So if you’ve been paying attention to gaming news lately you probably heard that a couple weeks ago the new Pokémon games, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, came out. You also probably heard that they have terrible performance issues and awful glitches that can really hamper the game as a whole. And all of that is correct! It runs terribly and has way too many glitches especially considering this is a Nintendo game not some small indie developer. But at the same time… I can’t help but still love the game!
Now to be honest, some glitches and performance issues can generally be over looked, I don’t think any game is released without a single glitch nowadays, but the issues found in the new Pokémon are glaringly bad! While I have been very fortunate to not experience too many glitches myself, one look online will show you that lots of other people can’t seem to stop running into them. The glitches range from falling through the world, character models stretching in bizarre ways, and people flying on invisible Pokémon. All stuff that can really pull you out of the experience. Not only that though, the game just simply struggles to run in any stable fashion. It will constantly stutter, objects in the environment will pop in and out, and Pokémon you see running around the open world look like they got their models from the Nintendo 64! And this isn’t just limited to the open world either. Sometimes if I didn’t angle the camera right in the middle of a battle the game would still stutter and take forever to do anything. It’s just terrible!
Sometimes glitches and performance issues don’t affect the overall experience of a game, it really depends on the kind of game in question. For example I spoke in the past about how I still loved No More Heroes 3 despite all it’s performance issues. And that was mainly because those issues didn’t get in the way of the parts of the game I really loved, which were the combat and the story. But for an open world game like what they were attempting with Pokémon Scarlet and Violet? Issues like these cannot be ignored. But weirdly, I still find myself loving this game! I basically played it non stop since it came out until I finished it just recently. I did the main story and then some of the post game content too! I put over 85 hours into it and only really stopped playing because there wasn’t much left for me to do. So! How exactly did I manage to enjoy this game from start to finish despite everything that is holding it back? Well the answer is weirdly simple. The game, at it’s core, is just fun.
I really don’t know how else to explain it. The core of the new Pokémon still manages to be fun despite all it’s issues. It’s as simple as that for me. Now, I should be up front and say that I’m not the biggest Pokémon fan. I’ve played a few of the games before now but it wasn’t a series that was a huge part of my childhood or anything like it is for so many others. The last game in the series I played before this was Pokémon Sword so it has been sometime since I last played a Pokémon game. So while I may not be the most qualified person to say this, and despite all the issues it’s clearly having, I think the direction Scarlet and Violet are taking for the series is great!
I suppose the biggest new thing about this Pokémon compared to the others in the series is that Scarlet and Violet are open world games! Normally there’s a single path to follow in Pokémon games. There’s a clearly laid out path you are meant to take from gym to gym as you make your way through the new region on your quest to become the champion. But not this time around! Once you are done with the introduction you are basically allowed to go wherever you want. The game really wants you to carve your own path. And to drive this point home that much more, you are given three main quests to follow. The Victory Road quest, which is basically just the standard Pokémon adventure with you going from gym to gym, the Titan Pokémon quest, where you are tasked with beating giant powerful Pokémon to help your friend get some magical herbs, and the Starfall quest, which is focused all around taking down Team Star this Pokémon‘s trouble making team of misfits. I feel like all of this stuff isn’t technically new to Pokémon. I mean, I know Titan Pokémon are new with Scarlet and Violet but there is normally some other threat like it in the other games. What makes Scarlet and Violet different though is that all of these aren’t in one straight line. Normally you’d defeat the trouble making Team of the game as you are going from gym to gym in the other games but this time it’s a completely separate issue. One you can honestly not do if you really don’t feel like. Nothing is forcing you to do any of the quests. Although, to really get the ending of the game you do need to do all three, but still! This amount of freedom really makes it feel more like a personal journey through the region, and it’s a feeling I’ve never got with any of the other Pokémon games I’ve played. Sadly it does come at the cost of the game running terribly as it tries to make the open world work but that doesn’t mean the idea behind the design is bad.
That’s not the only thing to love about Scarlet and Violet though! Far from it. One of the other new additions to this game is the fact that your trainer is going to school. Specifically a school all about Pokémon. At the school you’re able to take optional classes that basically function as tutorials! Now I know a lot of people who are very familiar with Pokémon probably aren’t too happy to hear that there are more tutorials in the game but hear me out. As I said, they are completely optional. There really is no reason to do them besides learning more about the world and Pokémon in general. The teachers do give you rewards for finishing up the classes, and some even give you some quests to complete, but largely they can be ignored. This is good since for anyone who doesn’t need these tutorials they can just run off on their adventure. But for those that might be new to the series, or just want some clarification on some elements of the game, these are really great lessons! They teach you things like what’s the difference between physical and special attacks, how to increase your chances of catching a Pokémon, how much of a damage increase you get for landing a Super Effective attack over just an Effective attack and so on. Having these lessons available and in the context of the school makes them way easier to find and understand and just enjoy! Plus as a nice bonus, the teachers of the school are all pretty fun and unique. And that brings us to the next great thing about Scarlet and Violet… The characters!
I absolutely adore the characters of this game, from your battle hungry rival Nemona all the way to the quirky leaders of Team Star! While not every character is super memorable, none really got on my nerves either. There was no character this time around like Hop from Pokémon Sword and Shield who I just really didn’t like. I was always excited to see each of the characters pop up from time to time on my adventure. Some of the gym leaders especially are great this time around! I’d say my personal highlight would probably be Iono, the electric gym leader, who is just a massive parody of streamers and it’s super well done with the designers clearly doing their research. Having fun characters is honestly more important than I would have expected going into this as the game is surprisingly character driven at times. Each of the three main quests centers around one of your friends and working through each separately really gave them all time to shine and time for me to grow attached to them. No one felt forced into being a part of my journey in the end, I didn’t ever roll my eyes when one of the main characters called me their friend or anything like that. This also plays a very big role in the game’s ending, which completely came out of nowhere with it’s tone and story. It was not something I would have ever expected from the Pokémon series given how safe they normally play things. But I don’t want to talk too much about that to avoid spoilers since it’s honestly a really good ending.
However… Despite all the praise I shower on this game, despite all the fun I’ve had pouring so many hours into it, it’s honestly really hard to recommend this game. Well, not without a ton of clarification at the very least.
At it’s core, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are super fun games and provide a great direction for future Pokémon games to take. I can’t deny the fact that I really enjoyed my time playing this game. The last time a Pokémon game grabbed and held my attention this well was probably Pokémon Black and White which was literally the first game I played in the series. I adore Scarlet and Violet which is why I hate that I can’t recommend it with all my heart. The technical issues are just too much. A few graphical glitches and frame rate drops here and there would be perfectly understandable but Scarlet and Violet are constantly struggling to run properly. If the core game play, the characters, and the Pokémon themselves weren’t so great, this game would literally be unplayable. But again, those aspects are awesome! I loved all of them. But it’s not enough to completely save this game.
If you can suffer through the technical hurtles Scarlet and Violet put you through, then you will find an extremely fun and enjoyable experience. But that is asking a lot with this game, so if you don’t want to suffer through that, then that is more than understandable. Recently though, Nintendo has said that they are committed to updating the game and fixing it’s issues while also apologizing for the state it launched in. But we’ll see if they really stick to that. At the very least, hopefully Nintendo and Game Freak will remember this when it comes to the next Pokémon game.
But those are just my thoughts! What are some of yours? Are you thinking about giving Scarlet and Violet a try despite the technical problems? Are there any games you still love despite how terribly they run? I’d love to hear your thoughts so don’t be shy!
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