New Pokemon games offer players open-world settings

“Pokemon Scarlet’ and ‘Violet’ are latest releases of popular franchise


Photo courtesy of Gamefreak

Koraidon and Miraidon the mascot legendaries of the new Pokémon games: “Scarlet” and “Violet”

“Pokemon, gotta catch ‘em all” has been the ultimate fan chant for decades.

But for the first time, recently released games “Pokemon Scarlet” and “Pokemon Violet” provide an alternative to the formulaic path to victory. Instead of the usual gameplay of picking a starter, winning gym battles, and defeating the region’s champion, the two newcomers to the franchise choose to shake up old expectations.

For one, the games, released on Nov. 18, offer a completely open-world setting for players to explore. 

Previous Pokemon games limited the player’s adventures to a very specific path they must follow, with most areas of the game being completely off-limits until a certain goal was reached or a specific battle was won.

“Pokemon Scarlet” and “Pokemon Violet”, on the other hand, lift these restrictions and allow players to discover the world at their own pace and in their own unique way. 

Following the theme of breaking the traditional Pokemon mold, the two new Pokemon games offer three distinct storylines for players to follow. These three storylines include the traditional Victory Road path of defeating the regional champion, but also to completely new paths to follow.

The Starfall Street storyline involves infiltrating the base of Team Star and defeating their leader, with Team Star being the signature antagonistic faction of “Pokemon Scarlet” and “Pokemon Violet”. 

Finally, the Path of Legends will see the player embarking on a quest, fighting gigantic Titan Pokemon to retrieve the Herba Mystica, a unique healing Herb. 

“I like getting various options,” junior Vanessa Mera said. “That’s a thing Pokemon had needed to be working on for a while and I’m glad you can follow different journeys in the same region.”

Not only do the two new Pokemon games stray away from a limited world and single storyline, but they also no longer force players to interact with other trainers throughout their journey. 

In previous games, walking within the line of sight of a non-playable character (NPC) would immediately force players to battle them. In the new games, however, the NPC will not attack until players interact with them, bringing an end to jumpscares from NPCs hiding around corners. 

But not everyone is excited about this change. Some fans worry that passing up on trainer battles will make leveling up their Pokemon more difficult. 

“I don’t think they should have gotten rid of that mechanic,” senior Kimberly Young said. “I guess they should maybe decrease the amount of on-sight battles, but those battles are good because you can get money and level up your Pokemon.”

Speaking of battles, a brand-new battle mechanic has been announced for “Pokemon Scarlet” and “Pokemon Violet”: the Terastal Phenomenon. 

This mechanic, which is unlocked by holding a Tera Stone, allows the selected Pokemon to Terastallize, which changes their type to their new Tera Type and boosts their power level. Terastallizing is limited to one Pokemon per battle. 

“It sounds like a really complicated rock, paper, scissors,” junior Narelle Thompson said. “But it also sounds really interesting to switch up the battles a bit. It’s a fun concept.”

What remains the same is having starter Pokemon. Each entry in the Pokemon franchise introduces a new set of three starter Pokemon, with the player choosing one of the starters at the beginning of the game to accompany them on their journey to become a Pokemon master.

The two new Pokemon games’ starters were revealed to be Sprigatito, the grass-type cat Pokemon, Fuecoco, the fire-type crocodile, and Quaxly, the water-type Donald Duck lookalike. 

Despite coming under heavy fire when first announced, fans have grown fond of the starters for “Pokemon Scarlet” and “Pokemon Violet”. 

“They’re cute, I think they’re really cute,” sophomore Rachel Nguyen said. “I like the cat one a lot, but they all have their advantages and I think they’ll be really good additions to the game.” 

The starters aren’t the only Pokemon with unique designs. The games’ mascot legendaries, Koraidon and Miraidon, have more use than just decimating opponents in battle. Once caught, these Pokemon will turn into noble steeds for the player to ride on as they traverse Paldea.