Pokémon Violet

released on Nov 18, 2022

The Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet games, the newest chapters in the Pokémon series, are coming to Nintendo Switch later this year. With these new titles, the Pokémon series takes a new evolutionary step, allowing you to explore freely in a richly expressed open world.

Various towns blend seamlessly into the wilderness with no borders. You’ll be able to see the Pokémon of this region in the skies, in the seas, in the forests, on the streets—all over! You’ll be able to experience the true joy of the Pokémon series—battling against wild Pokémon in order to catch them—now in an open-world game that players of any age can enjoy.​

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This review contains spoilers

So, Pokémon Scarlet/Violet...Generation 9 of Pokémon is here, in the same year as Legends Arceus too. For a long time, I was cautiously optimistic of the game. It looked promising to me, but after Sword/Shield disappointed me so much I wasn't sure if I could trust this would be good in my opinion. Mind you, Pokémon is a series I've always loved, so I didn't want to expect this game to not be good. The more info that came out about it, though, the more optimistic I became. The day after release, I got both versions physically as an early Christmas present. I decided to play through just Violet version for now, I will perhaps play through Scarlet at a later date. Now that I've beaten the game to see the credits roll (as far as I know there is no important story stuff in the post game), I'm honestly happy to say that I enjoyed my time with it. I genuinely think it is so much better than Sword/Shield and on par with Legends Arceus. I am prepared to type up another huge review. Be warned, there be spoilers in these here waters.
I am going to start off this review by talking about visuals and performance, since its the main thing I've seen people buzzing about with Scarlet/Violet. I'll just begin with mentioning that I really like the new Pokemon designs in this generation. There genuinely isn't a single one I dislike, but there's also very few Pokémon I dislike in general so take that with a grain of salt. Similarly, I like the designs of all the important story characters in this game, and even all the teachers at the school (more on that in its own dedicated section) have nice designs. My only real gripe with the designs of Pokémon in this game is that, for some reason, a lot of shinies suck. They barely look any different from the original, which is a big problem since this game made it to where any shinies that appear in the overworld don't make the sparkling sound effect they do in Legends Arceus. Okay, design talk aside, let's talk graphics and performance. This subject is going to take up the bulk of this long-winded paragraph. I'm not knowledgeable on graphics myself, but even I can plainly see how rough around the edges this game looks. Certain areas like Cassowary Lake cause constant slowdown and frame drops just trying to get through the area, at some points the game lagged so much that I was worried it might crash on me like how LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga sometimes experienced such intense slowdown that the game crashed (somewhat unrelated but felt it was relevant to mention here). I was surprised by just how much weirdness the visuals of this game has, like how pretty much any NPC walking in the background moves at a much slower frame rate than you or anything else in the world. Whenever I successfully caught a Pokémon, the game's camera had a tendency to clip through the ground, showing me a blue void of nothingness. In one of the gym battles, my Pokémon's model was slightly sunk into the ground. I noticed the game's shadows would appear and disappear seemingly at random. The pop-in sticks out like a sore thumb, worse than any game I played recently. The textures of the world also look awful, but I will say the textures on the Pokémon themselves look pretty good to me. These visual issues didn't ruin my experience, of course, but it is embarrassing that one of (if not the) best selling game series in the world has released a game with such little visual polish. Thankfully I haven't encountered much of the more goofy bugs that other people have found, but the fact that they exist at all is baffling to me. There's an infamous clip of a glitch in multiplayer mode where the player model transforms into this freakish glitch person with wacky proportions whenever both players hop on a bicycle. I can't claim to know why that happens or that it happened in my game. Glitches aside, there's also other oddities that are present in the game's processing. For some reason, the game seems to take a while to process the effects of moves happening; for instance, if you use a move that raises multiple stats, there is a noticeable delay of the game needing to stop to recognize that each stat was raised and relay that to the player. Using multi-hit moves have a similar result. It didn't bother me too much, but it does make things very sluggish for seemingly no reason. Its weird that certain things in the game move so slowly considering how other things, like saving the game, are very quick. I don't think this slow processing issue was present in other Switch era games so why is it a problem here? I think that statement sort of sums up this whole rant on the visual fiasco that Scarlet/Violet is. Why did the developers seem to have so many problems making this game function properly as far as visuals go? I'm not trying to throw blame on them; perhaps its just poor management or time crunches, I don't know, but its just so odd to me how all of these issues are present in a game release as comically large as Scarlet/Violet.
So, the visuals and performance are out of whack. How about the gameplay? Well...it's pretty standard Pokémon stuff. I quite enjoy it, but you're not going to get an insanely different experience here from other recent Pokémon titles as far as the core gameplay goes. It's pretty much the exact same core system its always been, but I guess its as they say: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." At this point, the only things new Pokémon games can really add to shake up the core formula are gimmicks. Terastalization is the new kid on the block for the obligatory battle gimmick shoved into every new game since X/Y. The idea behind it is that you can either add an extra type to your Pokémon or power up their current type. I have to admit that I think it is pretty cool, I love the visual design behind Terastalization since each type gets a special Tera jewel that your Terastalized Pokémon wears as a crown and it makes every Pokémon look crystallized. For as long as I've been playing this damn series, I'm still no competitive player, so I don't often think about what these battle gimmicks mean for competitive play and can't really tell you how good it is in that sense. As far as regular battles do, yea I didn't really use it a ton personally but it did serve a good purpose in letting me plow through trainers easier. I think it has potential to be used in very creative ways, it pretty much feels like a weird way of letting just about any Pokémon get a third type. Your Pokémon's Tera type is determined when you catch it (when a Pokémon has a special Tera Type you'll know because it always either comes from a raid or the overworld where it would have been glowing a bright yellow for everyone to see) but you can also change it at the Treasure Eatery in Medali. I never tried it but the game was sure to let me know about that. Speaking of eateries, yea the whole curry thing in Sword/Shield that I didn't bother with even once is replaced with picnics and sandwiches in this game. I guess the idea behind it is cool and it seems like the sandwiches offer you nice benefits (they give you special abilities like making Pokémon eggs hatch faster), but this system also replaces breeding which I don't really understand why they did considering that breeding has been the same ever since it was introduced. I don't think anyone complained that you had to put your Pokémon in a Day Care and wait for them to breed, but I guess if you really wanted that to change you may be glad to hear that you can only get eggs from picnics now. One last thing I'll mention in this paragraph is difficulty. Everyone whines about how Pokémon games aren't hard, and yea I've always thought that's kind of the whole point. Play Red/Blue and you'll see for yourself that the originals aren't hard either. Nonetheless, Scarlet/Violet did manage to at least get me to lose sometimes; the final boss is actually quite tough and took me a few tries to beat, which even the champion fights were unable to do. I also lost to the Water gym leader once, but that's only because I made a goof and forgot what type Crabominable is (I did not lose to a single gym leader after him).

i was gonna give it a 2.5 until ed sheeran started playing.

this could've been so much better...the game is of course a bit buggy and the open world setting feels very empty a lot of the time unfortunately but i still had my usual pokemon fun and I like the new pokemons a lot

This review contains spoilers

My short, short review is simply: If you're a fan of Pokemon, you'll probably enjoy the core experience here, regardless of technical issues. If you're on the fence, at least wait until there's some kind of patch to deal with some of the chugging, crashes, and other silly quirks.
I've been perusing the reviews and can see that I didn't get the same experience out of this game that other people did, for sure. I'm sure this is due, in large part, to certain expectations I had that either fell flat or were ruined in some cases. Let's talk shop.
I'm not going to say too much about the technical issues -- they're a huge mess and everyone's probably experienced their own fun/pain. My spouse is playing Scarlet and she's had seven crashes, while I've been playing Violet and have three. Both our copies are digital, she has a newer Switch -- though from the same generation as mine (2017-2018, I think?).
Crashes between our two games included the following happening at the time of crashing:
-- Walking
-- Trying to enter a building
-- Riding your All Terrain Dino
-- Talking to a trainer that wants to battle
-- Opening the world map
-- Trying to join a Union Party
Yeah, several of those happened multiple times, but what an experience. Both of us have only lost a minute or two in each instance, so no big deal. Beyond that, framerate that feels like a slog most of the time. Both of us are playing docked, so I can't speak on quality for playing handheld.
The glitches are vast and varied, but they're not really worth touching on -- they generally don't impact gameplay beyond a speedrun-worthy one near the end of the game where you can skip forced dialogue (that has its own issues) by jumping off the sides of some cilffs while leaning into a texture plane that's angled. If someone wants me to elaborate, I will, but much like being able to exploit reaching places you shouldn't via combat, that's more about favorable glitches than issues that need to be fixed.
Regarding actual gameplay, the thing is, the actual core experience of collecting your mons and building in a direction you want is just as fun as ever and also more accessible than ever. Maybe even too much so, as the bar for being capable of making a competitive mon is so low that breeding feels much less relevant to this entry. I'm a bit of a Brock when it comes to breeding, so I may have previously put some thousands of hours into breeding throughout other generations and it's both pleasant and a little saddening (for me, great for most other people) with the directions they've gone in for simplifying the alternatives. Regardless, if you like catching mons and making a competitive team, you're probably in for a solid experience all-around.
My issues take place with the non-linearity of the game -- I love the idea and I feel like the blueprint has been established with both SW/SH and Arceus Legends, but the actual implementation feels lacking unless you're playing it in a way that's largely the projected/predicted manner.
You're told early on that you have these three paths to take and that you're free to handle them as you see fit -- but that isn't entirely true. It makes sense that everything had to converge eventually, but it failed me in a rather brutal fashion.
I like running with one mon that champs all my fights while I focus on evolving party mons and collecting others, so I'm used to the rigamarole of running into trainers, dealing with them on the way, and using them as a stepping stool to prepare myself for whatever gyms I want. You tell me that I'm free to go where I want and do things how I want? Suddenly, gyms are the last thing I want to do and I'm leaning towards exploring as much of the world as I can, then coming back and probably dealing with the two non-gym paths first.
So, much to my surprise, Gatogetgoing (my starter) decided at Level 29 to stop obeying me and went as far as to go to sleep a few times. I look at my profile card and notice that mons only up to Level 20 will obey you, so I'm feeling both lucky and frustrated simultaneously. I had gone through Southern Province Four, worked my way back to Southern Province Two, then went west all the way out to the desert and did a jump off the side of the desert to land down on the docks at Porto Marinada before making that discovery.
I had managed to dodge every gym (although I did run through to Alfornada when I saw how strong the mons were in the area), only to find out that there was an obligation to hit up the gyms in order to deal with mons obeying you. A little annoying, but not a big deal -- generally speaking, badges were worth ten levels in past games (sometimes twenty levels for two), so easy enough fix.
I go hit up the Grass gym and have Gatogetgoing sleep through several turns of the battle but his level is so high that the fight is still cake, though abysmally slow because it's just unnecessary whiffing over and over. I get the badge and hit Level 30 during the fight, thinking I'll have to go deal with one more gym...and I get rewarded with a badge that lets mons up to Level 25 listen to me.
You're kidding me, right? Maybe it's just a fluke. I go smash the Bug gym. Mons up to 30 and my cat is at about 31. Electric gym, mons up to 35 and my cat is 32. And suddenly, I'm presented with an issue -- I'm not actually allowed to play the way I want to play, because leveling mons suddenly becomes prohibitive to enjoyment and there's a need to just progress as fast as possible between areas. I hit up Klawf Titan while I was in the area after the Electric gym and got my boost on, but I'm suddenly feeling like I'm more incentivized to stop exploring and just push through to every gym and complete them as fast as possible.
In a game that encourages you to go out there and find your own treasure, my treasure (exploration) was apparently going to have to be discarded in favor of beating a level cap that made no sense -- why would you change this facet of the game when it's worked fine for so long? But I dealt with it, pushed straight through all eight gyms, and got rewarded with no more restrictions placed on my mons.
On the gyms, I was a bit annoyed about the style of them -- I honestly like fighting gym trainers even if I don't care about most regular trainers, because they feel like a nice and logical test prep for what you're about to encounter and a good gauge for your levels. Instead, I'm using Miraidon to pop a giant olive over fences like I'm playing Bad Rocket League, riding Miraidon down a slope with worse controls while it slides, fast traveling to a location so I can have one fight while I deliver a wallet, or even just grabbing or fighting a few Sunfloras. The experiences don't feel natural and the idea of why some of them are there doesn't make them anymore authentic -- the olive rolling being explained as a cultural aspect would be fine if towns felt like they were more than just a few people standing around and the same few food stores every time.
That aside, Larry is the best damn gym leader ever and I will die on that hill. What a gem. I would accept him showing up in future games, even if it made no sense whatsoever.
Also, I did appreciate the Ghost gym double battles -- even if I normally play with one mon, I'm a fan of double battles (I force them on when playing older games on randomizers) so it was nice to see their reappearance, even if only briefly.
So, on the Titan path, it's a wholesome thing and it's worthwhile abilities, so not much else for me to add on that.
Starfall Street hurt my soul, though. When I first saw Team Star in Mesagoza, I was all-in on them because the star pose was stylish as all hell, so I was saving the Operation: Starfall missions for last because I liked the idea of having multiple bosses with personalities to fight against that might be like extra gyms catered toward a particular typing.
Instead, you're treated to a dumb mini-game, where you either have high enough level mons to just spam the R button over and over until it's over, or you potentially have to take a break at vending machines. Actual combat? Nope. You just waste time until you fulfill a quota of auto-battling, then you get one actual fight with the boss. The backstory feels like a joke when you learn about these characters, especially with Eri -- she's such a badass, I feel like she could just choke-slam anyone that wanted to bully her. All the fights being with Revarooms did nothing for me, as their fights overall just felt like a weaker Gym Leader battle in each instance.
When I resolved the Pokemon League (Larry's such a champ), Starfall Street, and Titans, I went into Area 0 and was greeted with forced, unscrollable text that didn't have boxes to even read it well while I'm trying to dodge mons that are gunning for me while I'm hoofing it to the bottom.
I mentioned earlier that I used a glitch to skip dialogue, and the reason is because of that text. It wasn't that it was awful having to read the text, but it was because while the dialogue was going on, you could not target visible mons or even access your own menu to heal your mons if you needed to. In the cave section of Area Zero, this became obnoxious when I was trying to grab a Glimmora and one of the Paradox mons. When I realized my choices were to wait for people to finish talking before doing any walking or trying to get around it, I decided to I'd try dropping off a cliff for fun and see if I could make faster progress. Turns out that if you hit the right kind of slopes, your group follows you down (while talking) OR you get your position reset right in front of the next checkpoint and the dialogue gets cut completely -- which means I'm free to try and catch things again. YAY.
I know I said that I didn't want to talk much about technical issues, but it's worth noting that upon beating the game, I was treated to credits I physically COULD NOT WATCH. The juddering was so intense that it was hurting my eyes to even look at the screen. I had to just kinda check back every minute or so to see how progress was going and just watch my spouse play her Scarlet version instead. What breaks my brain is that somehow this got through QA with either 1) nobody experiencing this particular bug or 2) someone experiencing this and it somehow being considered unimportant enough that it slid through, potentially for future patching. Maybe this doesn't happen on docked Switches. Once my spouse beats her version, I intend to see if the issue is replicated on her system as well.
Other things worth noting:
-- Nemona is wonderful and if you want great fanfic inspiration, playing a female character with Nemona as your best "rival" ever is a treat. It's so nice to have a character that's supposed to challenge you that isn't a complete jerk or just Captain Blandsville.
-- Online components are largely solid. We had one frustrating moment when trying to do co-op Tera Raids, but generally online trading between friends was smooth as silk. Haven't gotten to battle yet, so I can't speak on that.
-- Surprise (Wonder) Trades are very unintuitive. Why would you notify the player that the trade was successful and not take them straight to the trade? Instead, you're forced to jump into Poke Portal just to look. It'd make sense if you had to wait a long time for trades, but my longest wait was about 15 seconds. It just feels like extra steps that don't make sense.
-- Larry's still the best, but Nemona is also still the best.
-- Most of the new mons are interesting and I'm looking forward to testing them out. I also approve of the new evolutions added to some familiar mons.
-- Tera Types feel like they might allow for real strategic depth, but you absolutely would not realize it if you based it on the logic of gym leader fights.
-- The postgame is even worse than SW/SH, as it's just one legendary mon and a less-skillful Battle Tower (the Ace Tourney).
-- It's an absolute crime that Game Freak somehow decided not to add visual or audio cues for shinies. What the hell were they thinking? I've caught two so far (Murkrow and Goomy) and probably missed at least another four. Some mons are so tiny that the only real ways to test are auto-battling (they won't attack a shiny) or to run into them because you can't even tell with squinting as to what their colors are (and lighting and textures messing with lighting can mess with how a mon appears).
-- Really dig some of the new items, though some do feel overpowered (Covert Cloak, I'm looking at you).
-- Picnics feel like a natural evolution of Pokemon Amie, but my spouse got a lot more value out of it than me, as she's reaping the usual rewards of free dodges and status effect removals. I've only bred out four eggs, and that was just so I could give Quaxly to some friends who might need them.
-- I love me some Fashion Souls and Fashion Pokemon, so it's disappointing that I'm stuck with one of four awful outfits and just adding accents to the rest of the fashion around said outfits. I've wasted way too much currency in previous games on having all kinds of fashion choices to swap through. This one was a joke to save money on, because it's so hard to get a genuine look going, so I just settled for one outfit, some tights, shoes, glasses, and gloves, and called it a day. All the purple love, though.
That's probably a good attempt at summarizing my experience with the game. It's insanely glitchy and buggy and Game Freak has no business running a short development cycle on something like this and releasing it in such an unpolished state, but it's still a worthwhile game at its core. It absolutely demands a patch (and maybe a GTS if they can keep it free of absurd trade requests), and I feel like whatever DLC that's coming to account for the top-right corner of the map is going to be a disappointment, but maybe I'll be wrong on that. At this point, I'm looking forward to getting the last eight mons I need for a Shiny Charm and building some teams to battle friends with. Even with all my griefs, I can't avoid playing because at the end of the day, it's still Pokemon. It may not be my Pokemon, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate that core experience.

Nothing really new or interesting to add to this conversation but it is very off-putting how much people are sexualizing and gushing over these characters in a primarily children's game. Keep that shit to yourself.