Let's Talk About That Pokémon Gen IX Reveal!

Pokémon Scarlet & Violet herald the beginning of a new generation of Pokémon.


On Pokémon Day, the Pokémon Company revealed that Pokémon Scarlet & Violet will launch for the Switch in late 2022, heralding the start of the next big generation of Pokémon. I've got mixed feelings about this announcement.

Let's dive in.

Gen IX; too early?

Let's grab the Tauros by the horns: I was crossing my fingers that we would NOT be getting a brand new generation of Pokémon this year. I even wrote an entire article 'Let´s Talk About why Pokémon Gen IX should skip 2022' not even a month ago. The main point in that article was that I felt Sword & Shield were rushed. I enjoy the games but to me, they drip of not enough time. I could be wrong of course, but that's how it feels to me.

Since Black & White's release in 2010 (going of the Japanese release here) a new generation of Pokémon has hit every 3 years. I feel that this set cycle became too short as game development has become more demanding. It takes more money, more manpower and more time to make them. With the pandemic and all the problems that brought on top of this, I fear that Gen IX wouldn't have had the proper time and attention the games needed.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus was out for barely a month before Gen IX was announced, clipping its wings prematurely.

Scarlet & Violet look good in the trailer, I'll do a deep dive into that in just a moment, but that doesn't take my concerns with the 2022 release date away. I can't look into Game Freak's kitchen. I can't see any potential measures they've taken to combat these struggles. Did they hire more people? Is Monolith Soft supporting them? Was Pokémon Legends: Arceus paid DLC in the cards but scrapped and reworked in the update(s)?

We'll probably never know. I just hope that The Pokémon Company, Game Freak and Nintendo took a long, hard look at everything and made the decision not out of pressure to stay with the 3-year cycle, but because they are confident they can bring the vision they have for Scarlet & Violet to fruition by the end of this year.

Pokémon is going open world (again)

With that said, let's dive into everything we currently know about Scarlet & Violet. What we got on Pokémon day was the following: a trailer showing off the new game, the starter reveal and extra stills and information on the official Pokémon website.

Let's start with what is quite clearly the trailer's main point: Scarlet & Violet are an open-world game. If the trailer's many panning views of the, still unnamed but clearly meant to be Spain, region's wide and open landscapes didn't tip you off, the official website confirms it. The question now is what type of open-world it'll be. How close it'll be to Legends Arceus and how it will incorporate the traditional Pokémon elements.

Looking quite open-world-y, no?

Pokémon Legends Arceus handled the open world by dividing the Hisui region into different areas that are freely explorable but not connected. Will Scarlet & Violet do the same? It would allow Game Freak to have more control of the structure. Of the gym order, evil team, rival encounters etc. The site states that "various towns blend seamlessly into the wilderness with no borders" points more

If that's the case, Game Freak could go the Breath of the Wild route, let the player freely choose in what order to tackle the gyms using level scaling. Build all story interactions around the gyms. That would make the story very formulaic, though. If the 4 Divine Beasts of Breath of the Wild started to become repetitive then imagine the same with the 8 gyms. Not my preferred option.

I also wonder how much this game takes from Legends: Arceus in gameplay. Some elements from the game are here, like the overworld battles, while the site makes it clear that wild Pokémon are once again caught through wild battles. The precise mix of Legends: Arceus, traditional and new elements will be very interesting to see.

The wonders of texturing

On to the looks of the game. The Spain inspired region looks really nice. The architecture, the open fields, the ocean. It all looks like it will create a very memorable region. Spain is, and I just learned this, the most bio-diverse country in Europe. In addition to the hot and sunny climate we all think of, it has swamplands, frosty mountain tips and the only desert on the continent. A very fitting country to be the basis of this new region.

Game Freak also seems to have taken feedback in regards to graphical fidelity to heart. From the visible scales on Seviper to Magnemite looking shiny and metallic to the stitchwork on the player's shorts. They've clearly upped their texture game alongside to a switch to a different, non-cell shaded, style. There are still moments of lag and other rough edges to be found in the trailer but the games are not done yet so it will get better.

The Starters

Lastly, there's the matter of the new starters. This go around we have the capricious, attention-seeking Grass Cat Pokémon Sprigatito, the laid-back Fire Croc Pokémon that does things at its own pace Fuecoco and the earnest and tidy Duckling Pokémon Quaxly.

From left to right: Sprigatito, Fuecoco and Quaxly!

Now, these starters took longer than usual to sink in. The three have, for better or worse, a 'Fakemon' quality to them. They're not quite what I expect from a Pokémon design. The week, however, has changed my opinion of them for the better. I've more gotten used to them. If these starters are any indication, a generation of Pokémon with a slightly different style and with names much more fitting of the real-world region are interesting.

Which one do I prefer? None of them sprang out to me at first but Quaxly has floated to the top. I think the similarities with Donald Duck is what's doing it for me. Fun fact: Piplup is the only water-type starter I've chosen up until this point. Guess 'bird-like' is the secret ingredient here!

……….

I'm a bit concerned that The Pokémon Company rolling out the next generation of Pokémon will cause some issues. Give, potentially, another rushed game. Perhaps even oversaturate the market with 3 core series Pokémon games in 12 months.

Aside from that caveat though, I'm very excited for Pokémon Scarlet & Violet. Game Freak making an open-world game in the traditional style is a very interesting prospect and the game looks really good. From the clear graphical upgrades to the aesthetic of the Spain inspired region to the promise of lots of new Pokémon.

Let the journey continue!


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