different poses or from different angles, and barring that artwork, the monsters usually had nothing in common. (Videogame adaptations that used 3D models tended to use them as more conventional palette swaps.)

  • About two-thirds of the original Masters of the Universe toyline reused parts from the original He-Man and Skeletor toys. This is a big reason for the World of Muscle Men look of the franchise; just about every male character has the exact same bulging biceps.
  • The Marvel Legends and DC Universe lines and their permutations tend to have a number of "generic" bodies (slim but muscular man, fairly muscular man, beefcake man) that they reuse for any character whose design can be boiled down to "buff guy in spandex." Swap out the head, add some accessories, change the paint and plastic colors, and suddenly a lot of characters look the same.
  • Many themed Merkur sets (such as the Army, Safari, and Farm sets) are the same parts painted a different colour.
  • G.I. Joe has several 'covered head to toe' enemy characters. Each meant to be a different mook an identical uniform. Swaps come as ideas do. The 'Python Patrol' was, storywise, a way to make characters invisible to sensor equipment. The heroes had, for example, 'Tiger Force', which swapped the usual uniform colors with yellow, brown and red. Nameless Joe Greenshirts (think 'redshirts') got this, though their heads were clearly seen. Some were logical (light skin and a tanned one could mean a sibling was in the sun) but others were different races, same facial features.
    • Palette swaps and parts sharing created the original wave of twelve male Joes in 1982. Grunt (who, although established as a unique character, served as the basis for the Greenshirts) has the most common components of the wave, save for his head (which is only shared with Grand Slam and Zap; the most common head is shared between Flash, Hawk, Short-Fuze, and Steeler), and all of the shared pieces are recolored in one way or another on at least one of the figures - with the exception of Flash and Grand Slam, who aside from their heads are identical. Grand Slam did get his own palette swap when he was reissued with a different vehicle in 1983, though, and a few other 1982 figures received palette swaps when reissued with new vehicles.
  • Hot Wheels at least acknowledges its recolors for different model years are the same cars, but one can pinpoint which model year a certain car comes from by the paint job.
  • The Jack Russell terriers Bennett and Yank, who are pet dogs of Molly McIntire and Emily Bennett of the American Girls Collection respectively, are palette swaps of each other, bearing the same coat pattern with the colors inverted.
  • Nearly every LEGO minifigure ever, if for fairly understandable reasons. It's only within the past few years that they've started implementing unique body, limb and head designs for non-human characters.
    • In BIONICLE, the act of palette swapping represented a very disliked trend throughout the line's early run. The most infamous case is that of the Bohrok and Bohrok-Kal lines: 12 sets that, beyond their weapons (and usually their collectibles), are exactly the same model, just in different colors. The same could be said for most of the Matoran sets, which only differed in their colors and/or mask designs. Yet narrowly avoided by most of the original Rahi two-packs which had two almost identical models, but each had at least one tiny detail that differentiated it from its partner (the exception being the Nui-Jaga scorpions). Outside of the toys, story material also had its share of these, but not many were truly canon. The green Vortixx from the comic Shadow Play was colored that way so that the readers could tell him apart from the black Roodaka. On the other hand, Tuma's green colored Rock Steed from Rise and Fall of the Skrall is canon. As a result, most background extras in the animated films were just recolors of the same handful of models. Even the Vahki soldiers used the same model, despite that their toys at least came with unique weapons. And in the third movie, the Muaka tiger was a mere palette swap of the ash bear from the first, with a slightly retooled head — it looked nothing like the actual Muaka toy, so they explained that it was really a mutant.
    • At the beginning, Hero Factory somewhat dipped back into the practice for its Heroes (the villains still avoided it). They were built in a factory as variations of the same basic design rather than individual and unique life-forms. The first wave Heroes were recognizable solely by their different helmets, weapons torso armour designs (the three rookies had the same one, however). The 2.0 and 3.0 waves, thanks to the new building style, added subtle differences that made each Hero unique: limbs length, shoulder width, armour size and orientation, colour schemes. By the Breakout arc, though Heroes are still all built off the largely same basic frame, Hero designs are even more varied in height, designs, colour schemes, armour and other elements.
  • Not only do the line of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic figurines resemble more toward pre-G4 versions, but various background characters (sometimes not even existing in the series) are palette swaps of the main characters, if their packaging graphic is anything to go by. For instance, look up Dewdrop Dazzlenote , Feathermaynote , Flitterheartnote , Lulu Lucknote , Plumsweetnote , Snowcatchernote , Diamond Rosenote , and Twinkleshinenote , if you're already familiar with the main G4 cast. Some other examples show attempt to differentiate however, such as "Cupcake" being a wingless version of Fluttershy, or "Sunny Daze" being a non-unicorn Sweetie Belle, or even "Minty" as an Applejack mold sans the hat.
    • The "blind bag" minifigures even went so far as to have Fluttershy - one of the Mane Six! - as a Pallete Swap of Rainbow Dash. (Which is somewhat amusing after the events of the third season episode "Magic Duel"...) She finally got her own unique mold in a set released in mid-2013note . Several other characters who've appeared on the show, though, are still recolors at the blindbag scale, such as Cheerileenote , Trixie Lulamoonnote , Lyra Heartstringsnote , Bon Bon(Sweetie Drops)note , Daisy(Flower Wishes)note , Blossomforth and Helianote , Strawberry Sunrisenote , and Peachy Pienote .
    • The Wave 11 blind bags have the stallion Neon Lights as a redeco of DJ PON-3. This wave's palette swaps also include Sunset Shimmernote , Suri Polomare (Buttonbelle) note , Flash Sentrynote , Big Wignote , Candy Applesnote , Purple Wavenote , Wensleynote , Cloud Chasernote , Royal Pinnote , etc., with Fluttershy and Cheese Sandwich being the only unique molds.
  • Nerf blasters are often released in recolored versions as store exclusives, notably the Sonic Series from Toys R Us, the Clear Series from Target, and the legendary Red Strike series from Walmart, which was only for sale for one Black Friday and is now one of the most sought after and expensive repaints ever in Nerf history.
  • The toyline for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves reused parts from both an Ewok playset and the Super Powers line. This resulted in Robin Hood himself having a conspicuous G-shaped belt buckle.
  • Transformers:
    • The franchise, being what it is frequently redecos (puts different colors and painted designs on an old mold) and/or retools (puts new parts on old models) the same model several times to get better return on their toys. This can vary from a new paint scheme on a character to making a completely different character. Starscream, in particular, shares most of his body with his fellow Seekers, Thundercracker, Skywarp, Sunstorm, and Acid Storm. Move some things around (retool) and you get the 'coneheads,' Thrust, Dirge, and Ramjet. Even Optimus Prime gets reused as a different guy from time to time. Original Ultra Magnus? Totally a Prime repaint with a different trailer. Magnus' robot mode is actually the toy's Super Mode - the toy's normal robot mode is never shown in the cartoon to avoid confusion (it finally appeared in the Dreamwave comics, which actually ended up kicking off a wave of modern figures and merchandise without the trailer). And then, of course, there are all the 'evil' repaints, such as Scourge (repaint of Generation 2 Laser Prime toy) and the various incarnations of Nemesis Prime (Scourge color scheme added to other Optimuses... Optimi?) There's even a Nemesis Breaker, an Evil Twin of Leobreaker from Transformers: Cybertron.
    • Transformers: Cybertron interestingly avoids this, for the most part (okay, not in the toyline), with Thundercracker having a standard Seeker body... but Starscream himself is a completely different design, with only the head looking particularly Starscreamy. (It's actually based on Screamer's pre-Earth design from the Dreamwave War Within comics.) The exception is Galvatron. After upgrading to Galvatron, visually, Megatron is Palette Swapped to G1 Megatron's colors. Major Homage, bordering on non-sexual fanservice.
    • Transformers: Prime:
      • Skyquake and Dreadwing are twins with two halves of the same spark, explaining why they look essentially the same, just with different colors. Fowler even lampshades, multiple times, how he essentially gave the same alt-mode to two different robots (he was piloting the same jet when facing each of the brothers).
      • The Jet Vehicon mooks and the more elite Seekers, who are basically silver and grey versions of the regular Jet Vehicons (in-universe, their colouring is in homage to their commander Starscream).
    • In Transformers: Animated, they were explained as having the same "body type" in-fiction. Oddly, though, only a handful of toys actually got recolored, namely Starscream as his clones and a couple of BotCon exclusives. More recolors came out in Japan or were cancelled before release. This has been done so often in both the official toyline and the shows, that it's considered a fairly acceptable method of inventing an Original Character (that one plans to create art of).
    • Transformers: BotBots manages to change alt modes for characters simply via recolors, thanks to the characters transforming into mundane objects rather than specific vehicles. For example, Angry Cheese, who transforms into a grilled cheese sandwich, has PB Junior as a recolor, who turns into a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead. Because their faces are printed on instead of molded on, the recolors will often have different faces to differentiate them further.
    • The Transformers fandom actually differentiates between recolors (which are the same figure with different colours, often to represent a brand-new character) like Starscream, Thundercracker and Skywarp and retools (the figure is slightly modified, such as new wings, arms and so on) such as the Coneheads (Starscream molds with new heads and wings), or Bumblebee and Cliffjumper in many toylinesnote 
  • Hasbro also has a habit of doing this with their superhero properties, especially with the Marvel Legends line. For instance, the Marvel Legends Captain America figures they released for Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War were just repaints of the Marvel Legends Captain America figure that was released for Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
  • Toy Biz once released an Elektra figure that was just a repaint of an old Psylocke figure. They even gave her Psylocke's trademark psi-blade, even though Elektra doesn't have any superpowers in the comics.
  • Toy Biz did the same thing with their X-Men: Mutant Armor and Spider-Man: Techno Wars lines. If you're wondering why Spider-Man and the X-Men would need to wear suits of Powered Armor despite already having superpowers, it's because the toys were actually unreleased Iron Man figures from his cancelled TV show. So for instance, with only a new head sculpt and paint job, the Magnetic Iron Man figure became a "Battle Armor Wolverine" figure, Radiation Iron Man became "Radioactive Spider Armor Spider-Man," Living Laser (who was itself a retooled version of an unreleased U.S. Agent figure) became "Astral Plane Professor X," and so on.
  • Dino-Riders features this in both the cartoon and toy line. In the cartoon, most of the Mooks are Palette Swaps of the main "Generals", and go unnamed. For the toys, numerous mini-figures of the humanoid characters were created, with the same molds being used frequently (there are seven "Ant-Men" based off of the base Antor figure, for example; others simple use the same name but a different color scheme). Many dinosaurs share molds- the Torosaurus/Triceratops, numerous small Ceratopsians (the three toys all have different heads), and both sides have a Deinonychus, with only their stripes being different colors. Only the armor is different on most of them. Both sides also had a Quetzalcoatlus, though the second was only released in a limited area, making it quite valuable now.
  • Flick-to-Stick Bungees, being made by the same people who made the below-mentioned Gogo's Crazy Bones, takes a note from that toy series and gives each of its characters two color schemes, complete with a different name and stats (e.g. the green Lojo and the yellow Luji are just the same character in different colors). This is in the case of the European version; the American version mostly averts this, but it does have two characters made specifically for it named Samos and Peltast who are just the same character in different colors.
  • Flush Force gives each character mold two different color schemes. Unlike other blind bagged toys, each different color is considered its own character, rather than the same in two different colors.
  • GoGo's Crazy Bones figures came in different colors, usually about two to five in the reboot series depending on the set. The sets in the classic series, however, did not have any restrictions on what colors characters could come in, allowing them to be available in literally any color. In addition to all this, certain characters from the reboot series use the same mold as another character, for example Miro-K uses the same mold as Ayu from the Megatrip set, but the use of recycled molds is exaggerated in the Evolution set, which consists of Gogos that use all of the molds from the previous set, Series 1.
  • Jurassic Park has this in spades. Almost every line has at least one or two toys that are repaints of sculpts from previous lines, and the Jurassic World era toys get repeated repaints of the same sculpt. The worst is probably the Velociraptor molds, but almost every figure released gets a repaint release at some point. Sometimes it's seen as okay, if it's a nicely made model, but when the sculpt wasn't that great to begin with, or when there’s already a bunch out, it can irritate fans. You can see the list of older ones here.
  • The Trash Pack, Shopkins, and The Grossery Gang, all blind bag toys by Moose Toys, gives each character more than one color scheme, treating them like an extra figure to collect. The Trash Pack has three minimum color palettes, while the other two have a minimum of two. Some special packages gives existing figures exclusive colors that can only be found in those packages.
  • 30 Minutes Missions: The EXAMACS units and Option Armor parts are available in various different colors, allowing you to mix-and-match the color palettes if you have multiple kits with different colors.
  • Higher end figure companies like Papo and Rebor are known to do this with their figures. Multiple color variants of dinosaur figures are often released together. Papo in particular has repainted movie inspired figures like their Velociraptor and T.Rex several times. Papo has done the same with some of their non-dinosaur figures, as an Unicorn offered with mane and tail either yellow or silver and characters as princesses, who differ at least in the coloration of their dresses.


    Web Original 
  • In the sixth, final episode of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared, we get a blue Red Guy, a green Yellow Guy, and a red Duck; which also happen to be their favourite colours, as described in episode one.
  • DSBT InsaniT: This is what Bill's second and third forms are. His second form turns his hair a lighter shade of blue, and his third form turns his hair and clothes black with a yellow shirt.
  • GoAnimate has Daillou (sometimes others) as a palette swap for Caillou.
  • Parodied by Pikasprey with "Donny Rage", an Original Character who is nothing more than an all-red Johnny Cage sprite.
  • The characters in Red vs. Blue look identical except for their unique colors. This is due more to the nature of the work (Machinima using the Halo Color-Coded Multiplayer mode) than a stylistic choice.
    • In later seasons, when the current game in the series allowed for customized pieces of armor, this cleared up a bit.
  • Being one of the web's most potent Fountain of Expies characters, there are a massive number of recolored Sonic the Hedgehog lookalikes on sites like DeviantArt. The least modified are simply Sonic with a new color scheme or some clothes on.
  • On user-created-adoptable site Squiby it's common for users to take a single format for a creature and use creative colorfills to make multiple versions. Some popular lines that use this formula include Mites, Tencats, Shika and Coons.
  • SMG4: Most characters in his early videos were just Mario recolors, including SMG4 itself and his old friends.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Batman Beyond episode "Heroes," the character of Magma is a simple recoloring of Clayface from the previous series.
  • Invoked in Ben 10: Alien Force with Albedo, the Insufferable Genius and former apprentice of Azmuth made an improved version of the omnitrix and began to masquerade as Ben to trash his reputation. At the end of the episode, Azmuth appears and breaks his version, getting him stuck in a Shape Shifter Mode Lock of Ben, except with white hair, a red jacket, and red eyes.
  • In The Crumpets, the recurring Weather Girl is usually blonde and wears a pinkish dress. In "Pity The Prize", the Weather Girl in that episode is colored like Cassandra (black/bluish hair, cyan shirt, dark blue skirt, brown belt), not to mention a different voice. This Palette Swap lets Cassandra disguise as the Weather Girl with few changes (as well as imitating her voice) so she can try preventing her love interest Pfff from attaching to the real Weather Girl.
  • In Dinosaur Train, similarly to Walking with Dinosaurs, prehistoric creatures that are related or look similar have the same generic body shape and only differ through their colour schemes and diverse display structures (horns for the ceratopsians, crests for the hadrosaurs, plates for the stegosaurs etc). The large theropods always have the same shape of the body and skull, no matter how closely related they are. For instance, aside from their colours, the Allosaurus and Giganotosaurus can only be told apart from a T. rex by their different number of fingers, the former's brow horns and the latter's osteoderms running down its spine. The Daspletosaurus looks exactly like T. rex (since they are related), but coloured differently.
  • In the Donkey Kong Country CGI cartoon, the character model for Eddie the Mean Old Yeti is the same as Donkey Kong's, but with white fur and a cap instead of a necktie.
  • Huey, Dewey, and Louie tend to dress identically but for color in DuckTales (1987) and various Donald Duck shorts. They vary it up a bit more in Quack Pack, though their preferred colors stay.
  • Family Guy:
    • Lois' sister, Carol, is basically another Lois with different hair and clothes. They sport the same exact face and body shape.
    • Stewie's evil clone from "The Hand That Rocks the Wheelchair" has the colors of Stewie's yellow shirt and red overalls switched.
  • In the Futurama episode "The Farnsworth Parabox", the crew of Planet Express goes to a Parallel Universe where coin flips and other random events having the opposite outcomes from their own and where they meet palette-swapped versions of themselves (Fry has black hair and a green jacket, Bender is gold-plated instead of gray, etc.), otherwise nearly identical in personality. This is a literal example in Bender's case, as when Bender originally came off the assembly line he flipped a coin to decide if he was going to have himself painted with a gunmetal gray finish or a golden one, making the two Benders ones that chose different palettes for the same physical model.
  • In Gargoyles, Owen and Vogel. They say nobody's ever said they look alike. Turns out it's because Puck based his Owen identity on Vogel, the trickster enjoying the irony of playing The Comically Serious. Further, one of the consequences of rapid growing a Gargoyle clone is a change in coloration, which was probably done to avoid the usual narrative consequences thereof.
  • Hanna-Barbera became infamous for this in the 60s and 70s, one example being Mumbly who was somewhat derived from Muttley of Wacky Races. Mumbly would later be partnered with The Dread Baron in Laff-A-Lympics as stand-ins for Muttley and Dick Dastardly, likely due to rights issues with Heatter-Quigley Productions who co-produced Wacky Races.
  • One somewhat bizarre non-Video Game example are Wile E. Coyote and Ralph Wolf. They were basically identical, except Ralph had a red nose and Wile E had a black one, and they lived in different areas.
  • Miraculous Ladybug tends to re-use characters with different colors during crowd shots to save budget. This class photo is one of the more obvious examples; pretty much all of the students are recolors of each other except for Aurore and Mireille (the blonde girl with pigtails and the dark-haired girl with the aqua sweater, respectively).
  • Mixels has various background filler Mixels that share the same character models, with the only difference being swapped colors to represent the elements of the tribe they're from.
  • In The Mr. Men Show, Mr. Bounce looks like a yellow Mr. Tickle with a pink hat instead of a blue one.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Due to the show's use of Flash animation, the easiest way to fill out crowd scenes is to reuse the same Flash models multiple times, in addition to mixing and matching mane, tail and cutie mark designs and adding or removing wings or a horn, to make new background ponies. The result is that most background characters tend to be recolored versions of a relatively small handful of basic models, and sometimes even major characters are palette-swapped to make background ponies.
    • Daring Do has the same appearance as Rainbow Dash, just with a monochrome mane and a tan rather than blue coat. Her explorer clothes help differentiate her. In her original appearance it was because Dash was imagining what she read in a book... and then when she appeared in person she still looked like that.
    • Photo Finish is a recolor of Twilight Sparkle, only with a shorter mane to make her look a little more like Anna Wintour. There are a few frames that lampshade this with her cutie mark, which is the same as Twilight's but with a camera added.
    • While most of the Woodland Creatures associated with Fluttershy only appear in one palette and the songbirds have different models for each color scheme, some are given extra variety by means of recolors of the same base model. The most extreme case are the rabbits, which have white, light or dark gray, tan, brown, and black recolors, with the addition of a pair of antlers making jackalopes.
    • "Swarm of the Century": The individual bugs in the multicolored parasprite swarm all share the same character design.
    • "Owl's Well That Ends Well": The green dragon is a palette swap of the red dragon in "Dragonshy" earlier in the season. This dragon's character design is used once again multiple times in "Dragon Quest", colored red, green, light blue or black. In addition, the dragons flying in the actual migration all use one of two character models, identical save that one has a slender snout and a long spike on its head and the other has a heavy jaw, an underbite and two short horns, both recolored in a rainbow of hues.
    • "Over a Barrel": The buffalo (besides Chief Thunderhooves and Little Strongheart, who have important enough roles to get their own models) all use the same Flash model as each other, recolored to have either brown, russet or tan fur to make scenes with their tribe less visually monotonous.
    • "The Return of Harmony, Part 1": The Keepers of the Grove of Truth are physically perfect copies of each other, their only differences being that one is dark red, one is orange-red, and one is green.
    • "Luna Eclipsed": The band that performs on stage are actually palette swaps of the band from "The Best Night Ever" but are wearing scarecrow costumes. Fiddly Faddle, the Octavia palette swap, also appears in "Apple Family Reunion".
    • "Magic Duel": The various versions of Applejack and Rarity that Twilight makes during the titular duel look like palette swaps of their younger sisters and various other members of the apple family. This is because they really are palette swaps, as Twilight is not strong enough to actually cast those spells, so the Apple Family and Sweetie Belle disguised themselves with paint and hair dyes instead. Likewise, Fluttershy is painted in Rainbow Dash's colors for the duplication illusion.
    • "Apple Family Reunion": The fruit bats are a particularly extreme example of this. Only the red ones are given detailed models, while all other bats are just outlines filled in with all the colors of the rainbow.
    • "Bats!": The same Flash model is used for all the vampire fruit bats, recolored brown, gray or slate blue to give them some variety.
    • "Amending Fences": Moondancer, a friend first mentioned in the first episode of the series but who does not appear properly until here in season 5, is partly a recolor of Twilight, emphasizing her role as a foil. When they're young, they're complete palette swaps aside from their Cutie Marks (and both are antisocial bookworms). At the time of the episode, Moondancer has acquired Big Ol' Eyebrows, Nerd Glasses, a sweater and a messier "I don't care what I look like" version of the hairstyle, though it's still a modification of the same one with a hair bobble. (And she's become even more antisocial whereas Twilight has learnt to appreciate friendship.) We also see that before Twilight's rejection traumatised her and she decided to isolate herself, she had the eyebrows and glasses but was still otherwise a palette swap. (This doesn't so much seem to have symbolic significance as to be a needed halfway point between the two other looks.)
  • The New Scooby-Doo Movies: One episode reuses a character model of a villain from the original series, and just recolors him white to make a 'new' villain.
  • PAW Patrol: One episode features a one-off pup named Sylvia, who is a palette swap of Chase with blue fur and purple eyes rather than brown fur and orange eyes.
  • Ready Jet Go!:
    • Moonbeam is a light blue version of Sunspot.
    • Carrot and Celery's boss from "Back to Bortron 7" is just a huge green Sunspot, but with a mustache obscuring his mouth.
    • Face 9001 is an orange recolor of Face 9000.
  • Shimmer and Shine: Dottie, the polka-dotted elephant from "My Secret Genies", is practically the elephant from "Abraca-Genie" with polka dots and a different color pattern.
  • Homer and Krusty the Clown in The Simpsons have the exact body shape and face with the obvious difference being Krusty is in clown shoes and makeup. Originally, Homer was supposed to have been a clown as a hidden job that Bart wouldn't know about, but the idea got scrapped and Homer's clown design was made into a separate character.
  • Fairly common in South Park for background classmates at the boys' school, or for adults in other crowd scenes. Although the animators have put together more distinct character models for extras in later seasons, palette swaps can still occur when they don't feel up to making even more new ones.
  • Many extras on SpongeBob SquarePants are Palette Swaps of each other. For example, the "My Leg!" and "Deaugh!" fishes.
  • Star Wars: Rebels: Minister Maketh Tua is a palette-swapped generic citizen. Which led to confusion after her death in "The Siege of Lothal", because on at least two occasions afterward ("The Future of the Force", "Legacy") extras with that character model have been seen. Especially notable in "Legacy", where the extra in question gets a distinctive reaction shot.
  • Totally Spies! has a Shout-Out example with the girls' predecessors, Pam, Alice, and Crimson. The women look almost exactly like Hitomi, Ai, and Rui from Cat's Eye, just with different hair and eye colors.
  • Transformers has some In-Universe examples of characters performing Palette Swaps on themselves, though:
    • In the original series, Optimus Prime received one as a side effect of being coated with Dr. Morgan's impervious alloy in "The Return of Optimus Prime, Part 2". He's back to his original colors by the end of the episode, but it's never mentioned if it's because the alloy coating was removed, or if his colors were repainted over the alloy, and neither the American nor Japanese continuations make further mention of the alloy. Amusingly, the "impervious" Optimus Prime ends up looking like Ultra Magnus' cab robot mode (albeit the toy variant without the blue paint highlights on his head), which is likely why they put him back in his normal colors as soon as the story no longer had the need for the alloy.
    • In Transformers: Animated, Bumblebee, Wasp, and Longarm Prime/Shockwave demonstrate palette-swapping abilities via "electronic paint job".
    • Lampshaded in the third season of Transformers: Prime. When the Autobots went underground, Bumblebee reversed his colors, from being a yellow car with black stripes to a black car with yellow stripes. Arcee (who is blue with a few pink accents) notes that if she were to do that, she'd end up mostly pink.

    Real Life 
  • Any product that is mass produced can also be made with different colors. Cars and electronics are a big example of this.
    • Nintendo is very fond of making their consoles and accessories in different colors. The Nintendo 64 had controllers of various colors, ranging from red, blue, green, purple, etc. The console itself would also be produced in colors beyond black late in its life. When the Gamecube was launched, it came in either black or purple, along with its controllers. Later on, there would be a silver/platinum version and for a short time, there was orange, but that color was used only for the controller. The Wii initially released only in white, but it was also produced in black years later and there were controllers in black as well, along with pink, blue, and a limited edition of gold. The Wii-U and its controllers only ever came in either black or white. The Switch console is only produced in black, although the attachable Joy-Con come in gray, as well as several neon colors such as blue, red, yellow, green and pink. A set of limited edition Super Mario Odyssey red Joy-Con also exist. The standard wireless Pro Controller is black, although a Splatoon 2 Pro Controller with green and pink grips came out to coincide with the release of the game. There are several other cheaper Pro Controller variants, but they lack several features found only in their more expensive brethren.
    • Nintendo's handhelds are an even bigger example of palette swapping, having huge amounts of colors consumers could pick from and some of them were limited edition colors (such as gold) and a few of those were never released outside of their regions. There's a ton of colors that were used throughout each handheld iteration and they can be found here for the Game Boy line and for the DS line.
  • Badge engineering.
    • A car company takes one of their cars, swaps out the badges, then maybe changes the bodywork slightly before selling in one of their subsidiaries. General Motors is/was infamous for this, famously selling seven versions of effective the same car in the 1980s, all in the same market. The modern Volkswagen group likewise does the same, typically giving its affordable divisions previous-generation VW vehicles to modify. Chrysler, from 1970 until 1994, sold rebadged Mitsubishi compact cars because Chrysler's own compacts were so awful that nobody bought them. They stopped when they finally came up with a decent compact of their own in the Neon. Lampshaded with their mid-80s ads for the fifth-generation Dodge/Plymouth Colt.
      "Colt. It's all the Japanese you need to know."
    • Lincoln made fun of this in a 1980s commercial, where people get confused over which GM luxury car is theirs, since at the time, there was very little to distinguish top-trim Cadillacs, Buicks and Oldsmobiles from each other. They even had a followup where some of the people involved learned their lesson and got Lincolns to alleviate the issue. (Ironically, nowadays Lincolns have a reputation for being badge-engineered Fords, though as of late they've been trying to shake this reputation, with the current Lincoln Continental perhaps being the prime example.)
  • Basically any cheap self-promotional item handed out by a hotel, real estate agent, car dealer, etc, was almost certainly ordered from some generic wholesaler, meaning the pen, notepad, fidget spinner, etc, you got from them is probably completely identical to many other free pens/notepads/fidget spinners floating around out there except the color and logo is different. Companies in China specialise in this, where they offer "original design manufacturer" (ODM) services to interested clients through sites such as Alibaba — one would place a miminal order of about a hundred or so units and have them rebadged to suit the client's needs. This accounts for why you can see a cheap Android smartphone or MP3 player being sold by unrelated companies but share the same design and internals.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Palette Swaps


The Dwarfs

Phelous points out a design quirk for the Dwarfs.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / PaletteSwap

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