‘Pokemon Scarlet’ and ‘Pokemon Violet’ introduces fun new open-world experience with major issues


Abel Tariku

Author Abel Tariku’s character in “Pokemon Violet” picnic mode, standing beside his starter pokemon’s evolution Meowscarada and Clodsire — two new Pokemon to the franchise.

Abel Tariku

“Pokemon Scarlet” and “Pokemon Violet,” released for the Nintendo Switch on Nov. 18, are fun games that allow Pokemon fans to explore a new region of the world with an unrestrictive open-world gameplay experience, but that experience is held back by major performance drawbacks. 

Developed by Game Freak, “Pokemon Scarlet” and “Pokemon Violet” are the franchise’s first open-world game. The game is located in the Paldea region which is inspired by Spanish and Portuguese culture. Each game is mostly similar in content, besides some version-exclusive Pokemon, the legendary ride Pokemon, all the new past and future paradox pokemon forms and the professors.

I bought “Pokemon Violet” because I preferred the future forms and the version-exclusive Pokemon for Violet was very appealing to me.

Both games have many brand interesting new features, such as being able to auto-battle a wild Pokemon to instantly kill it, without having to go into a long cutscene and choose each move. Another feature is that players are able to join an online open world server with four players in its “Union Circle” mode. Players can also explore the brand new Paldea region without the game constricting where they can go. 

The Paldea region is designed as a circle with a hole in the middle of the map, similar to a donut, and it is a great improvement on the previous games, “Pokemon Sword” and “Pokemon Shield.” It’s perfect to openly explore different parts of the map without feeling cluttered, but overall it lacks creativity and the cities are empty and bland. 

Some other features are three story pathways a player can follow in their own order, being able to make sandwiches to give them certain boosts, either increasing the odds of rare shiny Pokemon or boosting a certain Pokemon’s type. Being able to change a pokemon’s moves and nickname whenever you want to without the help of non-player characters is another great added feature.

The “three divided pathways” aspect of gameplay is unique to this Pokemon’s generation and is an interesting way for players to progress in the story and explore Paldea. You can either challenge the Gym Leaders, Elite Four and Champion, or take down Team Star (which is the evil team of this generation), or do the Titan Pokemon storyline to gain the mysterious Herba Mystica. 

Allowing players to follow whichever pathway they want and offering different storylines is unique to the Pokemon series and is what it needed after the franchise copied and pasted the old format for previous games, where players were forced to battle each gym leader and evil team all at once instead of separately.   

With every new generation of Pokemon games, there comes a new gimmick, and for “Scarlet” and “Violet” it was Terastalization — a transformation each Pokemon can take on in battle to change their type which brings brand new strategies for casual and competitive Pokemon fans. It is a great gimmick that turns your pokemon into their tera type which increases the damage of your moves and all pokemon have their own unique Tera type. 

In addition, there are Tera raids that let you catch strong Pokemon with unique Tera types, and raids can be battled alongside friends to help with strong Tera Pokemon. This is a great addition to the new games because it allows all Pokemon to be viable and it adds new tricks and strategies that are strong but balanced.

Unfortunately, despite the positives, the overall performance and frame-rate of “Pokemon Scarlet” and “Pokemon Violet” are horrendous.

The shops are not even fully animated. The games go straight to a screen to let you buy items, which takes away the simple but interactive details other games had. Certain shops, such as the normal-type gym, are filled with people and detail, which brings life to the game. If shops were more dynamic, including cutscenes and interactive environments once the character walks through the door, it would be an enjoyable addition to parts of gameplay such as buying sandwiches or other items.

The performance issues and lack of creativity in the environment’s designs reveals that the developers were likely rushed and understaffed.There are countless glitches and connection problems that occur with the “Union Circle” online mode. I was experiencing constant connection issues, glitching into walls, with the Elite Four and Champion battle theme song stuck in a five second loop, and game crashes – making the games feel incomplete as a whole.  

Non-player characters are just messy, as they can clip through real time battles and their pixels look clunky when you go three feet away from them. 

Due to the open world, wild Pokemon can also walk through your battles, and it gets annoying really quickly when you run away from one Pokemon, just to be stuck in another battle (because a wild Pokemon is standing right next to you).

Pokemon is the highest grossing media franchise of all time —making an insane 90 billion dollars over its history, and yet Game Freak rushes to create these incomplete games just for a cash grab. Because of this, some of these new poorly-made features feel like extra bait added to reel in a few more fish. 

If there is anyone responsible for these terrible performance problems, it’s undoubtedly Game Freak and their management. With all the assets the company has, they have no excuse for this kind of buggy launch.

“Pokemon Scarlet” and “Pokemon Violet” have the content to be one of the best in the entire series, but until Game Freak fixes these constant issues and glitches, it will continue to largely hinder players’ gaming. 

If you are willing to look past all the glitches, the $60 price tag will be worth your money. If not, it would be a lot better for you to wait for game patches to be announced to fix the game.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars