Pokemon Scarlet and Violet might be the most mixed I’ve been on a game in a long time. After 40 hours of exploring the Paldea region, I’ve seen almost everything this game has to offer. I’ve seen the highs and the lows of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, and I can definitively state that this is the most fun I’ve had with a Pokémon game in about 20 years. The crazy thing about that statement is the fact that I can say that despite the numerous negatives of the game.
Let’s dive into the ups and downs of the Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.
There are three overall main stories for this game. The classic tale, in which, you try to take down all the gym leaders and the elite four. One where you take down giant Pokemon to help Arven find the Herba Mystica and the one in which you try to take down the bases and organization known as Team Star.
While now of the stories felt like a contender for the best narrative of 2022 they were solid enough that it kept me engaged. Each one had their own twists and I enjoyed that they all came together in a satisfying way.
The Pokémon is Scarlet and Violent look better than I’ve ever seen them. The game properly displays a Pokémon’s physical features like their furriness, their rock exterior, and their sliminess to name a few. For example, Arcanine looks like a fuzzy canine.
Another thing I want to shout out is the roster for this game. There is a solid amount of Pokemon in this game and the newer ones for Gen 9 felt well designed and well thought out. While it can feel overwhelming to be introduced to so many new Pokemon, the game makes it easy to learn their strengths and their weaknesses.
There is a decent amount of Pokemon from older generations. For example, I came across several Pokémon from Gen 1 and it honestly felt like I was seeing a friend that I hadn’t seen in a long time.
The core gameplay is the same as the recent Pokémon games, but with some user friendly additions. You still can walk up to the trainers or Pokémon that you want to battle and then the battle begins. This game however, add the ability to throw out your Pokémon into the open world and have them partake in a off-the screen auto battle. This is a feature that is a game changer and saves a lot of time when you are trying to grind.
I really enjoyed seeing this feature on display when you are trying to takedown Team Star’s bases. Instead of you having to battle all the underlings one by one, you simply throw out your first three Pokémon that you have on hand and they take on the underling’s Pokémon in the off-screen auto battles. It’s a huge time saver and allows you to get to the base’s boss battle quickly.
Some of the newer features feel like a step in the right direction and feel like well thought out quality of life decisions. For example, the auto heal mechanic is a absolute gamechanger and should be in every Pokemon game going forward.
This game also grants you the ability to craft TMs. This is a great addition and is much better than those ridiculous move tutors that were in the previous games. You also can relearn any moves that your Pokemon previously knew at any point in the game. These are really great user-friendly features that add more freedom and control to create the team that you want at any given time.
This game made it more evident than ever that Pokémon games and the Pokémon franchise need the option to skip the tutorials. Many of us have played these games for decades at this point so we don’t need the 4 to 6-hour tutorial that’s in Scarlet and Violet. The fact that it takes that long to truly get into the game is egregious.
Of all the newer features the worst is the gym tests. So for those of you who don’t know the gym tests are a mini-game that you complete before you get to challenge the gym leader. They are often a horrible meaningless task that feels like they are there just to pad the game out a bit. I can’t stress this enough, they feel like a waste of time. There is one where you have to roll a giant ball through a maze-like course into a basket and another where you had to go around the town to find out the local restaurant’s secret menu order. Both were a complete waste of time and feel like something that is there just to pad the game with content.
Now let’s talk about the Snorlax in the room. You can only have an in-depth conversation about this game if you talk about its performance issues. There’s no easy way to say this but this game runs like cold syrup. It absolutely chugs and nothing about the game’s performance feels smooth. Playing this game you will often see and experience vast dips in the framerate. This is evident in the city areas where there are NPCs in the background.
I’ve also experienced some crashes while playing the game. Two examples of this happened right after I beat the grass gym and when I beat the dark-type version of team star. It was annoying that I had to go through those tasks again due to the game crashing.
Another weak aspect of the game is the environments that you explore. While you can explore a vast open world, a lot of it seems empty other than the Pokémon occupying the area. You know that there are trainers out in the world, but they are often so scattered that they are hard to find.
Overall/Should you play Pokémon Scarlet and Violet:
So I’ve listed all the flaws of these games, for which there are many, but you want to know what the funny thing is. This game is absolutely terrible performance-wise, but it’s the most fun that Pokémon has been in a decade plus. The truly open world, the quick battles, and the freedom to choose your own path are just a few of the features that make it feel like we are finally taking a step forward with the franchise.
Playing Pokémon Violet and Scarlet made me the most conflicted I can remember being with a video game. While its technical performance leaves a lot to be desired, it’s still the best pokemon game in a very long time. In fact, if this game ran perfectly I’d make a case for this being the best Pokémon games of all time.