Game Freak has revealed the latest trailer for their upcoming Switch-exclusive titles Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet. They’re the latest mainline entries in the long-running Nintendo RPG franchise, and they promise to bring a breath of fresh air to the series’ aging formula. Fans are excited to see the series return to the Switch, and many are hoping the games will be more original and fun than the uninspired 2019 outings, Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield.
Many fans criticized Sword and Shield, the eighth generation of the franchise, for being too familiar and unambitious with the series’ tried-and-true mechanics. The game’s rudimentary graphics, uninspired battle animations, and lackluster story all drew criticism from fans and reviewers alike. Game Freak’s latest Pokemon outing, which was subtitled Legends: Arceus, took some major leaps forward in terms of both presentation and gameplay, encouraging players to check out the upcoming Scarlet and Violet.
The latest trailer for the ninth generation games has shown off a few new Pokemon designs, including the legendary monsters that will adorn their covers. Also, the trailer has showcased some new gameplay features that look similar to Arceus’s new spin on the franchise. Here’s everything we know so far about the upcoming ninth generation of Pokemon!
While Sword and Shield seemed like unambitious ports of the 3DS era of Pokemon, Scarlet and Violet look like true successors to the aging franchise. They appear to use the same exploration and catching mechanics seen in Arceus, which means players can expect to chase monsters in real-time and throw Pokeballs at them using their manual dexterity, instead of relying on a few menu inputs to try to capture new creatures.
While Arceus did little to update the series’ battle mechanics, its new focus on exploration and seamless battling made it a unique entry in the RPG franchise. Players have been clamoring for a more modern Pokemon experience for years, with many fantasizing about the potential of an open-world entry in the series. From the trailers, it looks like Violet and Scarlet might finally deliver on the promise of that fantasy.
The player character in the teaser videos can be seen stalking Pokemon through tall grass, throwing Pokeballs at monsters who appear in the overworld, and battling against trainers they encounter in the wild. This has many players excited about the possibility of a revolutionary new entry in the ongoing Pokemon series.
The new, as yet unnamed, region in the ninth generation is loosely based on Spain and some Mediterranean countries. This is reinforced by the Southern European architecture seen in trailer footage, as well as interviews with Game Freak developers. Likewise, some of the previewed Pokemon seem to reference Spanish culture. For instance, a new olive-themed creature named Smoliv features prominently in the latest trailers. Spain is famous for its export of olive oil, as well as its use of olives in cuisine.
Another nod to Spanish culture comes from the fan-favorite new creature, Lechonk. Lechonk is a pig-themed Pokemon seemingly named for a pork dish called “lechon,” with the new creature’s name serving as a pun on the internet’s penchant for calling chubby animals “chonks”. So, this little piglet isn’t just any chonk–he’s the chonk. After all, what’s a Pokemon game without excellent puns?
The new region’s idyllic landscapes will likely serve as an interesting setting for the ninth generation’s central conflict, modernity versus antiquity. Europe is as much defined by its ancient cultures and architecture as it is by its recent embrace of futuristic technology to create a more sustainable society for future generations.
The trailer shows off two new legendary Pokemon, the cover-adorning Koraidon and Miraidon. Typically, legendary Pokemon appear late in the games’ storylines, and only one of each can be captured in each save file. And, as you’d expect from their “legendary” designation, these monsters are remarkably powerful. A single legendary can usually steamroll a full team of “lesser” Pokemon in the hands of an adept trainer.
Koraidon will appear in Scarlet, while Miraidon will be the featured legendary in Violet. If you’re a bit confused, it works like this. Nintendo always releases two versions of its mainline Pokemon titles, splitting the roster of collectible monsters between both entries. This encourages completionists to either trade monsters with their friends, or simply purchase both versions of the game to see everything they have to offer.
This time around, the two legendaries are based on the themes of antiquity and modernity, tradition versus technology. Koraidon looks like an ancient dragon, while Miraidon is so high-tech that he has engines for legs. In previous outings, the legendary Pokemon have stood for competing concepts like time and space, as in the case of Palkia and Dialga from Diamond and Pearl, or truth and ideals, embodied by Reshirom and Zekrom in Black and White.
This time around, there seem to be more version differences than in a typical Pokemon generation. For one thing, there are now two Pokemon professors, instead of one. Normally, each generation has a professor who introduces the player character to the world of Pokemon and gives them their starter critter before setting them on a grand adventure through the fantastical region.
This time around, players who get Scarlet will be greeted by Professor Sada, who appears to have an ancient style of wardrobe. To put it bluntly, she looks like a cavewoman. Meanwhile, players who pick up Violet will meet Professor Turo, a futuristic-looking man who bears a striking resemblance to a meme-able handsome man.
There’s that antiquity versus modernity theme again! It seems like the core conflict in this generation will be a major aesthetic driving force in the differences between Scarlet and Violet. Indecisive players might find themselves unable to pick between the two and could just end up buying both so they don’t miss any story wrinkles or unique NPCs.
Game Freak confirmed that this game will allow players to tackle the story in any order they choose, a first for the Pokemon series’ mainline games. There aren’t any details (yet!) on what this will mean for the tried-and-true gameplay loop of battling gym leaders to advance through the ranks and eventually battle the Elite Four.
Some commentators have likened this approach to the expectation-defying open-world formula of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. In that title, players are able to experience the game’s content in any order they choose. If they want, players can even ignore the four main dungeons and the suggested story path and instead stomp straight to the final boss. Of course, they’ll probably lose if they try that, but the option is there.
This is great news for players who have been clamoring for a more open-ended Pokemon experience, in any event. Now that technology has advanced enough to allow games like Breath of the Wild to exist, games like Pokemon don’t need to rely on limiting story structures to make their games feel like grand adventures through fantasy worlds.
Another often-requested feature will make its way to Scarlet and Violet. The latest trailer promises that players will be able to engage in four-player cooperative play, joining in the same overworld to adventure together through the new region. Details are scarce now, but we expect to learn more in the lead-up to the games’ releases.
The trailer shows four distinct player characters meeting up in a grassy region, each accompanied by their Pokemon companions. Like the previous outings, your favorite Pokemon pal can follow you around in the overworld, adding some much-needed vibrancy and charm to your adventures through the world.
Players hope that the entire game will be playable in co-op mode–including gym battles, storyline twists, and structured events like the Battle Tower. If these features are all available for up to four players to participate in simultaneously, this could be the most ambitious Pokemon title since Red and Blue burst onto the scene over 20 years ago.
Judging by the statements from Game Freak’s developers and the footage from the trailers, Scarlet and Violet are shaping up to be the most ambitious Pokemon games in decades. Fans have praised the new creature designs, the aesthetics of the new region, and the graphical quality the team has managed to achieve on the aging Nintendo Switch hardware.
To put it simply, Game Freak needed a home run this time. Sword and Shield sold plenty of copies, as all mainline Pokemon games will, but they suffered from negative word of mouth and middling reviews from games critics. Game Freak surely wanted to knock these games out of the park to silence the naysayers and recapture the critical adoration the Pokemon franchise has enjoyed since its first outings.
Scarlet and Violet will hit the Nintendo Switch on November 18, 2022. They’ll be the critical holiday releases for Nintendo, and likely the two biggest game releases of the year. After all, Bethesda has delayed the release of Starfall, and other big-name exclusives like Sony’s Spider-Man 2 won’t be out until 2023. It’s time for Nintendo to prove to the video game industry that it can still compete with Microsoft and Sony, even using the Switch’s five-year-old hardware and a kid-friendly approach to game design.