Pokémon Scarlet and Violet : An Honest Review

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Are you not sure if you should get Pokémon Scarlet and Violet?

If you’ve spent any time on the internet in the last week or two, you’ve noticed a lot of buzz around the new Pokémon games. Lots of people are loving the new series, but many are rightfully complaining that it seems like Game Freak rushed through this entry and released it too soon.

This review is here to help you make the decision on whether or not to buy one of the new games based on gameplay (single-player and multiplayer including endgame content), graphics, and, most importantly, technical issues.

Let’s start with graphics…

Mad Max: Victory Road

Graphics: Not the Prettiest Pokémon Yet

If you check out most of the comments on the internet regarding the graphics for Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, you’d think it’s the ugliest game on the Nintendo Switch. Some folks have even compared it to Playstation 2-era graphics. 

While it’s not close to that PS2/XBOX/GameCube level, if you’re looking to play something with Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or, surprisingly, Pokémon Legends: Arceus level graphics, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. It does feel like a step down even from the previous Pokémon game due to environments with little detail work done and some of the technical issues (addressed later in this review).

Pokémon games have never been known for pushing the graphical limits of their respective platforms, especially for 3D releases, so most long-time fans probably won’t mind. If this is a dealbreaker for you, chances are you’re not playing the right game series to begin with.

Gameplay: Lots to Do with a Surprising Amount of Freedom

Pokémon, like many other Nintendo games, are often criticized for repeating the same formula over and over. While Pokémon Scarlet and Violet aren’t nearly as much of a departure from the series as Pokémon Legends: Arceus was, it features more choice than previous entries as well as some great multiplayer features.

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One of the most interesting aspects of Scarlet and Violet is that there are three main questlines for you to take on in almost any order you choose. You have Victory Road, Operation Starfall, and the Titan challenge. 

Victory Road is the normal main quest in most Pokémon titles where you take on gym leaders in different cities to collect badges until you can challenge the Elite Four and the Pokémon champion.

Team Star certainly has its own style.

Operation Starfall is a bit like the Team Rocket, Team Aqua/Magma, etc. storylines in previous games mixed with the gym system. You have five bases of Team Star to attack. After defeating a given base’s boss, you collect their badge and dethrone them. In this mode, you get to take on the Team Star grunts’ Pokémon using the autobattle system mentioned earlier. You pick three of your Pokémon to take on X amount of Pokémon in X amount of time until you have a normal battle against their base’s boss and their Pokémon and Pokémon-like vehicle.

The Titan route involves hunting down extra large Pokémon known as Titans and helping another character catalog them. 

You can do all three of these or just one at a time in seemingly any order. The leveling doesn’t scale, so it does make sense to do them in a certain order, but it’s not mandatory like in other Pokémon games.

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There are also a lot of challenges, like re-challenging each gym leader, catching newly unlocked Pokémon, raids, etc., in the post-game experience that’ll keep you busy for hours and hours.

The multiplayer feature in this game, Union Circle, allows you and three other Pokémon trainers to explore the world together. You can battle and trade with each other or take on raids against powerful Pokémon together. You can take selfies, catch the opposite version’s exclusive Pokémon, and more. While you can’t affect each other’s progress in the main quests, you can accomplish them connected to your friends while they do whatever they want. It’s one of the best entries in the series for multiplayer so far.

While the majority of the gameplay in the game is great, there are some underwhelming aspects.

As mentioned above, even though you can technically do the main quests in any order, the levels do not scale. A lot of the early challenges favor players who picked the fire starter Pokémon for type advantages which could be remedied by having each challenge scale based on the player’s Pokémon or based on how many previous badges, Titans, etc. were obtained/defeated before.

Sudowoodo in bloom-o.
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Gigantimax, Mega Evolutions, etc. have been around since at least Pokémon X and Y, and they never really stick around which makes them rather underwhelming in the grand scheme of things. This game’s version of that, Terastallizing, is probably the most boring version yet. Your Pokémon crystallizes with a hat based on the specific Terastal type assigned to them which changes their base type to that of the Terastal. E.g., Teddiursa is a Normal-type, but when it Terastallizes to a Grass-type, it has the same strengths/weaknesses of a Grass-type. In some ways, it leads to interesting fights, but the transformation takes a long time and, after the first few times you’ve seen each Terastal type, it feels unnecessary.

Technical Issues: More Buggy than a Room of Caterpies

This ties in with the graphics to an extent, but it also goes beyond just that. This game was released on November 18th, 2022 while Pokémon Legends: Arceus was released on January 28th, 2022. That’s less than a year of time between the last two releases.

While it’s possible that the teams that work on Arceus and Scarlet/Violet are different, it’s clear that Scarlet/Violet feels rushed. 

There are a lot of weird buggy things in the game that make it feel like you’re playing an alpha build. Shadows will flicker often, frame rates drop incredibly low for Pokémon and human characters in the distance, the start of battles often involve clipping through the floor, and more. There are even a few jarring pictures going around online of the player model being stretched out to Slenderman-like proportions when hopping on the bike and a player being able to throw a Pokéball during a battle against another trainer.

It’s clear there wasn’t enough time for playtesting this cycle.

So far, nothing has been game-breaking, but it can be distracting due to how often they pop up.

Who can resist a gorilla mixed with a Pikachu?

Bottomline: Should I Get Pokémon Scarlet and Violet?

If you’re a hardcore Pokémon fan, you already know your answer. Yes. Of course.

If you’re a Pokémon skeptic, waiting for something truly groundbreaking to either return to the series or jump in for the first time, you might want to sit this one out or wait until it’s on sale.

If you’re on the fence, and after reading everything wrong with the game in this review, you still want to play it? Go for it. 


Pokémon Scarlet and Violet

Whether it’s the new designs, the legendary Pokémon bikes, the new changes to the combat system, the Team Star and Titan Pokémon elements, or the multiplayer, there is a surprising amount of things to love about the new Pokémon games despite their technical flaws. That’s where the game’s biggest problems are: technical issues and downgrades from the previous Switch entries. The core of the game is still just as fun as ever. The game earns a 6/10 due to being a solid entry in the Pokémon series riddled with technical issues.


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Joseph has been writing about games for a decade. His gaming interests are wide and varied, but he's most fond of fighting games, Pokemon, and most Blizzard games. When he's not gaming, he's watching trashy reality TV, listening to comedy podcasts, or studying languages