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Monday, February 26, 2024

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet might have been a lot extra

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Pokémon Scarlet and Violet arrived rather less than half-baked and buggier than any of the franchise’s previous mainline entries. However for the entire glitches, body charge dropping, and straight-up crashes that plagued gamers as they first started exploring the Paldea Region, the promise of latest DLC content gave many hope that the video games would get some much-needed polish in due time.

The Hidden Treasures of Area Zero: The Teal Mask — this era’s first DLC drop — delivered on that promise to a sure extent with its streamlined story and barely totally different method to presenting new places within the bigger Pokémon world. And that was much more true of The Hidden Treasures of Zero’s second chapter — The Indigo Disk — which established various promising connections between Paldea and Pokémon Black and White’s Unova Region.

In small but important methods, each halves of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet’s DLC made the video games as a complete really feel nearer to the completed product Nintendo and Sport Freak in all probability needed to guide with. However neither The Teal Masks nor The Indigo Disk ever actually delivered by way of fixing the issues that felt essentially damaged about this era of core Pokémon titles, and the identical goes for Scarlet and Violet’s newly released epilogue, Mochi Mayhem.

After years of the Pokémon video games and anime making it look like going to highschool was elective for younger trainers, Scarlet and Violet turned getting an training into one of many key elements of 1’s path to turning into a real Champion. In contrast to the smaller colleges that appeared in older video games, Scarlet and Violet’s Naranja and Uva Academies have been seemingly large locations the place college students have been meant to satisfy new associates and monsters as a part of a nontraditional instructional expertise constructed round exploring the surface world.

Given how effectively video games like Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Persona 5 integrated pupil life into each their narratives and recreation play, it appeared like Sport Freak needed to do one thing comparable with Scarlet and Violet when the video games have been first launched. Regardless of that seemingly being the intention, although, what grew to become clear as gamers started matriculating at Naranja / Uva was that whereas the colleges may need seemed considerably spectacular from the surface, on the within, they have been relatively lifeless locations full of stiff NPCs, and menus (relatively than explorable hallways) guiding you to a handful of school rooms.

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As a result of Scarlet and Violet put a lot emphasis on sending college students out into the Paldean wilderness for his or her massive Treasure Hunts, the video games’ deal with college ended up feeling form of like an afterthought as a consequence of how inconsistently the varsity itself, its academics, and its normal pupil physique factored in to the core story. By supplying you with the flexibility to tackle fitness center leaders, and progress by means of the core tales in basically whichever order you needed, Scarlet and Violet’s principal recreation additionally made it straightforward for character particulars and narrative beats to get misplaced within the combine. That made it very troublesome to turn out to be connected to or invested in folks like Nemona, Arven, and Penny, who’re alleged to be your new finest associates.

However by narrowing its scope to a fateful college journey exterior of Paldea, and maintaining its story targeted totally on one particular journey revolving round legendary pokémon, The Teal Masks was in a position to give us a promising style of how rather more compelling Scarlet and Violet might be with a bit extra restraint and refinement. The identical might be mentioned of The Indigo Disk, which transported gamers to the Unova Area’s Blueberry Academy, a floating college out in the course of the ocean the place you’re reunited with Kieran and Carmine, the brother / sister duo first launched in The Teal Masks.

Regardless of it largely being each bit as structurally easy as Naranja / Uva, the way in which Blueberry Academy and its underwater, multiclimate terrarium full of untamed pokémon have been laid out made them infinitely extra fascinating locations to discover.

After months of getting to determine how Paldea’s sandwiches labored, it was wonderful to have the ability to simply order up a plate of meals assured to make shiny searching simpler for a short while. Quite than exchanging actual cash or league factors for pokéballs and potions, issues might solely be purchased with Blueberry Factors earned by finishing small (at instances repetitive) duties designed to get you out into the Terrarium batting and catching as many monsters as you might.

Following the introduction of the Terastallization mechanic — which made it doable for pokémon to vary their sorts mid-battle by placing on gaudy hats — the return of double battles, and the inclusion of a brand new Elite 4 have been welcome surprises that bolstered Blueberry Academy’s deal with battle technique. And for people who have been extra eager about issues like simply vibing with pokémon in nature, or stepping into some playing, The Indigo Disk delivered by supplying you with a option to play from the angle of your favourite pokemon, lastly enabling your legendary journey pokémon to properly fly, and debuting a gacha mechanic that put the franchise’s old Game Corner slot machines to shame.

A few of The Indigo Disk’s extra buzzed-about updates, just like the newly launched Stellar Tera type, wound up feeling like they have been meant to attraction extra to hardcore aggressive gamers than anybody else. However most of the DLC’s smaller options — like making it doable to acquire a number of Grasp Balls, new types of throwing pokéballs, and extra clothes choices — all felt just like the product of Sport Freak attempting to make Pokémon Scarlet and Violet the form of video games that individuals would possibly wish to really hand around in.

Although it didn’t have any bearing on how the video games play, The Indigo Disk being set in Unova was thrilling due to the way in which it prompt Nintendo could be eyeing Black and White remakes for both the Swap or its successor. Submit-Sensible Diamond and Shining Pearl, the phrases “Pokémon remake” haven’t at all times sparked pleasure. However between the surprisingly pleasant Pokémon Legends: Arceus and the way in which Scarlet and Violet featured pokémon from the traditional previous and distant future, it’s been straightforward to think about Nintendo taking a extra impressed method to the way in which it revisits parts from older video games.

With each The Teal Masks and The Indigo Disk, it typically appeared like Pokémon Scarlet and Violet have been attempting to maintain gamers enthusiastic about the long run and what’s coming subsequent — partially for the sake of hype. That mentioned, it additionally felt as if these teases about what could be coming subsequent have been meant to maintain you from specializing in the video games’ still-persistent technical points, and the way they weren’t being ironed out.

Sadly, Scarlet and Violet’s epilogue — which is simply accessible when you’ve purchased the DLC — doesn’t come by the use of a patch that lastly places an finish to the entire stuttering animation that’s plagued this era from launch. As an alternative, Mochi Mayhem merely sends you again to The Teal Masks’s Kitakami area for a goofy and creepy mini-adventure that’s much less about catching uncommon monsters and extra about illustrating how a lot of a social butterfly your character’s turn out to be.

It’s admirable how Mochi Mayhem makes an attempt to neatly wrap up Scarlet and Violet’s many narrative threads with a narrative that brings your buddies from Naranja / Uva and Blueberry Academy collectively for the very first time. Coupled with the legendary pokémon featured in The Teal Masks, the legendary creature spotlighted in Mochi Mayhem makes for a much more attention-grabbing piece of lore than the treasure-specific myths from Scarlet and Violet’s core recreation.

There’s a pleasing tidiness to the way in which The Teal Masks, The Indigo Disk, and Mochi Mayhem feed into each other and provide the sense that your character’s an individual who has been out having the sorts of adventures that change the way in which you see the world, and the way folks see you. However in the identical approach that tidiness makes particular character arcs like Kieran’s really feel effectively thought out, it additionally in the end makes Scarlet and Violet really feel unfinished in a approach that’s distinct from how they arrived.

It was good when it nonetheless appeared doable that possibly, simply possibly Nintendo would possibly come by means of in the long run with a bunch of fixes that in some way reworked Scarlet and Violet into the expansive, thrilling open worlds that followers have at all times needed to dive into. Mochi Mayhem is decidedly not the reply to these prayers, and that’s simply going to should be okay.



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