The best in years

New Pokémon game becomes very innovative


Photo courtesy of GameFreak / Nintendo

“Pokémon Scarlet” and “Pokémon Violet” already sold over 10 million copies in the first three days of the game launching. This was not just the largest launch for a Pokémon game, not just the biggest launch for a Nintendo game, but the biggest launch for any console exclusive game ever.

Jacob Hargens, Staff Reporter

It’s been almost 25 years since the first Pokémon games, “Red” and “Blue,” were released in the United States. Ever since then, about every three or four years, a new “generation” of Pokémon games would be released. On Nov. 18, 2022, the ninth generation would be released with “Pokémon Scarlet” and “Pokémon Violet.”

The biggest thing that stands out with “Scarlet” and “Violet” is the open world element to the game. This was tested in “Pokémon Legends: Arceus” released earlier this year having multiple smaller areas. However, in “Scarlet” and “Violet,” the entire Paldea region (which is based off of Spain) is fully explorable after about an hour of gameplay.

[Spoilers ahead]

Once you pick your starter, from the choices of Sprigatito (grass type), Fuecoco (fire type), or Quaxly (water type), you find a large Pokémon that has crashed onto a beach. It has become very weak and unable to battle. When you find it, it tries to run away but eventually protects you after you follow it into a cave. This Pokémon turns out to be Koraidon in “Pokémon Scarlet” and Miraidon in “Pokémon Violet.” When I first found out that we would be having a legendary Pokémon, which is normally reserved for the end of the game, I was shocked, confused, but very open to a change.

Your neighbor and new classmate, Nemona, helps you get to school, as your character is a new student at the academy, as you just moved to the Paldea region. I thought the school aspect of the game was the weakest part as all the classes you take are just three-minute sessions of dialogue, which gets very boring. After I finished that part of the game, I never went back to school. However, Director Clavell explains how all the students, including you, will be participating in a “Treasure Hunt.” It’s your mission to find your own treasure and hunt it. This leads into three different stories that you can do at the same time. 

Nemona wants you to challenge the Pokémon League, battling eight gym leaders, and then the Elite Four. Another student, Arven, wants you to help him track down the five Titan Pokémon. While you’re deciding between these you run into a student, Penny, being bullied by ex-students of the Academy, who go by the name of Team Star. It turns out that different people have five different bases throughout the region. Someone hacks your phone and goes by the name of Cassiopeia and asks if you can infiltrate these bases and stop Team Star.

I really like the concept of having three different story routes, and I really like that you don’t just have to pick one. In older Pokémon games, the main story is you fighting gym leaders as well as an evil team and that’s it. If you want to do all three routes, you can. I would do whatever was around me, so there would be times when I would fight a gym leader, then go to a Team Star base, then fight a Titan Pokémon. It’s such a breath of fresh air from the regular formula of Pokémon.


The Pokémon League story has you fighting different “Gym Leaders.” They first give you a “Gym Challenge,” then you fight the “Gym Leader,” each specializing in a different type such as Bug or Electric. I really liked a lot of these “Gym Leaders” such as Brassius and Larry. Eventually, you will fight the “Elite Four” who also specialize in different types. These are much harder battles and at the end, you’ll fight the top champion, Geeta, to become a champion yourself. It’s the same formula for gyms as it has been in all previous Pokémon games, so there’s not much new. 

In all past Pokémon games, there is always an evil team. In “Scarlet” and “Violet,” the team is Team Star, ex-students of the Academy who were bullied so much that they no longer attend. A person named Cassiopeia asks if you can take them all down. Another man named Clive also helps you out, but in person. Once you infiltrate the bases and beat all the leaders in a Pokémon battle, they give you a “Star Badge” and abandon their base.

After all five are abandoned, it turns out that Cassiopeia is actually the boss of all of them and is the one who started Team Star. It also turns out that Cassiopeia is Penny who was also bullied in the academy. She wanted you to take down her own team because she learned what she was doing was wrong and now everyone is back at the academy. Clive also turns out to be Director Clavell in a disguise, he wants to know why everyone wanted to be in Team Star, and changes the operations at the Academy, so there is less bullying. I thought this was a great spin on evil teams, since normally they’re all grown people trying to control Legendary Pokémon, this is a lot simpler, but that’s not a bad thing.

Finally, the purely new route is fighting the five Titan Pokémon. Arven wants to fight these Pokémon and also find the special Herbal Mysterica that will hopefully heal his long-time partner Pokémon, Mabostiff. Not only does Mabostiff get better, but Koraidon or Miraidon also get better, allowing you to unlock new abilities, such as being able to ride them on water and being able to glide. The professor of the region, Sada in “Scarlet,” and Turo in “Violet,” also helps you learn the full abilities of your legendary. This was a very fun route and I got to see these new Pokémon earlier than when I could catch them, which made it very challenging since I didn’t know what types they were weak to.

Once all these stories are done, Arven wants to take you to the middle of the Paldea region, “Area Zero.” He needs to find others for this mission and you recommend Nemona and Penny. I thought this was super cool bringing everyone together for the ending of the game. When you get into “Area Zero,” it turns out that there are Pokémon that look similar to others. These are known as Paradox Pokémon. In “Scarlet,” they are past versions, and in “Violet,” they are future versions. This is a super cool concept, but they have weird names, such as Scream Tail and Iron Treads, unlike regular names that Pokémon get, which does help distinguish them.

Arven mostly wants to go to Area Zero since he knows that Sada or Turo is down there. They’re also his parents that he never sees, since they’re always so involved with their work. Once we finally see them, they turn out to be robots who have replaced them since they died time traveling, which is how they brought these Pokémon from different times to Paldea. You fight their team of Pokémon after shutting down the time machine. They bring out their own Koridon or Miradion which finally lets you use your own in battle for the first time. That’s how the game ends and to me this is the coolest ending to a Pokémon game ever. Normally they just end after the Pokémon League but this was such a breath of fresh air.

While I found 90 percent of the game to be very innovative, refreshing and for sure one of my new favorite Pokémon games, there is one big issue, and that’s the performance. At the minimum, most “Nintendo Switch” games run at 30 fps, this game however, never hits that speed when exploring the open world. This becomes super jarring and something I had to get used to since everything else about the game was awesome, so I hope it gets fixed.