Pokémon Scarlet and Violet offer an open-world experience, problems with glitches

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Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet are the latest mainline games in the Pokémon series, releasing three years after the Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield games, also for Nintendo Switch. (Photo: Business Wire)

By Caleb Johnson, News Reporter

Pokémon trainers rushed to the lush and beautiful land of Paldea, where bold adventures and vibrant colors thrive. Unfortunately, the games’ own limitations hampered this experience. 

The long-awaited ninth generation of Pokémon games – Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet – have arrived for the Nintendo Switch. A breathtaking and truly momentous endeavor, the games offer the Pokémon series’ first truly open-world experience

The franchise had tested the waters for this open-world experience with Pokemon Legends Arceus, which contained a vast world for trainers to explore and breathtaking visuals. However, that game was not truly considered open-world because you could not travel the whole map without returning to the home base. 

The Paldea region takes inspiration from Spain and Portugal, infusing the games with the rich cultural traditions of these countries. This can especially be seen in the architecture and character designs, both of which have clear nods to their real-world counterparts. 

SCARLET VS. VIOLET

Scarlet and Violet continue the tradition of having a matching pair of games released simultaneously and set in the same region. 

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet have a number of differences between them, referred to as version exclusives, that include a number of different pokémon between the two games and different items used to power up your team or pokémon. Also, Scarlet features the Naranja Academy, whose symbol is oranges and whose color is orange, and Uva Academy is present in Violet whose symbol is grapes and whose color is purple. 

Pokémon Scarlet focuses on the past, and Pokémon Violet focuses on the future. This is represented in a new and intriguing feature, referred to as paradox pokémon, in the games. In Scarlet, pokémon are ancient variations of modern pokémon, such as Amoonguss and Jigglypuff, while in Violet they are futuristic versions of pokémon, such as Volcarona and Hydreigon. 

Some of my favorite pokémon from Scarlet include Great Tusk, an ancient form of the pokémon Donphan, which looks like a massive armored elephant with razor-sharp tusks and blood-red spikes. Also quite impressive is the dragon pokémon, Roaring Moon, an ancient form of the pokémon Salamence, whose design is reminiscent of mythological flying serpents and birds of prey; though my real favorite is Slither Wings, the ancient form of Volcarona, whose design is strange and majestic, a giant white furry moth with wings that are flame-colored and have green diamond shapes. 

On the other hand, Violet’s future paradox pokémon was a missed opportunity for me. They mostly appear to be robots, adding unimaginative or unsatisfactory designs to the Pokémon franchise. 

Iron Treads has no real head; it’s just a metal ball with red glowing eyes like something out of “Terminator” and looks awful. 

Then there’s Iron Bundle. For some unknown reason, they took one of the most underwhelmingly designed pokémon, Delibird, and turned it into a future pokémon. This pokémon is literally a penguin dressed as Santa Claus with a bag, and the future version looks almost exactly the same 

For some unknown reason, all the future pokémon in Violet have “Iron” in their name, which doesn’t sound original at all; ancient pokemon in Scarlet all have unique names, such as ancient Magneton becoming Sandy Shocks, and ancient Jigglypuff becoming Scream Tail; both sound better than the future names, such as future Volcarona becoming Iron Moth and Hariyama becoming Iron Hands. 

PROBLEMS 

The games often seem to glitch out from the sheer scope of trying to run the game on the Switch, which can be a big problem. In an article by Polygon, players related the game was full of numerous glitches; however, despite these glitches, the games have gone on to sell a combined total of over 10 million copies. 

During my playthroughs of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, I also experienced a number of issues, such as disappearing items and pokémon going through walls. Hopefully, with enough outcry, the Pokémon Company will actually make a software update to fix some of these issues. 

In these games, there is a major feature referred to in-game as the three paths, which are essential for completing the game. 

However, the nature of these three paths in themselves creates the main issues with traversing the region. Your main mode of travel is the game mascot in riding form, which essentially acts like a bike. This seems kind of ridiculous for a legendary pokémon, but at least the franchise is trying new things.

The problem with relying on such a mechanic is that in order to unlock new modes of travel, you have to beat a specific path. This puts a damper on the open-world aspect, as you’re still required to unlock all modes of transportation in order to fully explore the region. This means that while it can be an open world, it only becomes truly open when you beat all the paths.

Another issue comes from the fact that there the difficulty level of trainers and challenges doesn’t change based on your progress, rather the levels are set. This means that the trainers you face in the paths will have a set level of difficulty in order to beat them. While it is possible to travel to the different gyms in any order you choose, if you come across a stronger gym or challenge, you will have to train longer and harder to beat them in the order you want. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

In the end, I really enjoyed the depth and size of the world in these new games. There are so many pokémon out in the wild, and the scaling makes them look more realistic, and I appreciate that. 

The pokémon also act like real creatures – they form groups with other pokémon of their species and with the stronger evolutions protecting their previous evolutionary forms. This feature gives the world a sense of depth that previous games lacked.

However, while I enjoyed many of the new features, like the new terastal phenomenon, in which a pokémon can change type in battle, there are still some things to be desired. It feels at times that the game is half-baked. I wish that the developers would have given the team another year to flesh out the games more so maybe there wouldn’t be so many issues.