holding a pokeball in a tera raid battle

Despite Everything, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet Nailed These Three Things

I’ve been beating a dead Ponyta since Pokemon Scarlet and Violet released back in November 2022 about how disappointed in the game I am.

Recommended Videos

Most recently, I’ve written about how Paldea lacks art direction, making it visually the least interesting region in Pokemon history, but I’ve also covered the need for Game Freak to take a break after Scarlet and Violet, which I’m glad they’ve done. Despite all this, my recent playthrough of Pokemon Violet showed me that the flawed adventure nailed three things that I hope carry over to the next generation.

First and foremost, Scarlet and Violet continue the trend of absolutely amazing music. From the iconically creepy Lavender Town tune to Galar’s raucous gym theme, every Pokemon game features standout tracks; likewise, Game Freak packed Paldea full of memorable songs. From rival Nemona’s catchy, happy-go-lucky battle music to the mysterious Area Zero theme, the music does the heavy lifting when it comes to making Paldea feel unique. Throw in some standout tracks like the Tera Raid battle music composed by Undertale’s Toby Fox, and you’ve got yourself one of the better videogame OSTs in recent memory.

tera raid battle in pokemon scarlet violet with ursaluna
Screenshots by The Escapist

Second—and I can’t believe I’m saying this after Pokemon Sword and Shield’s atrocious narrative—two of the three stories presented in Scarlet and Violet tell better tales than most Pokemon games. Say what you will about the gameplay associated with them, but Starfall Street and Path of Legends tugged on the ol’ heartstrings a little. The former sees a band of seemingly villainous delinquents come to terms with the bullying they faced, while the latter follows Arven in his quest to cure his Mastiff of a seemingly deadly disease. Victory Road, the final of the three central narratives, falls rather flat, but at least it has that classic Pokemon gym badge experience.

Finally, and this is an incredibly subjective take, but I found the new Pokemon designs to be the best since Pokemon Black and White. Quaquaval and Flamigo designs aside (I mean seriously, the second one is just a regular flamingo. It’s almost as bad as Komala), I fell in love with the likes of Fidough and Tinkaton immediately. The Pawmi line are the best electric rodents since the original Pikachu, and how could you not appreciate Scovillain, a bell pepper-themed grass and fire type?

fidough pokedex entry in pokemon scarlet violet
Screenshots by The Escapist

And that’s without getting into the Paradox Pokemon, which took the idea of regional variants, punted a few Pokemon into the distant past or far future, and created awesome designs like Iron Valiant and Roaring Moon. I predict a lot of these ‘mons will remain iconic for years or even decades to come, much the same way the likes of Dragapult and Urshifu from Sword and Shield have.

It’s clear to me that the designers at Game Freak still have the ability to make an amazing Pokemon game. Regardless of technical and visual quality, I’ll be first in line to pick up Pokemon Legends: Z-A and the generation that comes after (likely on the more powerful Switch successor) simply because I have no doubt in my mind we’ll get some great tunes, memorable new Pokemon designs, and if we’re lucky, a half decent story to experience.

That said, if there was any other game that didn’t have the pedigree of Pokemon released in the state Scarlet and Violet did and is still in, I would’ve never bothered to play it. One of the highest grossing and most renowned videogame series in history has to do better, no matter how well Game Freak nails the music, narrative, and creature designs.

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are available now.

The Escapist is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Lowell Bell
Lowell Bell
Lowell is a freelance contributor with The Escapist that began his career reporting on live events such as the Penny Arcade Expo and E3 back in 2012. Over the last couple of years, he carved a niche for himself covering competitive Pokémon as he transitioned into game criticism full time. About a decade ago, Lowell moved to Japan for a year or two but is still there, raising a Shiba Inu named Zelda with his wife while missing access to good burritos. He also has a love/hate relationship with Japanese role-playing games.