Pokémon Scarlet, Pokémon Violet Review – The Struggle of Evolution

Each new generation of Pokémon promises changes and iterations of the age-old franchise formula. Pokémon Scarlet and Violet kick off the ninth generation of Pokémon games, delivering some of the biggest changes to date. An open world, four-player co-op, and other additions effectively propel the series forward in meaningful ways, but technical shortcomings often disrupt immersion and moderation a strong Pokémon game.

The Pokémon formula remains mostly intact through Scarlet and Violet. Your main goal still involves catching, training, and fighting Pokémon that inhabit the world. But this time, you do so in the series’ first truly open world, expanding the recipe in unprecedented ways. The Paldea region is ripe for exploration, with diverse biomes and various nooks and crannies to hunt. Thanks to so many Pokémon, both new and old, I always feel rewarded for going down the wrong path. When I discover a brand new monster, I often come to appreciate the design, making this batch one of my favorite new generations for a long time.

Thanks to this open-world approach, most battles are now optional. Trainers take over the world, but you have to start the battle with them to get started. I like this approach, as it allows me to skip battles I don’t want to get into, even though the money, experience, and rewards often make them worthwhile. The same goes for wild Pokémon encounters, which only happen if you encounter them; Random encounters have completely disappeared this time around. You can also use the new Let’s Go mechanic, where you send your lead Pokémon out into battle automatically, if you’re just looking for quick experience and crafting materials.

Unfortunately, the wider world has to pay the price, as Pokémon Scarlet and Violet have poor performance across the board. Characters appear and disappear before your eyes, textures appear at extremely low resolutions, and frame rates are choppy around every turn. Game Freak has been wildly successful with its first open world, but it clearly still has a long way to go to make it work on Switch.

When you enter the battle, longtime Pokémon players will feel at home, as it reverts to a traditional turn-based format, where the strengths and weaknesses of the types create rock-paper-scissors-style battles. interesting. New Terastallization mechanic, where a Pokémon in battle takes on a gem-like appearance and enhances its specific Tera-Type moves, highlighting the type-matching system; some Pokémon even change type when they are Terastallized. While a Pokémon’s Tera-Type moves are enhanced, they are barely tamed, and since Terastallizing is limited to once per Pokémon Center visit, it adds an extra layer of strategy. Terastallized forms look uniformly silly, but Terastallization is my favorite generational combat gimmick in series history.

Players can explore this new open area of ​​Paldea together thanks to the four-player cooperative game mode. Once players join the server version, they are free to explore, catch new Pokémon, battle in Tera Raids, and even trade with each other. I regret that there isn’t much interaction between players during these sessions (you can’t even watch the battles unfold), but the freedom that co-op offers far outweighs the shortcomings.

The open world design also allows you to choose the order in which you approach the three main missions. Victory Road offers the series’ traditional eight-gym conquest with the goal of taking down the Elite Four, while Starfall Street lets you raid bases held by Team Star, the entry’s rival group. . Gym challenges before each leader’s battle diversify the lead, but they’re casual or revert to traditional trainer glove style. Team Star base raids are easy, where you need to use the Let’s Go mechanic to defeat 30 Pokémon in 10 minutes before a challenging boss battle. Legendary Path, the third quest line, offers thrilling battles against the giant Pokémon Titan, offers the best rewards, and serves up a touching story. I enjoyed each of the individual quest lines, and while they are different in nature, they converge at the end and the post-game content makes sense.

Of course, the quest to continuously fill your Pokédex exists alongside those three story quests. This quest is made more satisfying than ever thanks to a great redesign that depicts your Pokédex as an encyclopedic bookshelf. I love watching the shelves fill up with each new encounter, but I’m disappointed that Pokémon Legends: Arceus’ Objective, which requires you to research Pokémon before their entry is complete, is gone.

Despite the technical shortcomings and some extra content, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet is filled with meaningful additions to one of the most popular gaming franchises. At worst, these games are steps towards the Pokémon game players have been clamoring for, but more often than not, they serve as effective arguments for where the series is going from here. Either way, I can’t wait to see how Game Freak evolves the experience from this point on.


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