Pokémon Scarlet and Violet arrived rather less than half-baked and buggier than any of the franchise’s earlier mainline entries. However for all the glitches, body fee dropping, and straight-up crashes that plagued gamers as they first started exploring the Paldea Area, the promise of latest DLC content material gave many hope that the video games would get some much-needed polish in due time.
The Hidden Treasures of Space Zero: The Teal Masks — this era’s first DLC drop — delivered on that promise to a sure extent with its streamlined story and barely completely different strategy to presenting new places within the bigger Pokémon world. And that was much more true of The Hidden Treasures of Zero’s second chapter — The Indigo Disk — which established plenty of promising connections between Paldea and Pokémon Black and White’s Unova Area.
In small but important methods, each halves of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet’s DLC made the video games as a complete really feel nearer to the completed product Nintendo and Recreation Freak in all probability needed to steer with. However neither The Teal Masks nor The Indigo Disk ever actually delivered by way of fixing the issues that felt basically damaged about this era of core Pokémon titles, and the identical goes for Scarlet and Violet’s newly launched epilogue, Mochi Mayhem.
After years of the Pokémon video games and anime making it seem to be going to highschool was non-obligatory for younger trainers, Scarlet and Violet turned getting an schooling into one of many key elements of 1’s path to turning into a real Champion. In contrast to the smaller faculties that appeared in older video games, Scarlet and Violet’s Naranja and Uva Academies have been seemingly large locations the place college students have been meant to fulfill new buddies and monsters as a part of a nontraditional academic expertise constructed round exploring the surface world.
Given how nicely video games like Fireplace Emblem: Three Homes and Persona 5 integrated scholar life into each their narratives and recreation play, it appeared like Recreation Freak needed to do one thing comparable with Scarlet and Violet when the video games have been first launched. Regardless of that seemingly being the intention, although, what grew to become clear as gamers started matriculating at Naranja / Uva was that whereas the faculties may need seemed considerably spectacular from the surface, on the within, they have been reasonably lifeless locations stuffed with stiff NPCs, and menus (reasonably than explorable hallways) guiding you to a handful of school rooms.
As a result of Scarlet and Violet put a lot emphasis on sending college students out into the Paldean wilderness for his or her huge Treasure Hunts, the video games’ give attention to faculty ended up feeling sort of like an afterthought on account of how inconsistently the college itself, its academics, and its basic scholar physique factored in to the core story. By supplying you with the power to tackle fitness center leaders, and progress by way of the core tales in primarily whichever order you needed, Scarlet and Violet’s most important recreation additionally made it straightforward for character particulars and narrative beats to get misplaced within the combine. That made it very troublesome to grow to be hooked up to or invested in individuals like Nemona, Arven, and Penny, who’re imagined to be your new greatest buddies.
However by narrowing its scope to a fateful faculty journey outdoors of Paldea, and holding its story centered totally on one particular journey revolving round legendary pokémon, The Teal Masks was capable of give us a promising style of how way more compelling Scarlet and Violet might be with a bit extra restraint and refinement. The identical might be stated of The Indigo Disk, which transported gamers to the Unova Area’s Blueberry Academy, a floating faculty out in the midst of the ocean the place you’re reunited with Kieran and Carmine, the brother / sister duo first launched in The Teal Masks.
Regardless of it largely being each bit as structurally easy as Naranja / Uva, the way in which Blueberry Academy and its underwater, multiclimate terrarium full of untamed pokémon have been laid out made them infinitely extra fascinating locations to discover.
After months of getting to determine how Paldea’s sandwiches labored, it was superb to have the ability to simply order up a plate of meals assured to make shiny looking simpler for a short while. Somewhat than exchanging actual cash or league factors for pokéballs and potions, issues might solely be purchased with Blueberry Factors earned by finishing small (at occasions repetitive) duties designed to get you out into the Terrarium batting and catching as many monsters as you may.
Following the introduction of the Terastallization mechanic — which made it potential for pokémon to alter their varieties mid-battle by placing on gaudy hats — the return of double battles, and the inclusion of a brand new Elite 4 have been welcome surprises that bolstered Blueberry Academy’s give attention to battle technique. And for people who have been extra taken with issues like simply vibing with pokémon in nature, or moving into some playing, The Indigo Disk delivered by supplying you with a solution to play from the angle of your favourite pokemon, lastly enabling your legendary journey pokémon to correctly fly, and debuting a gacha mechanic that put the franchise’s previous Recreation Nook slot machines to disgrace.
A few of The Indigo Disk’s extra buzzed-about updates, just like the newly launched Stellar Tera sort, wound up feeling like they have been meant to attraction extra to hardcore aggressive gamers than anybody else. However most of the DLC’s smaller options — like making it potential to acquire a number of Grasp Balls, new types of throwing pokéballs, and extra clothes choices — all felt just like the product of Recreation Freak attempting to make Pokémon Scarlet and Violet the sort of video games that folks may wish to really hand around in.
Although it didn’t have any bearing on how the video games play, The Indigo Disk being set in Unova was thrilling due to the way in which it advised Nintendo could be eyeing Black and White remakes for both the Change or its successor. Submit-Sensible Diamond and Shining Pearl, the phrases “Pokémon remake” haven’t all the time sparked pleasure. However between the surprisingly pleasant Pokémon Legends: Arceus and the way in which Scarlet and Violet featured pokémon from the traditional previous and distant future, it’s been straightforward to think about Nintendo taking a extra impressed strategy to the way in which it revisits parts from older video games.
With each The Teal Masks and The Indigo Disk, it typically appeared like Pokémon Scarlet and Violet have been attempting to maintain gamers fascinated by the longer term and what’s coming subsequent — partially for the sake of hype. That stated, it additionally felt as if these teases about what could be coming subsequent have been meant to maintain you from specializing in the video games’ still-persistent technical points, and the way they weren’t being ironed out.
Sadly, Scarlet and Violet’s epilogue — which is barely accessible when you’ve purchased the DLC — doesn’t come by the use of a patch that lastly places an finish to all the stuttering animation that’s plagued this era from launch. As an alternative, Mochi Mayhem merely sends you again to The Teal Masks’s Kitakami area for a goofy and creepy mini-adventure that’s much less about catching uncommon monsters and extra about illustrating how a lot of a social butterfly your character’s grow to be.
It’s admirable how Mochi Mayhem makes an attempt to neatly wrap up Scarlet and Violet’s many narrative threads with a narrative that brings your buddies from Naranja / Uva and Blueberry Academy collectively for the very first time. Coupled with the legendary pokémon featured in The Teal Masks, the legendary creature spotlighted in Mochi Mayhem makes for a much more fascinating piece of lore than the treasure-specific myths from Scarlet and Violet’s core recreation.
There’s a nice tidiness to the way in which The Teal Masks, The Indigo Disk, and Mochi Mayhem feed into each other and provide the sense that your character’s an individual who has been out having the sorts of adventures that change the way in which you see the world, and the way individuals see you. However in the identical method that tidiness makes particular character arcs like Kieran’s really feel nicely thought out, it additionally in the end makes Scarlet and Violet really feel unfinished in a method that’s distinct from how they arrived.
It was good when it nonetheless appeared potential that perhaps, simply perhaps Nintendo may come by way of in the long run with a bunch of fixes that in some way remodeled Scarlet and Violet into the expansive, thrilling open worlds that followers have all the time needed to dive into. Mochi Mayhem is decidedly not the reply to these prayers, and that’s simply going to should be okay.