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(Pocket-lint) – Somehow people sometimes forget Pokemon when they think of the biggest game franchises in the world – it’s not a sleeping giant, but it certainly is.
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet had an absolutely massive launch in terms of sales as the series continues its transition to an open world structure. But how do they behave in the case of a long game?
In a way, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet should be considered quite a disappointment. These are not bad games and they make a lot of good and smart decisions, but the technical situation is rarely such an obvious problem for the Nintendo IP.
The world may be big, but it’s too broken up to go unnoticed, and the lack of detail means some areas lack character and aren’t unique.
The battles are exciting as ever, we love some of the new Pokémon designs, and the gameplay changes are steps in the right direction, but Game Freak suffers from graphical clutter and shortcuts.
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- open world
- Fun and relaxed co-op
- Cool new Pokemon.
- Incredible performance issues
- Graphically very blurry
- Still no voice actor
After the interesting outlier that was Pokémon Legends: Arceus, we’re back to familiar structure and timelines in these core games.
This time you play as a young student from Paldea who wakes up on his first day at a prestigious regional Pokémon academy.
As always, you’ll quickly pick one of three starter Pokémon, meet a friendly face that will appear along the way, and head out into the world to rise to the top of the competitive Pokémon stage.
For the first time in the two main games, you can do this with real freedom – you can explore Paldea (with some restrictions) at your leisure.
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The world is transparent and open, with no loading screen in the overworld and the ability to fast travel with the Legendary Pokémon you collect at the start of the game.
The sense of freedom this gives you is great and effectively fits the plan laid out in Legends: Arceus. This time there are three paths that you can follow as you wish.
One offers the usual set of gyms to conquer (but with flexibility in order), while the other two follow the story of a rare treasure hunt and the area’s nefarious truant network respectively.
That freedom is a bit of a stretch, as some parts of the world will be closed to you by high-level wild Pokémon, but being able to roam so freely is welcome again.
The core gameplay hasn’t changed much since the move to 3D and open world systems: you still move around, level up your team, and collect new items to keep your tactical options full.
What makes Pokémon special is to offer an extensive rock-paper-scissors system that is suitable for kids and beginners, as well as those who want to deepen their tactics.
That’s still the case, but it means once again JRPG veterans won’t find too much trouble in the base game. However, for those new to the series, some outstanding battles are refreshingly difficult if you don’t have a sane team.
Battles are more dynamic than ever when done right, with distinctive movement animations and a lively cartoon style that’s easy to enjoy.
However, the move to a more open world means towns and villages are less detailed than ever, and sometimes the game lacks interior locations. This is a little disappointing given their complexity.
However, it’s a fascinating world to explore, and adding the ability for two to four players to collaborate while exploring is very welcome, which is perfect for parents who want to accompany their family outings in the game. moments like in Legends: Arceus.
It’s not exactly smooth sailing, as there are a lot of activities you can’t do together – notably trainer battles are banned, as well as wild Pokémon and gyms.
This means it’s more of an opportunity to hang out together, fight each other, trade, and most importantly, raid together to defeat bosses. It’s fun, but again, it’s not the game change we were hoping for when it was first introduced.
However, the direction Pokémon is heading in seems to be the right one – it’s taken a while given the limitations that Sword and Shield offer, but we’re finally on a path that is clearly leading towards a more polished and modern open-world series.
Get ready for trouble
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet may not change the game as drastically as they might seem, but they are solid games when it comes to their core gameplay.
In fact, they’re better than ever for young gamers, with fun social features and new twists.
But when you start playing one or the other of these games, things go wrong.
To put it simply, these games perform terribly poorly – their performance may even be shocking given the usually very robust quality control that Nintendo applies to its flagship franchises.
Frame rate fluctuations are often not a problem, though rare and brief, but Scarlet and Violet’s Pokémon regularly run at a huge degree of judder, slowing down to lightning speed in places.
This contributes to frequent and very noticeable bugs and visual glitches, whether it’s missing animations, missing textures, or inconsistent resource rendering. This performance seems to degrade as the session goes on, restarting the game helps, but that’s no excuse.
We would understand that the game aims to reach the stars on a visual level by pushing the hardware to its limits. But this is not so: these games look clearly mediocre. The Pokémon themselves are great, but that’s about it.
The landscapes are blurry and lacking in detail, the foliage is a throwback to past eras due to the lack of volume, and the draw distance is completely unimpressive.
The Switch may not be a racing beast, but this year we played Xenoblade Chronicles 3 for dozens of hours and saw huge open spaces that look like day and night compared to Scarlet and Violet.
It’s not just graphics. If the music is as catchy as we might hope, vocals are still expected in the Pokemon game, which may not be traditional for the series, but is long overdue.
Game Freak has revealed that it has ideas for modernizing its mega-popular franchise, but it may need some help with the technical side of things as it’s not enough given the status of Pokemon.
The latest generation of Pokemon takes it one step further, but its performance issues are unacceptable and highlight that it is visually far behind. It’s a great adventure, but it needs to be polished.
Written by Max Freeman-Mills. Edited by Verity Burns.