Pokémon: Scarlet and Violet Review – Worth a deep dive?

After a long wait (perhaps made more agonizing as leaks began to flow before the official release), Pokémon: Scarlet and Violet was released over the weekend. The ninth installment in the main franchise hit stores and digital downloads on November 18.

New Pokémon were released, new evolutions were added and new forms were gained. After spending an unhealthy amount in-game over the weekend, let’s drill down into how Scarlet and Violet feels and plays.

How well did The Pokémon Company and Game Freak do this time around?

Scarlet Violet Review

Pokémon: Scarlet and Violet Gameplay Reviewed

The gameplay is largely the same as it has been in previous Pokémon installments. Trainers explore their world and encounter creatures on their way whilst battling, trading, evolving and doing other classic Pokémon activities. The gameplay that has been consistent since Red and Blue is largely still here.

However, Game Freak made one key change. The theory that Pokémon Legends Arceus was a test run for Generation IX seems to have a little bit of credibility upon release. It was open-world, but Scarlet and Violet is even more open-world. In essence, if a player can see a location on their screen, it is possible to travel there.

This change follows up on the massive success of Legends Arceus, where trainers could wander around free of the restrictions that routes gave them in previous generations. In Scarlet and Violet, they’ve doubled down on that idea.

Borrowing from other games

They actually took a lot from the previous new release. Pokémon wander the world and aren’t hidden in dungeons, tall grass or other things. They inhabit the same spaces that trainers do.

Instead of looking like someone dropped a bag of Pokémon into an area, the spawns in Scarlet and Violet seem more genuine. The behavior makes more sense, too. It’s rather complex, where the activity of Pokémon was fairly simple in Legends Arceus. Game Freak took the idea from one game and implemented it here- with wildly successful results.

Shiny Hunting

Scarlet and Violet also features a key change that Arceus introduced- overworld shinies. Shiny hunting has become a very popular past time for trainers and finding them brings incredible joy. It was much harder to do it in previous generations though.

In Sword and Shield, and basically the entirety of the mainline timeline, trainers had to trigger an encounter to find a shiny. If they saw a wild Mareep, they’d have to enter a battle and see if the familiar stars flashed up and if the Pokémon had an unfamiliar texture.

In Arceus, and now in Scarlet and Violet, shinies would appear shiny before trainers interacted with them. It’s been an absolutely delightful change that allows one of the most unique and enjoyable experiences in the franchise to happen a little more often and with less frustration.

However, they refrained from copying the shiny system from Legends Arceus. In that game, the overworld shiny would display the shiny stars and play a noise notification when players got close enough. They could fly or run around and simply listen for the sound.


That’s not the case with Scarlet and Violet. In fact, nothing happens with a shiny until a full encounter (with battling and catching options) is triggered. There, players will know for sure if it’s a different color, but until then they might not.

This is especially frustrating for a brand new generation and for specific Pokémon. New Pokémon abound here, taking the running tally to over 1,000 unique creatures, and it’s unrealistic for players to know if they’re looking at a shiny for a brand new creature.

Additionally, for Pokémon like Pikachu, Starly, Sunkern and others that have only slightly altered textures, it can be so easy to miss a rare shiny.


However, the gameplay is not perfect. One change most of the Pokémon community wishes Game Freak had brought to Scarlet and Violet was the catch mechanics from Arceus.

Instead of entering a battle, fighting with a Pokémon and then throwing a ball at it, trainers could simply throw a ball at it from wherever they were.

This sped up the process immensely. Rather than stop everything to try and catch one by entering a battle and spending countless minutes catching one single creature, it was over much quicker- even if they jumped out of the ball.

It was a big change from previous generations, but a welcome one. It’s a shame Game Freak elected to ignore this one crucial gameplay mechanic.

Scarlet and Violet Graphics  & Storyline

No Nintendo Switch game, even The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, is going to have world-beating graphics. The games aren’t designed that way and the console itself can’t really handle that. It’s rather pointless to expect Elden Ring or God of War-level graphics for a Switch-only game.

With that being said, the world is bright and colorful. It’s excellently designed and doesn’t feel as barren as Legends Arceus did. As much as Pokémon games and Switch games get criticism for graphics, these are fairly good for what they can be.

The storyline here isn’t totally unique. There is a large portion of the game devoted to taking down gyms and becoming the region, in this case it’s Paldea, champion. That’s present here, which is excellent for fans of the franchise who disliked Arceus’ exploration in favor of battling decision.

However, there are two other main storylines. The Team Star storyline, which is effectively the Team Yell and Team Rocket storylines of previous generations, feels more in-depth than its predecessors do.

There’s also a research storyline that tasks players with learning about new Titan Pokémon. This too feels like a real, full storyline. The game has three full storylines, so there’s so much to do.

That’s great for a franchise that routinely puts out games with not a whole lot to do overall. They don’t take all that long to beat, so this will elongate the game’s shelf life.

Scarlet and Violet

Box Legendaries

All positives mentioned above are also negatives in a way. There’s so much to do and it’s all thrust upon trainers right away.

The game is bogged down at the beginning with exposition and learning about the game, which is another negative. Once that’s done, players are sent out into the sprawling open world and told to start on the three storylines. It can certainly feel very overwhelming, especially with so much area (both in storyline and physical world area) to cover.

Pokémon: Scarlet and Violet Technical Issues

The technical side is where this game really falters. There are issues galore. It has some serious, game-breaking glitches. Many trainers have reported that their entire game has crashed many times. It lags, too, which is disappointing for a brand new game that doesn’t really rely on the internet.

They released a day one patch and it didn’t do much to help. It’s still a mess. It’s a huge game, so these things aren’t surprising, but they should have been ironed out before release. There’s no reason a brand new game should run so poorly at times.



Despite the glaring technical issues, there is a lot to love here. The world is beautiful and massive. It’s a fantastic step for both the present and future of the franchise that only seems to grow.

The new Pokémon are great. Yes, it’s difficult to keep creating new ones without overlapping the old ones and they’ll eventually run out of ideas. However, these new additions are solid and fun. It won’t go down as one of the best generations in Pokémon history, but that’s fine.

At the beginning of the game, following the first battle with starter Pokémon, the headmaster of the school says:

“Yet no matter how much the times may change, the wonder of meeting new Pokémon never does. That is a truly timeless pleasure.”

That is as true as ever with Generation IX. There’s so much to love and such good additions to this iteration that the technical issues, which will almost assuredly be fixed at some point in the future, can be overlooked. Consider this an excellent, albeit imperfect, entry to the franchise.

The future is bright.

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