I’ve been a fan of Pokemon since I got my first pack of Pokemon cards back in 1995 in my kindergarten class, and obviously, when the anime was released here in America, I was hooked. Then when I received Pokemon Blue and my Game Boy Color for Christmas back in 1998, it became my go-to video game. When I heard about the new Pokemon Scarlet and Violet games that were being released this holiday season, I did my best to not spoil anything for myself by not looking at news or reviews about it so I can experience everything firsthand and through fresh eyes. And it did make the experience all that more enjoyable. I got the double pack for my collection, and this review will be on Generation 9 Pokemon Scarlet (which I chose since I wanted certain exclusives on my team).
Welcome to the wide-open world of the Paldea Region. Catch, battle, and train Pokémon in this vast land filled with lakes, towering peaks, wastelands, small towns, and sprawling cities. Explore a wide-open world at your own pace and traverse land, water, and air by riding on a form-shifting Legendary Pokémon—Koraidon in Pokémon Scarlet and Miraidon in Pokémon Violet. Choose either Sprigatito, Fuecoco, or Quaxly to be your first partner Pokémon before setting off on your journey through Paldea. There is no set path you as a player have to take on your Paldea journey, and you can freely travel through three grand stories.
Along Victory Road you will challenge gyms in different locations and aim to achieve Champion Rank.
Path of Legends
On the Path of Legends, take on gigantic Titan Pokemon that guard ingredients.
In Starfall Street, you’ll use a new Auto Battle feature to take on Team Star grunts from your school in order to reach their boss.
The controls are pretty easy to grasp; you move the main character with the left analog stick, the camera with the right analog stick, press + to ride your Legendary Pokemon, press in the right analog stick to make the dash (once you obtain the power up to do so), press x to bring up the menu (where you can rearrange your team, access the PC boxes, your bag, etc.), and you can save by pressing the R button. The Pokedex and your profile aren’t in the regular main menu, however, but are under the Y button, which brings up the map. Press Y once and you can access your profile and Pokedex. Similar to Pokemon Legends: Arceus, in battle you can press the X button to quickly access your bag to throw pokeballs. While riding your Legendary Pokemon, press B to jump (and once you unlock the options to do so, press B again to double-jump, swim in the water, climb, and also glide). Pokemon in the Paldea region have the ability to Terastallize to gain special powers. Terastallizing holds the key to victory or defeat in battles in the Paldea region, so using it is similar to other gimmicks in previous Pokemon games dating back to X and Y – in battle press the R button and the Pokemon will Terastallize as it changes its type to the Terastallize type.
There’s so much Pokemon Scarlet has to offer. Before I got my first badge, I spent hours riding around on Koraidon catching all of the Pokemon I saw, and it wasn’t until my team was in the early 20s that I went to face my first gym leader to not only start my journey but also my adventure collecting the gym badges from the Elite Four, or in this game’s new path, it chose to name them Victory Road badges. I’m glad the level cap has increased a bit and, the first badge makes it so that all Pokemon up to lv. 25 will listen to the player. I chose Fuecoco as my starter, so the first badge I went for was the bug badge, then the grass one for my second badge. I made it a point to get two of the Victory Road badges since I knew the Titan Pokemon and the Team Star badges would need higher level Pokemon on my team, so that’s what I went to do afterwards. That was the plan I stuck with and followed: get a couple of Victory Road badges to make higher-level Pokemon follow me without fail, then face a Titan Pokemon to unlock abilities, then go and fight Team Star. I didn’t face any Pokemon trainers- only those you have to battle and can’t avoid (like in the Ghost Gym you have to face off against a number of trainers before you face the gym leader). That’s what I liked most about the new Pokemon Scarlet game is that I progressed through it all in the order I wanted and that best worked for me.
I’m lucky I didn’t have any technical issues whatsoever with my game; however, I do have a few nitpicks and downsides. First is that the Pokemon centers are now gas stations, and they are also not 100% safe places. Now, what I mean by this is that Pokemon centers are all spread throughout the region, and Pokemon spawn and walk around in many of these areas (not to mention chase or run into you). There have been a number of times when I had a Pokemon run into me, and I got into a battle when I was trying to heal my Pokemon. Now, I was able to run away from them, only for herds of other Pokemon to spawn nearby, and this led to me repeatedly getting into one battle after another. Now, I kind of found this annoying at times, especially after I faced a Team Star gym and barley had a surviving Pokemon on my team with okay health as I made my way to a nearby Pokemon center (when I didn’t remember to fly to it – which happened a few times, although I don’t remember if I unlocked that option yet or not, but I did remember it once I got 7 Victory Road badges). I decided to make a new team just for that Poison Gym, and that was what I did after that. I strategized a team for a number of badges when my main team couldn’t handle them so I wouldn’t get stuck in a situation where I had just one Pokemon with half or very little health left after a gym battle and then have to waste more time afterwards traveling to a Pokemon center to heal.
My other very small gripe is that when I’m in a Pokemon battle or when a character is talking to me, the Pokemon are still walking about in the background, and sometimes they vanish. When I was facing a couple of Titan Pokemon, it happened where a Pokemon I didn’t see before caught my eye in the background, so I was speed reading the dialogue to get through it more quickly and catch then catch the Pokemon, but it was gone by the time I got through the dialogue. Although it may just be me since I play older Pokemon games and am not used to that kind of mechanic. However, it is a situation to keep an eye on, especially if one is shiny hunting or trying to finish the Pokedex.
I enjoyed my time with Pokemon Scarlet with all of the new Pokemon in the game, their designs were done well (at least most of the ones I saw in my playthrough – although all of the Legendaries are phenomenal), including the designs of the trainers, leaders and rivals. The game is pretty fun, and all three of the story arcs are some of the best that Game Freak has done in a number of years, not including Pokemon Legends: Arceus since that game I found overall to be a decent and solid 8/10 in my book, but in Pokemon Scarlet, Game Freak has improved and made a slightly better Pokemon game). Plus, we can’t forget all of the countless hours one can get out of the game after you finish all three of the storylines and get the credits. For example, catching the Legendaries that get unlocked, being able to unlock more raid battles to catch more powerful Pokemon and finish completing the Pokedex, and completing the Pokedex to get the Shiny Charm, which lets you shiny hunt more easily.
Now, would I recommend Pokemon Scarlet? The answer is definitely, without a doubt. I personally recommend it for longtime Pokemon fans who have played every Pokemon game since the beginning, for those who haven’t played a Pokemon game in a long time and want to get back into it, and for those who are looking for a new game to play. However, I would also recommend disabling auto-save and to instead save manually a lot throughout your adventure.
Developer: Game Freak
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 18th November 2022