Personally, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are some of my favorite Pokemon games. It was my game of the year in 2022 as it is a Pokemon adventure I can enjoy from start to finish alongside my friends. That being said, the ninth generation of Pokemon definitely has its problems and I understand why some people hate these games. Pokemon Scarlet & Violet arrived to middling reviews on November 18, 2022, and currently sit at 71 and 72 on Metacritic respectively. Middle-of-the-road reviews usually mean that enjoyment may vary depending on what you look for in games. Even though I like these games here are some reasons why you should avoid these games at all costs.
Halfbaked Game Design
Pokemon Scarlet & Violet is a beta for the greatest Pokemon game ever made. These games introduced a lot of interesting ideas to the Pokemon formula but it also released with a bunch of bugs. On one hand, it completely revamped progression but the level doesn’t scale. So while you can theoretically go wherever you want from the beginning of the game, the trainers and gym leaders are still level-locked and those levels corral you in a linear fashion. If the game was going to force you into a linear progression, what was the point of designing an open world?
Empty Open World
On top of the previous point, the open world is completely empty. The game is in dire need of side quests and other things to do outside of the normal gameplay loop. It feels as if the game’s open world is wasted. There isn’t much to explore, there is barely any biome diversity, you can’t explore interiors, and there’s no incentive to talk to anyone. The map is 80 percent grassland.
The Games Are A Buggy Mess
I personally feel it’s a bit unfair to criticize this game for its bugs when almost every Pokemon game launched with bugs. The original games were never fixed but in the modern age where games are only getting more and more expensive with bigger dev teams, games should not be released in this state. These games had a seemingly endless amount of bugs upon launch, including but not limited to:
- Lag and low framerates – The switch is not a very powerful machine when compared to PS5 and the Xbox Series but when games like Xenoblade Chronicles 3 can run on it decently well, Pokemon should be able to as well.
- Clipping and disappearing assets – Most players report Pokemon fusing with the environment or suddenly disappearing. Bye-bye immersion.
- Pokemon won’t evolve – Some Pokemon in the game require a certain amount of steps to evolve. Players were reaching these requirements and the Pokemon would not evolve requiring players to ask other players for help.
- Invisible bike – Ah yes, the invisible bike glitch. If you were to Google Pokemon Scarlet and Violet glitches this is the one you’d probably find first. It’s self-explanatory, sometimes the legendary Pokemon, Miraidon, and Koraidon just would disappear in ride mode.
Lacking Postgame content
Unfortunately, Pokemon has entered the modern age, the games no longer ship with extensive post-games like the older games did. Instead, the newer games receive their post-game through paid DLC. As games continue to increase in price, players should not have to spend 69.99 or 79.99 on a game just for the rest of the game to come later at another 29.99. This is expensive in the States and can be more expensive in third-world countries. This kind of business model begets piracy through emulation and torrenting sites.
Ugly Art Direction
The push towards realism doesn’t fit Pokemon and fans consistently call it out with each game. The human character models look like porcelain dolls. The colors are desaturated and bland. It’s as if the games are just getting worse and worse with each iteration. Pokemon Sword and Shield, Snap, and LetsGo all look significantly better and more inviting. Personally, I prefer the sprite work of the 4th and 5th generation of Pokemon and unfortunately, I doubt that art style is ever coming back.
Other Games To Consider
Other Pokemon Games
- Pokemon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! – probably the best way to experience the Kanto region. While Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen are remakes of Pokemon Blue and Red, the Let’s Go games are a remake of Pokemon Yellow and incorporate elements from the popular mobile game Pokemon Go.
- Pokemon Emerald – The best way to experience Hoenn hands down. This beautiful nostalgic game is a fun entry point for those who are interested in classic Pokemon.
- Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver! – probably the best Pokemon remakes available, and another option for those who want to experience Kanto. You also get to experience the Johto region as well.
- Pokemon Legends Arceus – a short but interesting take on the Pokemon formula. If you’re looking for something fresh from Pokemon I recommend this game. It has its issues for sure but at least it’s different and sometimes that enough.
- The endless amount of Pokemon fangames – Pokemon is one of, if not the most popular franchise in the world. Many talented fans express their love for the series through fan games and hacks of the original games. The quality of these varies from game to game BUT if you want some Pokemon games developed by fans for fans some great ones are only a Google search away. Light Platinum, Flora Sky, and Pokemon Uranium are some of my favorites.
Games Like Pokemon
- Temtem – Like the idea of Pokemon but you’re not a big fan of Nintendo? Temtem is perfect for those who just want monster-taming mechanics as well as an MMO format.
- Cassette Beasts – A monster-taming game developed by indie developers. A fresh take on the Pokemon formula without being afraid to venture into new territory.
- Shin Megami Tensei V – Like monster-taming but Pokemon is too light-hearted for you? Try out the much darker M-rated effort from acclaimed studio Atlus.
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet aren’t bad games, depending on who you ask. If you ask me these games are a huge step in the right direction and I’m excited for the 10th generation but they do have their problems. A lot of problems. However, I definitely recommend you give them a shot if you’re curious, and if not, I understand. There are many other, debatably better games to spend your time and money on.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©IGN / The Pokémon Company / Nintendo / Game Freak.