The latest entry in the Pokemon series is right around the corner, and there are a lot of details to go around. Sword and Shield got a mixed reaction from fans and critics, with issues ranging from visual fidelity, Pokedex, linearity, story, and more.
This has led to some skepticism about the upcoming releases of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, and so far, there are some things supporting this skepticism and some that may assuage worries. So to help you if you’re on the fence, we’re gonna look at everything that we know about Scarlet and Violet so far.
The release date and pricing
The gap between Pokemon Scarlet and Violet’s reveal and their forthcoming release was rather small. People were also somewhat surprised by the fact that we were getting three Pokemon games in the span of approximately one year, with Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl, Legends Arceus, and now we’re moving into generation 9.
Scarlet and Violet were first revealed in February 2022, with a vague release date of late 2022. We didn’t get much info beyond that, with the emphasis being clues on its regional inspiration and the starter Pokemon. It wasn’t until the second trailer in August 2022, however, that we saw the actual meat and potatoes of Scarlet and Violet, including a release date: November 18, 2022, which is still the release date as of this video.
Much like Pokemon Sword and Shield, Scarlet and Violet are each slated to be sold for $59.99 on both the Switch’s eShop and retail. You can also purchase them as a double pack, though there is no cost savings involved. It’s technically more expensive by a penny than if you bought them separately! It’s mainly for the sake of collecting, though these bundles have rarely, if ever, been particularly interesting.
As of now, we don’t know exactly how many Pokemon there will be in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, though judging by the last few entries, under 100 is a pretty reasonable guess. We have seen a small sampling of Pokemon returning from each of the eight previous generations, and it remains to be seen whether all Pokemon from previous generations return. After all, Sword and Shield started out with less than half of the Pokedex available. However, they may opt to use assets from Sword and Shield to allow them to return more Pokemon.
As of the writing of this video, there appear to be 181 returning Pokemon and 16 new Pokemon, though that list will grow in time as they reveal new Pokemon.
After what I consider a pretty middling set of starting Pokemon in Pokemon Sword and Shield, I’m quite happy with what they did with these games’ starters. Like all previous entries, the starter Pokemon are Grass, Fire, and Water types. The Grass type is a cat Pokemon named Sprigatito, the Fire type is a lizard named Fuecoco, and the Water type is a duck named Quaxly. None of these Pokemon have had their second or third forms revealed yet.
Legendary Pokemon have been a mainstay of Pokemon games from the very beginning, and the ninth generation is no exception. Here, we are given Koraidon, a Pokemon that looks like a cross between a motorcycle and a dinosaur, and Miraidon, which resembles a futuristic motorcycle. Neither’s type is verified, though we expect that both may be a cross between Dragon and another type.
Both of these Pokemon are capable of being ridden, and can traverse ground, sea, and air. Koraidon has received its fair share of mockery, mainly due to the fact that it is not actually a functioning motorcycle, and instead has traits that make it look like a motorcycle. Meanwhile, Miraidon actually operates as its own motorcycle.
Other New Pokemon
As far as regular new Pokemon go, there have been a handful revealed thus far.
- First off is Lechonk, a Normal-type Pokemon obviously based on a pig. The name appears to be a mix of ‘Lechon’ (Spanish for suckling pig) and ‘chonk’, a terminology meaning cutely chubby.
- Next, we have Smoliv, a Grass/Normal Pokemon, a cute Pokemon that looks like a distressed olive. So far my favorite new Pokemon.
- Pawmi is an Electric Pokemon, and feels like this game’s attempt at a Pikachu (except orange and chubby). I like it, although the hair poof is a bit too much for my tastes.
- Cetitan, an Ice-type Pokemon, is ugly, creepy, and scary, but in an entirely endearing way that’s perfect for my tastes. It seems to be based on multiple types of whales, including the narwhal, beluga, and bowhead.
- The Fairy-type Pokemon Fidough feels like they’re trying to do another Alcremie, even down to the typing. It’s a fun concept – a dog plus dough – but I feel like the color scheme is a little boring.
- I’ve always been a fan of Poison types, and the Poison/Normal Grafaiai is quite the interesting idea. Basically, the mixture of the aye-aye lemur (long fingers and all) and graffiti (represented by its poison-coated fingers). I just wish the eyes were different.
- Crabs and lobsters are surprisingly common inspirations for Pokemon, with more than 10 in existence. Scarlet and Violet introduce Klawf, which, unlike the original crab Pokemon Krabby, is pure Rock instead of pure Water. It’s an interesting take on crab Pokemon at the very least.
- These next two Pokemon are something of a duo. The first is Armarouge, a Fire/Psychic Pokemon, and the second is Ceruledge, a Fire/Ghost Pokemon. As you can see, the two things that distinguish them are Ceruledge’s swords and their colors. I’m a bigger fan of Ceruledge myself, but they’re both solid designs.
- Wiglett – not to be confused with Diglett – is a pure Water type, and is similarly a noodly appendage. The fact that it can grow rather tall makes it a more interesting design, though honestly, the animation of the ground around Wiglett certainly feels a little underwhelming.
- Finally, we have Cyclizar – the Dragon/Normal Pokemon. This Pokemon is interesting, as it appears to have some connection to the legendary Pokemon, though what that connection is has not been confirmed yet. The simple speculation is to say that it’s probably an earlier evolution of Koraidon and Miraidon, but who knows?
Alternate regional forms
Ever since Pokemon Sun and Moon, each new Pokemon generation (including Pokemon Legends: Arceus) has had a set of returning Pokemon that are different than they used to be. These differences are multi-faceted, ranging from design, type, ability, moves, and even sometimes having different evolutions.
As of this video, there has been only one Paldean form, and that’s Wooper. Wooper, which was originally Water/Ground, is now Poison/Ground. The idea is that their ecosystem changed so much that they were forced to adapt, changing their type as a result. Whether we will get Paldean Quagsire or a new evolution altogether is anyone’s guess.
The version differences
Arguably, the justification for even buying separate Pokemon versions is diminished due to the fact that Pokemon can be easily traded due to online play. However, it is still a major factor, and to make up for the ease of access making them more similar than ever, they have begun to add more differences. Sword and Shield, for example, had Bea and Gordie as exclusive gym leaders in Sword, and Allister and Melony in Shield.
Here, the character difference is your Professor and Academy. In Scarlet, you study under Professor Sada at the Naranja Academy, while Violet has you studying under Professor Turo at the Uva Academy. Sada has a more prehistoric vibe, while Turo’s vibe is more futuristic. So far, the only differences we can perceive are the professor, the uniform, and the academy aesthetic. Additionally, Naranja is based on an orange, and Uva is based on grapes.
- Armarouge (new Pokemon)
- Larvitar, Pupitar, and Tyranitar
- Ceruledge (new Pokemon)
- Bagon, Shellgon, and Salamence
These lists are expected to grow larger, with new Pokemon, old Pokemon, and Paldean Pokemon. On top of all these, each game also has its own cover legendary, a regular gimmick ever since Pokemon Gold and Silver. Scarlet has Koraidon, while Violet has Miraidon. I’m not the biggest fan of Koraidon, but still, I went with Scarlet because Sada is the much cooler Professor, and Koraidon is a pill I’m willing to swallow.
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet takes place in Paldea, a region based on the Iberian Peninsula. This peninsula includes Spain, Portugal, and Andorra, though Spain is the primary influencer. Even the fact that the player drives a motorcycle Pokemon in both versions appears to be based on the popularity of motorcycles and scooters in Europe (and Barcelona, Catalonia in particular).
In addition to the inspirations that go into Paldea, the region is designed to be an open world, a first for the Pokemon franchise. To accommodate this open-world nature, in addition to having ridable Pokemon, it is also structured in such a way that you do not have to do things in a strict order. Pokemon Red and Blue were not too strict about linearity – there were 60 different ways to go through the gyms! – you could beat the eight gym leaders, even! – and this is a huge return to form. You will be able to do the gyms in any order you like, though that may introduce some problems.
One of the major problems with this structure is the fact that the gyms do not actually scale to whatever level you are at. While the execution may prove me wrong, it feels like attempting to do the gyms in a certain order means that you would have to do a lot of grinding to be up to snuff for it. And if you do get strong enough to take it on, this means that everything afterward will be a cakewalk.
There is actually a lore-friendly way that you can do this too: just have it scaled to your badge count! This is actually what they do in the Pokemon Adventures manga, with it being established that the gym leaders have Pokemon at the ready depending on how experienced the trainer is. So if, for instance, a kid from Fuschia City wanted to fight Koga, Koga wouldn’t come at them with both barrels, so to speak.
New Gameplay Features
While Pokemon games are generally not exactly known for being innovative, they often introduce some interesting features.
Pokemon has always been an intrinsically multiplayer franchise, though not as part of the main game. You could go through the entire game without playing a second of multiplayer, but you would have to deal with an unfinished Pokedex. Ever since Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, online play has made trading and battling so much easier. Multiplayer is facilitated through something called the Poke Portal, which allows for trading with both random players and friends, as well as battling.
The real king when it comes to multiplayer, however, is the co-op gameplay, which allows up to four players to explore the open world together. I don’t expect it will be the full game, but that’s still a big step up from Sword and Shield, which just had random players appear in the Wild Area as NPCs. It remains to be seen how well they execute the multiplayer function, as multiplayer in Sword and Shield was somewhat… scuffed, for lack of a better word.
Let’s Go mode
Not to be mistaken with the Let’s Go games, this mode enables auto-battling, allowing your Pokemon to battle and collect items on their own. Similarly, you can either stand back and watch, or you can hunt for items yourself. This seems to be an expansion of concepts explored in Pokemon Legends: Arceus.
Terastal Phenomenon Pokemon
Pokemon has a penchant for introducing a gimmick or two with each new entry, and the latest trend has been transformations. We had Mega Evolutions in Pokemon X and Y, and Dynamax/Gigantamax with Pokemon Sword and Shield. Here, we have the Terastal Phenomenon Pokemon. To activate this transformation, you use a Tera Jewel, which causes a jewel to appear on the Pokemon’s head. This jewel’s design depends on what the Pokemon’s Tera Type is. Additionally, their body will glisten like a jewel.
Upon Terastallizing, the Pokemon becomes more powerful, gains a different type, and gains new moves as well. For example, if Pikachu Terastallizes, it gains the Flying Tera Type (represented by balloons). Pikachu also loses its Electric type while in this form. The co-op mode actually comes into play here, as you can do things called Tera Raid battles. In these battles, you attempt to defeat a Terastal Pokemon within a time limit in order to catch it.
As someone who feels like the story tends to be too omnipresent and rigid in Pokemon, especially lately, Scarlet and Violet have me feeling cautiously optimistic. The story is designed to be told in a non-linear fashion, allowing you to experience it how you want it, at least in theory.
The details of the story in Scarlet and Violet have yet to be fully fleshed out, but what we do know is that it is not just one story this time around. Instead, we have three different stories we can choose to explore. The main story is the Pokemon League Championship, which any Pokemon fan should be familiar with. Fight eight gym leaders, the Elite Four, and finally, the current Champion. So far, we only know two of the gym leaders – the Ice-type leader Grusha (who has developed quite a following) and the Grass-type leader Brassius.
Additionally, you have a rival character who you interact with on your journey named Nemona. She is more experienced than you, and often serves as a guiding figure throughout the story.
The second story is your traditional battle against the forces of evil, fighting against the new team, Team Star. It’s an interesting execution, as it is formed by delinquent students who have created type-themed factions as a form of rebellion.
Finally, the third story is called Path of Legends. We don’t know too much about it yet – basically, you are sent to find something called the Herb Mystica, and need to battle legendary Pokemon to accomplish this. Additionally, giant-sized versions of Pokemon will appear, which may be similar to those of Pokemon Legends: Arceus’ Alpha Pokemon.
The stories don’t appear to be all that different from previous Pokemon entries, though the big hook seems to be that it is not so rigid. This was a big problem with Sword and Shield, and one I’ll not soon miss.
There are still many details about Pokemon Scarlet and Violet that have yet to be revealed, including some rumors of information that have yet to be substantiated. Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are approaching quickly, and they’ll be in my hands come November 18th. Be sure to subscribe so you can check out my review when it’s posted!
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