Update, January 23: This story was posted January 22. In it, I theorise about whether Nintendo will take legal action against this Palworld mod—as it has with similar projects in the past. It's been less than 24 hours, and surely enough there's been a copyright claim, according to Toasted Shoes' Twitter:
The extent of the legal action involved is unclear—but at the time of writing, the promised video has not yet been uploaded to YouTube. Original story follows.
Original Story: The phrase 'Nothing's certain but death and taxes' needs an addendum—because the inevitability of Palworld having Pokémon modded into it is, statistically, more likely than both of those things.
Medical science could outpace death given a couple hundred years. A post-scarcity society could move beyond the need for taxation—but the moment someone could send Pikachu to the mines, they were going to do it. Thus it was written, and thus it shall be.
As teased on Twitter by YouTuber Toasted Shoes (whose most recent project saw him transporting Pixar and Disney characters into Mortal Kombat to murder each other in a glorious melee) this whole thing is just a big copyright strike waiting to happen. But as a moth is drawn to a flame, so too is Toasted Shoes drawn to the visceral image of Ash Ketchum with a gun. I don't blame him.
Considering Palworld's insistence on thematically-edgy forced labour, the brief preview is about as mentally disorienting as you'd imagine. Pikachu made to swing a pickaxe (pika-xe?) for profit, Misty strapped with a full shotgun—Ash Ketchum dodging an Electabuzz's violent swings while Team Rocket's Jessie presumably cheers for his blood. It's amazing what technology can do nowadays.
As inevitable as this whole thing was, it does feel like poking the bear. Though while publishers do level their lawyers at modders on occasion, it's typically to snuff out efforts at emulation—like with Rockstar and re3 and reVC, or Nintendo itself with… well, anything that might help preserve its games.
Whether the company has any reason to go for Toasted Shoes' throat beyond an inevitable demonetisation of his video is another thing entirely. Nintendo has however dropped the hammer on modding efforts like this before—such as with Pixelmon, a Pokémon minecraft mod, which it moved to shut down in 2018.
Granted, this is also assuming Nintendo cares enough to go through the legal headache—though Palworld's meteoric rise to popularity might be enough to draw the company's burning, all-seeing eye.