Pokemon is a franchise loved by millions across the world. It has been one of the largest, if not the largest, gaming franchises for over 25 years.
Starting with Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow, released in North America in 1998, the Pokemon company has released new games every year. The latest iteration, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, took the Pokemon franchise to the next level.
I have played Pokemon Games since generation three and bought most of their games throughout the years. These games hold a special place in my heart, building my love for the monster tamer genre in general. If it was not due to this franchise I would have never played some of the other monster tamers like Spectrobes, Fossil Fighters, and Digimon.
My personal favorites of the Pokemon franchise include generation three’s Emerald, generation four’s Platinum, and generation five as a whole, which has the best story of any main line Pokemon game. Considering how enormous the franchise is, I believe these games, Scarlet and Violet, should be held to a higher standard than other monster tamers.
The Pokemon franchise always puts out some amazing designs and some… flops. This generation is no different, however I would argue most of the designs are above average.
Let’s briefly go over this generation’s starters. First up we have a grass-type magician cat based off the Puss in Boots movies who stands on two legs. Sprigatito, Floragato and Meowscarada all feel like they took generation seven’s Litten and made it a grass type. For the water starter we have a flamboyant duck that dances for a living. While Quaxly looks very similar to another duck Pokemon, Ducklett, they add a new twist to the final evolution and based it off of samba dancers in Brazil. However, it’s just too flamboyant for my taste. Finally, we have my personal favorite of the three, the Fuecoco line, ending with Skeledirge. Skeledirge is a freaking rock and roll singing crocodile. While we have already had a couple of crocodiles in Pokemon, the other two, Krookodile and Feralilgatr, stand on two legs while this version remains on all fours.
Annihilhape, Veluza, Arboliva and Glimora are my personal favorites made with top notch creativity and design. However, some of Scarlet and Violet’s Pokemon designs fall flat. Flamigo is literally just a flamingo. The whole convergent species idea that includes the Wiglett and Toedscool lines are an example of the Pokemon company coming up with another excuse to be lazy and copy designs they have already created. I would have much rather had them as regional variants over brand new species.
Lastly, let’s cover Baxcalibur. I want to love this generation’s pseudo legendary so badly, but its signature move ruins the design. It literally stands on its head and propels itself forward (or backwards?) so it can attack the opposing Pokemon with its back fin. It just looks so derpy.
Some other Pokemon I want to cover briefly include the fan favorite Tinkaton, Bisharp’s evolution Kingambit, and Dundunsparce. I am not the biggest fan of Pokemon using weapons like Tinkaton, however I can definitely see the appeal (even though Pokemon just copied Amy from Sonic).
Kingambit was so close to being one of my favorites this generation but it never stands up. The Pokemon remains awkwardly seated on its little stool all the time and just glides across the ground to move. Talk about ruining a perfect design. As far as Dundunsparce goes, people wanted a dragon or fairy type evolution for so long but Pokemon just gave us Dunsparce with 1-2 extra humps. Is this Pokemon’s way of making fun of its fan base? I hate it. I hate it with a passion.
Lastly, we have the Legendaries and the Paradox Pokemon, I think most of them hit it out of the park. Koraidon and Miraidon are awesome, the four sub Legendaries are all creative and unique, and most of the Paradox Pokemon are perfect. Most. When comparing their past forms with their future forms however, the past is definitely dominating. Future Hydreigon for instance was extremely disappointing. Similarly, Iron Thorns, the future Tyranitar, was also disappointing.
Overall, I think the designs of this generation receive an above average rank.
Creature Designs = 6 / 10
The story is split into four sections. You can complete the first three from the beginning while the fourth is locked until you complete the previous three. This is definitely an improvement in design compared to generations six through eight.
First off, we have the Victory Road storyline with the usual gym challenge which isn’t much of a story. As you enter each gym, you trigger a cutscene. Sometimes you are harassed by the battle crazed Namona before you are able to battle the gym leader. Other times you are gradually introduced to the elite four. Not much else happens.
Next up is the Starfall storyline which contains much of the game’s story and character development. As the protagonist, you must go around and beat up the evil team: Team Star. When beginning this story line, the game gives you the impression that Team Star is a group of bullies that go around and harass other students (almost like a certain character in the Victory Road storyline…). As you beat each base, you learn more and more about Team Star and their bosses. I’ll leave it at that to prevent spoilers.
Finally, we come to my personal favorite storyline: the Path of Legends. I would argue that this story alone carries these games. You go around battling giant boss Pokemon in order to collect the mythical herba mystica with your friend Arven. There are parts that are emotional, but I’m not going to be the one that spoils what happens.
Overall, I think this generation’s story is one of the best in the Pokemon franchise, I’d even say possibly the second or third best out of all mainline Pokemon games (although it doesn’t beat generation 5 for me).
Story = 7 / 10
Violet’s battle system is your typical turn based system that you come to expect from any major Pokemon game. They don’t do much to change it. In fact, I would argue that they made it worse this generation by removing double battles outside of the 6th gym. Each turn, you and your opponent pick a move, whoever has the higher speed gets to go first, you have the type match ups to memorize, etc.
I will give them credit for this generation’s new battle gimmick however. In generation six, you had mega evolution, generation seven had z-moves and generation eight had dynamax/gigantamax. In this generation, you have tera-types. You can change the type of any pokemon to any other type (they also get an extremely derpy crown to wear). Out of the four battle gimmicks so far, this is my second favorite behind mega evolution.
Battle System = 7 / 10
Like the battle system, the graphics feel very average. If you compare the graphics of Pokemon Violet with other open world games, I would argue that Pokemon Violet falls below average. The only reason it remains an average score for me is that it is a step forward from their usual formula. However, a part of me wishes they would go back to the top down formula of generations three, four, and five.
I don’t think a monster game needs the same graphics as, let’s say, The Legend of Zelda to succeed. If having better graphics means the other facets of the game suffer like the number of Pokemon or lazy designs, then I’d rather go back to the two dimensional formulas of generations three through five. I can go on, but it would feel like I’m beating a dead Ponyta.
Graphics = 5 / 10
Now I have to admit, Pokemon did add a brand new, revolutionary mechanic that has never been seen before! This new minigame will revolutionize the monster tamer franchise! Other monster games must include this new feature, otherwise they will never hope to come close to what Pokemon is able to create! What is this revolutionary mechanic you ask? You can make a ham sandwich! You read that right! Want to pull out a picnic and play a poorly designed, extremely glitchy, amazingly lazy mini game? Make a corn tortilla, herbed sausage, salt and pepper sandwich! Or maybe a peanut butter, jelly, and pickle sandwich is more your style?
Sarcasm aside, I firmly believe whoever thought that a sandwich making mini game was better than, I don’t know, adding 50 more Pokemon or some form of battle frontier was a good thing should be fired immediately. Harsh, but I genuinely feel that way about this. Only reason why this score isn’t even lower is because the other mechanics compensate for this horrible mini game.
One such mechanic is Koraidon/Miraidon riding. It feels so awesome being able to pull out your legendary Pokemon and ride it like a motorcycle or climb up steep cliffs (although the gliding mechanic falls flat compared to Legends Arceus). For the raid mechanic, they took what generation 8 did and perfected it. Then, while the levels don’t scale, you can challenge any of the bosses in any order. Wanna battle the 8th gym first? You can do it! You will probably get wrecked, but at least you can do it!
Mechanics = 5 / 10
All in all, while I view this game to be better than the previous generation (Sword and Shield), it feels like Pokemon took two steps back in certain areas to implement the open world concept. There is no national Pokedex like in generation 8, there isn’t some form of battle facility in the post game like the battle tower or battle frontier from previous installments, and they did not add any other battle gimmicks.
While I understand some of Scarlet and Violet’s issues are probably due to the almighty dollar that most companies chase, I do not view that as a valid excuse. Pokemon is the most popular monster tamer franchise in the world. They are the formula that all other monster tamers will be judged upon whether monster hunter fans like it or not. As much money as they make, I do not think there is an argument to defend how glitchy this game was when it first came out, why there is no national pokedex, or why they removed fantastic mechanics from previous games.
All things considered, it feels as though the Pokemon company keeps slapping their fan base in the face each time a new game is released, and Scarlet and Violet are no different.
Final Score: 6 / 10
About the Author
Ventornado is a Rumble streamer, Twitch Affiliate, co-host of The Rising Storm Podcast, and long time fan of the monster tamer genre of video games.
This article (Pokemon Scarlet and Violet Review – The Legendary Ham Sandwich) originally appeared at Phillip Schneider and may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author credit, and this copyright statement.