The Pokémon series can’t catch a break. First Pokémon Sword and Shield got rid of the national Pokédex and featured trees gamers likened to Nintendo 64 shrubbery. Next, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl were lambasted for missing features and a general lack of imagination. Most recently, Pokémon Legends: Arceus divided the fanbase due to its graphics. Now, Scarlet and Violet have arrived just in time to continue this disappointing trend.
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet may have just been released, but early reviews are anything but glowing. In fact, sites such as GameRant have pointed out that Scarlet and Violet have already received some of the worst review scores of the series. Looking at videos and screenshots of the game posted by fans quickly reveals some of the reasons Scarlet and Violet have been so disappointing so early. Players have chronicled enough glitches, bugs, and other issues to fill a Wailord. Quite frankly, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are so janky it’s surprising they ever made it out of QA.
Framerates That Sink Like Stones
When Nintendo revealed The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, fans were immediately impressed by the game’s graphics, but some worried that the game almost looked too good for the Nintendo Switch to possibly handle. Pokémon Scarlet and Violet might have confirmed these fears.
Many gamers have found out the hard way that Scarlet and Violet are incredibly unstable. Twitter user @trsrpc posted numerous instances where the games’ framerates drop for no discernible reason. You could walk through the grass or run over a bridge, and the game suddenly slices its FPS in half with the efficiency of a Kartana. When @trsrpc collected Sunflora, they discovered that the Pokémon have the animation smoothness of a zoetrope. Those issues even creep into the cutscenes, as demonstrated by Twitter user @SOliveli:
Admittedly, these framerate issues were on full display as early as the games’ announcement trailer, but these kinds of problems are usually ironed out as development continues. The continued existence of these framerate hiccups is a black mark on the Pokémon franchise and the Nintendo Switch as a platform. If Nintendo can’t get its own games to run smoothly on the Switch, what does that say about the console’s ability to keep up with some of the larger upcoming Switch exclusives?
Simple Actions Are Strangely Resource Intensive
Poké Balls are the most important items in the Pokémon franchise. Unless you are smarter than an Alakazam, you probably can’t beat a Pokémon game without using balls to catch wild creatures. But in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, you might want to avoid using Poké Balls as much as possible.
Twitter users such as @YuriaVT and @Snicky974 have demonstrated that Scarlet and Violet‘s engine somehow struggles to handle Poké Balls. These content creators posted clips that show their characters tossing Poké Balls, and right after the items leave their hands, entire pieces of the world disappear.
After that, the games actually pause for a second to load in parts of the recently despawned landscape. Then the engine requires a few more seconds to load even more assets. All the while, the Poké Ball sits on the ground patiently, refusing to let players know if they actually caught a Pokémon until the world loads back in.
Using Poké Balls is an inherently time-consuming process designed to make players anxious. Did they catch a Pokémon? Did they not? They have to wait through several shakes of the ball to find out, which admittedly makes success feel sweeter. Thanks to this issue, though, the simple act of catching Pokémon quickly feels like a chore.
An Absurd Amount of Pop-In
When Sonic Frontiers was recently released, many gamers complained about that title’s pop-in problems. Players couldn’t see where they were going because assets such as grind rails and platforms didn’t spawn properly. Popular YouTuber Skill-Up even claimed the game had the worst pop-in he’d ever seen. Wait until he sees Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.
Many Scarlet and Violet players have already posted videos that show NPCs just warping into existence with shocking regularity. @GoldilocksP4 encountered this issue while performing the seemingly simple act of walking down a road.
The pop-in of Scarlet and Violet is so bad that it even works in reverse. Alpharad discovered one NPC out for a stroll with their Combee before the NPC suddenly started walking in place and slowly despawned into nothingness.
The entire point of an open-world game is to give players a vast amount of digital real estate to explore, complete with NPCs in the distance. Since Pokémon Scarlet and Violet clearly can’t handle that either due to the game’s engine or the Nintendo Switch (or both), what is even the point of making open-world Pokémon games? A smaller world with less pop-in would have been far more palatable to most gamers.
While many of Scarlet and Violet‘s technical issues are fairly consistent, players have also discovered quite a few random issues that make them ask, “What the heck am I looking at?”
For instance, even though Koraidon and MIraidon are the faces of Scarlet and Violet, those Pokémon are the source of many bugs. For example, @Patterrz learned that the player character will occasionally break their own spine and clip their arms through their eye sockets for no discernable reason while riding one of the game’s living bikes.
Those vehicles will even sometimes fail to load into the game, as Twitter user @nagisa_Vzuki39 discovered. Despite not rendering, they still managed to ride around on their Pokémon as if nothing was wrong. The invisible creature even casts a shadow.
Possibly more concerning is a collision issue discovered by Polygon and Redditor IceBing8616. It turns out that if you jump into walls while riding Koraidon, the Pokémon will get stuck in the falling animation even after it hits the ground.
However, the award for the funniest bug has to go to Reddit user BahamasGreatCrossing, who encountered a truly terrifying glitch where their multiplayer partner turned into a lanky giant while riding Miraidon. Guess that answers the question of what would happen if a human managed ot be Dynamaxed.
While Koraidon and Miraidon have their share of glitches, the game world itself is just as buggy. Reddit user Snacky-Boy posted one image where patches of the landscape were rendered with weird blue textures, as well as another picture where pieces of land inexplicably transformed into spires decorated with green Zebra stripes.
More often than not, those landscape bugs appear where players and Pokémon tread. For instance, Reddit user blackreaper709 found a location where they can just clip through the ground into the vast digital emptiness below, and Twitter user @AquaticFuz encountered a random Deino that was stuck in a wall. Yet, they could still fight the trapped Pokémon.
Even level design can wreak havoc with Koraidon and Miraidon, as @teemoXC demonstrates with a clip of Koraidon trying to shimmy along a boardwalk’s fence.
A Disappointing Meal
While most players are complaining about bugs and glitches in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet (with good reason), some have found problems with the execution of core game features.
Pokémon Sword and Shield introduced a cooking mechanic that lets players create curry dishes for their characters and Pokémon to enjoy (or despise). Depending on the curry’s quality, Pokémon are healed and receive bonus experience. Wild Pokémon might even wander in for a taste. Plus, the game renders each meal in delicious detail and shows both player and Pokémon reactions. The result is nothing short of adorable. Scarlet and Violet recycle that basic mechanic, but the execution of that idea is almost enough to make gamers hurt themselves in confusion.
Instead of creating curry, players in Scarlet and Violet craft sandwiches, though the game still lets players see how in-game characters react. However, nobody actually eats the food. Instead, the player’s Trainer just takes a bite out of thin air while they’re superimposed over a 2D image of their meal. Many players have rightfully mocked this downgrade. Plus, Scarlet and Violet only show the Trainer’s reaction to the taste. Pokémon either eat the food up or faint out of disgust with no in-between responses.
It’s a little thing, but that’s the point. Even the small things that Scarlet and Violet recycle from other games are either not working or feel half-baked. Many fans were stunned to hear that Scarlet and Violet were being released so soon after Arceus, and the earliest hours with the game seemingly support the pre-release speculation that suggested the latest Pokémon titles were not ready to be released. Some of those rough edges will be smoothed out over time, but Scarlet and Violet strongly suggest that either the Switch cannot handle this kind of Pokémon game or that developer Game Freak isn’t up to the task of maximizing the hardware’s potential and making their visions work. Either way, something has to give.