‘Pokémon Scarlet’ and ‘Pokémon Violet’ Review: Too Good to be True

Photo Courtesy of Pokémon.com

Photo Courtesy of Pokémon.com

I will address this now so I can use the rest of the review to praise these games. “Pokémon Scarlet” and “Pokémon Violet” are not finished. They constantly dip below 30 frames per second, the graphics look like they were made for a PlayStation 2, and there are a wide variety of bugs. Every player will experience different performances as they play, but for reference, my playthrough had a few of these issues: from getting soft locked (I couldn’t progress without closing the game and restarting) because things didn’t load correctly, to falling through the world and into the void because the ground decided to disappear. That isn’t even to mention the time that my Pokémon rose into Poké Heaven in the middle of a battle, leaving an empty spot where they were supposed to be. For me, this greatly impacted my playthrough, which I can’t overlook. However, that’s about all the problems I have with these games.

This might be the most fun I have had with a Pokémon game in a while. I’ve played them all, and let me tell you that these games do not disappoint. This is the first time that the series has tried a full open world, and they do a pretty great job. The world doesn’t feel empty at all, which was my biggest concern when I first saw the trailer. There’s always new Pokémon to discover in every area, and new towns to visit. You can go exploring right from the get-go, and there’s nothing stopping you from heading straight into an area where you’re underleveled. That is the level of freedom I adore, and this game does it justice.

In previous games, you would collect eight gym badges and then fight the elite four and champion. That formula is still here, but gym badges are not the only badges you can receive. There are a total of 18 badges, one for each type: eight gym badges, five titan badges, and five star badges. The gym badges function the same as they always have, but the titan badges and star badges add a new and refreshing twist on the formula.

The titan badges are received by following a specific story path where you search for special herbs guarded by titans to power up your Pokémon. These titans are stronger than regular Pokémon, so be prepared for a fight. When defeating a titan, you will be able to feed the herbs to the legendary Miraidon or Koraidon (depending on which version of the game you choose), which will unlock new world traversal skills. Yes, you receive the legendary Pokémon on the game’s logo right away, but you can’t battle with it until the end of the game. You can only use it to traverse the world.

The star badges were my favorite to collect. Team Star is a group of delinquents who have set up bases all around the region. Your job is to defeat enough Pokémon in their bases in order to lure out the boss. Defeat the boss, and the badge is yours. To defeat Pokémon, you engage in auto-battles, where the Pokémon fights in the overworld without you having to choose attacks. It keeps things moving and is nice for trying to level up without going in and out of battles. Regardless, Team Star is one of my favorite teams in the series. They actually have character development, and many people will be able to relate to them. 

After collecting all the badges, a new path opens up, and it was my favorite part of the game. Without getting into spoilers, let’s just say that things aren’t what they seem throughout the game. This was where the story truly shined, and I was captivated. This is also where you have the opportunity to catch paradox Pokémon, which I love. There aren’t many paradox Pokémon, but the designs of the existing ones are some of my favorites.

Truly, these games are fun. The world, the story, and the new Pokémon are all exciting to unpack. It’s unfortunate that they’re held back by such awful performance, but that seems to be a problem of the developers, not the Switch’s hardware. I do wish there were voice acting, but it isn’t a necessity in this particular game. If it weren’t for the major problems I had, this would easily be one of my favorite Pokémon games of all time.

Score: 7/10