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Old 11-20-2022, 05:54 AM   #1
Blastoise
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Scarlet/Violet impressions: Paldea is a land of contrasts, musclegirls

Spoiler: show


I will kill for you, hot nurse bit character.

Anyway, more of us are getting sweaty over the newest Pokemon game that just came out to rave reviews, so stop talking shit about it on Discord and talk shit on a BB forum like God intended. Beat the main three story paths but not what comes after, so we'll see how bad Game Freak cocks it up after I wake up tomorrow.

PROS
  • Despite all the fucking jank I will be complaining about later, open world Pokemon works. Imagine getting to go where you want after the first hour, without having random jagoffs laying in the road blocking you until you do an arbitrary thing. It's liberating to not have to immediately beeline for a gym and just run around trying to find a Flabebe so that some rando will trade you a Snom that you will use to usher in a thousand years of Paldean darkness.

  • A large variety of Pokemon even in the first couple areas means that you have the flexibility to build a team you might actually carry to the endgame, as opposed to your starter + route 1 trash who will be boxed as soon as feasible. It also makes the exploration rewarding because each area has a good variety of Pokemon, so it feels worthwhile to go digging around for the rarer spawn locations rather than feeling like you're drowning in Diglets.

    Or you can run mono-bug like Kuno, because you're a pain piglet and you need your slop.

  • A good amount of QoL ideas from Arceus were brought over: name your Pokemon whenever, swap learnset moves anytime, etc. The games are close enough together that I don't know how many lessons from Arceus they had time to implement to meet release, but at least some of the obvious winners made it in.

NEUTRALS (PONS, CROS?)
  • Sword and Shield was about plunging your friend into an existential crisis by shattering his dreams and usurping his place in his brother's affections. Scarlet/Violet is about a manic-pixie-onee-san who is into you in a way that is probably going to require intervention by social services.

  • Things that should be toggleable options aren't. Switch is the default story battle mode with no way to change it, and while Game Freak has an NPC complain about the minimap rotating so much it disorients them none of the programmers thought offering a fixed map perspective might be a good idea. Nothing critical, but odd in its absence.

  • Somebody doing the character modeling at Game Freak has a thing for muscular women, but I don't judge: live your truth, you crazy diamond.

  • Iono has sold her bathwater, or is at minimum strongly considering it. I will never not make this joke, you cannot stop me

  • With the release of Scarlet/Violet Paldea has now taken the dubious honor of having the gym leader most likely to commit a mass shooting.

  • The northeastern part of the map boundary is a giant, 12x12 texture wall. In a glaring lore oversight, it is never specified whether the wall exists to keep the Pokemon French out or the Pokemon Spaniards in.

CONS
  • They brought back the mechanic from Arceus where badges also apply to the Pokemon you catch, so any Pokemon you catch over your current badge's threshold will ignore you. On a completely unrelated note they ALSO brought over fixed spawns that are 10-20 levels higher than the surrounding Pokemon, so your reward for taking the challenge early is basically nothing! Hooray!

    This made some sense in Arceus where you could capture most Pokemon without fighting, but it makes less sense here since Spaniards are too loud to be ninjas and hence have to catch Pokemon the old fashioned way.

  • No in-game store sells shirts or pants, so I hope you enjoy playing a Pokemon game where your trainer dresses like a Discord moderator's darkest fantasy.

  • If you thought Game Freak might learn lessons on performance from Arceus: surprise, they didn't! It's not a particularly impressive game visually, but that's okay because it also runs like it's on a Raspberry Pi that is pulling double duty computing hashes for crypto mining.

  • I've also had a few crashes across 20 hours, so you might want to keep autosave on by default if you're not a compulsive saver.

  • There is a fine line between "empty world" and "Ubisoft marker bloat", but unless there are some systems being kept under wraps for the postgame Paldea is--while not as bad as Sword/Shield--definitely much closer to the former: unless you're hunting to fill your Pokedex and/or collect Ursaring asses to make TMs, there's going to be no real environmental puzzles or interesting encounters to pique your interest.

  • Level scaling is always a touchy subject, but Scarlet/Violet should have probably considered it. While most of the individual story beats can nominally be done in any order, the levels are fixed so there is technically an optimal order to tackle them in. I say "technically" because the optimal path by level looks something like this:

    Spoiler: show


    The game nudges you to go work your way clockwise or counterclockwise around the donut, but if you do that you're going to be 10-20 levels above some of the required story beats because "people are more likely to go the next nearest map marker rather than halfway across the map for no real reason" represents a profound abstract concept to Game Freak designers.

    And really, it wouldn't be hard to justify level scaling in a game series whose stories are relentless drumbeats about training and getting stronger: do you think you're the only trainer with deeper aspirations than Route 1 Shorts Kid?

And if you're not tired of this hard-hitting critique, please enjoy additional discussion of each story path below: spoilered for obvious reasons, though I don't go too deep into the weeds.

Victory Road
Spoiler: show

You fight eight assholes, then you fight four other assholes, then you fight another asshole or two. You've played Pokemon, you know how this goes. Also your soft-progression blocker due to the badge changes above: you can go anywhere on the map without claiming a single badge, but without them anything you don't catch in the south-central area of Paldea is probably going to ignore you.

If Sword/Shield leaned really hard into gym leaders being elite athletes, Scarlet/Violet leans just as hard into gym leaders being schlubs with day jobs. So instead of fighting a gauntlet of trainers and digging through trashcans to find a switch that opens a gate, you now have to complete a gym challenge that reflects each gym leader's personality/occupation before you can get to the main event:
  • The streamer gym leader makes you dance for subs on one of her streams, because she refuses to acknowledge that kink should only be practiced with mutual consent

  • The fashion model gym leader makes you do...some reiki bullshit or something, I dunno

  • The normal gym leader subjects you to a puzzle to figure out his favorite order at a restaurant, because he has the dead-eyed stare of a man who has disemboweled an Eevee with a steak knife just to see if he can still feel something. This is probably one of the better ones, because A)it involves actual battles and B)you at least have to think a minimal amount

I've been critical of the standard gym formula getting a bit stale, but these are a mixed bag of "sort of interesting, could use more time in the oven" to "this is two minutes of my life I will never get back, but at least I pushed the giant olive into the basket." The gym leaders themselves also utilize this gen's Game Mechanic: the last Pokemon will be an out-of-theme Pokemon but with a Tera type matching the gym's, which will lose its impact after the first gym because you immediately realize that every other gym leader is going to do the exact same thing.

The main benefit to the formula is the open world element: every gym has a fixed level, but the "first" two (grass/bug) are roughly around the same level range so you have some choice in what you want to tackle first, going after gyms where you have a strong type advantage early and leaving the "harder" gyms for when you have more levels under your belt. Even if the basic formula isn't much different on paper, being able to tackle them at your leisure instead of having to fight gym leader A to open Path B helps make them feel more fresh, as they feel more like milestones you tackle when you're ready rather than the thing keeping you from catching a Pokemon you like.


Path of Legends
Spoiler: show

What the dog doin'?

The HM-analogue route, since completing each objective increases the traversal options of your box-legendary-cum-HM-slave. You have to hunt down several Pokemon of Legendary Juicing and steal their andro to feed to your bike lizard so that they can run like a Kenyan and/or a white supremacist who just caught hands.

Not much to say really: outside of maybe Totem Pokemon from Sun/Moon these sorts of boss encounters have never worked very well in Pokemon's turn-based-rocket-tag system, and that's still an issue here. Not too challenging (unless you're too hard-headed to exploit type matchups), and since your reward is more traversal options you don't feel inconvenienced doing them even if the encounters themselves don't throw any real curveballs.


Starfall Street
Spoiler: show

Probably the most interesting story of the three, so of course it's gated behind the shittiest game mechanics.

Sword/Shield had no real place for a meaningful villain team in its "generic sports movie, but also the FIFA commissioner is conspiring to kill God for some reason" plot, and Game Freak also seems kind of befuddled on how to include them in an open-world game: I don't think you need a villain team in a Pokemon story, but they're clearly not willing to let go so we get this weird half measure instead. That said, all of the main three story paths are largely bereft of world-shattering implications, so a more low-key villain team of delinquents isn't really out of place on its own merits. And since S/V's team isn't trying to cause mass ecological catastrophe or social upheaval, it gives their storyline a more interesting place to go than "I FUCKING LOVE LAND/WATER/BATHTUBS FULL OF COCAINE/NIHILISM/RESOLVING THE CONTRADICTION OF A WORLD THAT LOVES POKEMON BUT ALSO SUBJECTS THEM TO COCKFIGHTING FOR FUN" even if you probably will be able to predict the outcome roughly a third of the way in.

It's just everything else around Team Star that sucks shit through a firehose.

So, there are five Team Star bases that you need to clear like you're in a generic Ubisoft open-world game, and they all follow the same overarching formula:

1. Fight one (1) Team Star grunt guarding the front gate who--like most trainers in the game--has one or two shitmon you will roll over trivially.

2. Enter the base and fight a "horde" of Team Star Pokemon, by which I mean you use the Let's Go autobattle feature to send your Pokemon to kick their Pokemon in the teeth and where your total contribution is walking from group to group pressing the R button a few times. Pokemon is not a hard series without self-imposed handicaps and has always aimed for a younger target audience, but I'm pretty sure that I would have found this boring and unengaging when I was 10.

3. Beat up the not-gym leader and his riced up car that is also a Pokemon, for some reason.

There's nothing inherently wrong with a formula, but these base encounters are your only meaningful encounters with Team Star: no other open world encounters/fights with team members, and no real impact or impediment on the world to leave them to their sucking and fucking in their bases/polycules beyond the fact that they're on a checklist you need to clear as part of the overall story. You could pretty much excise Team Star entirely with minimal mechanical impact on the world, which is, uh, not ideal in a game that doesn't exactly overflow with a lively open world to begin with.

I don't want to necessarily have to fight 3 million Team Rocket grunts every time I walk from one town to the other until I stealth kill enough guards to assume control of their outpost and liberate the region...but this ain't it, chief.
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Old 11-21-2022, 09:35 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastoise View Post
NEUTRALS (PONS, CROS?)
  • Somebody doing the character modeling at Game Freak has a thing for muscular women, but I don't judge: live your truth, you crazy diamond.
Balanced out by this:

Spoiler: show


Someone had fun and modeled her under-skirt in high-poly detail. A name like "Lip" couldn't be more appropriate.

...

Also, Team Star was an afterthought, just even moreso than Team Skull. ScaVi feels like a soft reboot of sorts of SM, and the villain of SM was Lusimine and...Ultra Necrozma?
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Old 11-22-2022, 08:00 AM   #3
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I actually enjoyed SV. However part of it was due to my partially imposed bug-only run making the game a bit more challenging. Sword was also mono bug but was laughably easy, whereas this game had a bit more challenge.

My final verdict is that this gen lands firmly in "the middle" of all gens in terms of how good it is. The big pros are the open world/story. I love randomly exploring and being able to do the titan quests to soup up my ride to do more exploring when I wanted was pretty neat.

Meanwhile the big cons are performance issues, online everything, and lack of real customization. Also having a way to have that damn minimap stop from spinning like crazy, argh. The online is so bad and aggravating to use. No way to filter by stars or tera type, no gts, no way to refresh the listings, etc. Are you really telling me there's only 8 people hosting raids at any given time? This is so incomprehensibly bad, whereas another game like XY did online so well (despite being an otherwise bad game). The school outfits suck and not being able to wear whatever you want is really lame. At least let us change the damn color. The gameplay bugs are well covered everywhere else so no point touching that any more. Also the fact that the game didn't scale too well if you did things out of order.

If this game had another year of polish it would probably rank a bit higher. Some things like no E4/Champ music is inexcusable, and some of the star "fights" were so dumb. But being able to explore and find shit and the auto battle thing was pretty cool. I liked needing to find lunarantis or whatever for some TMs and sneaking into really high level areas for Hawlucha for another TM and stuff.

Final Verdict: 65% - Above average Pokemon game that, if without the many glaring issues, would easily become one of the higher ranking Pokemon games (to me) but, while the good was really good, the bad was really bad, making it just above average.
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Old 11-23-2022, 05:20 PM   #4
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Stronger story than expected. Worse bugs and performance issues than expected.
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Old 11-23-2022, 10:59 PM   #5
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See, maybe I'm used to RBY but I don't care about the bugs of performance issues. The game's ambition is enough for me to consider it great. Gens 2,1 and 7 and 5 were my favourites in that order specifically because they're the most ambitious of the games.

Games like ORAS, LGPE, and SWSH get negative scores from me by being regurgitations/mediocre. Especially Sword and Shield, which breached into offensive waters.

@Char

The story is good, but it seems like Pokemon has a recent history of copying from itself, at least the games do anyway. But in this case, the story is copied from:

Spoiler: show
Spell of the Unown
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Old 11-24-2022, 04:01 PM   #6
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I'm only about 4 badges in (2 Victory Road, 2 Path of Legends) but this is definitely one of my favorite Pokemon games ever to be honest. I really do hope the performance issues are fixed, they are kind of immersion breaking but I think having played this, if Gamefreak can polish the games a bit more, it's pretty clear they're improving on the titles.

Also I fucking love Klawf.
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Old 11-24-2022, 09:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppleganger View Post
See, maybe I'm used to RBY but I don't care about the bugs of performance issues.
RBY gets a bad rap, but unless you knew and intentionally used those rby bugs, you really never saw them. Yes you can go up and down that one tile wide space on cinnabar after talking to the guy, or that sleep powder with a certain PP left does weird stuff, and that swift can actually miss and focus energy is ass, but realistically you wont see or be affected by these bugs. It's a sturdy game with a lot of weird issues if you know about them.

SV is the opposite. All the performance issues and bugs are in your face and unavoidable. I had the game crash multiple times, NPCS are laggy, I saw my trainer fly across various rooms etc, as well as other weird stuff. Even if you don't mind the lag or weird graphical issues, the fact that it just crashes is a big deal.
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