“Pokémon Scarlet and Violet” is technical mess, but enjoyable


Graphic via Pokémon

Released Nov. 18, “Pokémon Scarlet and Violet” has rapidly become one of the Nintendo Switch’s best-selling games, despite its issues.

“Pokémon Scarlet and Violet” was released on Nov. 18 in a rushed, poorly optimized, and frankly unacceptable state, and yet, it still rivals the best of the series in its fun factor. This juxtaposition has left me, as well as plenty of fans, mixed with how to feel about the game. I’m irritated and upset with the rushed development cycles of the series and the game’s technical failings, but I couldn’t help but grin while running around the game’s region of Paldea. Released Nov. 18, “Pokémon Scarlet and Violet” has rapidly become one of the Nintendo Switch’s best-selling games, despite its issues.

I chose “Pokémon Violet” as my game version, featuring the box art legendary Pokémon Miraidon. The two game versions have plenty of differences, but most of them are minor until the final act of the game, where many twists and reveals occur. What is shared between the games, however, is an unfinished, laggy mess of a game with what might be the most graphically inept open world I’ve ever seen. 

Paldea, the region of “Scarlet and Violet,” fails to be either visually interesting or pleasing. Textures are flat, models pop in, and many animations play at incredibly low frame rates despite not even being that far from the camera. The game might be one of the worst running Nintendo published Switch games. The game ran fluctuating between 30 frames per second to a mere 15, completely tanking if too many textures or models were on screen.

This is not a sign of developer incompetence or a lack of power from the Switch. “Xenoblade Chronicles 3” and “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” both have large, expansive worlds that run relatively smoothly on the Switch. Rather, this exemplifies the constant rushed development cycles GameFreak is put under to rapidly produce Pokémon games, not giving them the time to optimize or clean up the games to the degree they require. 

The game is incredibly unpolished. Often, the camera would clip through the floor or not focus on my Pokémon in battle at all. Even beyond bugs, the game has some grievous glitches as well, such as memory leaks that force the game to be restarted in order to keep running at a somewhat playable frame rate after some time. Whether it be falling through the ground for no reason, turning into a stretched out monstrosity when riding Koraidon or Miraidon. You can have your player model freak out and have its head horrifyingly rotate 720 degrees during multiplayer, the game has plenty of amusing glitches to find.

Despite the technical issues with the game, and the fact it should not have been released in the state it was,“Pokémon Scarlet and Violet” might be one of my favorite games in the series. While the world design is lacking, the sheer freedom offered by the openworld structure lets you tackle challenges in any way you please, generally working your way up from the south of Paldea toward the north and eventually heading into the center. The friends and rival characters are some of the best we’ve had in a long time. 

I find the story to be the second best in the whole series, only beaten by Generation V’s “Pokémon Black and White.” Like all the games following “X and Y,” “Scarlet and Violet” brings its own battle gimmick to the table, being Terastralization. While functionally being different from Dynamaxing from “Sword and Shield,” Terastralized Pokémon dens expand on the systems of Dynamax Pokémon dens from the aforementioned game, showing evolution and refinement of what came before while still presenting something new.

While an absolute technical mess, “Pokémon Scarlet and Violet” still manage to rival some of the best games the series has to offer, and in my own eyes, are only beaten out by “Black 2 and White 2.” I can only hope that “Scarlet and Violet” is given the proper development time to be polished and complete, as a follow up should do that, and then it may become the best of the franchise. 

Unfortunately, with the game’s current glitchy state and poor development, I find it hard to recommend the game as it is. However, should the lag, bugs and glitches be mended with future patches, or the game goes on sale, I highly suggest giving “Pokémon Scarlet and Violet” a chance, as like the themes of past and future in the games, “Scarlet and Violet” respects the series’ past while also forging a new direction for the series’ future.