Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet released Nov. 18 to mixed reviews from both consumers and critics. Scarlet and Violet’s release marked the ninth generation of Pokémon games, and the introduction of a new continent called Paldea.
With the holidays coming up, would these games be a good present for any family or friends who own a Nintendo switch? It’s a bit complicated. The game suffers from massive performance issues. While the game by itself is a ton of fun, many users are experiencing game breaking bugs, glitches and frames dropping during their gameplay.
The game starts players off in a small tutorial area, where they choose their “starter pokémon” and get a brief glimpse of the new open world Game Freak has built. Featured are pokémon that roam the wilds between towns freely, which creates a more natural feel then seeing them forced into little clumps of grass. Players can walk up to these wild pokémon at any point and engage in a battle, either to try and knock them out or capture them.
Battles themselves use the Pokémon series’ usual “turn based” formula. You choose a move for your pokémon to use at the same time as your opponent. Then, whichever pokemon is faster uses their move first.
The game really cuts down on grind time by giving players access to a Pokémon they can ride anywhere they want. Players can also fast travel to any checkpoints they’ve discovered already, which isn’t gated by progression like it was in older Pokémon entries.
Additionally, players can also throw out their lead pokémon and have it follow them around the world. While the lead pokémon is out, you can give it a “let’s go!” command that lets it auto battle any pokémon in the area.
w The overall gameplay feels relatively smooth when it’s not moving at five frames per second, and there are tons of quality of life features that help you become more immersed in the world. One of these features is throwing out the lead pokémon, another is the “picnic” feature.
Players can throw a picnic at any point, so long as the area around them is flat. During a picnic, the pokémon in their party will come out of their pokéballs and stand around the environment. Players can interact with their pokémon, wash them and even throw a ball for them to chase around the area. There’s something that just feels cool about seeing all your pokémon out and wandering around the picnic area. It makes them feel more like pets and companions rather than pieces on a chess board.
The difference between Scarlet and Violet is more than just the color scheme. The story slightly changes endings depending on the version, and there are a few pokémon that are exclusive to either Scarlet or Violet. Version exclusive pokémon are mostly prevalent in the end game. Players are also given a different pokémon to ride around the world depending on the game they choose.
Whenever there’s a new Pokémon game, it’s usually supposed to come with a plethora of new features and pokémon. Despite that, Game Freak, the developers of the mainline pokémon video games, has remained relatively stagnant in their formula. It felt like they hadn’t innovated or improved anything since their Nintendo 3DS games, which left entries like Sword and Shield feeling lack-luster.
Everything changed once Pokémon Legends: Arceus dropped. For the first time ever, fans could move around in open environments. Though the overall map of Arceus is still segmented, it marked a milestone for pokémon games.
Scarlet and Violet use a similar design to Arceus, but expands on the premise. Their entire map is “open world.” You can go wherever you want, whenever you want. While this should have been a huge accomplishment for the Pokémon series as a whole, it’s been heavily undermined by the performance issues.
Another complaint of the fans is the lack of voice acting in the game. There are many scenes and moments in the game that would be really cool with proper voice acting, but just turn out to be kind of awkward and cringy without it.
The game also claims you have total freedom in wherever you go and do, but there’s a pretty strict order in beating the gyms and titan pokémon in order to get the full experience. Otherwise you’ll always be over or underleveled wherever you’re trying to battle.
At its roots, the Pokémon videogames are created with both children and adults in mind. It’s still a great gift for Pokémon fans of all ages. It’s probably safe to buy for any children, so long as they understand that their game might just break at certain points. Older audiences and teens with less time to play might get annoyed with all the bugs–it’s probably best to check in with them first before buying.
The game does have an auto-save feature which minimizes damage from crashes and helps save progression, but it’s still not fun to have to restart your game and have to repeat certain tasks or battles.
Despite what other critics have said about the graphics of Scarlet and Violet, the characters and the pokémon look fantastic. Even if many of the settings and animations of the game feel lackluster, players can be confident knowing that their pokémon will at least look cool. Which honestly, is one of the most important parts of building your team.
Overall, when you can actually play Scarlet and Violet, I think it’s one of the best Pokémon games ever released. Without all the performance issues, it’s a must-have for any Pokémon fan.