Pokémon Scarlet & Violet Screenshot

I like Pokémon Scarlet & Violet. But They Do Have Flaws.

Imagine a world in which graphics are not everything. Now imagine Pokémon Scarlet and Violet in that world. Would they be liked? Probably more than they are now. But we don’t live in a world like that. However, I still like those games. Let me tell you why!

The Problems of Pokémon Scarlet & Violet

At this point, you will probably already be very aware of the problems everyone is having. But let me give you an insight into what I perceive as issues.

The Graphics

Yes, the graphics suck. I’m not even going to try and attempt to sweet talk what was done.

Mountains look like they were ripped from a Unity asset flip. Generally, textures look boring and are ever-repeating. A lack of diversity in some situations makes you really wonder why it was handled like it was.

Hardware limitation? Storage space reduction? No clue, but the end-result leaves much to be desired.

The Performance

Maybe I’m just living in too much luxury, being a PC gamer playing with good hardware, but what feels like 10 fps are just not enough.

The Illusion of an Open World

There are several ways to handle scaling opponents in an open world in an RPG.

  • Scale opponents with the players’ level
  • Scale opponents based on where they are located and cut off the player from accessing those parts until point X has been reached
  • Scale opponents based on where they are located and if the player wanders into a more difficult area: tough luck

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet obviously chose the last one. And that can work. But it isn’t easy to execute in a turn-based RPG. Obviously, it wasn’t executed successfully. I want to call this result the “Illusion of an Open World”. Technically, you can challenge every gym in the order you want. But that’s not how it works.

To advance to the more northern areas of the region, you have to advance your Pokémon to about level 40. Yet, that’s not possible until you have several gym badges already. Furthermore, the gym’s still have fixed Pokémon levels. You can do them somewhat out of order, but the scaling doesn’t want to allow that.

In this case, the mish-mash of scaling concepts and open world led to a progression system that gives the illusion of an open world. At least it felt like that.

Where Pokémon Scarlet and Violet Succeeded

I don’t want to be the person that says: “We have to reward the intent, even if the execution is terrible”. Still, I applaud the developers for trying their hands on a complete open world. This is a complete 180 from what Pokémon games used to be.

The big problem I always had with the Pokémon games were random encounters. On a tangent, I enjoyed Earthbound and Mother 3 more than Earthbound Zero. Simply because of the random encounters. I like seeing when and by whom I get attacked. That is a great change that Pokémon Scarlet and Violet included.

Furthermore, they managed the most incredible thing: I enjoyed the playtime I had so far. I’ve not yet played through Pokémon Scarlet. But I genuinely had fun playing it. That’s just because I enjoy playing Pokémon games.

Would I recommend anyone to buy this game now? No.
Would I recommend The Pokémon Company to continue developing in this direction? Absolutely!

The massive flaws don’t mean the concept is bad. The intent was probably much better than the end result. But it didn’t work out because the execution was just terrible. And even Nintendo itself acknowledges this by apparently issuing refunds.

My Tip For The Next Pokémon Games

Please, Nintendo: Release better hardware.
Please, The Pokémon Company: Keep at it but stick to a basic principle: “A delayed game is eventually good, a bad game is bad forever.

Don’t force the release date. There’s enough revenue coming from the trading card game and merchandise to warrant another few months of development.

I will be looking forward to the next game. And I will be buying it. However, I cannot say the same for many other Pokémon fans, if you don’t show massive improvement.

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