Editor’s Note: Vincent Mahoney reviewed Pokémon Scarlet and Violet looking at every aspect of the new game, both the good parts and the flaws. Neal Sayatovich agrees with everything that Vince had to say, but he wanted to add his own take on the flawed masterpiece that is the latest generation of the venerable Pokémon game. This is his second take review.
Hello everyone. As a bit of background on my history with this series, I have played the Pokémon games since the beginning, with a few skipped generations. I have been vocal with my concerns about Scarlet and Violet on numerous GiN lounge podcasts, columns, and to anyone on the street who would listen to me.
I don’t want to rehash everything that Vincent covered in his excellent review. I’m just going to give a short, personal review of the opposite version. Vincent mostly played with Scarlet, so my review today will mostly be about Violet. With that disclaimer, let’s dig into Pokémon Violet.
First, I found that each version, Violet and Scarlet, had a different professor leading your class. That was an interesting touch. And it’s nice to see something varied between the versions other than strictly the given Pokémon to play with. The unique professors give players a reason to play either game or both. Despite not being a forward-facing part of the story (a role filled by Director Clavell), the professors give enough of an impression throughout to have a big impact on the story as it moves forward and eventually wraps up at the end.
Speaking of the story, Pokémon Violet had a very dark turn to it that I am not used to seeing in a Pokémon title. Overall, the three stories you can experience are good and encourage exploration well enough. I loved the angle that gym leaders have primary jobs, and that leading the gym is kind of a side job for them. That seemed pretty realistic. I will, however, say that the champion’s team is strange and uninspired. I feel like the developer Game Freak could have upped the difficulty level since Pokémon games have lowered their difficulty across the board. Yes, that was done to lure in more players, but the games have lost a lot of their challenge for veteran players.
All that said, Pokémon Violet is brimming with potential. The open world is large and varied, and it opens organically for the player as they explore. However, the performance of Pokémon Violet left much to be desired. There have been noted bugs and funny glitches that Game Freak is trying its best to patch. However, there were also some pretty severe ones such as the elite four music repeating the same five second loop over and over while you play, which Vince had noted in his review.
I have had numerous crashes where my framerate dropped like a sack of potatoes. This was often followed by errors and a crash. Additionally, it is still strange to see people moving as if in a stop motion film whenever I was inside a city. The Tera raids in the game are also pretty broken. The lobby has an obscenely long wait time to get into a raid. I am not sure if that is because it’s so popular, or if it is because it’s poorly optimized. However, even after waiting for almost a minute in some cases, I was only able to join a raid in one out of every fifteen attempts. That is unacceptable.
The raids also have issues with freezing and anchoring players in place so that they aren’t able to do anything. This happened about a third of the time. The timer loses chunks of time because Pokémon faint while they have to serve an escalating time penalty. That’s right folks, it’s an unfair double penalty. I hope that the developers can clean things up in a patch down the road.
The paradox Pokémon in the game are an interesting concept, and I hope more comes out in DLCs. Iron Valiant and Iron Thorns have an interesting look to them. I will say that Iron Treads is pretty goofy, especially compared to Scarlet’s Great Tusk. I love the thought of: What would some of these Pokémon look like in the distant past or distant future?
Overall, Pokémon Violet could have been a legendary title that swept everyone’s game of the year awards. Instead, it has become a meme, made fun of, and has endlessly annoyed an increasingly grumpy fan base. After all the issues with Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, lackluster main entries in the Pokémon series are sadly becoming the norm. I hope going forward that the Pokémon developers can create better and fundamentally more sound titles for us to enjoy because gamers won’t continue to forgive flaws like these forever.
Developers: Game Freak
Platforms: Nintendo Switch