Pokémon Violet (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Justin Prinsloo 27.11.2022

Review for Pokémon Violet on Nintendo Switch

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet turned heads when announced earlier this year. An open-world Pokémon experience that suggested an evolution of one of gaming's most beloved franchises? It seemed too good to be true. Now that players have had their hands on it for a while… "too good to be true" about sums it up. Beneath its shortcomings, though, is the hint of something salvageable in this ambitious experience.

The Pokémon concept is tailor-made for an open-world adventure. For the first time, Pokémon Violet - the version appraised by this C3 reviewer - offers just that in a mainline entry, expanding on the freedom hinted at in Pokémon Legends: Arceus. Set in the lush Paldea region, which is inspired by real-world Spain, a wealth of gorgeous vistas awaits; from rich, green forests to fairly substantial towns and cities.

Wild Pokémon saturate the landscape, forever enticing players to stray from the beaten path in search of new entries to their Pokédex. That familiar gameplay loop of capturing and evolving Pokémon is more enticing than ever this time around, with a sense of achievement accompanied by the ever-expanding roster.

Screenshot for Pokémon Violet on Nintendo Switch

As Pokémon Violet kicks off, the created protagonist is just about to begin their first day at Uva Academy (or Naranja Academy if you're playing the Scarlet version). The first decision is, of course, choosing between the 3 starting Pokémon: the fiery but cute Fuecoco, the cat-like Sprigatito and a duck with exceptional hair, Quaxly. From here, those familiar with the series will know what to expect: travelling through diverse biomes (albeit with more freedom this time around), collecting and cataloguing Pokémon while battling other trainers.

Because this is an open-world experience, there have been some necessary changes to gameplay that serve to further bring Pokémon into the modern era. Most of the battles you'll come across can be bypassed, and it's easier than ever to get sidetracked in a new area as you hunt down additions for your Pokédex. To ease things along, the new Let's Go mechanic lets you send out a designated Pokémon to battle on your behalf. This is great for grinding levels quickly, but you still have to hop into the traditional turn-based combat if you want to capture the Pokémon rather than defeat it outright.

Screenshot for Pokémon Violet on Nintendo Switch

Another new addition is the Terastallizing mechanic - an addition to combat that enhances the moves associated with a given Pokémon's Tera Type. This has the potential to turn battles in the player's favour when looking for an extra edge in a tough matchup. It's a mechanic that beautifully complements the established Pokémon formula, and one that can add an extra dimension of fun to battles.

There's a vast world to be explored here, but this is where the experience first shows some cracks. The technical performance of Pokémon Violet is, simply, unacceptable. Frame rate dips, pop-in issues, various glitches and bugs… this feels like an alpha build of a promising title, not a fully released experience. The issues are thrown into starker relief in the more populated cities of Paldea, where the frame rate flails for purchase and NPCs in the middle-distance move around like characters in a dated stop motion film. It would be unfair to blame the Switch hardware here; just this year we've seen it pull off some incredible feats with Xenoblade Chronicles 3 - not to mention some of the more demanding ports the console has enjoyed.

Screenshot for Pokémon Violet on Nintendo Switch

This being said, it's difficult to slate Pokémon Violet entirely. It accomplishes something exciting: establishing a fresh blueprint for the series that will hopefully be refined in the years to come. Nevertheless, despite being 'playable' in the broadest sense of the word, this is so clearly a title that needed more development time.

Despite the exciting new direction for the series, the product - at least at time of release and this review - does a disservice to a beloved franchise. This was rushed out of the gates and should have been afforded the dignity of further optimisation and quality of life tweaks before release. Game Freak will more than likely patch over the glaring issues in due time, but given the amount of work this may take, one worries that the developer won't be afforded the time to make it truly special before the team is whisked off to create the next mainline series entry. Hopefully, they'll be given the time they need to craft the experience they so clearly wanted to here.

Screenshot for Pokémon Violet on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Pokémon Violet offers a ton of familiar and enhanced fun, but the lack of polish and outright unacceptable performance let it down as one of Nintendo's most iconic franchises. The open-world setting and gameplay additions hint at an exciting future for the Pokémon franchise, but the state this was released in too often overshadows that. Before it's been patched up and optimised, it's tough to recommend.

Developer

Game Freak

Publisher

Nintendo

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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