Pokémon Scarlet/Violet Reaction & Nintendo Thoughts

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Today is August 4th 2022. Nintendo aired a brand new Pokémon Presents yesterday which you can find below if you haven’t already seen it. What were we going to get in this one? Everyone of course will be super excited for any new information on Pokémon Scarlet & Violet, which are the newest mainline entries in the Pokémon franchise for those who have lost count, this will be Generation 9! Let’s watch the presentation and then we’ll break some things down eh?

What did we think? We can talk about all the other stuff later like World Championships 2022 being held in London, new Pokémon Go content etc. But here, today, we’re here to talk about Scarlet & Violet. I’m quite excited for them, I’ll be real. I wasn’t 100% sure how I’d feel about a fully open-world Pokémon experience, but after playing Legends Arceus I actually found I enjoyed it quite a lot. Of course, the battles and everything was completely different to anything I’d experienced in the past but I got used to it.

Gen 9 Pokémon in Scarlet/Violet

ANYWAY, first things first, we’ve already seen the starters but it’s worth talking about them again. Let’s start with the glaring issue everyone has been having. Sprigatito standing on four legs, people have been demanding they stay on four legs, the starters that start on four legs rarely seem to end on four legs these days. Unfortunately, their evolutions haven’t been shown yet but in due time we’ll have our answer. Either way, I’m a Quaxly fanboy. I guess Fuecoco is pretty cool too.

Gen 9 Starter Pokémon
All of the available starter Pokémon, which will you be taking on your journey? Source: Pokémon

It’s worth mentioning this is the first main series entry in the Pokémon franchise that will be an open-world game with no set path. Sort of like Legends Arceus, but a new gen, a main series game like Sword & Shield, Sun & Moon, X & Y. To get around you will be accompanied by one of two legendary Pokémon. Either Koraidon in Scarlet or Miraidon in Violet, pictured below. One has a prehistoric theme and the other has a future theme. 

These will take the place of your “ride Pokémon” or your Bike from Sword/Shield, however, they will also fly, climb walls and surf. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the cover legendaries basically being used as your transportation but if we get to use them for battle too all will be forgiven.

Pokemon Scarlet & Violet logo and legendary gen 9 Pokemon
Pokemon Scarlet & Violet, Gen 9. What mysteries will we uncover while playing these games? Source: Nintendo

What we learned from the presentation

In the presentation, they announced there will be “3 grand stories”, one of which is the usual gym battle train leading to what will inevitably be the Paldea region’s variant of victory road, as well as 2 stories they never really said anything about. However, it was mentioned that you can do these stories in any order. Could be interesting. But I feel like unless they have some kind of mechanic where the gym battles scale to your level than choosing to do that story last may be an issue. I guess we only have a few months to find out.

The next thing they mentioned was co-op play. In Sword & Shield, you could play co-op in raids, but it looks like that has been taken a step further this time with footage being shown of a party of 4 trainers riding their weird legendary Bikemon around the environment. It was shown whether it was a co-op-specific environment or just the regular world but it’s great news nevertheless. I’m excited to be able to co-op outside of raids with my son for sure!

Then there’s this generation’s gimmick. Like Dynamax, Mega, Z Moves etc. While I personally think Megas were the best addition for competitive battling people have their own thoughts on what they preferred. I did like Gigantimax variants of Pokémon, however. In this generation, the gimmick is based on crystallisation. The mysterious Terastral phenomenon. Similar to mega and dynamaxing, the Pokémon will have changed appearance. However, the base will be the same. They will just have a weird crystalline aura, but this aura can make changes to a different type. Like Pikachu can change to Flying. Eevee may become grass or water type after terastrising 

On the subject of that, Pokémon that have rare tera-types will be more likely to show up in raid battles. This ties both of our previous points together nicely. I’ll admit the crystallisation of the Pokémon looks really beautiful. But that brings me to my next point and the start of my rant. 

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet players

Concerns about Nintendo

While the new Pokémon games look pretty great, I do have some concerns. Mostly with how they’re going to run. A few times during that showcase the frame rate seemed to drop a lot. It isn’t just these games either, even older switch titles have this problem. Breath of the Wild, Pokémon Sword & Shield. In some areas, some battles, the Switch just can’t handle it and the frame rate tanks. 

Nintendo is, unfortunately, going to continue to have this problem if they continue to hold off on an upgraded Switch console. You have massive open-world games like Pokémon Scarlet/Violet, Breath of the Wild 2, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and many more to come, all of which, if they’re like their predecessors at all, will be fantastic experiences. But like their predecessors, they will suffer from performance issues purely because the Switch just isn’t powerful enough to handle it.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they need to find some way to squeeze Playstation or Xbox power into a handheld format. But handheld tech has come a LONG way since the release of the Switch. Even a slight upgrade would help massively. A slightly upgraded GPU, more memory or vRam etc.

My main worry is that, no matter how good these stories are, how vast the game worlds are. When you’re getting frame drops in these areas with lots of wildlife or big crowds of people or any battles with a lot of particle effects. It ruins the gameplay experience for you. Mid battle, mid-cut scene, even just taking in the environment and everything suddenly gets choppy? Do frames fall off a cliff? It just isn’t really good enough. I know Nintendo just do what they want, but surely they have to realise this is going to hamper the experience? 

It’s true that people play Nintendo for their stories and their IPs. But they need to get with the times. We need a bit more. Something more powerful. Sure the OLED switch was a nice touch and that screen is beautiful, no denying that. But with the current hardware, they’re handicapping themselves and their development studios. I mean, you still need to use an app on a phone to voice chat?! You may as well just use discord for that! Speaking of which, feel free to join our discord server. We do giveaways over there and community game nights among other things!

Anyway, as someone who grew up playing Nintendo, watching these characters, these franchises and the fan base grow. It just seems like wasted potential to me to hamper your overall experience by expecting your studios to work with super underpowered hardware. The fans aren’t asking for much. Just something that can maybe rival the performance of a bleeding smartphone?!

Either way, I’m still pretty excited for Pokémon Gen 9 and I’ll be interested to see where they go from here. I’m also hoping a new model switch gets announced between now and Christmas. Give us all that smooth experience!

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