I’m a really big fan of the Pokémon series. In fact, I’ve played every entry (except X and Y, which I skipped and need to go back and play at some point) since I first picked up Pokémon White Version for the Nintendo DS all those years ago. It’s the series that got me into Nintendo’s RPG offerings, after all. There have been entries in this series that I’ve enjoyed more than others, but one that I didn’t enjoy initially was Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.
I went with Pokémon Violet for this generation because I really loved the way Miraidon looked and, having seen my friends playing Scarlet, I thought this version was the more interesting of the two. After getting it for Christmas, it took around two weeks for me to notice some serious issues still plaguing the game. I thought it was my Switch at first — I still have a Splatoon 2 model from 2017 — but after looking around online (I had sequestered myself from media coverage, as I wasn’t doing Nintendo-related journalism stuff at the time), I realized that definitely wasn’t the case.
It’s true that all games are buggy on launch. That’s the nature of this industry. Sometimes, it can even make for a good bit of fun. However, when a company eventually stops making an effort to make sure their games continue running smoothly on the system during its lifespan… that’s when I grow concerned. Many online have accused Game Freak and The Pokémon Company of crunching to get Pokémon games out the door over the years, so many that The Pokémon Company’s COO had to address them in an interview.
“I think in general, if you look at the past, the path we’ve taken up until now has been this constant release, always regularly releasing products on a fairly fixed kind of a cadence, you might say. […] I think we’re still operating in that way, but there’s more and more conversations, as the development environments change, about how we can continue to do this, while making sure that we’re ensuring really quality products are also being introduced.”Takato Utsunomiya
Nintendo themselves have proven that simply not rushing results in amazingly beautiful, story-rich games. The most recent examples being The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and of course, Super Mario Bros. Wonder (which we’ve yet to get our hands on.) Honestly, other game developers should be taking notes here. A good v1 isn’t a v1 that has so many bugs that it’s not enjoyable for players. Instead, a good v1 is playable, enjoyable, and needs just a little tweaking here or there.
My personal opinion is that The Pokémon Company and Game Freak should take their time to craft the next entries. I believe if they took an approach similar to Nintendo’s in-house studios, wherein they finish the game and spend a significant part of development time tweaking and optimizing, it would result in a higher quality entry in the series.
I went away on vacation to visit my friends in Washington, DC, and while I was there — I ended up playing Pokémon Violet with one of them for a decent chunk of time, after being convinced to give it another shot. It had quite a few updates to grab from the internet and once I got into the game, a lot of the issues I remember having went away. Then, something strange happened: I got sucked back into Pokémon again. Maybe it was the fact that I finally had someone to play with, or whatever, but I was hooked. I was having fun. There were some hiccups here or there, I’m assuming those had to do with me playing in handheld, but things were so much better.
Chatting with my friend about this, I realized that I had completely misunderstood Pokémon Scarlet and Violet (and especially Sword and Shield) from the get-go. It wasn’t that these games were bad, it was just a different direction. There’s a lot The Pokémon Company could do to improve future titles–taking a bigger breather between main entries is definitely chief among them–and from the improvements they made to Scarlet and Violet since release, it seems they’re listening to feedback. If you put Scarlet/Violet down because things were a bit too buggy for you, I’d definitely encourage you to pick it up again… I’m not finished with the entire story yet, but it’s a really good game. (Even if those boss fights SUCK sometimes.)
The real moral of the story here is that I’m hooked on Pokémon again. For the first time since 2016, actually. And it feels amazing to finally have a friend who plays, too!