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

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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, 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.

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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.

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

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.


Video Game Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Action-Adventure 

    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 

  • 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.
  • 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). Common expressions of this include:
    • Different weaponry and/or levels of toughness of the opponents (e.g. the processed humans of Quake II, the Cabal followers of Blood, Barons of Hell and Hellknights in Doom and Doom II).
    • Somewhat different abilities between the enemy types (e.g. the semi-invisibility of Spectres in the Doom series, the personal teleporters of Alien captains in Duke Nukem 3D)
    • Just plain 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.
  • Halo:
    • In the original trilogy, Elites and Grunts got different-colored armor based on their military rank (determined largely by Asskicking Equals Authority), 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.
  • The later levels of Pathways into Darkness feature Ghasts (aka Earthquake Zombies), Green Oozes(which 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).
  • In Borderlands, when you're done with your first playthrough and start on a second one, the enemies get more health and different names, but their models don't change. Played straight in the first exapansion and the final expansion, which featured zombified and "-trap'd" enemies. The zombies had noticably different AI, but the claptrap-ised enemies just had 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.

     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 the original Strider 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.

    Metroidvania 

  • 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...
  • 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.
  • Hollow Knight:
    • Crawlids and Tiktiks are similar in size and appearance, but the latter has the ability to climb on walls and ceilings.
    • 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.
    • 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.

    MMORP Gs 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • AdventureQuest's many different Zards definitely qualify. They typically serve as The Goomba.
  • The King Of Towers has many berserk enemies that have drunk demon's blood, which are naturally located at the Lava Plains.
  • 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" addons 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 migated 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Platformers 

  • 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 pink and blue pair of 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 (or "disco 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.
    • In World, 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).
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • In Purple, basic mooks like slimes, bats and cannons get Palette Swapped at least three times, each with a slightly different behaviour.
  • In the first Donkey Kong Country game, Krusha came in two varieties. The first kind was blue with green camo and was only beatable by either of Donkey Kong's main attacks or a barrel (Diddy Kong's attacks were laughed off). The second kind only appeared once in the SNES version, in the very last level before King K. Rool. This version was grey with purple camo. The only thing that could beat him was a barrel, making him the strongest of the Kremlings.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In the remake to 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.
  • 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. This was taken Up to Eleven with Ratchet: Deadlocked, where 90% of the enemy lineup consisted of these.

    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).
  • 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.
  • Lampshaded and partially justified in Sacrifice; 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.

    Roguelikes 

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Role-Playing Games 

  • Nigh-on every non-boss enemy in Super Robot Wars OG Saga: Endless Frontier, presumably to make room for more boob jokes.
  • 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.
  • Super Mario RPG has this with a LOT of enemy types. Sometimes in quick succession.
  • 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 6 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 to Grind), 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 DQVII), 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 takes this particularly Up to Eleven, where 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.
  • 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.
    • 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. Final Fantasy XII also justified it to some extent, as many of the monsters who share a given sprite are in fact related to one another, as the Bestiary implies.
    • Final Fantasy XII is a good example of how to do palette swap enemies, with different species of monster varying by environment: their primary diet, the climate, and 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.
    • 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 (for VIII, anyway) are for human and humanoid enemies, plus Elvoret and Elnoyle. IX has a few palette swaps; the ten Fairy Battles, and the Crystal versions of the Four Fiends. Lastly, VIII bosses Catoblepas and Red Giant were recycled from mooks, and Omega and Ultima Weapons were swaps of each other.
  • Game Boy games had a lack of memory that justified Underground Monkeys, but were also monochrome and so had no way of switching palettes. Generally, this led to enemies either never improving or simply gaining more hit points, though turn-based RPGs (Such as the SaGa/Final Fantasy Legend'' series) were able to circumvent this by giving the sprites new names. (Say, isn't that Master Dragon the exact same size as the Baby Dragon from the start of the game?)
    • This hardware limitation led to an inversion in Metroid 2. In the original, getting the Varia upgrade made the sprite change color, which wasn't possible on the Game Boy. To compensate, now the Varia granted the huge shoulders that are now the character's trademark look.
  • In the Fallout games:
    • A common practice was to have different individuals represented by a sprite of the same person (usually the male and female sprite used for the Player Character, no less) stuck in a different suit of armour or clothing. The second game in the series contained a couple of self-conscious Lampshade Hanging jokes on this theme, including the henchman of a crime boss confiding that he suspects there must have been a big cloning accident at some point in the past, and an Easter Egg location in which a pair of sprites originally intended to be player characters but retooled to only fill NPC duties lament over their fate.
    • 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.
      • In addition to the ranks from Fallout 3, Super Mutants have a blue-skinned variant known as Nightkin, who are equipped with Invisibility Cloaks and different apparel and weaponry than the normal Mutants.
      • 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.).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Grandia II starts doing this about halfway through the game.
  • Pokémon notably averts Palette Swaps of its monsters, aside from rare "shiny" Pokémon which are the exact same species (think albino). The closest thing to recycled enemies might be evolved forms of previously encountered Pokémon, or the same Pokémon at higher levels. This lack of palette-swapping monsters makes sense when you consider the whole premise of the game is built on having a wide selection of Pokémon to customize your team with. There are many Pokemon based on similar animals who are mostly differentiated by the location they live in though. Take Pachirisu, an Electric squirrel of the Sinnoh region and Emolga, an Electric flying squirrel of the Unova region. Pikachu, a rare Electric mouse that lives in forests and Marill, a rare river-dwelling mouse. Also, the same species of animal may be represented more than once in the same area such as Pansage, Pansear and Panpour who are all forest monkeys but each of a different elemental type.
    • 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 4 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.
      • While Pokémon Black and White and Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 has mostly kept the overworld sprites of Trainers classes consistent to their battle sprites, the boss version of the Clerk Trainer class shares the same overworld sprite as the more common variant. This is particularly odd, seeing how there are unique overworld sprites for both of the variants of the Worker Trainer class.
      • Pokémon X and Y also keeps the overworld models of the Trainer classes consistent to their artwork, but some models are reused for different classes, with the only difference being that each class has a different palette. For example, ever wonder why the Veteran classes in the overworld look a lot younger than they do in their artwork? That's because their overworld models are actually palette swaps of the Ace Trainer overworld models. Ever confused as to how the Fairy Tale Girl's hair looks completely different in the overworld? That's because her overworld model is actually a palette swap of the Twins overworld model.
      • In the first generation games, all Gym Leaders (With the exception of Giovanni) all use overworld sprites that other NPCs use. This is later averted in later generations, where all Gym Leaders have their own unique overworld sprite.
    • An In-Universe example would be Shellos and Gastrodon, which are only cosmetically different on the West and East sides of the continent. The justification was divergent evolution (that is, allopatric speciation rather than metamorphosis) after being separated by Mt. Coronet.
    • Also played straight with the cry sounds. There were only 37 cry sounds in the original game, and while some were sped up or slowed down, some cries, even by unrelated Pokémon, were identical. Charizard and Rhyhorn, Ditto and Poliwag... Caterpie and Goldeen technically have different cries, but you'd have to listen to them in succession to hear it. Less noticeable in Pokémon X and Y, where the revamping of the Pokémon cries meant that the cries of the original Gen I Pokémon went through Divergent Character Evolution. (but they still sound similar).
    • 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. The ones that are found only in Alola are known as Alolan forms. Most are given reasonable explanations, such as the Sandshrew line becoming Ice/Steel-types after adapting to snow-capped mountains, or Exeggutor being a Grass/Dragon type that grows to an astounding 35 feet tall due to the year-long tropical sun. Others, such as Raichu (the Alolan variant being an Electric/Psychic type that can levitate by "surfing" on its tail)? Not even those in-universe have a clue as to why or how that happened, jokingly pinning the cause on a diet of fluffy pancakes.
  • 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 Maiden only have Mii mouths in blow icy winds.
  • 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.
  • Chrono Trigger includes the "Debugger" and "Debuggest" robot-bug enemies; "Rolies", "Polies", and "Rolypolies"; "Cave Apes" and "Goons"; and "Mutants" and "Metal Mutes", among others.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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 (Animal 3)
  • 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.
  • In MOTHER 1, 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 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'.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia has this in spades, especially considering some of the monsters are from other games. Invoked to the point of parody in Hyperdimention Nepunia 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.
  • 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.
  • Evil Islands: You'll find several types of wolves, boars, toads, tigers, trolls... that look the same except for color or size.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Darkest Dungeon: All enemies, including bosses, have upgraded versions whose appearance differs, at most, by a subtle palette swap.
  • 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 

  • 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 relies on this trope quite a bit. The Grineer generally prefer a more cosmetic approach, changing up textures for fundamentally-similar units based on the terrain; as of Specters of the Rails, there are standard combat, jungle, desert, and amphibious varieties. The Corpus and Infested tend to use altered coloration to denote different abilities instead, although the Grineer also do this for Archwing enemies, and every faction resorts to it for Eximus units. All three factions also contribute reskinned variants of various units for the Corrupted in the Void.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Tower Defense 

    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.

    Stealth 

  • 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.

    Survival 

  • 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 less severe 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) and don't burn up in the sun; and Strays, skeletons that spawn in icy climates and fire potion-tipped arrows that slow their targets.
  • 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.
  • Slimes in Terraria. 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.


Non-Video Game Examples:

    Multiple 

  • 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 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has many different cases of this.
    • 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 
    • A particularly infamous example is the Rothe, which is a semi-literal Underground Monkey of a bison.
    • The Elves of D&D come in high, wood, sea, grey, wild and several other varieties.note 
    • The third edition of Dungeons & Dragons features templates, giving uncreative 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 .
  • 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...
  • While discouraged due to the WYSIWYG rule of the game, Warhammer 40,000 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 bling they have (Robed and Green, it's probably Dark Angels. Spikey and/or evil looking, probably Chaos. Red and Blood drops, 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.

    Toys 

  • 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.
  • For most of its run, BIONICLE 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.

    Webcomics 

  • Gets parodied in the Sluggy Freelance "Years of Yarncraft" (spoofing World of Warcraft, of course) here, here and here.
  • As mentioned in the trope description, the Trope Namer is RPG World, and was originally a Lampshade Hanging by showing a number of "Underground (animal not usually found in caves)" enemies in succession.
  • Parodied in the webcomic Order of the Stick:
    • 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!
  • Lampshaded several times in the webcomic Adventurers!:
    • 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.

    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.
    • 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.
    • As an extreme example there are over 30 million species of beetle on Earth. There is even a quote (often attributed to Darwin, although no one knows for sure that says "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.

Alternative Title(s): Mook Family, Prefix Mob

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