Pokemon Scarlet and Violet: The Wicked Good Review

Nintendo and Pokemon games have always had a seal of quality. Pokemon titles have never been known for releases with a monotony of glitches and poor performance. That is until the release of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet. With a launch compared to Cyberpunk 2077, glitches littered internet feeds everywhere. Regardless of this bad press, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet sold over 10 million copies in 3 days. Completely eclipsing any other first party launch in video game history.

I’m going to be honest. If it weren’t for these graphical and performance issues, this latest Pokemon game would be the greatest of its kind. Let’s take a deep dive into how this game plays!

This review may contain minor spoilers!

A Story Like No Other

With a story that originally starts off like any other Pokemon game. The three plots flesh out to become one of the more thoughtful stories of any Pokemon game ever. Its ending, which I will not spoil, has to be one of the most impactful I’ve ever experienced in the series. The three paths you go on each have separate story beats and can be completed independent of each other. Something that really helps make the world feel more full.

Arven trades contact info with the player
Arven, one of the many well written characters will join you on your journey

With Pokemon everywhere from the start, myself and many other players I’ve spoken to ended up with a full team faster than any other game we’ve played. Fan favorites are around from the start, along with plenty of new Pokemon nobody has ever seen before. If you’re a new or returning player, you’ll find an abundance of Pokemon that you will want on your team. 

Characters More Lively Than Any Other Pokemon Game

As far as the characters themselves go, besides most of the trainers on your route many of the gym leaders, elites, rivals, and evil team leaders all have a memorable personality. They each have motivations, goals, personality, and disposition that gives them each something unique. Now and then you’ll find some neat designs from random trainers, some which made me laugh! 

Lorenzo a fat elder student in a schoolboy outfit
Some of the NPC trainers can have some funny designs

With their cat-like curiosity and energy, the box art legendary Pokemon reminded me of Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon. Even the Pokemon have personality in this game! Many animations for Pokemon have been overhauled, and the new moves included this gen have very detailed animations for a Pokemon game!

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet have some great features to help reduce the time it takes to grind. Collecting materials from Pokemon is super easy with features like Let’s Go being a quick battle mechanic. The materials you collect can be used to make any TMs you’ve come across in game at Pokemon Centers throughout the world. Tera raids can give you a lot of EXP and rare candies to level up any Pokemon you have that may need that extra boost.

Sandwiches, Sandwiches, Sandwiches

The new sandwich making mechanic is fun with boosts towards certain types of Pokemon you may want, shiny appearances, and egg drops including hatch rates. I found myself making all sorts of abominations, but what really makes the masterpieces is a carefully crafted recipe which will automatically be saved in a list when you discover them.

A monster of a sandwich slides off a picnic plate
This beast was a lot to handle

The Multiplayer

Four player co-op is a first for Pokemon, and Scarlet/Violet’s Union Circle is pretty fun to partake in. All four players can do story sections, roam the world, engage in battles, and explore together with very little limitations. You can also participate in raids together to take down powerful Pokemon with rare tera types. These tera raids are fun to do in groups, but after a while they will start to wear on you. These raids will be necessary in the post-game to further develop your Pokemon.

Trainers get ready to take on a tera raid
Playing with friends is a blast!

As I’ve mentioned before, this game is not without its graphical issues. Many players voiced their frustrations and shared their immersion breaking issues on Twitter. David Toons on Twitter created two very hilarious compilations which can be seen below.

It’s Not a “Hardware Issue”

With frame rates in animations dropping as low to 2fps, regular gameplay dropping as low as 20fps at times, constant clipping of the camera, characters, and other Pokemon. This has to be one of the worst preforming games in the series. Pop-in is the worst this series has ever seen! Players can be within the same room as other characters, with them disappearing and appearing within steps of each other.

With games like Xenoblade Chronicles 3, Sonic Frontiers, DOOM Eternal, and Breath of The Wild having much more detailed graphics with higher frame rates, this doesn’t seem to be an issue on the hardware. Digital Foundary, on YouTube goes into way more detail than I could on how rough Pokemon Scarlet and Violet is running.

After looking past the graphical issues, there isn’t much else that feels wrong here. Not being able to catch Pokemon without going into battle feels less natural and a step back from the major leaps the series made in Legends: Arceus. You can however throw your pokeball with a Pokemon in it to jump right into battle with any nearby pokemon. 

Tera raids are absolutely necessary for post-game builds for PvP. However, this is when the game’s grind really ramps up. It takes approximately 8 hours of raids to collect enough items to properly build one Pokemon. This is a huge step down from Sword and Shield. Which had a whole area to collect endgame items for multiple Pokemon within the same time span.

A trainer gathers tera energy in a great ball
Tera raids are fun the first dozen or so times, then you’ll probably want to do something else

The Map Is Not Too Helpful

One last gripe I have with Pokemon Scarlet and Violet is the UI. The map tilts and turns depending on the direction you face. You’re also not allowed to put markers down on the map when zoomed out all the way. Icons on the map are not explained well or really clear. Without asking around or following a guide it’s super easy to not know where you are. 

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet would be a masterpiece if it only lived up to the standard of quality Nintendo first party titles were known for producing.

The Good: The story, and characters have more breathing room between the three plots. Making a more lively world and a more enjoyable story experience. Pokemon are everywhere and fun to catch, with accessible options for those who want to play competitively. Overall this is one of the most fun Pokemon games I’ve played.

The Bad: Graphical bugs and performance issues really sour the immersion here. However myself and many others are hopeful it will improve over time with patches. The navigational UI in the map also could use some work, with unclear symbols and directions constantly shifting.

The Verdict: Pokemon Scarlet & Violet have the potential to be the best Pokemon game ever, if only it wasn’t marred by graphical errors and performance issues ruining the immersive experience.

Final Score: 4 out of 5 Masterballs


Games Journalist, Competitive Pokemon/VGC Player, Content Creator

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