'Pokémon Scarlet,' 'Pokémon Violet' release with performance problems, mixed reviews

On Friday, Nov. 18, “Pokémon Scarlet” and “Pokémon Violet” made their debut on Nintendo Switch. Developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo and The Pokémon Company, reviews of Gen IX of the series has been generally favorable, though many fans criticize certain aspects of the game. The games currently have a score of 77 on review aggregator Metacritic, based on 44 critic reviews. The last Pokémon game to score this low was Pokémon Emerald in 2005, which has a score of 76 on Metacritic.

“Scarlet” and “Violet” are the first open-world mainline games in the Pokémon franchise, and many reviews say that this as a step in the right direction for the series. However, many reviews cite problems with graphics and overall performance on the Nintendo Switch.

Centro Pokémon, a Twitter account known for leaking details about Pokémon games before their release, noted that many of the performance issues may be due to a memory leak, and resetting the game tends to increase performance. A memory leak is when a program does not release memory when it is no longer needed. This reduces the performance of the console; in this case, the graphics and performance of the game are heavily affected.

Some social media users have shared problems they encountered. Twitter user @Cherrim shared a video of them catching a Psyduck in which the frame rate greatly stutters and some of the background elements pop in and out of existence. A Reddit user shared a video in r/pokemon that had similar problems with the title “This is unacceptable.”

Another video on the r/pokemon subreddit showed a multiplayer problem in “Scarlet” and “Violet”: Another player’s model on the poster’s screen suddenly elongates into grotesque-looking nightmare fuel. Safe to say they didn’t find that one during bug testing.

Another point of controversy that has been following Pokémon for the last few years is “Dexit.” With the release of “Scarlet” and “Violet,” there is now a total of 1,010 unique Pokémon species. Generation XI introduced 105 new Pokémon, the most since Generation V in 2010. However, these games only feature the ability to collect 400 of the 1,010 total Pokémon. This was similar to “Pokémon Sword” and “Pokémon Shield,” who only featured 400 Pokémon at launch as well.

On the official Pokémon website, players can provide feedback on the company’s recent releases. Many players have submitted tickets to voice their dissatisfaction with these games.

Despite the problems present at the games’ launch, “Scarlet” and “Violet” have had the highest pre-orders in the series’ history according to Japanese news outlet Oricon. The outlet reported that the games should take a first-time Pokémon player about 60 hours to finish the game, while it may take a returning player about 30 to 40 hours.

Unlike previous games in the franchise, “Pokémon Scarlet” and “Pokémon Violet” present three different stories for the player to complete in any order they would like. Additionally, the gym challenge is open-ended, meaning players can complete the gyms in any order they prefer, which differs from the fairly linear progression of previous entries.

At this point, it’s fairly hard for Game Freak to make any excuses about how poor some of their recent “Pokémon” exploits have been. To me, Generation VII was the start of the end (though I may have a bit too much nostalgia for Generation VI, so many others will say that was the start of the end.) “Pokémon Sun” and “Pokémon Moon” lacked good animations and had poor resolution (though it was fairly limited by hardware). “Sword” and “Shield” felt lazy at times and lacking at others. “Scarlet” and “Violet” are just another disappointment in the recent mainline “Pokémon” series. It is seriously time for Game Freak to step up their game and focus on delivering a game that is actually solid, not just mediocre.

As a side note, if you are interested in “shiny hunting” (the term for specifically seeking a rare coloration of a Pokémon), a data miner has also managed to get ahold of the shiny rates for “Scarlet” and “Violet.” Shiny Pokémon are generated based on how many “shiny rolls” the player has. The more rolls, the more likely the player is to encounter a shiny. To calculate the odds, take the number of shiny rolls and divide by 4,096. Pokémon from static encounters, NPC trades, and NPC cannot be shiny.

From Generation VI onward, the base shiny rate is 16/65,536, or 1/4,096. If you have cleared 30-59 Pokémon from an outbreak, you get an additional shiny roll (1/2,048), and if you have cleared 60 or more, then you get two additional shiny rolls (~1/1,366). Getting the Shiny Charm gives two extra rolls, while getting a “Shiny Power” from eating sandwiches will give the player extra rolls based on the bonus’ level (one for level one, etc.). The “Masuda Method” will give the player six extra rolls. The Masuda Method involves breeding two Pokémon from different real-world regions; the egg the two Pokémon produce will have the extra shiny rolls.