Nintendo and Game Freak are back with another installment of Pokémon, and The Washington Post was able to try it out and form impressions. “Pokémon Scarlet” and “Pokémon Violet,” released on Nov. 18, demonstrate that the developers are listening to fans — at least a little more than they have in the past. The titles add fun, creative elements to shake up the classic, repetitive formula of battling and catching Pokémon on the road from gym to gym.
To test out how monstrous these sandwiches can get, I tried to make one with pickles, avocado, whipped cream, cream cheese, bacon, ham and a potato tortilla. After selecting the custom ingredients, the next challenge is to balance them all on the plate on a slice of bread in a mini-game reminiscent of Cooking Mama titles. My tortilla fell off the plate, which meant my Pokémon lost their chance to eat it, but they still got to enjoy plenty of whipped cream and bacon.
During the preview, my team consisted of the new Pokémon Wiglett, Armarouge, Cetitan and Bellibolt, and a classic Psyduck. I accidentally made my Nintendo representative laugh when I asked if I needed to keep Wiglett in my party.
“Wiglett is the main character, right?”
“No, he’s not,” he responded adamantly. “He’s not the main character.”
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Game Freak has a much more positive spin on Pokémon rivals in this latest installment. One of the few female rivals in a Pokémon game, Nemona, who has an edgy green streak in her hair, is more the sassy sidekick who encourages you and gives you potions rather than a rival who hounds you at every town, begging for a challenge. It’s an interesting change in dynamic because now, instead of feeling bad for crushing “Sword” and “Shield’s” Hawk at every town and wondering why he can’t seem to learn Pokémon types, “Scarlet” and “Violet” seem to be advocating for more positivity and camaraderie.
“Scarlet” and “Violet” do a good job of keeping fans entertained with creative elements and minigames. Before challenging the gym leader, you must do some small tasks at every gym, such as rescuing ten Sunflora.
Characters can be customized with various hairstyles, hair and eye colors that feel like Pokémon took a page out of K-pop styles and anime. I gave my character light pink hair and stylish eyes.
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Fighting animations still look pretty standard, though I didn’t have a chance to see if a basic kick move still looks like a foot, something fans laughed at and memed with “Sword” and “Shield.” One of the bosses, Mela, wears large red boots that can’t bend at the knee, so she walks with a funky and hilarious-looking animation.
Still, even though “Scarlet” and “Violet” definitely feel fresh and new in some ways, in others, they run into the limitations mainline Pokémon titles have struggled with before.
Local multiplayer battles are still clunky in the way some multiplayer experiences on Nintendo can be. After connecting all the devices and starting the battle — which can take a few minutes to load — the battle lasted about as long. Another player’s Pokémon destroyed the terastallized opponent so quickly that I had only managed to cheer them on and spam some quick attacks. I found that I was essentially useless, that the raid was over and that I had already been returned to my single-player experience before I knew it.
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And unlike in “Pokémon Legends: Arceus,” you can’t sneak up on Pokémon, throw a Poké Ball and catch them seamlessly. Sneaking up on Pokémon still catches them by surprise, but it triggers a turn-based fight, similar to previous mainline Pokémon games. You can, however, spam the R button to send Pokémon out to battle each other automatically as a shortcut to sitting through full battles.
For the most part, Game Freak seems to have received feedback about what fans liked from previous titles and what they want more of in new games. “Scarlet” and “Violet” feel like the developers are going in the direction that fans want: More open-world exploration, more multiplayer experiences, more capitalizing on the battling system and more interesting encounters with Pokémon.
John Ravenporton is a writer for many popular online publications. John is now our chief editor at DailyTechFeed. John specializes in Crypto, Software, Computer and Tech related articles.