Pokemon Scarlet & Violet with DLC Review

On February 27, 2022, Pokémon Presents announced Pokémon Scarlet & Violet. Players were surprised as Legends Arceus had only just released a month prior in January. A few months later, the newest Pokémon games were released on November 18, to a bit of a mixed reception. The general consensus among most is that many like the games but they’re not without their share of issues. To be fair, Scarlet and Violet were by no means a perfect release. Performance bugs including lag, rendering problems etc. And a few other oddities such as the first few seconds of the Elite Four theme being stuck in a loop. These were the kinds of things players noted. Now, this isn’t anything really new for Pokémon, the original Red and Blue became infamous for their number of exploitable bugs and game breaking glitches, Diamond and Pearl had an exploitable bug that let players catch event exclusive Pokémon without the required event exclusive items. 

The DLC, collectively known as The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero was announced exactly a year later, with Part 1: The Teal Mask releasing on Sep 13 and Part 2: The Indigo Disk releasing on Dec 14 of the same year. Neither fixed all the bugs and magically made the games perfect but both brought welcome additions with new areas, new characters and new Pokémon.

For the first time in the series, the game gave us a true open world experience. Every location in Paldea is seamlessly connected, allowing for ease of travel and a sense of wonder that even veterans can appreciate. The DLC continued this trend, with both the new areas added being designed in the same vein. Players can traverse the land on the games respective mascot(Either Koraidon for Scarlet, or Miraidon for Violet), which is a really cool feature and adds a sense of connection with the Pokémon that we don’t normally get with the game mascots. Speaking of, many of the new Pokémon introduced fit right in and already are some of my favorites. The games also added a new Terastalization mechanic which changes things up in battles by changing the Pokémons type, and adds a nice layer of strategy. The DLC additions are especially cool and interesting, with the new mascots standing out in their own ways.  It's a breath of fresh air. Of course the lack of level scaling between areas hinders it but freedom of choosing where to go lends itself well to replayability. 

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The game has 3 different storylines and lets the player choose whether to focus on one at a time or even all 3. Victory Road is the standard collect the badges and challenge the Elite Four storyline. It's nothing too special but it does have its moments and I appreciate how the Elite Four actually feels more fleshed out than past iterations. Starfall Street has the player facing down Team Star, a group of delinquents who don’t show up for class. It's a bit more heartfelt and Team Star does a good job of shining when it counts. Finally Path of Legends sees the player teaming up with a classmate to find the Titan Pokémon on a quest for the Herba Mystica, powerful herbs that unlock new traversal abilities for Koraidon/Miraidon, such as swimming and gliding. The DLC of course adds two more plotlines; Teal Mask takes the player to Kitakami where they learn of the local legends and customs and Indigo Disk(Which requires completing both the base games story and the Teal Mask) has the player become an exchange student at sister school Blueberry Academy in Unova.. Both are ok enough but Indigo Disk can be a bit of a challenge for the unprepared. The new areas added are fun to explore and the new characters are endearing in their own way. 

One thing I will praise the game for is its sound design. The team really did a good job making the various battle themes stand out and these games have some of the best in the series. Shoutout to the rival themes and the entirety of Team Stars themes. They went hard with the soundtrack and it shows. Other highlights include the final battle theme and the battle themes from Indigo Disk, which beautifully remix music from the Black and White games. A few of these tracks were worked on by Toby Fox of Undertale fame which is really cool to see. I will say though, the credits theme for the base game feels a bit bizarre and a little out of place but the DLC credits theme makes up for it. 

Overall, I had a really fun time with these games and enjoyed the DLC myself and the issues, while present, weren’t enough to ruin the experience for me. I can’t recommend them enough if you’re a Pokemon fan or someone likes casual gaming. I truly feel like there’s something here for everyone, whether you’re new to the series or a long time player. The bugs and performance issues are unfortunate but rarely anything game breaking. It's worth giving them a try at least.

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All screenshots were provided from my copy of the game

SCORES: 

Graphics: 4/5 - The Pokémon models have never looked better. Most the environments are fairly pleasant as well despite some minor issues

Sound: 5/5 - Easily one of the best soundtracks in the series hands down. Team Stars themes are BANGERS

Story: 3/5 - For the most part it's serviceable. The exploration is what really drives this game

Gameplay: 4/5 - I actually really like the new terastalization mechanic and traveling around on Koraidon/Miraidon feels good

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