‘Pokemon: Scarlet and Violet’ reaps what it does not sow

The newest Pokemon game rides off the reputation of its predecessors

Pokemon: a name that is associated with friendship, nostalgia and far too many electric mice. Throughout its almost thirty years of existence, it has grown a substantial following with an estimated revenue of over a hundred billion dollars according to multiple sources, myself included. In elementary school, I was an avid Pokemon fan: collecting cards, watching anime and roleplaying as a Pokemon trainer with my friends. So when I heard about “Pokemon Scarlet and Violet’s” release, I was nothing short of ecstatic. However, I was sorely disappointed, as the game severely lacks in many fields. 

The gameplay of “Scarlet and Violet” is severely unpolished, with inconsistent frame rates and numerous bugs and glitches. While the game aims for thirty frames per second, it consistently drops to twenty, sometimes even ten or less. Inconsistent frame rates are not only visually disturbing, but also slow down gameplay. Additionally, the camera angles are off-putting and sometimes clip into the floor during battles, which are critical components of the game.

The design is also dull. Many of the landscapes are lifeless, particularly the stores which lack interiors completely, taking away their charm. A large chunk of the texture is messy, creating a displeasing atmosphere.

“Pokemon: Scarlet and Violet” rides off the success of the series’ other entries for profit, yet is the most unpolished game yet. (Illustration by Faith Watters)

Not only is the visual design disappointing, but the Pokemon are also uninspired, either looking bizarre or too close to the animal or object it is based on. Other games featured majestic and memorable Pokemon characters such as the iconic legendaries Arceus and Rayquaza, whereas “Scarlet and Violet” relies on its cuteness factor alone. While Pokemon such as Smoliv and Clodsire are derpy and adorable, the game lacks the regal and elegant monsters that were a cornerstone in the previous games. Additionally, the titan Pokemon, superpowered monsters that are meant to be mini bosses, are underwhelming, with sub-par designs and no gameplay strategy. This lack of inspiration is to be expected, as with the game’s release, there are over a thousand Pokemon. I understand it would be hard to make new and original monsters, but it does not stop my opinion of the designs from being largely negative.

Although the previous issues bothered me, the most striking issue with the game is how overpriced it is. It costs $60, and expansion packs are estimated to cost $30, which may even go up. For a game as unpolished as “Scarlet and Violet”, this pricing is outrageously expensive. 

Despite its negative qualities, there are several exceptional features, such as the region’s design. The region, Paldea, is heavily influenced by Spanish culture, which is refreshing, as most games I have played drew aspects from Asian or Caucasian cultures exclusively. The game takes advantage of this aspect, with all three starter Pokemon taking inspiration from the setting and turning out incredibly well. The game is also open-world style, which leads to many diverse environments which are incredibly entertaining when not held back by glitches.

“Scarlet and Violet” also has a fantastic storyline. Compared to its predecessors, there are three separate story quests, each unique, engaging and at times heartfelt. The stories can be completed in any order and at the player’s speed, resulting in much more freedom and opportunity for exploration. The designs of the main non-player characters, most notably the electric-type gym leader Iono, are all memorable and suit the characters well, utilizing shape language and vibrant color palettes to catch the player’s eye.

There are several new features in the game, most notably tera-typing, which boosts a Pokemon and gives them a crystal-like appearance, and auto battling. The former can also change the Pokemon’s element, allowing for new and unique battle strategies. The latter allows players to send out their first Pokemon to automatically battle nearby opponents and gain experience, leading to much less frustrating repetitive gameplay. Both features work well for the game and overall make it a much more enjoyable experience.

While “Scarlet and Violet” has many downsides and bugs that hinder gameplay, it is an enjoyable experience. Despite my mixed opinions on the game, its uniqueness makes it a worthwhile experience if you are willing to look past the bugs.