The release of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet was almost a year ago. Even though it’s not my favorite Nintendo Switch game, I’ve invested the most time in it. The fact that it is likely the worst-performing Pokémon game since the original Game Boy titles is the only thing keeping it from succeeding as a Pokémon game and updating the material for a new generation. Our young trainer character journeys to the country of Kitakami in “The Teal Mask,” the first installment of a DLC pack, where she is introduced to new people, new Pokémon, and a vibrant culture. Teal Mask is a perfect example of both the finest and worst parts of the main game, even though the campaign isn’t particularly long because you can probably finish most of the story and side quests in around four hours.
There are numerous references to various elements of the Pokémon series in The Teal Mask. Certain aspects of Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver, such as the cultural vibe, architectural architecture, and opulent, historic ambiance, are similar of Kitakami as a region. Then, a few Pokémon from other locations make a comeback, but the reappearance of the Sinnoh starters, specifically from Diamond and Pearl and Pokémon Legends: Arceus, makes me think of that region the most. Perrin, who is a direct descendant of Adaman, the leader of the Diamond Clan from Arceus, is another character. Some mini-games are included in the callbacks. With an overall soundtrack that is just a joy to listen to, Perrin’s photo journey is inspired by other games like Pokémon SNAP, and well-known musical tunes are brought back to fantastic effect.
Players can advance through the main story at their own pace or just mess around capturing Pokémon and taking part in events to pass the time because the gameplay architecture is still fairly flexible. There are also entertaining minigames like “Ogre Oustin,” in which you drive around popping balloons, and in place of gym fights, we have fights with the Ogre Clan. Due to the fact that you only receive battle goods, such as Ability Capsules, which you may already own, rather than the narrative advancement you receive from gym battles in the main game, the benefits don’t feel as significant as they do from gym battles. However, they’ll provide gamers with something to do if they wish to start over with some of the new and available Pokémon. By retraining fresh Pokémon while maintaining one or two maxed Pokémon that I trained over the past few months for Raid Battles, I tried to change things up a bit. Even with that advantage, some bouts, such as the Titan Boss bouts with the new Legendary Trio, were shockingly difficult and required planning and combinations rather than just making a bigger stick to strike you.
Speaking of tactics, I get the impression that a GAME FREAK paid attention to dummies like me who complained that numerous Pokémon had been nerfed with the switch to the new generation. Pokémon like Empoleon and Shiftry received fantastic new abilities that will make them a lot of fun to play around with in the online competitive scene. The developers updated a few different moves that Pokémon can learn to make them feel like the powerhouses they were originally meant to be, like Toxic and Knock Off. I never anticipated feeling this delighted about Torterra receiving Shell Smash! Although there aren’t many recently released Pokémon, what is there is functional. Ogerpon is so precious I would die for her, and Dipplin is adorable. Although there are hardly any new Pokémon or varieties (there are literally less than 10), I enjoy how the designs of the new Pokémon relate to the aesthetic of the Kitakami region. Despite our small size, we make up for it with our lore, especially that centered on the “Loyal Three” of Fezandipiti, Okidogi, and Munkidori. These three manage to combine fun and mischief in an intriguing way that is reminiscent of the first Pokémon games, and the development of their connection with Ogerpon was a highlight of the narrative. Even if the situation doesn’t become nearly as gloomy as some of the main game’s most intense scenes, a few incidents near the end still managed to be deliciously frightening.
Whether you’re an experienced or novice Pokémon fan, the writing team manages to keep everything seeming new and relatable. The new characters are entertaining and resemble the primary three that you meet in the main tale; nevertheless, your feelings for them may evolve over the course of the DLC, contrary to your original perceptions. All of the new characters that are introduced here are full of curiosity. Kieran, for example, changes from being a sweet and shy child to a fierce opponent, while Carmine, his older sister, experiences the opposite, beginning off chilly but later warming up as more about her culture is revealed. I identified strongly with the character Perrin, who has a creative slump and starts to wonder why she puts out so much effort toward a goal that she could have lost interest in. That struck very near to home, and there is some pretty profound and moving social commentary about how history may be distorted or how historical figures may not be exactly who they seem to be, which feels pertinent in light of some of the recent events taking place in the world. Knowing that the Scarlet and Violet story’s heart and variety were not unique is comforting.
Now that the performance of this expansion is so terrible, we must talk about how the new DLC will function on the Nintendo Switch. The Teal Mask contained both the greatest and worst aspects of the main game, as I previously stated. The Teal Mask DLC maintains the story and characters, which were two of Scarlet and Violet’s strongest aspects. Who can forget what the worst aspect of the first game was? The performance is still awful, I agree. Scarlet and Violet had framerate and draw distance issues, so it’s definitely worse here than in the original game, but it was much more tolerable in comparison.
Even though it didn’t crash while I was playing, it seemed to happen slowly. The Switch’s fan was screaming for its life as it attempted to load a room with two NPCs, and the framerate seldom topped thirty frames per second. Cutscenes have a terrible framerate, and even while I was offline, there were quite a few additional bugs. This is simply unacceptable, especially in light of the fact that we have yet to receive any significant performance updates since the release of the original game. Some things are easier to use, such as PC box navigation, but this is small in comparison to the performance of a simple game. The Teal Mask runs horribly, and the fact that GAME FREAK was willing to release it without addressing or correcting earlier issues suggests that optimization is not their top priority.
I am once more in the same situation as when I completed the main game. This DLC is priceless if you were a fan of Scarlet and Violet in all their flaws. From a narrative and gameplay perspective, the second part of the DLC will definitely provide a comparable level of excellence. But if the performance issues prevented you from progressing that far in the main game, don’t play. If I could, I would advise against supporting this release until it performs better. Nevertheless, despite these problems, Scarlet and Violet enjoyed strong sales. Players should not have to put up with shoddy performance and presentation. Unfortunately, we are in this situation right now.