Pokemon Scarlet Review (Switch)

Do you really have to ask if I would rather go to school or become a Pokemon master?

Released: November 18, 2022
Available on: Switch
Genre: JRPG Creature Collector
Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Nintendo, The Pokémon Company

So I did not expect myself to be writing this. After Pokemon Sword and Shield, I decided that I wouldn’t be picking up Pokemon on, or around, release. I got burned and I wasn’t going to let it burn me again. So why am I here, with a review and a Pokemon Scarlet save file that is over 50 hours? Well, as I unveiled at the end of last year, I subscribed to Gamefly. I ended up locking in Pokemon Scarlet so I can still check it out without having to buy it (and feel guilty if I ended up dropping it). Plus, I was a bit iffy considering Pokemon Sword/Shield and I didn’t really like Pokemon Legends: Arceus (sorry, but it just seemed to be a lot of boring busy work). While I wasn’t that into Pokemon Scarlet starting out, it did end up clicking with me right before I was planning on sending it back. So, how’s Pokemon Scarlet and Violet?

In Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, we’re in the region of Paldea. As this is an open world Pokemon game, even more so than Sword/Shield, it looks like a different approach was taken. Instead of you starting your journey after getting your starter and a Pokedex from the Professor, you are instead attending an academy. Granted, this does start with you choosing your starter after Clavell, the academy’s director, visits your home. This is also where you meet Nemona, your battle obsessed rival who is already a Champion and also head of the student council. On your way to school, you end up meeting the box legendary Pokemon, Koraidon (or Moraidon). I would say that you helped it out, but it’s more like it helped you out and you decide to take it upon yourself to help it regain its strength back. And then Penny and Team Star, in which the latter tries to get the former to join up before you scare them off for her. Anyway, you attend a day of school (either only going to homeroom or choosing to take the other classes) before a timeskip happens and you’re set off into the world. Where you don’t have to come back to campus as it seems this academy’s main focus is an independent study where students need to find their “treasure”.

You can actually just not return to the academy for the rest of the game until the end when the game puts you there as you enter the post game. Honestly, I didn’t return. The only thing you can do is attend classes which were honestly boring, take exams to get a reward after exams, and talk to teachers to raise your bond with them and get a reward for maxing it out. I honestly don’t see that many people going back to the academy to do these things until post game where there’s not that much left to do. For an academy centered around Pokemon and becoming a good trainer, you’d think it would be more hands on. Imagine if Home Ec had you making sandwiches and giving you tips for getting certain meal powers and to not have everything topple at the very end. And then having midterms having you make a sandwich with specific meal powers. Sure, players can still mash through it and look up the answers, but doing it yourself will help cement these tips into the player’s mind.

There are three storylines for you to tackle here as you roam and explore the open world: Victory Road, Path of Legends, and Starfall Street. Putting 18 points of interest on your map for you to get to and do.

Of course, with the open world comes into question on how you traverse it and how it is. This game’s ride Pokemon are called Cyclizar which look like motorcycles but still run on their legs (I found it too silly even for Pokemon but that’s just me). However, you have the unique experience of instead riding out on your Koraidon/Moraidon. Still looks silly, but hey you look cooler. This lets you travel around faster and let you to jump around. The open world itself is empty though (and this includes cities). Pokemon do spawn in (even though some are too small too see while riding and you don’t get a battle cooldown so you don’t get automatically thrown into another battle), there are items to pick up from the ground, and there are trainers scattered around (though most only have one Pokemon and you have to talk to them to initiate battle), it just feels empty and there’s little to discover. I can see this mainly due to the short development time Pokemon games get, but it’s still disappointing for a $60 game.


With that out of the way, let’s get into the three storylines:

Victory Road is basically what we’ve been doing in the mainline games this whole time. Going around to beating all the Gym Leaders, challenging and beating the Elite Four, and beating the Champion. Though, our rival is an older girl named Nemona. She is annoying, plain and simple. She is actually already a Champion and basically she wants someone to battle as she pretty much traumatized the whole region (or that’s my headcanon anyway). Though she is way to pushy in getting you to be her rival and way too much into battling. Like girl, calm down. I also don’t think it helps that she already went through her arc, so it’s like why should I really care about Nemona. And it’s not like she gets better at not being pushy and calming down her love for battling as time goes on. I know people hated Hop in Pokemon Sword/Shield, but I honestly did like him and he goes through an arc and develops more throughout his game.

Thinking back, Nemona doesn’t feel like she popped up as much (even though she pops up like a stalker at every gym). I think I was mainly annoyed at her being too pushy with being your rival and too enthusiastic with battling. And especially so when you can’t say “No” to her (and like seriously what’s up with this game giving you a yes and no answer but not letting you answer no?). If you’re not going to give me a choice anyway, at least have this decide which starter she gets.

Anyway, talking about this generation’s gyms and gym leaders, they are honestly pretty forgettable. Not to mention their gym challenge that you have to do before battling the gym leader are mostly bad. There are standouts for sure, like Iono and funnily enough Larry, but this really cried for at least their building to be themed around both their character and the type they use. Personally, I also don’t think the Gym Leaders worked with the “open world, do everything in whatever order you want” aspect of this game as their Pokemon are set and you can easily challenge a gym leader later than you’re supposed to. For example in my playthrough, Katy is supposed to be the one you defeat first, but I ended up getting to her fourth causing her battle to be a walk in the park.

It also doesn’t help that you have to pass an interview to battle the Elite Four. In which you can’t answer that you want to challenge them for fun and you have to remember not only the gym leader’s name and type they used, but also the city they’re in. I could only remember a few gym leaders and I definitely don’t remember the names of the cities. I passed those questions without looking it up by luck.

Other than that, the Gym Leaders also take up the mantle for showing off this game’s gimmick: Terastallizing your Pokemon. Every Pokemon has an additional typing called their Tera Type which only comes into play when you Terastallize them. Terastallization basically covers your Pokemon in crystals and gives it a jewel hat based on what Tera Type it is. This not only changes your Pokemon’s type, but boosts its attacks (and even more so if it matches its Tera Type. And just like with Dynamaxing, the gym leaders (and other major battles) will Terastallize their last Pokemon.

You can Terastallize your Pokemon at any time, but you can only do it once before you have to recharge it at a Pokecenter. You do get a way to change a Pokemon’s Tera Type as well as find wild Tera Pokemon by it’s distinctive glow and do Tera Raids that are found in crystal formations (which give off a pillar of light and are shown on your map). Tera Raids are basically like Sword/Shield’s Max Raid battles, where you and three others battle a Pokemon (ranging in difficulty depending on it’s star ranking) and defeat it before time runs out.

“I’m the trainer now” – Koraidon

The Path of Legends surprisingly ended up being the best one out of the bunch, and that really helps considering what happens at the end. I wasn’t at all feeling the Path of Legends when I first started (granted, I wasn’t feeling the game at first either). The Path of Legends focuses on Arven who is pretty abrasive starting out. You can tell he doesn’t like Koraidon/Moraidon and he more or less tells you and Nemona to shove off. After you battle him soon after you get your box legendary, he gives you its pokeball so you can take care of it in his stead. Later on, he tells you his goal and this turns into one of the storylines you’ll go through: The Path of Legends. His storyline centers around the new picnic mechanic and he recently found a book talking about special herbs called Herba Mystica that gives out different effects (but more or less heals those that digest even a small portion). There are five and each are guarded by a Titan, which you’ll have to defeat before you can get your hands on one.

Once you get to a location with a Titan, you’ll be getting a two phase battle with a giant Pokemon. The first phase is just a regular battle, but once you take its health down enough it’ll run away. Luckily, your map does pinpoint where it fled if you happened to not catch it (or have to end your session, I don’t remember if you could leave the area) and this is where it’ll reveal where the Herba Mystica is, eat it, and power up. Once you defeat it this second time, which can be quite tricky and you might want to leave your Tera Orb for this phase, you’ll get some story. Arven will use some Herba Mystica to make a sandwich (which, honestly, could have been made to look different and more appetizing). Koraidon/Moraidon will then also beg (and get) your sandwich which will upgrade it; making traversing the world easier like being able to go out in the water or dash. So this might become the storyline that you try to finish first.

Another plus is that Arven and this storyline gets better. Arven does not make a good impression and he still does hate Koraidon/Moraidon, but after you defeat the first Titan you see that he’s hiding something. This is kept a secret until you defeat the second Titan where shows a sad and heartwarming side of this storyline. Sure, I was doing Path of Legends to upgrade Koraidon, but I also wanted to see what would happen next as I rooted for Arven.

This storyline also serves to highlight the picnic mechanic. As long as you’re not by anything and on a flat enough surface, you can set up a picnic where you’re Pokemon can hang out. Here, you can pitifully throw a ball for your Pokemon to hit around, wash your Pokemon which will heal it up and give it some EXP, and make a sandwich. I didn’t end up making sandwiches a ton, but you can either choose to make a recipe or choose whatever you want to be on it. You then get 10 minutes to put these ingredients on it. It’s not too bad when you have a few ingredients, but it does have a problem with having no drop shadow to help with the perspective (which got me sometimes), having to drop the ingredients really messes with the stacking, having some just by a lump (like noodles or potato salad) is just bad, and having to drop the sandwich top often times causes everything to topple over. You can have everything on the bottom bun perfectly, and then stare in disbelieve as the top causes half of it to disappear.

If you want to breed your Pokemon, it also happens while picnicking instead of Daycare. I didn’t much like this aspect as you have to stop playing to get eggs and it can take forever if you don’t eat something with Egg Power. I also did wish that the eggs didn’t automatically go into the Box and that the basket showed some appearance change as eggs are put into it.

Starfall Street was the one I cared the least for. Team Star are presented as bullies that stir up trouble, don’t attend their classes, and try to get others to join in (even if it’s by force). It doesn’t help that they have set up bases in which each leader resides in. At the start, your phone is hacked by a mysterious person going by Cassiopeia who gets you to go and dismantle Team Star by defeating each leader as it seems like they have a code where they won’t give up their position unless they’re defeated in battle. You’re also joined by Clive, who totally doesn’t look like who you think he is, with Penny showing up to just give you TM material (as you can make your own TMs in this game) as a reward. You do also get LP, which is another currency you can use instead of money.

Starfall Street Spoilers
This is a bit of a spoiler, but not so surprising it turns out that Team Star, or at least the leaders, aren’t bullies but were bullied. The bully title was put on them due to some reputation and rumors I guess. This whole thing is just so vague and I feel it shouldn’t have been. I can’t help but think they way overdid it as I don’t see the type of bully that literally makes you fear for your life immediately running away and dropping out of school after they come in with Starmobiles. It doesn’t help that this takes place a year after this went down and the only flashbacks you get is after they formed Team Star and they’re making their Starmobiles.

Penny also really needed to be in it more as I ended up not liking her. It would have done Starfall Street wonders if either Clive was the one you take to Area Zero and have Penny actually be in the flashbacks; or Penny was more involved. Like she replaces Clive’s role as she joins you in doing the bases with you. She never met Team Star in person, so it’s not like they would know who she is (and I feel it would make the impact of that revelation towards Team Star better as she is actively trying to dismantle them with you). And she can start out as standoffish, but warm up to you as you do more bases kind of like Arven does.

Ngl, I forgot to screenshot these auto battles

Anyway, Starfall Street puts in the auto battle mechanic to the forefront. One thing that’s really noticeable is that Pokemon battles seem so slow and you don’t have the option to skip animations (which I don’t see why we can’t have a toggle just for solo play). There’s a button to just send out your lead Pokemon so it can pick up items and run around, but with a slight change of a button press you can have it go towards wild Pokemon to auto-battle it. Having the difference in level and type determine the results. However, if your Pokemon level up you won’t get a pop-up saying they want to learn a move and they won’t evolve. Which stinks as it personally discouraged me to do them when I had Pokemon that could still evolve.

When you get to a Team Star base, there is a battle you have to do before you can take it on. Once you do, you can ring the bell and you and your first three Pokemon will have to defeat 30 Pokemon in 10 minutes through auto battles. This was honestly underwhelming as you can do this well under 10 minutes and you just run around pressing “R” a lot and grabbing a drink to heal your Pokemon. I really only had difficulty with the first base as I forgot to take out a weak Pokemon before I started. After completing the auto battles, you will then face the Team Star leader on top of a Starmobile which will be the last Pokemon you have to defeat from their rooster. I did like the fights against the leaders, but the auto battle before it was so boring. Based on how big these bases were, I wonder if there was supposed to be more planned, but there just wasn’t any time to implement it.

We? I did all the work.

Path of Legends > Victory Road > Starfall Street

My final team ♡

I will have to say that the end game, or The Final Path, is pretty good actually. It’s not perfect, Penny is rude for no reason and the characters not only have conversations while you’re running around but the text advances too fast (and I’m a fast reader), but I did like Area Zero and the twist was great. Pokemon Scarlet was definitely centered around Arven and honestly, I’m not complaining.

Though, it hurts that the only reason I picked Scarlet was because of the Professor and both barely show up until the end. Like Deino/Zweilous/Hydreigon are on my favorite Pokemon list, but Misdreavus/Mismagius are higher on my favorites list and I didn’t know they were Violet exclusive until I had the game in my hand.

In terms of difficulty, I’d say it was easy. As easy as I remember Pokemon Shield being. I think this is a combination of these games just becoming easier, forced EXP Share (which I actually like, but there should still be an option to turn it off), and that you can easily end up challenging a Gym Leader that was meant to be one of the few you beat first towards the end of your journey due to it’s open world nature. Plus not having at least the Gym Leaders scale based on how many badges you have. Before entering the post game, the hardest battle I had was with Arven, and that was mostly because I was not expecting him to have Lvl 60 Pokemon (and I was underleveled by around five levels). I told myself I was not losing to Arven and I barely squeaked by with one Pokemon left at half health.

I don’t think I can talk about the difficulty for the Elite Four and the Final Path (and really the last battles for Starfall Street) though. By the time I got to the end of Starfall Street my Pokemon were knocking at 70s land and by the time I got to the credits they were knocking at 80s. So even if I didn’t have Pokemon that ended up having moves that were effective, they would be pushovers anyway.

I did see that some people basically scrap their team after a certain point (like after halfway through) to help with the difficulty. I didn’t do that, but my philosophy has always been to just have my favorite Pokemon on my team. Although, even before I was overleveled I did feel it was still easy.

There is a post game for you to do, though if you were hoping for more to do in the overworld you’ll be disappointed. A couple things open up for you to do and complete, some that the game tells you and some that it doesn’t. First, you’ll be able to rematch every gym leader in the guise of evaluating them. Their Pokemon will now be Lvl 64-65. It still didn’t help that my Pokemon were Lvl 79-80 when I entered the post game, so the rematches would be easily either way, but I gotta admit that they hit hard regardless. I even had some of my Pokemon on the verge of fainting or actually did faint. I can imagine how hard it would be if my Pokemon were around their levels.

You can also rematch the Team Star leaders, which I’m pretty sure you’re not told about. This isn’t marked on the map, but you get the option to when you find them in their base. Minus their Starmobile of course. I found them to be about the same difficulty, and maybe even more difficult, than the Gym leader rematches. You can also do the auto battles again if you want to I guess (having to defeat 50 Pokemon instead of 30).

Once you complete all the Gym Leader rematches, you’ll unlock the Academy Ace Tournament. The first time you do it, your opponents are set, but after your first win you can do the Ace Tournament as many times as you want with your opponents being randomly selected from the school’s pool (aka the teachers, Clavell, Arven, Penny, and Nemona). Only a few Pokemon breach into Lvl 70 and of course you can guess that having higher level Pokemon will make this a breeze. I do wish you could rematch the Elite Four, and even re-rematch Gym leaders and Team Star leaders, though.

Rank 6 Tera Raids become available and they are impossible alone and very hard when you get a full team of online players. You can go back to Area Zero to catch the Paradox Pokemon. Finally, the last thing to mention are the Paldea legendaries, or the Ruinous Quartet. You won’t know about these guys unless you attend history class, which you learn that there are four shrines that locked away these legendary Pokemon. However, while you will get where the shrines are located at, you have to unlock them by finding their corresponding ominous stakes which aren’t marked. You can find these stakes before the post-game, but you most likely will have a lot of stakes left to find. I honestly wished you got some hint towards where a stake is, or get something to sense them. I do think this is a good quest made annoying with having to search for hours (after finding the more obvious locations) if you don’t look up their locations.

Other than that, it’s basically doing everything else like attending all the classes finally, completing the Pokedex, making all sandwiches, and whatever else you want to do.

Help, I’m drowning

There are some other miscellaneous negatives that I have towards Pokemon Scarlet. While I didn’t end up bad glitches as I played solo, the performance is pretty bad at points. There are areas that the game hates and will lag, including the beginning, and I even had it freeze for a couple seconds twice (luckily didn’t crash). The shops feel like they were unfinished (and there were too many sandwich shops in cities). The animation for eating food is somehow worse that Sword/Shield’s. I hated that you couldn’t change out of your uniform too. Sure you can have accessories, but I really wanted my character to wear a cute skirt or dress (which I always end up buying as soon as I could in previous games that allowed outfit customization). Not to play this card, but as a woman I’m really disappointed. Not to mention red accessories don’t match the red of the uniform, which bothered me. Just auto get off Koraidon/Moraidon when I want to picnic while riding them. Why doesn’t anyone use held items or potions? Especially the major trainer battles (like the Elite Four) as this would increase the difficulty for the major battles and the rematches. And lastly, while Pokemon doesn’t need voice acting, it’ll need it if it keeps having scenes that feel unfinished without it. Like cutscenes that auto advance as the characters move their mouths, when characters talked while you walked around during Area Zero, and the lines that auto advance during battles.


I had a hate-love relationship with Pokemon Scarlet if it’s not obvious enough. I started playing not being that into it and this has a lot of flaws, but the game did end up clicking for me and there were aspects that I liked (and that I would have liked if polished more). Despite everything, Pokemon Scarlet was still fun and I wouldn’t have kept playing if it wasn’t. Just like Sword/Shield, Scarlet/Violet still has the fun factor that every previous Pokemon game had for me. Maybe that’s partly why I can’t exactly let go of the franchise. I ended up with 60 hours and completing the post-game (just like I did with Shield). I most likely won’t be buying the DLC though, but I’m sure no one really cares whether I do or not.

Do I recommend Pokemon Scarlet and Violet for $60? No. However, if you’re able to grab it at around $30-40 or rent it like through Gamefly? Yeah.


♡ ♡ ♡ A witch that goes for anything that peaks her interest no matter the genre. Currently obsessed with the Persona series and trying to make a dent in my backlog. ♡ ♡ ♡

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