SCARLET AND VIOLET REVIEW
IS GENERATION 9 REALLY THE NEXT BEST THING?
SAM OLIVER, REPORTER AND PHOTOGRAPHER
FEBRUARY 3, 2023
Photo by Sam Oliver
Pokemon or Pocket monsters is a Japanese media franchise that kept its name ever since a chubby yellow rat cried “Pika.” Pokemon is meant to be a roleplaying game where you catch different types of creatures in the area you start in and battle endlessly for the game to progress. Generation 9, which is the newest generation for “Scarlet and Violet”, has a different mechanic which overly simplified previous Pokemon titles. Instead of becoming the very best, you’re a student who attends a private trainer school to become the very worst of your abilities.
Pokemon just got real, let's get biased.
Game Freak (the main company) wanted to shift Pokemon into a new direction, but veterans say no and would rather play a ported version of the old games instead. Game Freak declined indirectly and continued to release their latest game for the Nintendo Switch. This downfall started in 2019 when “Pokemon Sword and Shield” was announced, which turned into the first Pokemon with an overworld feature for more experienced gaming. Many fans didn’t like how “easy” the game was or how “poor” the graphics were. Personally, I enjoyed the new Pokemon they added and that was about it.
The story was confusing and didn’t add up to what the Pokemon timeline had in store for its newest characters. Game Freak then decided to add a DLC in the mix, which caused another outrage on how lazy the company is for its distributions. Generation 8 didn’t really have a good start in its open world era, but Game Freak continues to raise the stakes until fans are satisfied. In 2022, “Pokemon Legends: Arceus” and the “Remake of Diamond and Pearl” were released at the same time. The context was supposed to be the fans going crazy over a Pokemon remake, but crickets were the only ones present.
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet finally made its debut nearing the end of 2022 as the next generation of Pokemon history. The stakes were a little too high.
Why are people saying Scarlet and Violet gives Pokemon a bad wrap?
I opened “Scarlet and Violet” on Christmas Day, so it’s not technically the so-called “new player on Christmas day curse” if I expected the game’s terrible behavior beforehand. I’ve seen players online who’ve played it before me and I’m not surprised at all. Just as I boot up the game, I’m given character customization, my name, I settle in my house and take in the scenery and backgrounds Pokemon had to offer. Half of the soundtrack was by Toby Fox and it always made me smile whenever I heard his music style take place. There were also some old settings from previous games and a couple new ones that were useful, such as skipping cutscenes.
Sprigatito, Quaxly and Fuecoco were pretty solid Pokemon starters. I got them all on my team just by using a separate switch to trade each of them. I started off with Violet, which means the starters are on my Violet team, while there aren’t any starters on my Scarlet team (I didn’t choose to mess with that anyway besides experimenting). Over the course of the game, bugs and glitches were the main issue. Game Freak made a game without finishing up the bells and whistles that could’ve actually given them a good rating.
Unfortunately, they confirmed to update the game’s files this year. Not a good start for the game’s franchise and this is a multi-million dollar company owned by Nintendo. It’s said that Nintendo doesn’t exactly rush its employees for a deadline, but if Zelda becomes the most anticipated, Pokemon just needs more time to cover a line of code.
What does the game have to offer at least?
From what “Scarlet and Violet” has shown besides bugs, fans aren’t happy about the hour long tutorial. The so-called “tutorial” is basically a run through of the game’s stories, goals, and getting to know the side characters who will pretty much stalk your progress. You, the main character, will explore the Paldea region (Based in Spain) while attending a school and completing three different quests that involve badges. The more badges you collect on each quest lets you move on to upgrading your legendary Pokemon, having the ability to command stronger pokemon and covering a lot more ground. There are a total of 18 badges, which is a big difference from the regular 8 gym badges you have to complete in previous games.
The game also offers new game features where you can picnic anywhere and join raids that involve Terraforming your pokemon. Honestly, they should’ve kept the mega evolution that was a feature back in Generation 6, but I’m not going to complain about the past.
Once you attend the school and get to know the people who will drag you in a mission for success, it’s not a Pokemon game without a suitable rival. Nemona is Generation 9’s newest battle hungry rival that will never stop you from training, unless it’s necessary. Nemona basically encourages you to run through the traditional “collect all eight gym badges” and make your way to Victory Road for a chance to become champion. Before every gym battle however is a gym challenge, which is technically a fun little puzzle game but it’s not very strategic at all.
Bug Type Gym leader Katy
If you didn’t find a Fletchling, a Charcadet, or have Fuecoco as your starter, don’t worry about Katy. If you only had one Pokemon on your team, I don't understand how you would ever lose to her. Her Pokemon are from level 14 and 15 and her gym challenge is the only need of fixing.
Grass Type Gym leader Brassius
As intimidating as he looks, you can throw his Petillil into the sun and he wouldn’t care. He’s an artist at heart and I respect that. That’s if he didn’t have a level 16 and 17 team that wasn’t so easy to sweep, because I’m getting a little too clean at this game.
Electric Type Gym leader Iono
She really summed up a VR blogger's life with and without context. With her pastel features and electrifying personality, she has to be one of the most decent leaders since Gen 9. Yes, since the recent year, complete mockery. Since her team consists of level 23 and 24, it’s to the point nobody keeps track of their levels anymore.
Water Type Gym leader Kofu
He’s an old man who gives you a challenge to find his wallet, but the best part is if you do the challenge right and he lets you keep some of his spare change. The battle was simple, so I can’t say much about water-type gyms, just look at Misty in Generation 1. His team consisted of level 29 and 30, which gets a lot more challenging as the journey progresses.
Normal Type Gym leader Larry
As long as you have a fighting type pokemon on your team, this gym might take Katy’s place. The gym challenge was something I didn’t understand. Basically you had to find a secret recipe and order it at a restaurant, but you had to battle random people just to get specific hints. JUST GOOGLE IT! DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME! The game isn’t randomly generated to create a different recipe every single time because Game freak never thought about it. Since his Pokemon are levels 35 and 36, I wouldn’t worry about his terraformed Staraptor. Just tear the bird’s wings off and move on.
Ghost Type Gym leader Ryme
I love Ryme as a character and not because I love ghost types as much as she does. It’s exactly what I meant. Ryme has level 41 and 42 Pokemon and it’s a double battle! There hasn't been a double battle between a gym leader since Generation 3’s Tate and Liza. The gym challenge was just getting the hang of double battles before facing Ryme herself.
Psychic Type Gym leader Tulip
Ice Type Gym leader Grusha
Even though he’s the final leader before you meet the requirements for Victory Road, the fire types in your team are only getting stronger. He consists of level 47 and 48, which gives you the time to drink some cold water with the ice of your opponent’s frozen tears. The gym challenge is none other than the fancy snow game where you have to go down a hill in under a minute and fifty-five without breaking your neck.
I forgot to mention Nemona’s many battles throughout the game before you step in a gym, as well as the classes you unlock for every gym you beat. The waste of time itself. Once you get through Victory Road and pass the final test. Don’t worry about the Elite Four, they’re appetizers compared to Nemona’s final fight that ends the first quest. Congrats, you can move on with the next two quests so that the story can progress.
Path Of Legends.
If you ever want to expand your journey in Paldea with Miraidon or Koraidon, that’s where their upgrades come in. You will meet a very useless side character named Arven by the start of your journey. He’s the son of Sada/Turo based on the game you play, they left him as a child which makes this game even sadder. Arven has a sick pokemon in need of healing, so he takes out his long lost caretaker’s notes to find an ingredient that would help him. Once again, you, the main character, is going to get involved on this quest and help the only thing he cares about.
You are going to fight five titans that are genetically modified pokemon affected by the rare and powerful ingredient called Herba Mystica. Herba Mystica comes in five different flavors such as; salty, sweet, bitter, spicy and sour. Arven whips up a sandwich with the ingredient after a titan is defeated and you will be able to upgrade Miraidon or Koraidon “as the game intended.” Once you beat all the titans and fully upgrade Miraidon or Koraidon, Arven’s Pokemon gets better and is dragged back into his single mother/father’s life. During this process, you have to battle him just so that he can ignore all of his childhood traumas. Overall, this is the shortest quest out there, it can be done during Victory Road.
The game usually has villains, but these are just kids who were bullied in school just for being quirky. The plan altogether was to overthrow each leader and get them to attend school, but a hacker by the name of Cassiopeia only wants you to understand what these kids have been through. Clive is another character who turns out to be the school’s director in disguise. He would help you for no reason, but he just wanted to make sure what the students back then were like before he was hired (the firing of teachers was a whole other story). Besides the battle music going hard and my favorite game composer Toby Fox sprinkling in that underrated magic, I won’t complain.
Team Star reminds everyone that bullying exists or the fact our character is in school and people who play the game forgot about that. There’s five group leaders on Team Star that I like to call “The Second gym leaders.” Dark, fire, poison, fairy and fighting are what each leader specializes whenever you come across their base. There’s also a new mechanic called auto battling that plays a neat role whenever you want to challenge a base. You need to defeat 30 Pokemon from the opposing team in ten minutes just by sending your main three out into the open.
Sounds pretty challenging, right? You’ve obviously never played the game before or you must’ve forgotten how easy it was.
Once every leader is defeated, there’s two different showdowns that take place at the school you attend at the beginning of the game. Clive, who is the school’s director, challenges you for no reason and Cassiopeia, who is a shy girl named Penny. This is one of the final quests and I was so happy it was over, but of course the bad kids had a redemption and the school’s director kept his job for another day.
The game unlocks a new quest called “The Way Home” after all three quests are completed.
No Way Home
Personally, this covered a lot more on Arven’s part and became the saddest moment in the game. It can’t compete with N leaving in Generation 5, now that’s sad. Your newfound side characters go down the center of Paldea, Area Zero. Miraidon/Koraidon was first found in the area by Arven, but never specified a location. That’s where the group finds clues from professor Sada/Turo’s documents as they guide your group to the bottom of Area Zero.
The Pokemon of Area Zero based on the game varies, but I like Violet’s version a lot better than Scarlet’s for their mechanical and high tech features. On the way down, your group is attacked and has no choice but to fight back in order to find the truth. Miraidon/Koraidon has a duplicate of themselves that you can catch by the end of the game, but it temporarily sides with Sada/Turo after the research station is highly protected. Turns out, the variations were androids created by the original professors with some of their memories still intact. Spoiler alert, Arven’s parents were dead this whole time, which was a shift in the story that nobody expected Pokemon would allow.
It's not the first time Game Freak created storylines based off of a teen's life. A good example would be Generation 7, when a young girl is neglected by her mother who controls a powerful organization just to capture special Pokemon just because her husband left. “No Way Home” is just storytelling at its best and it plays a key role in Arven’s backstory. Even though it doesn’t matter.
Besides story wise, what does this game have to offer?
Ever since the open world concept was made, there has always been a mechanic that involved playing with your Pokemon. “Sword and Shield” gave everyone a chance to walk with their pokemon and create camps to boost affection via Exp. Scarlet and Violet’s newest mechanic is the picnic feature, which involves washing your pokemon, making sandwiches and breeding. The main use for this feature is mainly used for sandwiches as the effect comes at a cost for a couple different ingredients. There’s still a couple bugs in this mechanic, but surely the patch could fix that.
I forgot to mention the shadowed school quest. Since the character is a student at a private academy, there’s actual classes where you can attend and learn a lot more as your journey progresses. Naranja Academy is exclusive for “Scarlet" and Uva Academy is exclusive for “Violet", but they work the same way with the same teachers and classes. The classes you’re able to attend are Math, Biology, History, Battle Studies (Gym), Art, Language class, and Home Economics. These are technically the core classes you take within the Victory Quest before you face off finals and midterms that would drag you down, so google all the answers and you’ll be just fine.
Even though “Scarlet and Violet” is probably one of the most glitched up and buggy games in the franchise, many people still buy it just for the experience. You don’t have to like or hate the game just for the performance, but how much more you can do in just one open world era. So, is it still one of the best? That’s something you should figure out on your own.
Photo by Sam Oliver
Photo by Sam Oliver