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Underground Monkey

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Slime, She-Slime, Metal Slime, King Slime, Metal King Slime, Bubble Slime, Cure Slime, Gem Slime, Jelly, Slime Knight, the list goes on...

"Even when monsters share the same form, if their colors differ, their strength and levels are completely different, too!"
Mei, Endro~!

Sprites and models are expensive and (used to) use up precious memory. Original ideas for monster types are even more so. As a result, there is a tendency to keep the number of distinct enemy types small. In an RPG or similar game where the player is expected to become more powerful over the course of the game, this is a problem, as the monsters stop being challenging about the time you Get on the Boat.

The solution many games go for is to have a small set of monster types, but have them appear with different graphics. Often, this change of design will be accompanied by a new adjective to go with their name. If the monster was based on a mythological or cryptozoological creature, subsequent names will be alternate names for the creature (Bigfoot to Sasquatch to Yeti), or the name of a similar creature (Basilisk and Cockatrice). Typically, all such monsters will be vulnerable to the same strategy, or a variation thereupon, but later colors will tend to be more powerful. Elemental Variations are a common version of this trope as are variations in size and adding or removing features like horns, wings, or crowns.

Underground Monkeys are often Palette Swaps, meaning only the colors change but models are recycled, but they don't have to be. As long as they're recycled versions of previous enemies, the changes between the different versions could be anything. You might have normal Goombas, winged Goombas, undead Goombas, big Goombas... Even King Goomba is a type of Underground Monkey.

Results in the somewhat strange phenomenon that as you travel a diverse world, rather than simply seeing a diversity of creature types, you also see the same creature types, in a diversity of versions: in The Lost Woods, you find the Wolf, the Giant Rat, and the Forest Dragon; in the Slippy-Slidey Ice World, you find their icy counterparts Arctic Wolf, the Snow Rat, and the White Dragon; in the Temple of Doom, you'll face their dark counterparts, Dire Wolf, Plague Rat, and Zombie Dragon.

The most common Underground Monkeys are those whose names begin with one of fire, ice or lightning. In games which play Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors, the colors may also indicate elemental weakness. Underground Monkeys commonly have a Group-Identifying Feature to distinguish them from regular monkeys.

FPS games regularly do this with at least one of the more basic enemies (but tougher opponents sometimes get the same treatment). In the older era, this was done by changing the colouring of otherwise identical sprites, in 3D games it takes the somewhat more advanced and differentiating form of using different skins for the same model (or even different models for the same enemy).

Contrast Artifact Mook, which is when an enemy appears in places and quantities that defy its original context.

If these variants only appear on higher difficulties, they would also be a type of Hard Mode Mooks.

Named for a Running Gag in RPG World, wherein the Underground Monkey is suspected of being attracted by Genre Savvy characters.

Not to be confused with actual monkeys living underground, such as beneath Dusty Dunes Desert or under the sewers. See also Diverging Evolutionary Phases.

Video Game Examples:

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  • In Back to the Future (1989), pink-shirted Bullies directly charge Marty when he approaches, whereas blue ones run in circles.
  • Games based on BIONICLE, since the toys are like this. "You are attacked by an Air Burnak." "You are attacked by a Stone Burnak." "You are attacked by an Ice Burnak."
  • Cave Story has a nice variety of enemy types, but recolors the critters (those beanbag-looking hopping things) and bats in several different caves.
  • In God of War (PS4), somewhat surprisingly for a game with such high quality everywhere else it counts, you can probably count the number of enemy models on your fingers; underground monkeys make up the majority of the game's enemy variety until you're most of the way through the game. Particularly egregious with bosses, because every major boss except the dragon is a giant troll with a pillar of something over its shoulder (even the bridge keeper of Helheim, of all things), every minor boss is the same rock-monster thing (played arrow-straight; Fire Ancient / Forest Ancient / etc), and every fully-optional boss is a Valkyrie, and they all have the same basic attacks. But even the Mooks number only a few in variety, especially the Nightmares which have different variants for all accessible realms. It takes quite a few chapters for you to get a base mook that doesn't look anything like a draugr anymore.
  • In The Guardian Legend, enemies and bosses come in green, blue, and red varieties, with corresponding increases in strength and endurance, as well as differences in abilities and attack patterns.
  • In Jables's Adventure, there are regular forest-dwelling bears, a SCUBA-diving bear, and a volcano-dwelling bear with a flamethrower. There's also the slimes, which get Palette Swapped and appear in darn near every area of the game.
  • While the main-series Kingdom Hearts games largely avoid this by simply scaling the strength of enemies found in later worlds, 358/2 Days plays it straight, with up to three different versions of many mooks where the only difference is size, a design choice that may have been mandated by limited space for the game data.
  • The Legend of Spyro:
    • The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning:
      • In the Tall Plains, a Temple of Doom jungle area, Spyro encounters rubble brutes, masses of rock in roughly humanoid forms held together by vines. Later, in the electrified Crystal Landscape of Concurrent Skies, he comes across crystal brutes, which are made out of crystal blocks and held together by streams of electricity.
      • The Electric King, a miniboss in Concurrent Skies, uses the same model and animation as the Ice King, the boss of Dante's Freezer.
    • The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night: Most enemies and bosses are simply reskins of ones from A New Beginning:
      • The first enemies encountered, the toadweeds, are simply purple recolors of the frogweeds, the first enemies in the previous game.
      • In the Ancient Grove, the local growths are simply recolors of the ones from the first game's Swamp. The grove mites and grove worms are lava beetles and magma worms adapted to match the poisonous forest instead of the Munition Forge's Lethal Lava Land. The boss Arborick is also a remodel of the Stone Sentinel.
      • The Skavengers and their scurvywing and blundertail mounts are recolors of the Apes and their dreadwings and buffalo beetles.
      • While the Ravage Rider uses a distinct model, its attack and movement patterns are recycled from Steam's.
      • The four elemental trials in the Celestial Caverns are populated by crystal brutes, first encountered in the previous game's Concurrent Skies level, tweaked to have the colors and elemental effects of their respective sub-areas.
      • The Executioner and the Elemental Spirits share the same basic model and attack animations as the Ice and Electric Kings in the first game.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The very first game use of two palettes for most enemies and some bosses, usually a standard red/orange palette and a stronger blue palette. This would be re-used in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening , the The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Some of the palette swaps also have behavior differences, e.g. Red Wizzrobes Teleport Spam and take potshots at Link, while Blue ones more directly pursue him.
    • Chuchus, the Zelda take on the classic slimes, have had color variants since their introduction in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. There, the color only determined their drop, but starting in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, it determines their behavior and elemental affinity.
    • Keese come in several elemental varieties. Along with regular Keese, there are Fire Keese, Ice Keese, and as of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Thunder Keese and Cursed Keese.
    • Darknuts, and their cousin the Iron Knuckles, usually have armor color (and decoration) determining their tier, even in games where other enemies don't have such variants.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: Stronger varieties of soldiers simply have differently colored armor. Interestingly enough, the color coincides with the colors of Link's own armor upgrades obtained later in the game (green being the standard version, blue being stronger than green, and red being the strongest). Most enemies in the Dark World are a redesigned version of a Light World enemy with similar behavior.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has the Lizalfos and its stronger variant, the Dinolfos. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess also introduces the Aeralfos.
    • The Versus Books' Strategy Guide for Majora's Mask characterized the White Wolfos as being "like regular Wolfos, only, um, whiter." From the same game, the Bad Bat is an outdoor version of the Keese.
    • Oracle of Seasons introduces a special golden variety with a lot of health, of which there is only one in a species in the entire game. All four of them must be hunted down for a sidequest.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures and The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap feature Fire and Ice Wizzrobes alongside the standard kind. Four Swords Adventures also includes Force Gem-sucking Wizzrobes.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, there are five types of rabbit you can collect, matching the environment in which they're found, including one that lives in the sea.
    • Breath of the Wild adds extra color tiers in black and silver, with spawns moving up in tier as Link gets stronger. The Master Mode DLC also brings back golden enemies as an even stronger version of silver. For Wizzrobes, it adds an Electric variant alongside Fire and Ice to match the Keese, and Lizalfos uniquely have both colored and elemental varieties.
  • Ōkami both applies and inverts this trope. Its enemies are classified under categories based on their tactics where their character models denote tiers of difficulty and/or different elements. Which means the game has visually disparate species that all behave like near-identical monsters. The Fallen Demon category includes the monkey-like Imps, the bulky and headless statue Guardians, the masked and winter-clothed Namahages, and the ancient relic-themed Clay Army. They're visually and biologically very different entities, but they all move and attack the same way. The Wheeled Destruction enemies are made of nine differently modeled wheels, mirrors, and even three weasels stuck together... but they're basically the same enemy with elemental themes.
  • Resident Evil series has several:
  • In The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang, the Desert Clove, Frozen Clove and Forest Clove appear in later levels as increasingly tougher variations of the Killer Clove.

    Beat 'em Ups 
  • Double Dragon did this. While it certainly wasn't unusual or unexpected for a game of the arcade era, the fact that all of your opponents were human meant that different coloured characters got rather stupid toward the end. Whilst a man with brown or pink skin made sense, the same character with better fighting skills and blue, grey or green skin later in the game was cause for raised eyebrows.
  • Double Dragon Neon, in addition to palette swaps, also has model variations for mooks, such as the Afro Williams, Mohawk Linda, and Tatooed Cooley hat-wearing Abobo.

    Fighting Games 
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy: Every enemy in the game is a crystallized palette swap of the 22 characters you can use in the game, and all the bosses are those same characters, only normal. The only enemy that is at all different is the Final Boss, Chaos.

    First-Person Shooters 
  • Quake II has the weapon guards, which have different weaponry and/or levels of toughness, and the Tank Commanders, who are twice-as-tough gold-armored Tanks that serve as the Makron's Praetorian Guard.
  • Doom has the Specters, which are similar to the standard Demons but have a partial Invisibility.
  • Doom II introduces the Hell Knights, variants of the Barons of Hell that attack with a differently-colored type of projectile and have a crimson skin.
  • Duke Nukem 3D has Assault Captains, who are orange-armored Assault Troopers with the ability to teleport.
  • Unreal has the Melee-based Skaarj Warriors and Weapon-based Skaarj Troopers, as well as Elite Mercenaries which stand out from the non-Elite versions with the ability to fire when shielded. They're designed for the sake of diversity, especially common in regards to enemies meant to be more or less regular human beings. This in order to avoid the effect of feeling that the enemies faced are the same individual cloned countless times, usually to the effect of creating the impression that such cloning rather took place on three to five different individuals instead.
  • In Turok 2, Blind Ones, Fireborns, and Troopers are skin swaps of Sentinels, Endtrails, and Mantid Soldiers, respectively. The former two are literal underground mooks.
  • In Borderlands, when you're done with your first playthrough on the main game and start on a second run, the enemies are levelled to the player's, but their models don't change. Played straight in the first and final DLCs, The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned and Claptrap's New Robot Revolution, which features zombified and "-trap'd" enemies and bosses. The zombies have noticeably different AI, while the trap'd enemies just have different skins and dialogue.
  • Deep Rock Galactic features Heavily Amored Elite Mooks called Praetorians. In most levels they're green and breathe acid. In the Glacial Strata they're blue and breathe ice. And in the Radiactive Exclusion Zone, they're grey and irradiate the surrounding area, not to mention their corpses exude rads instead of poison gas. Several lesser glyphids have similar, if less-pronounced changes in these same zones, which make minimal difference in the Exclusion Zone but can get troublesome in the Strata due to freezing.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has giant geckos as mooks that can be blasted fairly easily in an early tutorial. They appear in more challenging (and differently coloured) forms throughout the game.
  • Halo:
    • In the original trilogy, Elites and Grunts got different-colored armor based on their military rank (determined largely by Asskicking Leads to Leadership), while Jackals got different colored shields and some minor armor changes. There were also special classes, like Honor Guards and Elite Councilors, with more distinct (and often far more ornate) armor.
    • While Brute ranks in Halo 2 were indicated by whether they had a bit of armor and/or a flag on their back, Halo 3 dramatically revamped their appearance, with each higher rank having more noticeably elaborate armor, while sub-ranks (Minor, Major, Ultra) were represented by palette swaps. The highest class, Brute Chieftains, have red or gold-accented black armor and warbonnet-like helmets. Halo: Reach re-simplified the system by doing away with the sub-rank palette swaps.
    • Halo 3: ODST gave Drones a ranking system, that was unsurprisingly also differentiated by color. The game also featured the only appearance of gold-armored Hunters fighting alongside their standard blue-armored counterparts.
    • Halo: Reach was the first game in the series where you could tell what rank and specialty every Covenant mook had even if you removed all the color, due to dramatically increased differentiation between their armor, which has carried over into subsequent games.
    • Most bosses in Halo 5's Warzone game mode have the same appearance as normal enemies but with a different color. The Legendary and Mythic variants are the same way with regards to the weaker bosses.
  • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes: A lot of enemy concepts are recycled from Metroid Prime with new models. Some are barely changed (like the recoloured Triclops) while others are given a complete overhaul: the Beetle becoming the much smaller Splinter, the Elite Pirate the Ingsmasher, Baby Sheegoths becoming Grenchlers, Chozo Ghosts becoming Pirate Commandos, etc. There's also a few examples in the games themselves, like the normal/ice/plated Parasites in Prime and the light/dark creatures in Echoes. The Ingsmashers simply reused the Elite Pirate combat codes from Prime with only a small tweak for the shield thingy.
  • The later levels of Pathways into Darkness feature Ghasts (aka Earthquake Zombies), Yuck Monsters (green Oozes that are invincible, but avoid the player if he is poisoned), Venomous Skitters (which as their name implies, inflict poison status), and Greater Nightmares (who are armored and shoot homing projectiles).
  • Team Fortress 2: The robotic mercs in Grey Mann's army have many different variants, distinguished by their different cosmetics. For example, the Steel Gauntlet is a Stone Wall Heavy robot limited to melee attacks, while the Steel Gauntlet Pusher, identified by its hair and mustache, has stronger attacks that inflict knockback.
  • In Sensory Overload, the McNinja enemies have two variations with identical sprites. The first type are limited to melee attacks but ambush the player in groups, while the second, usually encountered solo, have an Invisibility Cloak and throw highly damaging shurikens.

    Hack and Slash  
  • Diablos I, II and III' were full of this. Every single enemy in the games, apart from quest specific bosses, came in various levels of strength denoted by colour and had otherwise identical sprites as others of its type. It's mentioned in the first game manual that this is because the Prime Evils, the leaders of the demons, would alter their servants forms to better deal with whatever threat they were facing at the time.
  • In Prince of Persia, the mooks (aside from the Politician in Level 6) all use the same sprite, with different colors denoting their HP and AI level. The SNES version also applies this trope to the Skeleton and Knight bosses; the initial version of the former is white while the Degraded Boss versions are brown, and the latter first appears in a red outfit, then upgraded in blue garb. The Classic remake has much more varied enemy designs.
  • In the original Strider (Arcade) and its sequel, there are very few enemies of this type, such as the green/red Russian Infantryman or the gold Balrog Marine Corps in the final stage of the first. The 2014 reboot, however, takes the trope and goes with it full-force, having almost exclusively variations of the same "Light Trooper", only changing their weapons (rifle, sniper, bazooka...) or their color depending on location (Military areas have red troopers, Research areas have white).

    Maze Games 
  • It all started with Pac-Man, where the color coding of ghosts let the designers get away with only having one enemy type — the colors indicated different AI strategies in how they pursued the heroic circle.

  • Demon Hunter: The Return of the Wings: A lot of later enemies and mini-bosses are redesigns or are full copies of weaker enemies.
  • Hollow Knight:
    • Crawlids and Tiktiks are similar in size and appearance, but the latter has the ability to climb on walls and ceilings. Crystal Crawlers move like Tiktiks but also fire sweeping laser beams from their backs.
    • Volatile Mosskin look very similar to regular Mosskin, but regularly emit Deadly Gas and explode after death.
    • Fungified Husks, which as their name implies look like fungus-covered Wandering Husks, behave the same as Volatile Mosskin. Spiny Husks are Wandering Husks that shoot spikes.
    • Aspid Hunters are the standard of their species, Aspid Mothers periodically spawn Aspid Hatchlings in addition to directly attacking the player, and Primal Aspids are the Elite Mook variant, widely maligned for their three-way projectile attack that is irritatingly difficult to dodge.
    • Bosses that leave a corpse can be Dream Nailed to fight an upgraded version with a different name, e.g. False Knight->Failed Champion, Soul Master->Soul Tyrant, and Broken Vessel->Lost Kin.
    • The Infected version of the Forgotten Crossroads replaces Vengeflies, Gruzzers, Wandering Husks, and Leaping Husks with Furious Vengeflies, Volatile Gruzzers, Violent Husks, and Slobbering Husks, the first two of which go Action Bomb when killed, the third of which kamikaze charge the player before exploding, and the last of which has a Spread Shot Zombie Puke Attack.
    • Crystallized Husks are crystal-encrusted Husk Miners armed with Frickin' Laser Beams.
    • Volt Twisters, only encountered during the Trial of the Fool, are recolored and slightly redrawn Soul Twisters with lightning-based attacks.
    • The Colosseum of Fools also has Sharp Baldurs, Armored Squits, Battle Obbles, and Death Loodles, which are spikier and more heavily armored than their main game counterparts.
    • Mantis Traitors and Mantis Petras are upgraded versions of the Mantis Warriors and Mantis Youths, respectively; the former using a dive attack in addition to their Deadly Lunge, the latter throwing scythes similar to those of the Mantis Lords.
    • The penultimate boss of the Godmaster DLC is the Pure Vessel, an uncorrupted and therefore much stronger palette swap of the eponymous Hollow Knight with a new arsenal of attacks that deal twice the damage.
  • Monster Tale applies it not only to the enemies but also to one of the heroes; Ellie's partner Chomp has three basic body types (Child, Teenager, and Adult), and all of Chomp's various forms are variations of those — one may be the basic form plus wings, another plus a tail, with spikes, with just one eye, etc.
  • Many enemies in Ori and the Blind Forest get stronger palette swaps later on, and some of these have new abilities as well, e.g. the green Rams (rhino-like armored creatures) are Action Bombs with a Rolling Attack, red spiders have a spreadshot attack, the pink slime blobs' projectiles become damaging spikes when they hit a surface, the large slugs have a variant that jumps out of the ground when attacking, some of the plasma orbs shoot insta-kill laser beams in addition to fireballs, and "ice" and "fire" variants of enemies appear in the Forlorn Ruins and Mount Horu, respectively.
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps continues the tradition:
    • Red Mantises have a Shockwave Stomp, and there are later horned variants with higher HP and faster attack speed.
    • The larger blue Skeetos are faster, more resilient and lethal than their red and green brethren.
    • Red Snappers have a Rolling Attack and explode on contact like the aforementioned Kamikaze Rams.
    • Shell Slugs can only be damaged either by Burrowing underneath them or flipping them over with the Spirit Hammer.
    • Purple Snapping Vines shoot a stream of projectiles rather than one at a time.
    • Spider Bats, like the spiders from the first game, come in three flavors. The first shoots a single energy ball, the second shoots a spread of three, and the third shoots a constant stream of what looks like guano, which can't be deflected with Bash unlike the energy projectiles.
    • One version of the tentacled worm-type enemies swims in water, while the other burrows in sand.
  • Some enemies in Singular Stone are this, mostly based if you use Miku's ability to make snow fall in the area. One of the notable one are the Skyfish from the Canyon area: the blue one appears in group when it's snowing and quite weak, while the orange one appear in solitary when it's not snowing, but moves really fast, has high HP and defense, and deal a lot of damage.
  • Super Metroid:
    • The game has half a dozen different colours of Space Pirates of increasing power, from the wimpy grey Pirates in Old Tourian to the nasty red variant in Maridia that requires the plasma beam to harm. There were also a pair of gold Pirates that served as sub-bosses before Ridley's lair.
    • Nearly every zone has its own variation of the basic Zoomer/Geemer (which itself comes in a few different colours in both the original game and Super Metroid), Sidehoppers and Desgeegas are the same enemy with different skin, Gerutas are Norfair's version of Reos, Ripper IIs are faster moving Rippers...

  • AdventureQuest's many different Zards definitely qualify. They typically serve as The Goomba.
  • EverQuest used this extensively. It may have been possible to fight a "variety" of Skeletons — sharing one model and possibly one texture (with Palette Swaps) — all the way from level 1 to max level.
  • Everquest II has some sort of skeleton or zombie in almost every zone.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has this, as with the rest of the franchise, though this can be seen in a variety of ways. For instance, some zones share the same monster outright with other zones in the same game, especially at lower levels. In other cases, monster models will be renamed and repurposed for higher level zones (sometimes giving a variant ability — a certain wolf foe will often have an opening AoE line in front of them, but one zone may give it a bleed effect where another gives it paralysis). The various "Morbol" enemies (formerly Marlboros in earler FF games) all have similar designs with a big maw, tentacles, and a massive, multi-status AOE, but these come in different varieties from the level 30 strophers to the giant Halistropher to the level 64 "Purbols" (literally purple morbols). On the other hand, this can also be subverted from time to time, with monsters bearing a resemblance to earlier foes but having a different skill set, or being a combination of multiple foes. The anemones in Shadowbringers represent this best — visually, they look like a variation on the floating jellyfish mob (i.e. aurellae) first seen in La Noscea... but they also have the Morbol "Bad Breath" attack.
    • Justified with the Garlean forces fought at different points in the game. A Realm Reborn has five overworld Garlean locations (Castrum Centri, Agelyss Wise, Eastern Shroud, Castrum Marinum/Cape Westwind, and Raubahn's Push) in the upper levels of play, as well as the final two dungeons. Each uses similar enemy designs, with the name being "[number] Cohort [class]." The Cohort denotes the location (each cohort being assigned to a particular locale), and the class names denote the combat style, modeled after one of the original seven classes from Legacy (Arcanist and Rogue aren't represented herein, as they were later additions; these foes date back to Legacy/1.0). The same happens in Azys Lla in Heavensward, where the V Ith Legion reuses the old models for both the soldiers and the magitech units, on the basis that they're part of an organized military. Even Bozjan Southern Front and Zadnor get in on the action, while also adding new unit types (Aquilifers giving us Garlean Arcanists, for instance, and beastmasters being similar to gladiators, but using one-handed marauder axes in place of swords).
    • Zadnor also brings back several enemy models from the Ivalice raids — specifically, Lucavi enemies — and a few other places as the basis for some of the bosses. Again Justified as these foes result from a foe using Auracite to transform, just as the Lucavi were born from mortals using Auracite. These new ones are differentiaed by the use of "Fourth Make" — as in, made by a soldier of the Fourth Legion.
  • Guild Wars:
    • The game will often subtly alter the mesh of different "species" of the same sort of enemy (the Tengu, the minotaurs, the Nightfall insects, and so on).
    • Guild Wars Eye of the North has plenty of enemies recycled from the three previous campaigns, but the most noticeable example is re-using a species of monsters called "Mandragors". These insect/plant hybrids are found in the deserts of Nightfall, burrowing under the sand. In Eye of the North, identical monsters with the same name live in cold climate and burrow under snow, without as much as a Lampshade Hanging to explain it. See also: the frogmen, though this is lampshaded by the fact that each color appears to designate a different tribe. This doesn't stop them from being modified versions of the Heket from Nightfall, though.
  • Perhaps parodied with Kingdom of Loathing with the perpendicular bat. Its description when you fight it is "This bat is perpendicular to the ground! That makes it totally different from a regular bat!" Definitely parodied with the completely different spider, an upside-down version of the "big creepy spider." The game uses crude Stylistic Suck artwork, making these shortcuts especially silly.
  • The Lord of the Rings Online re-skins meshes all the time. They have even hung a lampshade on the practice with a quest in Evendim, in which you are sent out for your umpteenth "kill me some boars" quest. It doesn't actually tell you to kill the boars, just look for some. This is important in that there are no boars in Evendim. This was further lampshaded in a later introduced dungeon in Evendim, where you actually can encounter boars. If you kill one, a quest starter item will drop giving you the quest to finally bring the original questgiver his boarmeat.
  • Mabinogi is a particularly egregious user of this trope. There are a very limited number of enemy types; and they tend to get recycled constantly. The most blatant example are mongooses in Iria. They exist in nearly every part of the Maiz Prairie region, and are indistinguishable except by tail colour (even their names reflect this), with each colour indicating a different difficulty level.
  • Phantasy Star Online does this in Episode I. The Forest enemy type Boomas, the Caves enemy type Sharks, and the Ruins enemy type Dimenians all have the same basic "skeleton" and body structure, and the same attack animations. Later episodes seem to avert this, possibly because they were designed for more powerful hardware than the Dreamcast original.
  • Ragnarok Online has a few of these: (Archer/Soldier/Pirate) Skeletons, Kobolds/Goblins and to some extent Orcs, the Poring family and some others. There are also lots of monsters that have just one stronger palette-swapped version, and a few families of monsters that have the same name and behaviour, but different colors and attacks/stats/elements appearing in the same areas.
  • Prior to the first update in RF Online there were a fair number of reskinned creatures, although the story behind them made more sense. When the new "Episode" add-ons were introduced, many of the creatures were recolored and resized for the newer areas. In fact even the players became this, as equipment above level 50 would be a reskin of an earlier piece of equipment. The newest update mitigated this somewhat with Elfland, where the reskinned enemies were few and far between, and a lot of new models were made for it. Too bad you wont get a chance to enjoy it.
  • Temtem has Chromeon and Koish, which both come in 12 forms, one for every type. Each form has a different colour scheme, head shape, and movepool.
  • The creeps in Warcraft III are often subtle variations of each other, with the creep's size being a general indicator of its strength in comparison to others like it.
  • War Thunder does this with the aviation and ground tech trees of many nations. The Spitfire is one of the most ubiquitous aircraft in the game with the British aviation branch alone has 21 variants. The post-WW2 aviation branches of Germany and Japan are comprised almost exclusively of American fighter jets.
  • World of Warcraft: Minor cosmetic variations on enemies are the rule, rather than the exception, due to the sheer size of the game:
    • Nearly every zone has some version of a wolf or boar to kill.
    • As humanoids go, nearly every zone has some version of a gnoll or murloc. They are just everywhere!
    • Terokkarantula is tougher than the smaller spiders nearby, as would be expected by it's named nature and elite status, but a player who hasn't been there before is probably not expecting a spider that's larger than a house.
    • In later expansions, the developers go through a good deal of work to create a few "unique" creatures for each expansion (especially the alien planet Outland). Still, you're unlikely to hit a zone that doesn't have at least two or three models you've seen before.
    • Battle pets representing different regional variants of the same species generally use the same model with different colors. For example, the house cat model is used for twelve different battle pets, each with a different coat color or pattern. Many pets are also vastly downscaled versions of actual enemies, often with the explanation that they're a child or runt.
  • World of Tanks does this with some of its tanks turning up across different nations' technology trees. More than one nation has vehicles built upon the Renault FT-17 and the Russian T-54 family, along with some British and American tanks (the M5 Stuart). Justified from historical reasons, though - the British and the Americans did export tanks to the USSR under Lend-Lease, the Renault FT-17 was in service across many nations as a training tank well into the beginning of the Second World War, and the Russian T-54 family of tanks and its derivatives were the most widely produced tanks in history, landing up in service under many Soviet allies.

  • The Stage 6 and 7 bosses in Blaster Master, which are otherwise palette swaps of the Stage 2 and 4 bosses, have different, more powerful attacks than their predecessors.
  • Bug! tended to use different enemies for each area, although some enemies are variants of others:
    • The Invincible Minor Minion flower enemies. At a good few points in Insectia, you encounter them where they attack with pollen bombs from the background. Later on in Splot, they're encountered again, this time spawning Bees from the background. Curiously, you also find one of them in Arachnia, in a less obvious secret area, and this one spits out fireballs from the background.
    • A nasty one with the snail enemies. In Insectia Scene 3, snails were very slow and took three hits to die. Then when you get to Splot, you see them again without any palette swap... except that they take nine hits, move twice as fast, and when they notice Bug they take out freaking machine guns from their shells and fire at him!
    • The beetle enemies with silly hats appeared in the penultimate world Burrubs, and alternated between moving slowly and quickly whenever they took damage. A brown variant appears in the final world Arachnia, and these split into smaller, faster versions of itself when damaged.
  • The Super Hulk or Super Mech from Descent is a red version of the Medium Hulk that is much tougher and armed with homing missiles. Green Class 2 Platforms fire missile barrages in place of the lasers of their brown brethren. The Fusion Hulk is a scaled down version of the first boss armed with a Fusion Cannon. In the second game, the Spawn is a green version of the Red Hornet, and the Tiger or Red Fatty Jr. uses the same model as the first boss, although it is smaller and has completely different weapons.
  • Donkey Kong Country: Krusha comes in two varieties. The first kind is blue with green camo and is only beatable by either of Donkey Kong's main attacks or a barrel (Diddy Kong's attacks are laughed off). The second kind only appears once in the SNES version, in the very last level before Master Neck Sr. and King K. Rool. This version is grey with purple camo; the only thing that can beat him is a barrel, making him the strongest of the Kremlings.
  • In the remake of Kirby Super Star, all of the new bosses save Kabula are stronger versions of bosses from the original:
    • Revenge of the King: Whispy's Revenge for Whispy Woods, Lololo and Lalala's Revenge for Lololo and Lalala, Kracko Jr's Revenge for Kracko Jr, Kracko's Revenge for Kracko, and Masked Dedede for King Dedede.
    • Helper to Hero: Wham Bam Jewel for Wham Bam Rock, doubling as a nod to Crazy Hand from Super Smash Bros.
    • Meta Knightmare Ultra: Galacta Knight for Meta Knight.
    • The True Arena: Marx Soul for Marx.
    • This has since become a recurring feature of Kirby, having harder versions of the main game’s mini-bosses and main bosses with many new attacks and new colors (with a few having changes to the model itself as well and some groups having unified color schemes), usually indicted by an addition to their name shared with most of the other upgraded bosses. Kirby's Return to Dream Land has the EX bosses for the game’s Extra Mode, Kirby: Triple Deluxe has the DX bosses for the Dededetour mode, Kirby: Planet Robobot has the 2.0 bosses for Meta Knightmare Returns, Kirby Star Allies has the Parallel bosses for Heroes in Another Dimension, and Kirby and the Forgotten Land has the Phantom bosses for Forgo Dreams. In addition, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe has different elemental versions of some of the main bosses in Magolor Epilogue: The Interdimensional Traveler.
  • Oh Jeez, Oh No, My Rabbits Are Gone!!! has increasingly unusual rabbits to rescue, beginning with the trained rabbits which can climb short ledges and can perform slightly more complicated commands like "pull that lever" or "do a trick". Later variations can blow bubbles (to let you walk underwater), fly, or teleport.
  • In Purple, basic mooks like slimes, bats and cannons get Palette Swapped at least three times, each with a slightly different behaviour.
  • Ratchet & Clank started doing this with Up Your Arsenal, where enemies, particularly the Tyhrranoids, would be replaced with tougher versions later in the game with more health and damage. In Ratchet: Deadlocked, 90% of the enemy lineup consisted of these.
  • Enemy types in Saint Seiya Ougon Densetsu Kanketsu Hen are only three: normal, spearmen and archers. They all use the same sprite, only changing colors as the player progress in the game.
  • Shantae and the Seven Sirens: There's the red Crabs and the Palette Swap blue, stronger, Crabs.
  • In Sonic Heroes, Badniks are limited to models that come in different variants with abilities typically determined by their colors. The best example is the Flapper, which come in red for no weapon, green for single-fire cannons, neon green for lightning underneath them, blue for machine guns, etc.
  • Songs for a Hero: The Hero himself points out how there are many versions of the common snakes fought in the first level across the game: there are the green snakes encountered right in the first act, red snakes that throw fire balls in the second act, more resilient armor-wearing yellow snakes in the third act, winged flying snakes in the fith level and blue ice snakes in the sixth level. They all seem to come from the same basic green snakes, modified into more perilous foes by lightnings of the Terrible Villain. As it is discovered in the final level, they were actually modified and created by aliens in an experiment involving the Hero.
  • In Super Mario Bros.:
    • Red-shelled Koopas are implied to be "more powerful", at least in that they have enough sense to not stroll off of cliffs like their green counterparts. This leads to the Green Koopas marching in straight lines unless they come upon some sort of block or another enemy creature (like a Goomba), which makes them turn around. (They also tend to turn around if they walk into you, which is easiest to see when the action freezes as Mario falls off the screen.) Red Koopas behave the same way, except that they also turn around when they come upon a cliff (instead of just walking off the edge like the green ones).
    • There is a much greater difference between the Green and Red Paratroopas. Green ones tend to hop along in a straight line (leading to major headaches as you are forced to decide whether to try to dash beneath them or hop over them, and more often than not wind up in the wrong place at the wrong time); red ones just fly back and forth, "patrolling" a specific area without changing elevation. Sometimes the red ones instead fly up and down without any horizontal movement, and occasionally the green ones do that too. In any event, once you stomp on a Paratroopa and knock its wings off, it reverts to the AI of its ground-bound counterpart (not that you'd notice if it falls into a Bottomless Pit).
    • In Super Mario Bros. 2, Shy Guys come in pink note  and red, with pink being the marginally smarter. However, Snifits come in a rainbow of colors, each with different behavior. And yet there is only ever one red Snifit. The second version of Mouser is a different color, takes twice as many hits to kill, and throws bombs with greater frequency. The original Doki Doki Panic includes an even tougher albino Mouser, which is replaced by Clawgrip in SMB 2. There are also three versions of Birdo; the first is pink and spits eggs, the second is greenish and spits fire, and the third is reddish and spits both eggs and fire.
    • The Paper Mario games are prone to this in the later areas. Although each chapter tends to have its own set of themed enemies, a few will return as recolours. For example, there's normal reddish-brown goombas, a red and blue pair of slighty bigger "goomba bros", a king goomba, dark blue cave-dwelling gloombas, and greenish hyper goombas. The pit of trials that appears in each game lives off this trope.
    • Super Mario World has four colors of Koopas. Yellow drops from ledges like green, moves faster, drops a coin when taken out of its shell, and can jump into a shell to make it into an "invincible" flashing shell. Blue doesn't fall from ledges, and recovers much faster than the others after getting knocked out of their shells (they're also much thicker, implying they're stronger) and usually kick the shell away instead of reentering it. It also affects the powers Yoshi gets from them: Green does nothing, red gives him a one-time flame attack, yellow makes him damage nearby enemies upon touching the ground, and blue lets him fly. Flashing shells give all powers at once.
      • Yoshis also come in the same colors, with similar effects. A green Yoshi eating a shell only gets the shell's power, but a non-green Yoshi also gets the power from his own color (so a blue Yoshi can fly with any shell).
  • Super Star Wars
    • Recurs throughout the trilogy, (IE, Mynocks recur in various colors and environments in all three games) but is particularly noticeable in Empire, where Luke has to face some of the same enemies on both Hoth and Dagobah, just as palette swaps.
    • A rare example of this occuring with a Player Character is Leia from Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi:
      • She's first available as "Leia Boushh" in her disguise from the beginning of the film, armed with a staff which plays sort of like Luke's lightsaber, (including attacking while using the Double Jump) while also possessing a ranged Charged Attack.
      • During the Sail Barge level she becomes "Leia Slave," wearing her iconic bikini. Like Boushh, Slave Leia is primarily melee (using her chain as a whip) with a ranged charge attack. However she's also given her own version of Chewie's Spin Attack on top of this (Slave Leia also may have the highest attack power of any character in the entire game trilogy).
      • Finally on Endor, she becomes "Leia Rebel," who plays more like Luke in Super Star Wars before acquiring his lightsaber, armed only with a blaster.
  • Wario World does this a lot. There's a few unique enemies, but generally there's about four or five standard enemy types, and each world just changes the theme of them. You've got Magons, which then get reused as Skeletal Magons, Clowns, Snowmen, Wolves, Puppet Magons and Mummy Magons. You've got Cractyls which come as Bone Cractyls, Pigeons, Snow Bombers, Hawks, Masked Crows and Mummy Hawks. And the same for another four or so types of enemies.
  • Played straight in Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap. Red foes are weak, green are stronger, and blue are the strongest, often with the blue variants being given surprisingly powerful attacks after the player had gotten used to fighting the weaker variants. The remake includes even tougher yellow enemies in the new Bonus Dungeons and on the Hard difficulty setting.
  • Several of the bosses in Wonder Boy in Monster Land do this, such as the Red Knight/Blue Knight/Silver Knight, the Grim Reaper / God of Poverty(steals your Gold), and the Giant Kong/Snow Kong(spawns mini-Snow Kongs instead of throwing boulders).

    Real-time Strategy 
  • Pikmin uses this with common enemies as well as the titular creatures.
    • Pikmin themselves come in red, blue, and yellow initially, later adding purple, white, rock, and winged, all of these having their own sets of characteristics and combat abilities.
    • Bulborbs, the game's most iconic enemies, come in red (known as spotty in the originals), orange, snowy, and as the much more dangerous Bulbears, each having its own dwarf variety.
    • The cave-dwelling Dweevils in Pikmin 2 are red (fiery), blue (caustic), yellow (anode), purple (munge), and black with a bomb on its back (volatile). The color lets you know which Pikmin to use (except for Munge Dweevils, which require white Pikmin, and Volatile Dweevils, which can kill any of them).
  • Sacrifice: Lampshaded and partially justified. Several of the various units which share base models are described in the manual as have been converted to the worship of one or more alternative gods — voluntarily, or otherwise.
    • Persephone's Gnomes are small humanoids who use handguns to compensate for their lack of physical prowess. Pyro's Pyromaniacs are gnomes who defected from Persephone to explore the use of bigger, deadlier guns. Charnel's Deadeyes are dead gnomes and pyromaniacs risen from the grave and compelled to serve him as poison-wielding zombified versions of their former existences.
    • In the manual, Charnel describes the Fallen as "corrupted versions" of a race first crafted by James, presumably referring to the Earthflings, whose role (and body-structure) they share. But whereas Earthflings are creatures of earth and soil who spit rocks and can turn into boulders for protection, the Fallen are made of decomposing flesh and bone, spew carnivorous flies which can vampirically heal them, and can feign death to ambush victims.
    • The mighty lummox is a lumbering, pinniped-like mountain dweller which, in the wild, grabs boulders with its semi-prehensile tail and throws them at creatures like a living catapult. James tames the beasts and drives them into battle, calling them Flummoxes. But Pyro and Stratos both have territories full of lummoxes, which they have likewise tamed; Pyro calls his version "Bombards", outfitting them with protective armor and a supply of firebombs to throw, whilst Stratos' Flurries allow aeromancers to ride on their backs, who use their magic to create imploding crystal bombs for them to lob at their foes.
    • Pyro's Firefists are former Trolls of Persephone, captured and cybernetically modified into brutal killing machines, whilst his Flame Minions are descendants of Earthflings that were given to him by James, and which Pyro modified to suit his obsession with throwing around fire.
    • Stratos' Seraphs are descended from Gremlins who rebelled against Persephone and defected to him.
  • Warcraft III: Most neutral hostile enemies (called "creeps") use the same model with different sizes and color schemes, though they're seen in different regions rather than having specialized versions for different terrain types (e.g. bandits in cities and villages, skeletons in dungeons and corrupted forests, etc.).
    • Trolls come in Forest, Ice and Dark varieties, each with their own skin color (green, dark blue and purple) and spells (fire, ice and hypnotic). The Horde's trolls are from tropical jungles, and have light blue skin and use spears instead of axes.
    • The closest the game gets to Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti is having its Sasquatch (vaguely-humanoid hulking creatures with horns) share a model with the white-furred northern Wendigo and the green-furred Jungle Stalkers in the tropics.
    • The Beastmaster's animal summons have colors that are more adapted to their environment depending on the climate they're summoned on: brown on most maps, a polar environment gets a white bear/quilbeast/hawk, forest environments are kind of purplish-brown.

  • This trope still appears in roguelikes not just in that the monsters look the same but in that there are different variations of the same monster, even though in those there is NO work required in generating sprites for new monsters, so the imagination is the only limit. Given that Angband has close to 1000 unique monster types, the reason for this happening in such a game is probably more that the designers started running out of ideas rather than not being able to animate distinct monsters.
  • Dungeons of Dredmor has an absolute ton of these sorts of monsters. Most have different effects — Diggles are just annoying, but Sickly Diggles debuff you and Diggle Commandos are invisible.
  • Dwarf Fortress inherits this particular version, including the tileset option. For example, color is usually the only way to differentiate between rocks of different ores (which can be very important when you need to smelt metals) without looking at them specifically.
  • Elona takes this to the extreme, with whole lines of monster such as the minotaur and most of the golem line being the same singular sprite tinted a different color to denote their difficulty and abilities. This leads to oddities such as Juere swordsmen and robbers with purple and red skin, among other things.
  • In NetHack, this can also lead to Yet Another Stupid Death, in ways both obvious and surprising. Not only might the player not distinguish between a dwarf lord and a mind flayer, in some contexts the game itself doesn't distinguish between them. Ooh a blessed scroll of genocide! You'd better cap the mind flayers, having to remap levels is a bitch. What's that? You were playing as a dwarf? Congratulations: you have succumbed to death by palette swap. (Blessed scrolls genocide a class of monsters, in this case h, Humanoid)

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Albion does this a little differently. The enemies are different on each continent, but come in a small variety. Stronger versions of certain creatures accompany larger packs. They don't even bother with creative names (Animal3)
  • Anodyne: The Slimes in the later dungeons look identical to ones found earlier but possess an annoyingly accurate projectile.
  • Boktai has this in all its incarnations, though sometimes coloration is used as a hint to its elemental affinity. This is more egregious in Lunar Knights, where many enemies are colored solely by affinity — namely, the Ghouls, Vorns, Slimes, Hounds, and Chloroformin' come in different colors on this alone. The Slimes, strangely enough, are the only ones in this group that come in Sol flavor.
  • Boxxy Quest: For different enemies throughout the series:
    • BoxxyQuest: The Shifted Spires: Multiple enemy types:
      • There's the Hater type enemies, represented by some knight battler, of Pale Haters, and Hater Trolls.
      • Rogue Datums have the regular one, and the Palette Swap redder Hyper versions.
    • BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm typically avoids this, except in the gauntlet-style Alwaysland dungeon. It’s filled with pallete swaps of enemies from elsewhere in the game, all with increased health and attack power. On every tenth floor, you also have to face an upgraded “Alwaysland” version of a previous boss.
  • In Brave Story: New Traveler, the exact same enemy can come in multiple different colors, so the difference between genuinely different enemies is at least slightly greater, with a few exceptions. This was part of the game's world design. Monsters were designed to be "organic" in that one given monster species would have biodiversity. The player could encounter three mobs in the same battle, and each would have slightly different stats. In general, colour had less to do with power than size, with larger mobs being significantly stronger.
  • Done in all the games in the Breath of Fire. Usually, the initial weaker enemies will have simple "Attack! Attack! Attack!" patterns while their stronger color-swapped versions will have a new, unique skill to which their entire strategy revolves around.
  • Bug Fables:
    • There are several varieties of Seedlings, most of which are themed around the area they are found in. Standard Seedlings are the basic ones, Underlings are poisonous and can dig underground, Pumplings have a very tough pumpkin-like defensive body, Golden Seedlings are the game's Metal Slime, and so on.
    • Wild Chompers are larger, teal-colored versions of the Chomper enemy back from Chapter 2 that are rooted in place. They function differently, although they can summon actual Palette Swaps of the original Chompers for one of their attacks.
    • Near the end of the game are feiry versions of the Roach Construct enemies, with higher health and damage. They are considered the same enemy as their sand/ice counterparts from the Sand Castle in terms of the game's bestiary, but functionally serve as distinct versions of them as there is no way to change them to their forms seen in the Castle or visa-versa.
  • Several mooks in Child of Light come in elemental variants with differing stats and weaknesses. Their element is usually denoted by their colour or texture — fire spiders would be orange and on fire, ice spiders would be blue with ice clouds, and earth spiders would look greenish.
  • Chrono Trigger includes the "Debugger"note  and "Debuggest"note  robot-bug enemies; "Rolies"note , "Polies"note , and "Rolypolies"note ; "Winged Apes"note , "Cave Apes", and "Fossil Apes"; and "Mutants" and "Metal Mutes"note , among others.
  • Dandy Dungeon has the game-within-a-game of the same name, the JRPG made by the main character Yamada. As an Affectionate Parody of both RPG and Japanese popular culture and society, it features hilarious variants of the standard RPG enemies the further you go into the levels. Some examples: ninja skeletons, schoolgirl mages, salarymen mummies, zombie otakus, gyaru slimes and several more.
  • Darkest Dungeon: All enemies, including bosses, have upgraded versions whose appearance differs, at most, by a subtle palette swap.
  • In the Dragon Quest/Warrior series:
    • The majority of monsters in the series have at least one recolor, including regular bosses. In fact, the secret boss of Dragon Quest VI is a palette swap of an earlier boss. It's easier to count the few enemies with unique sprites. Special note must go to the Slime, which has taken this so far it has its own entire monster-class. In almost every game, one of the first common enemies you encounter is the standard blue slime. Then, you meet the She-Slime (which is, in fact, slightly stronger), or Red Slime in early games. Going beyond that, we'd have to split this up to organize it better. Note in advance that a lot of sub-types are basically cross-breeds between more established types of slime, with an appropriate naming convention. The Dragon Quest Monsters spinoff series created all sorts of these.
    • Slimes that retain their basic design include the Slime, the She-Slime, the Mottle Slimenote , the Mottle She-Slime, the Mottle Mendslime, the Behemoth Slime, the Beshemoth Slime, the Slime Stack (a tower of three slimes achieved by slimification), and the King Slime (a slimification of eight slimes). We'll also count the Grandpa Slime, who competes for the top spot of all slimes with a handful of other slimes.
    • Knight Errant: The Slime Knight series consists of slimes who run around carrying blade-swinging riders. There's the basic Slime Knight, the Metal Slime Knight (which is, strangely, not a Metal Slime kind of enemy), the Dark Slime Knight (who rides around on a Dark Slime and has an axe), the Dark Lancer from Dragon Quest Monsters Battle Road (who rides on a Black Slime recolor and wields a Jousting Lance), and Dragon Quest IX introduced the Slionheart, Prime Slime, and Shogum.
    • The Medic: The Healslime series, which in design are essentially floating jellyfish slimes, spend most of their time healing other monsters. There's the basic Healslime, the Cureslime, the Medislime, the Sootheslimenote , the Man'o'War (which inflicts paralysis instead of healing... and is usually the only one of these jellyfish to hang out near the ocean), the Magic Slime (which appears in the GBA and NDS Monsters titles), and the King Cureslime (which is actually just a green Palette Swap of the King Slime).
    • Metal Slime: The Metal Slime (of course), the Mettle Slime (a "baby" Metal Slime that appears in Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2) the Metal Medley (which is three Metal Slimes stacked one atop the other) and the Gem Jamboree, the Liquid Metal Slime, the Metal King Slime, the DrakMetal (a crossbreed with Drake Slimes from Dragon Quest VII), the Metal Kaiser Slime, the Platinum King Jewelnote  (and its variants Gem Slime, Slemperor, and Darkonium Slime), the Diamond Slime, and, as of DQM Joker 2 Professional, the Liquid Metal King Slime.
    • Unsorted slimes from the Mons game include Treeslime, and Wingslime, and Halo Slime, and.... It also featured color-coded dragons.
    • Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2: The strongest slimes include the zodiacal Canzar, the Henshin Hero Slider series — that's the Ultra Slime/Slider Hero, his partner Slider Girl, his enemy Nemeslime/Death Slidark, and his Humongous Mecha Slidark Robo... and then there's the Kill Sat Sli-Blaster.
    • Terry's Wonderland 3D went so far as to introduce even more Slime humanoids with the Sli-Shinobi series, with a dozen new monsters to this sub-series, and then you learn about the Metal Star, which is a Metal King Slime transformed into the frigging Death Star.
    • Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime. Each of the 100 different members of the Monster Town is a different type of slime.
    • In some games, boss monsters will have basic enemy variants that are even more powerful than they are, given relative power levels. This led to the amusing situation of Geyzer, the first boss of Dragon Quest VIII, who's actually the weakest variant of his own monster-type (Merman) in the game.
  • In EarthBound Beginnings, the Lone Wolf, Silver Wolf, and Wolf are all the same sprite with different colors, and the Stray Dog is a wolf sprite colored brown with a chain around its neck. EarthBound (1994) and Mother 3 give the palette swaps goofy names. For instance, you have the 'Manly Fish' and his stronger swap, the 'Manly Fish's Brother'.
  • Elden Ring:
    • Lordsworn Soldiers and Knights come in several factions, each loyal to one of the Demigods who participated in the Shattering. They share similar movesets and models, but all carry different liveries and have unique tricks; Radahn's forces use fire attacks (and the occasional gravity magic), the Cuckoo troops use glintstones as magic grenades, the Leyndell troops use lightning magic, the Haligtree soldiers use Holy magic, and so on.
    • The Frenzied Flame and Scarlet Rot cause a lot of these; many enemy types can become Frenzied or Rotten/Putrid, which gives them extra attacks and weaknesses. Frenzied enemies can use Frenzied Flame incantations, and Rotten enemies have attacks that apply Scarlet Rot.
    • Most of the Dragon bosses only really differ in the nature of their breath weapons; fire, magic, Scarlet Rot, and frostbite.
    • The Mountaintops of the Giants are home to several variants of earlier-game enemies, just stronger and fitting for a cold environment, such as the Snow Trolls and Stormhawks.
    • The Fire Monk faction has the Blackflame Monks, Palette Swaps of the regular Fire Monks who have defected to the Godslayer cult and wield Blackflame instead of the Giant's Flame.
    • Draconic Tree Sentinels are variant Tree Sentinels who've picked up Ancient Dragon lightning magic.
    • Death Rite Birds are Deathbirds who wield Ghostflame magic.
    • Variant Albinaurics can be found in the Volcano Manor (first-generation Albinaurics wearing Black Dumplings), Consecrated Snowfield (white second-generations who cast incantations), and Mohgwyn Palace (red, horned second-generation).
  • The Epic Battle Fantasy series: Palette Swap-type variation in Epic Battle Fantasy 1 and 2, with just about every enemy in the third game onwards has around three/four species variations with different attacks, weaknesses and resistances, and drops. In an interesting use of this trope, none of the enemy variants can really be considered "stronger"; since enemies use a leveling system like the heroes, an early game-enemy can appear among its later-game variants and still be just as strong, meaning that no single enemy becomes obsolete.
  • Evil Islands: You'll find several types of wolves, boars, toads, tigers, trolls... that look the same except for color or size.
  • Fallout
    • Fallout 3 is a more modern 3D game and as such gives every human character different appearances. And while all Feral Ghouls look mostly the same, the different species of Ghoul are easily identifiable. Ferals are the standard, Reavers from the Broken Steel DLC get a different face and abilities and Glowing Ones... well, glow.
      • Broken Steel also adds Hellfire Troopers, which are Enclave troops with high-impact fire-resistant armor and heavier weapons, and Albino Radscorpions, albinistic versions of Giant Radscorpions that are much faster and tougher, and regenerate HP in sunlight.
      • Fire Ants look like normal Giant Ants but also spit fire. Like real ants, they both have several ranks with varying appearances and statistics.
      • Mirelurk Hunters are bigger, tougher, and have a different model than base Mirelurks, Nukalurks are a glowing blue version of Hunters found in the Nuka-Cola plant, and Mirelurk Kings are a completely different species, being mutated turtles rather than horseshoe crabs.
      • The Mister Gutsy robot is an upgraded version of Mister Handy with better armor and a plasma cannon in addition to the standard flamethrower.
      • Normal Super Mutants, Overlords (Broken Steel) and Behemoths are very easy to tell apart and are fought with different strategies; unfortunately the Brutes and Masters only have slight armor and HP varieties from the standard ones. Overlords use the same model as Behemoths but are smaller and wield tri-beam laser rifles or gatling lasers, whereas Behemoths exclusively wield fire hydrant polearms.
      • The Point Lookout expansion adds swamp versions of Feral Ghouls, Mirelurks, and Mirelurk Kings, as well as the Robobrain Sentries that guard the Final Dungeon, which really are just palette swaps with slightly different abilities. Except for the Swamplurk Kings/Queens, which have 100 HP more than a Deathclaw and a new acid attack that deals 100 HP damage plus poison health drain.
      • Likewise for Maintenance Protectrons (lack the US Army livery) and Nuka-Cola Security Protectrons (painted with the Nuka Cola logo) in the base game.
    • In Fallout: New Vegas and its add-ons:
      • The Spore Carriers are reskins of the Trogs from the Fallout 3 DLC The Pitt, with an added Action Bomb capability. The Trog model is also reused for the Tunnelers in Lonesome Road, some of which can knock down or poison the player character.
      • Lakelurks are renamed and slightly recolored Mirelurk Kings.
      • Old World Blues introduces the Mr. Orderly, a medical version of Mr. Gutsy, Construction Drones (repaints of Protectrons), and Berserk Securitrons.
      • Also in OWB, Police and Military Cyberdogs are mostly identical, except for the latter's sonic emitter attack.
      • The Feral Ghouls in Vault 34 wear vault jumpsuits or armor and are named according to their human roles, but statwise are identical to normal Ferals or Glowing Ones, except for the Overseer, who is a boss version of the Reaver type with stats similar to FO 3's Reavers (minus the radioactive gore attack). Similarly, Camp Searchlight is inhabited by Feral Ghoul-ified NCR Troopers, which wear trooper armor and attack with knives or other melee weapons.
      • Golden Geckos are upgraded yellow versions of the standard Geckos, Fire Geckos are spinier and breathe fire, and Green Geckos from Honest Hearts are twice as large and spit acid.
      • Bark Scorpions use the same model as Radscorpions, but are smaller, brown in color, and have more potent poison.
    • Deathclaws have had several variations through the games.
      • New Vegas introduced Mothers, who have blue skin and swept-back horns, and Alpha Males, who have dark skin and elongated horns. Both are notably taller, faster, and stronger than the vanilla Deathclaws.
      • Fallout 4 added Glowing Deathclaws, which glow green and deal radiation damage, Albino Deathclaws with very high health, and Chameleon Deathclaws which can change color.
      • 4's Nuka-World add-on added Quantum Deathclaws, which mutated in the same way as the Nukalurks and glow blue-purple, and Gatorclaws, essentially Deathclaw-shaped alligators created from splicing gator and Deathclaw DNA. The Nukalurks themselves also return, with the addition of Nuka versions of Mirelurk Hunters and Kings.
    • In Fallout 4:
      • Most enemies generally have a level-scaled list of variants with corresponding upgrades to stats, equipment, and abilities; e.g. Raider Psychos are The Berserker and tend to use chems more often, Raider Scavvers most commonly wear Power Armor, Raider Wasters wear combat armor and wield combat or assault rifles, Raider Survivalists are expert snipers, and Raider Veterans are heavy weapon-toting Elite Mooks.
      • Far Harbor's Wolves and Fog Ghouls are mainly cosmetic variations of the main game's Mongrels and Feral Ghouls with little statistical difference. Mirelurks also have a powerful "Bloodrage" variant that can also spawn in the Commonwealth at high levels.
      • In the Automatron DLC, Junkbots, Swarmbots, Tankbots, and Scrapbots are heavily modified Protectrons, Mr. Handys, Sentry Bots, and Assaultrons, respectively, and in turn have their own sub-variations (Cybermech, Servomech, Integrated, Quantum, etc.).
  • Final Fantasy uses this in most incarnations, especially with the Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors aspect:
    • The blue monster casts water spells and is weak against thunder, the white monster casts ice spells and is weak against fire, etc. Final Fantasy X made some extra use of this, as a side quest rewarded players for capturing entire "species" of monsters. It was especially common in the earlier, sprite-based games due to Palette Swaps.
    • Jenova in Final Fantasy VII is fought four times, but in the first three battles, it uses the same model, just given a different color. Its final form is the odd one out.
    • Both Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy IX avert this trope, where (almost) every monster type in the game has a unique mesh, animation, and sound effect. The only exceptions are humanoid enemies plus some bosses in VIII, and the ten Fairy Battles and the Crystal versions of the Four Fiends in IX.
    • Final Fantasy XI has tons of instances of monsters that look exactly the same, only stronger and with a different name, including several Notorious Monsters. And when monsters of the same species don't look exactly the same, they are palette swaps. In some cases this is justified. For example, rabbit type enemies have different fur color in different climates. It gets a little harder to justify with the Wings of the Goddess expansion, where forest tigers from 20 years ago are neon orange for no apparent reason.
    • Final Fantasy XII manages to subvert the spirit of this trope without subverting the letter of it, by making slight differences in the meshes of any given group of monsters (i.e. some toads have claws, others have webbed feet). For example, the Hellhound has a large horn that the Desert Wolf does not. The game also justified it to some extent, as many of the monsters who share a given sprite are in fact related to one another. The Bestiary describes how and why these different species of monsters have diverged, with some being mutations caused by Mist.
    • Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII took this to ridiculous extremes. If a monster got a special white coloration with feathers, and a pattern of a certain character's face, it became a 'copy' of that character. Despite essentially being the same monster, it was implied to be much more powerful as a result.
  • Enemies in Genshin Impact can have alternate versions or palette swaps. For example, there are Slimes for every 7 elements, while Abyss Mages come in Pyro, Cryo and Hydro variants, etc. Hilichurls in Liyue have stone shields instead of wooden ones, and their mages use Geo instead of Anemo. The Dragonspine update added Cryo versions of Lawachurls, Cicin Mages, and Hilichurls, plus an extra-large Ruin Guard.
  • Golden Sun has this all over the place, although there are certain occasions where an enemy will be slightly powered up without changing the name/color.
    • There are even some unused variants of certain enemies hidden in the game's coding, complete with differing Palette Swaps and names.
  • Grandia II starts doing this about halfway through the game.
  • In Haven (2020), the Katefulai that shuttles Yu and Kay to the Swamp area after being pacified (and appears on a couple other islets thereafter) is a slightly smaller Palette Swap of Birble, the Warp Whistle transport.
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia has this in spades, especially considering some of the monsters are from other games. Invoked to the point of parody in Hyperdimension Neptunia Rebirth 1 in an early dungeon, which contains several varieties of "Shampuru", enemies that are completely identical apart from stat variation, and can't be distinguished until you're already in battle. Exactly one of them is a "Buff Shampuru". It will absolutely destroy you.
  • The Of Pen and Paper series:
  • Live A Live: The final chapter "Dominion of Hate" has monsters from nearly every chapter roaming around the ruins of Lucrece ranging from ice-spewing mammoths hailing from Prehistory to the warships and robots from the Near Future as well as the aliens from the Distant Future. Justified, as Odio brought all of the seven protagonists to Lucrece to defeat them all and caused a Time Crash in the process.
  • Maglam Lord has about 10 models for common enemies and constantly reuses them, giving them different colors and elements but otherwise keeping their attack patterns and oftentimes formations exactly the same. There is SOME variation later in the game where they take on new types and thus need a different skill to target their weaknesses but otherwise, the game constantly recycles enemies to the point where if you've seen one of a certain type of monster, you've dealt with them all, just with different colors and stats.
  • Done frequently by the Mario & Luigi games.
    • Most of them are simply Palette Swaps with boosted stats that attack faster, but some such as the Dark Mechawful from Bowser's Inside Story diversify themselves from their vanilla cousins. Dream Team is particularly egregious, as many Dream World enemies are altered versions of Pi'illo Island enemies, and several other enemies get stronger R forms. Of particular note is the Capnap, which also comes in Dreamcap, Dreamcap Captain, Dreamcap R, and Dreamcap Captain R varieties.
    • Each game has its own theme for various enemies. While some are unique others are redesigned versions of past enemies like the Lakipea being a bean themed version of Lakitus. The Dreamy enemies in Dream Team and the Paper enemies in Paper Jam are major examples.
  • The later sprite-based Might and Magic games, especially the seventh incarnation, played this trope hilariously straight. How do you tell the difference between a minotaur and a minotaur lord? The nastier version is almost identical — it's just a bit bigger. And bright purple. Same with Elona
  • Most of the enemies in Miitopia have numerous variations (the moth enemies have 6, not counting the bosses), and they additionnally differ in from each other with which Mii features they have. For example, a regular Banshee only has Mii eyes and makes Miis cry, Bansheevils have Mii eyes and mouths and can turn Miis evil, Banshee Brainboxes have Mii eyes and glasses and suck out MP, and Ice Maidens only have Mii mouths and blow icy winds.
  • Monster Hunter uses this repeatedly, and these variations are known as subspecies or variants. Not only does the game do this with the enemies, but the armour then made from the enemies looks exactly the same apart from a colour swap to fit with the wyverns' colour.
    • A prime example is Yian Kut-Ku, one of the easiest wyverns in the game, which appears later on as the Blue Kut-Ku, a stronger version identical in every other way. Kut-Ku is one of the few cases where the alternate version doesn't have an appreciable difference in elemental weaknesses, body part strength, moveset or move frequency. For example, a normal(green) Rathian's head is her weakest part, and it will charge at you a lot, with occasional backflips thrown in. Conversely, a Gold Rathian's weakest part is her wings, and she backflips all the time (which ironically makes them easier to deal with). Other subspecies have a different element than the main species, and sometimes live in a different environment. For example, Agnaktor lives at the Volcano and uses Fire, while its subspecies Glacial Agnaktor lives at the Tundra and uses Ice and Water.
    • The Theropod sub-family of Bird Wyverns have eight large monsters that have the same basic concept (an oversized Velociraptor pack leader), but tend to have different variations on the idea: Velocidrome, Gendrome, Iodrome, and Giadrome came from the first generation and focus on agile moves and leaping attacks. Great Jaggi, Great Baggi, and Great Wroggi from the third generation focus more on tail swipes, body checks, and calling their smaller kin to attack, and generation four's Great Maccao uses powerful kick attacks while balancing on its tail.
    • Some other examples of monster counterparts behave exactly the same but have very different appearances. For example, the Aptonoth looks like an amalgamation of different species of dinosaurs, while the Tundra-inhabiting Popo looks like a very short, trunk-less woolly mammoth. Both species behave almost identically, and they both fill the role of the harmless herbivore that gets eaten by everything else.
    • Monster Hunter Generations has Deviant monsters, which are subspecies on crack. They're considered so dangerous that you need to obtain a special monster-specific permit to hunt one of them. Many of these Deviants have powerful attacks that their base versions don't have. For example, the base monster Arzuros is a Warm-Up Boss, but its Deviant version Redhelm Arzuros has a special wide swipe attack that, while well-telegraphed, will likely One-Hit Kill a hunter who only barely meets the requirements to hunt it.
  • Morrowind had a considerable lack of diversity amongst its native fauna, resorting heavily to underground monkeyism to create a wider range of enemies. This was somewhat justifiable in the sense that most of the game took place on a single island, and travelling northwest to the island of Solstheim introduced you to a set of entirely new creatures. Who also has some underground monkeyism, though unlike the base game most of them at least have new textures.
  • In New Horizons, some ship-types like pinnaces have differently looking variants for certain purposes in mind. For instance, there's a merchant pinnace with a huge cargo hold, but only a few guns for self-protection, next to the standard one and a pinnace of war with heavy armament for... war.
  • Persona 2 also has a small handful of these, thanks to palette swaps and the occasional replacement part in monster sprites (several Chariot Arcana demons the most obvious of the latter, using the same giant brute body with different heads and colors).
  • Persona 3 is another good example of this trope — practically every enemy inside Tartarus, the game's sole real dungeon, uses one of a select number of sprites, and most sprite-sharers are vulnerable to the same kinds of tactics (if not necessarily always sharing elemental weaknesses). Amusingly, the weakest type Shadow in the game: Lv 2 Cowardly Maya, is also the strongest in the game: Lv 99 Indolent Maya.
    • Every boss not important to the story is simply a giant version of a normal enemy, a practice that would carry over to Persona 4. Justified, due to the nature of the Shadows.
  • Persona 5: Subverted. On the field, enemies are slightly retextured versions of one or two enemies. For instance, the first dungeon only has a knight in silver armor, and the exact same knight with a gold armor texture on him. In battle however, the enemies are all custom models from several decades of Shin Megami Tensei designs.
  • The Swedish parody RPG Playelf has this with ninjas — there are red ninjas, blue ninjas, black ninjas, white ninjas, etc — as well as "hurry up-ninjas" which appears when the players are dithering. But the most awesome ninja...
    "There's also supposed to be a camouflage-coloured ninja, but no one has ever seen him".
  • Pokémon:
    • Played straight with some of the Trainer classes — while there are no palette swaps, and the in-battle sprites of the Trainer classes are all unique, several classes often share the same overworld sprite. While this problem was also prevalent in the first three generations, it's especially noticeable in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. For example, Ace Trainers, Rangers, Bird Keepers, and Dragon Tamers look the same until you fight them (and the overworld sprite of all are clearly that of the Ace Trainers). PIs, which is a Trainer class that wears a red trenchcoat and hat, also use the same overworld sprite as the Rich Boy Trainer class. The most egregious example is perhaps the Psychic Trainer class, as, despite being a class available for both genders, the overworld sprite for both genders is completely identical, meaning the only way to find out their gender is to battle them.
    • In the first generation games, all Gym Leaders (with the exception of Koga and Giovanni) use overworld sprites that other NPCs use. This is later averted in later generations, where all Gym Leaders have their own unique overworld sprites.
    • An In-Universe example would be Shellos and Gastrodon, which are only cosmetically different on the West and East sides of Sinnoh. The justification was divergent evolution (that is, allopatric speciation rather than metamorphosis) after being separated by Mt. Coronet.
    • Interestingly, this was played straight with Shinies in Pokémon Gold and Silver... Sort of: unlike in later games, which have a "shiny flag" on the Mons (meaning that the change in appearance is purely cosmetic), these games had it so Pokémon with very specific base stat totalsnote  were Shiny. Meaning that Shiny Pokémon were somewhat stronger than your standard mon, but still not the strongest they could be.
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon introduces the concept of regional variants: existing Pokémon species that have changed their typings, abilities and appearances after adapting to a completely different environment. Some of the regional variants introduced in Pokémon Sword and Shield and Pokémon Legends: Arceus have new evolutions, too. In the latter's case, it's implied that the regional forms and the Pokémon that evolve into these forms (including some Gen 5 and Gen 6 Pokémon like Rufflet, Petilil, Bergmite and Goomy) have all become extinct in Sinnoh by the modern era. That said, however The Teal Mask from Scarlet and Violet has a variant of Ursaluna called Bloodmoon Ursaluna and Perrin has a pair of Hisuian Growlithe with you getting the brother.
    • Pokémon Scarlet and Violet introduce Wiglett and Toedscool, which subvert this trope. They appear to be variants of Diglett and Tentacool, respectively, but are actually completely unrelated species, and only look that way due to convergent evolution.
  • This was the design strategy behind the monster designs in early Shin Megami Tensei games. Many demons share the same body type as a way to get around hardware limitations, with only modified heads. This gets increasingly averted, however, as more and more demons receive their own unique designs, and even animations. As of 2019, the only commonly used Palette Swap are Tam Lin and Cu Chulainn, and the latter has another, but rarely used, design.
  • The first Shining Force has a standard fantasy monster in the Giant Bat, but it has a stronger cousin found in the open ocean called, naturally, the Seabat.
  • Present throught out the Tales Series. Monsters that are purely palette swaps are most common in the games that utilize sprite based graphics, while the 3D games usually change their model a little, as well.
  • Ultima V contains literal monkeys found only underground — the Mongbats — but they resemble nothing else in the game.
  • Ultima III has multiple enemy types with the same colours where the only difference is the name — however, that's literally the only difference. No change in stats, health, damage dealth, weaknesses... Just Orcs, Goblins and Trolls, all exactly the same.
  • Undertale:
    • Referenced when checking Moldsmal in Waterfall. Of course, the battle system is Deliberately Monochrome, so it's also a parody.
      It's a different color, so it's a bit stronger now.
    • Also invoked unironically in the Core, with enemies like Final Froggit (a variation of Froggit that is meant to be more badass) and Whimsalot (an armored, less cowardly Whimsun.)
    • The Amalgamates are arguably this as well, since they often have sprites and/or "spare" methods mashed together from earlier mooks.
  • Taken to a more extreme level by the Wizardry games, particularly VI and VII, wherein enemies were given graphics by type-all slimes use the same graphics, as do all demons, all bugs, etc, including non-hostile NPCs and bosses. Further complicating matters is that unless a party member has a high mythology skill, all you'll see attacking you is generic "birds" or "crawling wastes". Experienced players can usually determine what particular monster is attacking them by the area they're in or the attacks the monster uses. Occasionally leads to party kills when the player mistakes a very nasty enemy for an easy one.
  • The World Ends with You has four or five varieties of every monster type in the game. Including bright pink elephants. At least they have slightly differing attack patterns and (sometimes) vulnerabilities.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles series in general has a lot of enemies with barely changed or even reused models. It's one of the reasons why Bosses in Mook Clothing are so common in the series.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 1 would change the enemy's color and, in case of semi-sentient species like Tirkin, their weapon.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles X in particular has several variants for each family of monsters. All monsters with the same variant look identical and drop the same loot, but their stats depend on the exact type they belong to. For example, there are Witless Saltat, met at levels 31-40, Rapture Saltat, met at levels 41-50, and Rolf, the Sonorous, the Boss in Mook Clothing at level 44. All of them look exactly alike, with blue coloration and blue jewel.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 tone it down, and more often recolors enemies depending on the area they live in, as well as changing their size and minor details.
  • Many Yo-kai in Yo-kai Watch have stronger, rarer variants that can be encountered later in the game with different color schemes. These are considered separate Yo-kai with their own profiles and movesets.

    Third Person Shooters 
  • Lampshaded in Kid Icarus: Uprising when the Aurum show up and start using their technology to create robotic copies of various Underworld and Forces of Nature Mooks, which act identical to how said enemies play aside from the reskin.
  • In Sunset Overdrive, the subtypes of each of the three mook categories (Overcharge Mutants, Scabs, and Fizzco Security Bots) all have distinct appearances, attacks, and weaknesses; for example, Overcharge Drinkers are the standard "zombie" enemy, Herkers are Giant Mooks with an excavator shovel on their left arm, Scab Rushers are The Berserker, Scab Shooters use ranged weapons, Blade Bots are armed with Laser Blades, Tank Bots are giant walking tanks, etc.
  • The Gorgies in Vanquish have four variants; the red USN type are The Goomba, the yellow USR's lead squads and are more intelligent and well-armed, the green USS's are snipers that can kill One-Hit Kill Sam, and the blue USG's are Elite Mooks with flight capability and the most powerful weapons. The standard Giant Mooks, the Romanovs, also have four varieties with different weapons and abilities.
  • Warframe employs this in droves. Almost every faction features different varieties of almost every enemy for different areas, including:
    • The jungle camouflage "Frontier" versions of Grineer enemies, appearing on Earth.
    • Desert-themed "Arid" versions of Grineer enemies, appearing on Mars.
    • Blue, aquatic "Drekar" versions of Grineer enemies, appearing on Uranus.
    • Black and red "Kuva" versions of Grineer enemies, appearing in the Kuva Fortress.
    • Brown "Tusk" versions of Grineer enemies, appearing in the Plains of Eidolon on Earth.
    • "Juno" versions of Corpus enemies, appearing in Corpus Ships.
    • "Terra" versions of Corpus enemies, appearing in the Orb Vallis on Venus.
    • "Vapos" versions of Corpus enemies, appearing in the Jupiter gas cities.
    • The Corpus Railjack missions have multiple series of variants on Corpus enemies: Taro, Axio, Vorac, and Orm enemies appear in Venus Proxima, Neptune Proxima, Pluto Proxima, and Veil Proxima respectively.
    • The Grey Strain of the Infestation inhabiting the Cambion Drift on Deimos. Deimos variants of Infested Chargers, Runners, and Ancients appear alongside various enemies unique to the Cambion Drift.
    • The Corrupted faction, which is comprised of Grineer, Corpus, and Infested mind controlled by the Orokin towers in the Void. All of them appear with a golden sheen and an Orokin mind control apparatus on their faces.
    • The Narmer faction, the mind-controlled followers of Ballas who appear in Plains of Eidolon and Orb Vallis missions as Tusk Grineer and Terra Corpus enemies wearing Narmer "Veil" masks.

    Tower Defense 
  • In The Battle Cats, many enemies have at least one variant of themselves later in the game. The most common are Red, Alien, and Zombie type enemies, with the remaining being Angels, Metal, Black, etc. Most of them have a slightly different appearance outside of color, with only a few, such as Shy Boy and Assassin Bear, being pure Palette Swaps.
  • In Desert Moon, we have Runners, Bursters and Hunters, all of which look similar with only palette and size differences. All three of them act differently — Runners are basic, Bursters are faster, tougher and blow the hell up when killed, and Hunters are extra tough and tunnel underground, invulnerable to damage until they rise when they get near your units.
  • In Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time, all time zones have versions of the basic zombie, cone-head zombie, bucket-head zombie, imp and gargantuar, with only themed decorations to distinguish them.

    Turn-based Strategy 
  • In all of Nippon Ichi games higher variations of Player Mooks classes are recolors of their basic sprite. A prime example are the Witch and Mage classes in the Disgaea series. Unlike other classes, the tiers are all functionally identical, Save for the types of spells they can use.
  • Shining Force uses this in all of its games and it is jarring. The original, for example, had regular Bats, and their aquatic cousins, Sea Bats.

  • In the first few Tenchu games, most enemies are simply different texture swaps of the same weapon moveset with only extra hit points. In the first game, for example, the weak Ronin and Rouban from early stages, the stronger Footsoldiers and Patriots in the middle and the end-game Manjisou and Shikabane Soldiers are all simply the same "sword/katana" set with more hit points.

  • Subnautica has a bunch of these, most of them, sure enough, found underground. In many cases, scan data states that they're closely related genetically.
    • The Rabbitray, encountered in the starting area, is the basic form of a number of species of poisonous, jellylike ray- or skate-like creatures, including the Jellyray (found in several deep biomes), the Ghost Ray (found in the Ghost River), and the Crimson Ray (found in the different Lava Zones). The latter two are also Palette Swaps of each other.
    • The Oculus follows a similar body plan to the Peeper, albeit with tentacles instead of a tail fin, but is found exclusively in the underground Jelly Shroom Caves.
    • The Blighter and the Blood Crawler are this to the Biter and the Cave Crawler respectively. The Blighter is a Palette Swap but the Blood Crawler also has longer legs reminiscent of some real species of deep-sea spider.
    • The Spinefish, Magmarang, and Red Eyeye are cave-dwelling Palette Swaps of the Hoopfish, Boomerang, and Eyeye.

    Wide-Open Sandbox 
  • Minecraft has gradually introduced location-specific variants on their basic monsters. Cave spiders, introduced at the tail end of beta, are smaller (able to crawl through a 1×1 hole), bluer spiders that spawn in abandoned mineshafts and can inflict a poison effect on the player. Wither skeletons spawn in Nether fortresses, wield swords instead of bows, and can cause the "wither" effect (which is similar to poison but more severe, as it kills you, and also obscures the player's health meter). Version 1.10 added Husks, zombies that spawn in deserts (where there are no trees to hide under), don't burn up in the sun, and give the player the hunger debuff when attacked; and Strays, skeletons that spawn in icy climates and fire potion-tipped arrows that slow their targets. 1.13 introduced the drowned, zombies who can swim and potentially throw tridents. 1.16 introduced piglins, who can either use swords or crossbows, and piglin brutes who are always hostile, have much more health, and hit harder, wielding axes. It also reskinned zombie pigmen into zombified piglins, who have standard zombie behaviours (Revive Kills Zombie, drop rotten flesh), and attack in packs, but only if they're attacked first.
  • Hunter and Crystal Slimes in Slime Rancher are described to be cousins of Tabby and Rock Slimes respectively. The first lives in the Moss Blanket, where no Tabby Slimes are found. The other lives in a unique volcanic area in the Indigo Quarry. The Hunter Slime looks like a wilder version of Tabby Slimes, but brown, while Crystal Slimes look like Rock Slimes with crystals on their head instead of stones.
  • Terraria:
    • Slimes. At first there are only Palette Swaps green slimes, blue slimes, red slimes, etc. As you venture further out though a unique slime can be found for each environment, ice slimes, jungle slimes, desert slimes, etc.
    • Cave Bats have an Ice variant found in the Underground Ice biome, a shroom variant in Glowing Mushroom areas, a feiry variant in the Underworld, and a Jungle variant in the Jungle both above and below ground. Activating Hardmode also introduces a giant bat, another variant in the Underworld, and a Hallowed version. All of them act the same way and they come in two possible sizes.

Non-Video Game Examples:

    Fan Works 
  • I Woke Up As a Dungeon, Now What? has both variant minions and minion evolutions. Variants are a modified version of the "base" minion species, usually with some particular specialization (such as a Lesser Burrowing Ant as opposed to a Lesser Ant or a Lesser Armored Beetle as opposed to a Lesser Beetle). Evolutions, on the other hand, are more like closely related species and usually are not simply a straight upgrade of the base minion. For example, Lesser Pixie evolutions include Luminous Pixies (which trade the Lesser Pixie stun-bolt for the ability to create illusions), Gale Pixies (which trade the stun-bolt for being able to shoot blasts of air), and Dervishes (which have no magical powers but get claws and sharpened wings).

  • Digimon as a whole loves this. The anime itself has recolors who are merely a different attribute (such as say, BlackGarurumon, who is a Virus-type counterpart to Garurumon), different element (such as Yukidarumon and Tsuchidarumon, snow and ground respectively), or just a recolor for the sake of being a recolor. The Digimon games add to this by not only having the original recolors included, but several entirely recolored evolution lines, Rookie to Mega, in Vaccine, Data and Virus flavors. Taken to an absurd extreme with likes of Soulmon, who is a Bakemon with a wizard's hat (that's the ONLY difference) and NiseDrimogemon, which is merely a Drimogemon with a swirly mustache. To top it all of there are the many, many variations of Numemon and Sukamon, including Gold- and Platinum-, just to name a few. Possibly parodied in the first season of the anime, where all the heroes' Digimon have to do to infiltrate an outpost of the bad guys is put on some wigs and pretend to be an entirely different, made-up species of Digimon.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has many different cases of this. It's justified by the Grandfather Clause; many of the different enemy races, in particular, were created during the game's earliest editions, when leveling monsters up to keep pace with player characters wasn't very well supported, so the "sliding scale of toughness" version of this trope was a convenient work-around.
    • Enemy humanoids, in particular orcs, goblinoids and trolls, tend to fall into this category. In particular, orcs and hobgoblins have often been called out as competing for the same basic niche, usually resolved by portraying orcs more as savage, primitive marauders and hobgoblins as disciplined but evil conquering soldiers. Trolls instead tend be portrayed as this due to their hyperactive Healing Factors tending to favor mutations and to react oddly with more unusual forms of death, leading to things like trolls with extra heads, trolls infused with negative energy, trolls that secrete poison, trolls with crystalline skin, and so on.
    • Color-coded dragons originate in D&D, from which they percolated into popular culture in general. Evil ("chromatic") dragons have scales of a particular solid color reflecting their place in the Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors spectrum, and good ("metallic") dragons have scales the colors of a precious metal. Interestingly, though, these aren't actual Palette Swaps, as it is possible to readily identify different species of dragons in greyscale artwork (for example, white dragons have a peculiar vertical crest on their heads and black dragons have large, forward-pointing horns, while silver dragons have backward-pointing horns and a ribbed frill along their necks and gold dragons have a "beard" of fleshy whiskers). On one occasion, the color-coding is used as the basis of a truly heartbreaking Monster Is a Mommy story, when a noble silver dragon is born with albinism, and is hunted down and killed by an adventurer who thinks it's a white dragon. And then proceeded to find the silver dragon's children. One adventure featured a similar story with an albino red dragon, causing the party to prepare to fight it in the least effective way possible.note 
    • Landwyrms are wingless relatives of dragons that come in multiple varieties, each physically and thematically adapted to a specific environment such as swamps, jungles, forests, plains, hills, mountains, the Underdark, the tundra, or deserts.
    • A particularly infamous example is the rothe, which is a semi-literal Underground Monkey of a musk ox. As in, it's literally a musk ox that lives underground, created to explain how the various underground-dwelling races feed themselves.
    • The elves of D&D come in high, wood, sea, grey, wild, dark and several other varieties.note  But the dwarves actually have them beat in terms of subraces, although the majority of subraces are so overwhelmingly alike that an outsider would be hard-pressed to tell the difference, such as the traditional hill dwarf/mountain dwarf split.
    • The more common oozes often have variants adapted to live in specific environments, usually with colors tweaked to match. Crystal oozes are an offshoot of grey oozes that lives in the sea, dun puddings are black pudding relatives that live in sandy deserts, and white puddings are another black pudding variant found in snowy wildernesses.
    • The third edition features templates, giving GMs the opportunity to color-code any monster into a water monster, a fire monster, slime monster, etc., although one 3rd edition Dragon article about creating monsters included "But this one's blue!" in a list of how not to do it.
    • 4th Edition includes at least one extra variety of every monster in its Monster Manual entry. Many of these fall into Underground Monkey status, being simply higher level versions from a different environment-normally, a different plane.
    • Crossing over with Our Werebeasts Are Different, the second edition of the game included no fewer than seven types of werewolf, altogether: regular, loup-garounote , loup de noirnote , lytharinote , and seawolfnote .
    • Parodied in Spelljammer with the Giant Space Hamster monster. Long story short, Krynnish tinker gnomes bred ordinary hamsters until they were the size of brown bears as a power source for their fantastical spaceships (and then for their delicious meat). Then, because said gnomes have a racial hat of "Bungling Inventor who lives by the creed For Science!", they proceeded to continue breeding, crossbreeding and experimenting on their creations to produce an enormous array of subspecies. In addition to the named but unstatted woolly, mottled, ochre, Oriental, Occidental, chartreuse, spotted, not-quite-so-spotted, only-a-little-spotted, plaid, cave-dwelling, three-toed, lesser, greater, greater lesser, lesser greater, albino and flightless varieties, this led to the existence of the following giant space hamster subspecies:
      • Subterranean Giant Space Hamster: Outfitted with oversized claws that enhance its digging abilities, and make powerful melee weapons.
      • Sabre-toothed Giant Space Hamster: Possesses oversized teeth that augment its bite attack.
      • Rather Wild Giant Space Hamster: Characterized by extreme aggression... for a hamster.
      • Invisible Giant Space Hamster: Able to turn invisible for a short period of time each day. Unlike most AD&D monsters, it can attack without negating its invisibility.
      • Sylvan/Jungle Giant Space Hamster: Able to climb with surprising speed and agility, presuming it can find any nonslick surface that can bear its weight.
      • Miniature Giant Space Hamster: A giant space hamster bred back down to the size of its original hamster ancestors.
      • Armor Plated Giant Space Hamster: Furless, covered in an extremely durable rhino-like hide, and extremely aggressive.
      • Yellow Musk Giant Space Hamster: Secretes a noxious yellow musk from overly active glands, causing it to emit a 30ft cloud of toxic gas.
      • Ethereal Giant Space Hamster: Has translucent flesh and fur, causing it to appear as an animated giant hamster skeleton.
      • Carnivorous Flying Giant Space Hamster: A bat-winged and carnivorous version of the standard giant space hamster.
      • Two-Headed Lernaen Bombardier Giant Space Hamster: Possesses two heads, a minor Healing Factor, and the ability to belch so loudly it acts as a Breath Weapon.
      • Fire-Breathing Phase Doppelganger Giant Space Hamster: Generally considered the most dangerous of the giant space hamster variants; it breathes fire, is resistant to fire attacks, can phase in and out of reality, and can shapeshift into any other bear-sized mammal. Worse, it's actually quite intelligent by animal standards, very courageous, and it quickly learns how best to use its talents.
      • Great Horned Giant Space Hamster: Sports a rhino-like nose horn that allows it to charge and gore at foes.
      • Abominable Giant Space Hamster: A snow-white and arctic-adapted subspecies.
      • Tyrannohamsterus Rex: An absolutely gargantuan giant space hamster, 25ft tall and 75 tons... but no more aggressive than any normal hamster, so the most danger it traditionally causes is accidentally stepping on somebody or running them over. Unfortunately, it's a tremendous coward and flies into a blind panic when startled by, say, magic, fire, bright lights and loud noises.
      • Giant Space Hamster of Ill Omen: A possibly mythical being, bigger even than a Tyrannohamsterus Rex, but also fully sapient and a powerful wizard with innate spelljamming abilities. This entity, known as "Woolly Rupert", absolutely loathes gnomes, and murders any that he gets his paws on.
    • An example that overlaps with Our Mermaids Are Different, D&D has a long history of populating underwater adventures or regions of the world by just taking an existing race and letting it breathe underwater. And usually slapping blue/green colors on it alongside gills and webbed digits. The most well-known example is the Aquatic Elf subrace, which is literally "elf, but blue, breathes water and swims good". Older monster examples include the merrow (underwater ogre), scrag (underwater troll) and koalinth (underwater hobgoblin).
    • Treants have a handful of regional variants. Saguaro sentinels are desert-dwelling treant relatives who guard cactus forests and are less concerned with morality than their Neutral Good relatives, averaging out at True Neutral instead. Wizened elders are stunted (Medium- instead of Large-sized), gnarled treants found on cold plains and subalpine mountains, right on the edge of the tree line. They're Chaotic Neutral, harsh and sometimes cruel, and bitter toward their "overly-soft" treant kin for "abandoning" them to less-hospitable climates.
    • Another monster well known for the large number of varieties it come in are Giants. Hill giants are the generic giants, big Dumb Muscle humanoids who throw boulders. Stone giants live underground and have stony skin. Frost giants have blue skin and are found in cold regions. Fire Giants are dark-skinned redheads who live around volcanos. Cloud Giants also have bluish skin and live in castles in the clouds. Storm giants have pale greenish skin and live underwater. Mountain giants are like hill giants but bigger. Ettins are like hill giants but with two heads. Eldritch giants have purple skin and are covered in magical tattoos. Death giants are bald and have black skin and yellow eyes. Fomorians are similar to hill giants but are found underground and are smarter, eviler, and a whole lot uglier. Sun Giants are found in dessert. Smaller giants come in several varieties including the Firbolg, Verbeeg, and Voadkin. And there still are quite a few more types of giant.
  • Pathfinder uses this trope prominently with two types of creatures: drakes and giants.
    • Drakes were originally conceived as the inbred and degenerate descendants of true dragons, meaning that each drake type originally had to correspond to a type of true dragons (flame drakes -> red dragons, forest drakes -> green dragons, frost drakes -> white dragons, lava drakes -> magma dragons, etc.). As this origin was by and large dropped over time, this limiting factor was also removed, and it's common now for any new Bestiary to include a new handful of drake species themed around a new specific environment — sea drakes, river drakes, jungle drakes, mist drakes, spire drakes, rift drakes, desert drakes... — who otherwise share all but a few abilities and weaknesses.
    • It's also very common for giants to receive various subtypes specialized for and themed around very specific environments and phenomena — besides the original, "basic" types (hill, stone, frost, fire, taiga, cloud, storm and rune giants), successive Bestiaries have added a profusion of river giants, wood giants, tomb giants, desert giants, cave giants, jungle giants, sun, moon and eclipse giants, mountain giants, cliff giants, ocean giants, plague giants...
    • The cave worms in second edition also dip into this — they're an entire family of monsters based off of the classic purple worm and include a healthy list of color-coded variants adapted to specific environments, such as aquatic azure worms in flooded caves, crimson worms in volcanic caverns, white worms in glaciers and grey worms in necropoles and graveyards.
    • Numerous gargoyle variants exist, including aquatic kapoacinths, arctic gargoyles adapted for camouflage on snowy rocks and with cold resistance, forest gargoyles with bark-like skin, rare and powerful gemstone gargoyles, obsidian gargoyles with razor-sharp claws and fire resistance, desert-dwelling sandstone gargoyles, and waterspout gargoyles capable of shooting jets of water from their mouths.
  • Warhammer: The merwyrms, seagoing dragons described in the Monstrous Arcanum supplement, possess a couple of region variants with different color schemes and special abilities in stead of the basic merwyrm's venomous attacks — white-scaled pagowyrms native to arctic seas and possessing auras of bone-chilling cold and black sciowyrms native to abyssal depths and enshrouded by auras of crushing darkness — but otherwise identical to the base creature.
  • Warhammer 40,000: While discouraged due to the WYSIWYG rule, the game still does this.
    • Space Marines have more rules than the rest of the other playable factions combined, and the only way to tell them apart is by their armor and what kind of decorations they have (robed and green, it's probably Dark Angels. Spikey and/or evil looking, probably Chaos. Red and wings-and-blood-drops motifs, Blood Angels. Knightly helmets and book emblems, Grey Knights. Swords and seals, Black Templars, etc...). Even within a single army, the difference between an elite squad of veterans armed with modified boltguns and a simple tactical squad is sometimes literally a differently painted shoulderpad. Averted with the other races, where each type of trooper generally gets their own model.
    • Specific models for veteran Space Marines were later added, with custom boltguns that look a bit different and shoulder pads that have embossed icons for non-codex chapters. Of course, these models are more expensive, so some players stick with the old palette swap method, especially since some veteran models are non-customizable and don't have optimal wargear (though that last one can usually be fixed by some part exchanging and sculpting).
    • Forgeworld, Games Workshop's main subsidiary, also produces new kits with their own rules, but more relating to this trope also produces additional pieces so you can kit out your units in specific ways just as you want, provided you are willing to pay more money. This typically means shoulder pads, weapons and doors for your vehicles, but they also produce entire alternative ranges of Space Marines in their various armour types, some of which are more fitting for a theme army (say, Iron Warriors using Mk. II/III armour which look much more medieval than the standard one).
    • Two of the Dark Eldar troops are one of the few non-marine armies to play this straight; the Kabalite Warriors and Wyches and their elite variants, Trueborn and Bloodbrides. These literally use the same model and in fact are upgrades to their base form's unit entries as of 7th edition. Their only difference, game wise, is a slightly improved profile and the ability to take more weapons.

  • Other toys use a similar system, often called redecos (when identical molds are used but the color of plastic is altered) or retools (when most parts stay basically the same but are altered to include, for example, new accessories; this can also include a redeco). For example, in one series of Transformers, Stormcloud is a redeco of Powerglide, while Sideswipe is a retool of Sunstreaker. This even leads to recolors in characters in the cartoon — for example, Thundercracker and Skywarp were repaints of Starscream. This became very confusing when someone accidentally colored two Starscreams.
  • BIONICLE: For most of the franchise's run, sets were just recolors of each other with slight differences in assembly and parts. Sometimes, the only difference would be their masks and their tools/weapons. Then, the Mahri Nui saga came along in 2007, and the Barraki were released, each looking very different from each other. Since then, the sets have been largely averted this trope. Played with in the larger sets as, while each large set was in of itself different from other large sets, each early large set could produce two near-identical creatures. Justified in that back then Bionicle toys were more akin to Rock'em Sock'em robots, and the kids were expected to play against eachother so the toys had to be identical to make it fair. Newer large sets averts this since they lost the Playability of the older sets in lieu of posability.
  • One of the games in a very basic computer-type toy from the mid-1980s included spelling words of six letters or less represented by pictures. Where possible, the game used the same picture for multiple words: for example, pie and quiche, guitar and uke [ukulele].

    Web Video 
  • Adan spoofs this trope in the video The uninspired Boss, where players being disappointed by the boss just being a slightly tougher Palette Swap of what they were fighting before.

  • Adventurers! lampshades this several times.
    • At one point, the Ice Dragon, boss of the Ice Cave, paints himself red and calls himself a Fire Dragon to fool adventurers.
    • At another point, Khrima says that he's busy making monsters, and a flunky points out that most of the time all he does is take an existing monster and put "Fire" in front of its name.
  • Blood is Mine: The monsters in Level 0 of Bunker X heavily resemble those encountered in the hospital, back in chapter 1, only these are much stronger.
  • Homestuck: The enemies spawned by Sburb come in a wide variety of subtypes based on different substances; this is chiefly cosmetic outwardly, but affects the grist they drop when killed and their associated substances tend to match the landscape of the Lands they appear in. John's world of rock and rivers of tar, for instance, is home to shale imps, crude ogres and tar basilisks, while Dave's land of metallic continents above seas of lava is home to amber and rust imps and sulfur ogres.
  • The Order of the Stick parodies this alongside several other fantasy gaming staples.
    • In one comic, a paladin discovers the titular party has killed a dragon. She then accuses them of possibly killing a creature of benevolence and wisdom, and asks why they thought it deserved death, to which Roy Greenhilt replies, "Erm... its scales weren't shiny?" which placates the paladin. Elan then breaks the Fourth Wall by winking at the reader and saying, "Dragons — now Colour-Coded for Your Convenience!" Ironically, the comic does this itself with goblins/hobgoblins/ghouls.
    • Vaarsuvius rants about the use of this trope to populate the Underdark in Snips, Snails, and Dragon Tales.
      Vaarsuvius: It is exactly the same as the upper world, only dimmer! JUST STAY AT HOME AND PUT ON SUNGLASSES!
  • RPG World is the Trope Namer, and was originally a Lampshade Hanging by showing a number of "Underground (animal not usually found in caves)" enemies in succession.
  • Sluggy Freelance parodies this with "Years of Yarncraft" (spoofing World of Warcraft, of course) here, here and here.

    Web Original 
  • Pokémon World Tour: United: The cast occasionally meets Pokemon that have typing different from their game counterparts due to unusual circumstances. The first such occurrence is in Viridian Forest, when the ghost of a dead trainer bequeaths his (also dead) Pokemon to Rose. The result is Pepper, a Charmander that is part Ghost-type instead of pure Fire-type. Later examples include a crystal Dugtrio in Mt. Moon that's a Rock-type instead of Ground, and a Squirtle and Hoothoot affected by the presence of Articuno and have the Ice-type added on top of their respective Water and Flying-types. Whenever one of these Pokemon is encountered, Rose's and Cobalt's Pokedexes have errors and detect the new typing.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: being descended from a common ancestor, members of closely related biological groups (like a family or genus) often closely resemble each other in basic body plan, but have adapted to various environments and ecological niches through changes in color, size, diet, and behavior.
    • Foxes have several distinct species adapted for different biomes, such as the forest-dwelling red fox, the tundra-dwelling arctic fox and the desert-dwelling fennec fox. And while true foxes are not found in South America, South America has a whole family of fox-like animals that fill similar niches.
    • Lions, tigers and jaguars are the feline apex predators of Africa, Asia and South America and can in a way be seen as palette swaps of one another. And the in the coldest places the top cat is the snow leopard.
    • Darwin's Finches are a literal textbook example of the trope. Isolated on the remote Galapagos Islands, the original "basic" species of finch evolved into species filling a huge number of different niches found on the islands of the archipelago. While there's no underground finch, there is a ground finch group, which itself comes in varieties like Small, Medium, Large, and Vampire.
    • A mean estimate for the total number of beetle species is 1.5 million, 400,000 of which have been described. Beetles make up 40% of all insect species and 25% of all animal species. Some take this to an extreme and claim that there are 30 million species, a number that is certainly a hyperbole but shows the extent of beetle species there are. There is a quote from British evolutionary biologist J.B.S. Haldane "If there is a creator, he has an inordinate fondness for beetles."
  • Automobile manufacturers will often use a single common chassis with minor changes to styling, features, trim, and tuning to produce cars aimed at different markets or market segments. Something similar happens with buses, where often one manufacturer will build the chassis and another the coachwork, with the latter having aesthetic differences within the same model depending on the chassis used.

Alternative Title(s): Prefix Mob