Save State Delves Into Pokemon Scarlet and Violet’s The Indigo Disk DLC

Hello and welcome to Save State. Somewhat recently, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet’s second DLC released, and I delved into it for a few days to finally finish the story that started with The Teal Mask. The second downloadable episode, The Indigo Disk, focuses on the stories of Carmine and Kieran again, but this time you’re visiting their school in Unova, Blueberry Academy. Due to the fact that I’m an unrepentant Pokemon simp, I spent a good chunk of the last couple weeks playing through The Indigo Disk.

The largest draw of The Indigo Disk is that players go through a few cutscenes, meet some new characters, and are then thrown into the Terarium which is a large underground area split into four biomes in which you can explore and catch Pokemon. Your overarching goal, here, is to find the Elite Four of Blueberry Academy and beat them so you have a chance to battle the best jerk rival since GSC, Kieran. It’s actually fun to see how much Kieran’s personality has changed between The Teal Mask and The Indigo Disk. After your adventures in Kitakami, almost as if something possessed the little guy, he came right back to his academy and battled his way to the top, and he leverages his success to condescend to every person around him that can’t beat him in battle.

In fact, Carmine, who was originally leading Kieran by the nose in The Teal Mask, is now basically scared of her little brother. Seeing the dynamic flip like this after just a few months is pretty interesting, and it doesn’t hurt that the Terarium is a great playground to run around and explore. The Terarium itself is split into four zones, having a coastal, savannah, canyon, and polar region. The biomes themselves indicate what Pokemon you can find in that area, and you’ll even be able to find regional forms of Pokemon like Alolan Exeggutor or starter Pokemon mingling with one another.

The story of The Indigo Disk is pretty satisfying, as you get to meet new colorful characters with distinct personalities, some who even have connections to past gym leaders from Pokemon Black and White, and battle strong trainers while you’re at it. The weirdest part of this DLC is that, while most of your time will be spent at Blueberry Academy in Unova, toward the end you’ll actually just pick up and run back into Area Zero in Paldea. The events that take place are actually kind of funny, with Kieran effectively becoming the first self-aware NPC of the series (who even gets to exercise proper utilization of a Master Ball).

In terms of battling, the Indigo Disk is a bit special when compared to Scarlet and Violet, because many of the NPCs actually have teams with maximized IVs, beneficial natures, and EVs that specialize some of their Pokemon. The expansion is all double battles, all the time, a marked departure from Paldea and Kitakami, which is an amazing change that switches up how you approach Pokemon battles considering how little double battling has been used in these games for years. The increased focus on double battles really took me back to the early 2000s playing Pokemon Colosseum, and it’s something I hope the developer Game Freak focuses on in their next game, too, because it’s always been weird to me that the campaigns of Pokemon titles are all 1v1 single battles, when the official competitive format is 2v2 double battles.

Beyond simply battling the Blueberry Elite Four, there are some activities you can participate in while you whittle away at the Blueberry Pokedex. To buy items at the school store, for example, you’ll need to earn BP by completing Blueberry Quests, or BBQs, as the game calls them. These quests are small events you can clear by catching Pokemon or defeating Pokemon in specific ways such as taking photos of Pokemon in specified areas, collecting items, and things of that nature. There’s also the Synchro Machine that lets you become one of your Pokemon and run around and auto-battle as it, but the novelty of this wore off extremely quickly.

BP grinding in The Indigo Disk is basically intended for those who play online with their friends. Not only does playing with friends mean you’ll each complete quests simultaneously (which rewards the whole group), but quests reward more BP when playing with friends, too. This is important because you need lots of BP. In order to unlock starter Pokemon you need 3,000BP each, and if you’re playing alone the quests only give you 20-30BP a piece. So, if you’re trying to grind out the starters or the secret boss, you’re definitely going to want to play with your friends as you need 27,000BP to unlock everything in the expansion.

That being said, while the trainers in Blueberry Academy have better trained Pokemon than the average you’d be exposed to in this series, they’re still no replacement for an endgame battle facility. Having more challenging NPC trainers is a good thing, don’t get me wrong, but there’s no strong content you can play over and over again like a Battle Frontier or even Dynamax Adventures from Sword and Shield’s second DLC in The Indigo Disk. You can re-challenge gym leaders by spending BP to invite them, which levels up their teams and brings them more in line with the challenge of Indigo Disk, but you can still pretty easily beat them by out-leveling them, since there’s still no level matching. The good news is that due to Indigo Disk’s focus on double battling and NPCs who have actually trained their Pokemon for once, you’re likely a little bit more prepared to challenge players online than you would have been otherwise (maybe not, but I feel it has been pretty easy to reach Master Ball tier in Scarlet in each season), but it still feels really disappointing that there’s no good battle facility in Scarlet and Violet.

The Pokemon you can seek out and catch in The Indigo Disk are actually great. There’s an amazing selection of Pokemon present from each generation, such as previous generation’s starters, regional forms, legendaries, and even some mythical Pokemon you can upload to Pokemon Home and forget you even have. Strangely, the Blueberry Pokedex has a good amount of overlap with the Kitakami and Paldea Pokedexes, which means there’s still almost 300 Pokemon that aren’t featured in Scarlet or Violet for whatever reason. However, there is still a lot to seek out and enjoy in the Terarium even if it doesn’t have everything, and several of the new Pokemon, like Raging Bolt and Archaludon, are absolutely bonkers in competitive play.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an article on Pokemon Scarlet and Violet if I didn’t talk about how the performance of The Indigo Disk is somehow even worse than Paldea and Kitakami in certain places. Upon entering the large, underground Terarium beneath Blueberry Academy, there’s a muddy region immediately to the right of the entrance that is plagued with issues, which makes for a great first impression. During my own playthrough, while just walking around, I noticed a Vibrava with the crystallized Tera glow on it. Upon getting near it, my system froze for 3 full seconds, then displayed 1 frame of movement before freezing for 3 seconds again. This repeated until I was able to move the camera to the wall and walk area from the muddy area of the savannah biome, never to return. It’s nice to see that Game Freak’s still working on optimizing the games.

I had a good deal of fun with The Indigo Disk in spite of its shortcomings- performance still isn’t great in specific places, but I found myself getting used to it more easily this time around for whatever reason (Stockholm Syndrome?). The lack of a battle facility also isn’t ideal, but having more challenging trainers to contend with as you play is quite refreshing. If you’re someone who played The Teal Mask and found it underwhelming, The Indigo Disk is pretty much better than it in almost every way and both continues its story and concludes it in a satisfying manner. The new Pokemon to catch and use are great, and several new moves were added that make older Pokemon significantly better, like Electivire finally getting a powerful physical electric move.

All that in mind, I think this is a safe place to end this entry of Save State. Join me again in a couple weeks when I inevitably talk about some indie title, RPG, or continue the Mega Man Battle Network retrospective because whew, lads, did Battle Network 4 take it out of me, haha. See you in two weeks!

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