Pokémon Scarlet and Violet came out for the Nintendo Switch on 18th November, and for the first time in my life, I got a copy of a Pokémon game on release day. I opted for Scarlet, purely because I liked the look of the box art legendary more, and I tried to avoid spoilers as much as possible so I could enjoy the game and be surprised.
Social media was filled with disappointment about frame rates and weird glitches and errors, but I tried to hold my judgement till I got to play it myself. I got a physical copy of the game, rather than a digital download, and I haven’t completed it in full yet, but am right at the end of the game. I like to take my time and explore!
There will be some spoilers in this article, so please be warned!
I loaded Scarlet up with absolute glee and excitement, having finally decided I was going to pick Sprigatito as my starter, and wanting to dive right into the storyline. My first impression of the game was that the camera was pretty awkward inside your home, it felt a bit clunky and my character got trapped pretty quickly because I couldn’t have the camera facing where I needed to go.
Now this may be on me, I’m not the most co-ordinated of human beings, and as the game has gone on I’ve found it a lot easier, but in your house at the start, I was worried because it was clunky.
You start meeting new characters right away, from Director Clavell, the head of the school you attend, to your rival Nemona. The characters in this game are great. Nemona is a really fun rival, it isn’t a case of her simply wanting to beat you because you are rivals, she wants you to thrive and be the best you can so you can challenge each other. It’s a lovely way to do the rival relationship in a different way.
Nemona is already a Champion, she hasn’t got anything to prove, and she wants to be challenged, and that’s were you come in. Director Clavell also features heavily throughout the game, in some hilarious ways, and it’s nice to see properly well rounded characters.
The first part of the game follows you choosing your starter Pokémon, given to you by Director Clavell rather than a Professor, and then Nemona helps you find your way to school. There are immediate adventures to be had, even before you get to the school. I was surprised by how quickly we meet Koraidon, but it is a decision that really pays off for the game.
Some parts were a bit glitchy for me, when I threw Pokéballs the map would sometimes flash white in sections or underground, but it wasn’t too bad compared to some of the problems I’ve seen online.
Glitches, Graphics and Errors
So first up it seems only fair to talk about the glitches and errors, because they’ve been mentioned so heavily online. Personally the game has completed crashed on me 4 times, but thankfully thanks to auto save and my own manual saves, I hadn’t lost any progress, but it is absolutely frustrating. I have shouted at my TV every time it has happened because it’s been so annoying.
The map has it’s errors, fairly early on in the game I got stuck on a rock and glitched back and for for a while until eventually the game seemed to realise I was stuck and threw me back to where I was before I jumped and got stuck. Often in battle the map becomes weirdly pixelated in places, or parts of it turn white, or it even shows what is underneath the area you are in, so under the water, or a cave below ground. These aren’t necessarily game breaking, but it does stink of poor quality testing.
The frame rate drop is the other biggest complaint online and I’ll be honest, I don’t play enough games out of Pokémon games on the Switch to really be able to comment. My Switch is pretty much exclusively for Pokémon, so I don’t have much to go by. It certainly doesn’t run as smoothly as Pokémon: Legends Arceus, and it somehow manages to be less pretty than Arceus, but also prettier than it in other ways. The sunsets, and light flares in the game are gorgeous, but the grass and general landscapes feel more basic than Arceus, almost a bit of a backward step.
There have been a lot of comparisons between Arceus and SV, because they are both open world. There are different game mechanics in each, with SV taking the Pokémon outbreaks with it, but abandoning the faster catching method that doesn’t require battling for example. Players seem pretty divided on which they prefer, but I think the graphics styles are quite different, so it isn’t necessarily fair to compare them completely. SV could certainly be improved upon graphically compared to a lot of other Switch games, but it does have moments of beauty.
There are 107 new Pokémon in SV, which includes some new evolutions for existing Pokémon, regional variants, divergent Pokémon (Pokémon that seem similar to existing Pokémon, but have developed independently), new Legendary Pokémon, and Paradox Pokémon. Paradox Pokémon, and the divergent Pokémon are brand new concepts for SV, and are a really fun way to bring in older Pokémon we already love, in new forms, without just making regional variants.
The Paradox Pokémon are past and future versions of existing Pokémon, with Scarlet having the past versions, and Violet having the future versions. There are some really fascinating designs here and I am excited to get my hands on them all, and potentially see them in GO in the distant future!
Now, one of the things that is really conflicting people is the meme style names of some Pokémon. People seem to either love them, or absolutely hate them. Personally, I LOVE this, Lechonk, Smoliv, Fidough, Dachsbun, Orthworm, they are all so fun and adorable that I can’t help but love them. There are some seriously cute new Pokémon, as well as some really kinda gross and monstrous looking ones. Scovillain is so creepy.
The game has textures for the Pokémon which is a huge step up, Magnemite is a glossy chrome, you can see fur patterns, the Pokémon look great, and seeing those details is delightful.
107 new Pokémon isn’t a huge amount, nor is it the smallest amount, and we get a good mix of totally new, as well as these new variations that make it a lot of fun. It’s cool to see something totally new in terms of forms of Pokémon, and gives a lot of scope for other version in the future.
I have to particularly shine a light on how the game introduces your box art legendary, in my case Koraidon. The storyline around Koraidon develops in such a way that you truly do get to develop a relationship with them, that feels how a Pokémon and trainer partnership should. It is something really special, and I feel very attached to Koraidon as a result of it. Such a beautiful addition to the game.
I’m gonna come right out and say it. This Pokémon game has the best storylines of any Pokémon game ever. There are three different paths, Victory Road, the Path of Legends, and Starfall Street, that form the main storyline of the game, and I have to make mention of Path of Legends and Starfall Street. In Path of Legends you help a fellow student Arven hunt down Titan Pokémon, in what might be the biggest emotional rollercoaster of a story I’ve ever experienced in a Pokémon game. I genuinely cried!
Starfall Street tackles bullying in schools in a really unique way, that felt important. All three of these story lines can be tackled together bit by bit, which is what I would recommend, or else if you do them one at a time you’ll find yourself getting stuck or being massively overpowered for other parts of the storylines.
Once you beat the Elite 4 the final story line kicks off in a major way, you have to fight the Champion and of course your rival, before a whole new storyline kicks off, the Area Zero storyline. No spoilers for that here, but it is another one full of emotion and detail.
These storylines all tackle some serious issues, from caring for a loved Pokémon/pet, to parental absence and bullying. The storylines are truly brilliant in my opinion, and more than makeup for the gameplay issues.
There is a lot of potential for DLC, with a section of the map greyed out, that just screams ‘I’m here for DLC’, so I hope we see that in the not so distant future.
While some of the issues that need improvement are obvious, fix the glitches and gameplay, there is another thing I’d really like to see improved, which is shiny Pokémon. In Legends Arceus shiny Pokémon would sparkle when first appearing on the map, and a distinct noise could be heard to alert you to their appearance. In SV they simply appear on the map, and you have to hope you seen them.
Some shiny Pokémon are so subtle it is almost impossible to tell if they are shiny or not, and for anyone who is colour blind, this could present an even bigger issue. How can you tell if a Pokémon is shiny if you can’t differentiate colour easily?
Adding in the sound and the sparkles would be a great and easy improvement to help people avoid missing shinies entirely.
For example, look at that Tauros, how on earth do you spot that in the wild easily? And Flittle (the below Pokémon) is so tiny it would be easy to miss too.
This game has gotten a lot of hate, and I completely agree that is incredibly disappointing for a new game to be released that has so many obvious problems in it, but that storyline. For me it really makes up for it, and it has very quickly pushed this game into an all time favourite of mine.
I might even buy Violet just so I can play it all through again from the other side, because I’ve loved it so much. If you can ignore those problems and errors, this game will shine, and hopefully Game Freak are working on some patches ASAP!
Have you gotten Scarlet or Violet, and how do you feel about them? Let us know in the comments!