Pokemon Scarlet & Violet may have removed the best feature in years

pokemon trainer standing in road in scarlet and violetThe Pokemon Company

Despite all the glowing praise for Pokemon Scarlet and Violet’s early footage, it looks like Game Freak may have removed one of the most innovative features the franchise has had in years – and that’s a real shame.

After a successful spin-off, Pokemon Legends Arceus, the mainline Pokemon series looks to be getting back on track with a traditional dual release, this time in the form of Pokemon Scarlet & Violet.

All the usual signs of a fresh generational release are there: New species, a new region, new characters, and even the adorable Lechonk.

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Scarlet & Violet look as ambitious as ever, with recent entries clearly influencing Game Freak’s latest work in an attempt to make it the greatest game yet. Arceus has also had an impact on the development of Scarlet & Violet, not least because of its sprawling open-world map.

But amongst all the glitz and glamor, the recent second trailer – which also gave us the release date of both titles – may have indicated that one aspect of the Pokemon formula will, unfortunately, be regressing: the art of catching Pokemon.

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Lechonk pokemon on its side in scarlet and violetThe Pokemon Company
Even Lechonk is sad about having to battle.

One step forward and two steps back for Pokemon Scarlet & Violet

The freedom in Arceus to be able to sneak up behind an unwitting Pokemon, trap them in my Poke Ball, acquire ownership, and move on to my next target was bliss. Liberating in fact. The lack of a scripted sequence that cycled through repetitive animations you’ve seen a hundred times before was what I’d always wanted in a Pokemon game.

Unless you were battling an Alpha, who’s to say that you necessarily need to battle a Pokemon to catch it? It’s only logical.

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Yet, based on the latest trailer, this fresh approach to catching already seems to have been wrestled out of our hands, and I’m not sure why.

The official website for Pokemon Scarlet & Violet previously stated that “you’ll be able to experience the true joy of the Pokemon series – battling against wild Pokemon to catch them – now in an open-world game that players of any age can enjoy.”

This would suggest that battling is the only way to catch Pokemon now, whereas Arceus established the innovative, real-time catching mechanic almost immediately.

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Could it just be an overlooked gameplay feature that the devs don’t feel pertinent to the nature of this trailer and what they’d hoped to accomplish? I don’t think so.

poke center in scarlet and violetThe Pokemon Company
The redesigned Pokemon Centers are an example of a positive change to improve gameplay.

The evolution of Pokemon catching, or what I thought was an evolution, still has that new car smell, yet Game Freak seemingly looks content to hold the franchise back and cling to the mechanics of yesteryear.

After all, you wouldn’t tease your favorite pet with a treat it loves so much and then take it away, would you?

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Pokemon games are a lot more user-friendly now

If you go back in time and play an OG copy of Pokemon Red or Blue, you’ll realize how badly the mechanics have aged. From the act of random battles to healing Pokemon, to even equipping your bike, all these, and more, probably wasted hours of your time.

Thoughtful quality of life improvements such as item shortcuts and tangible wild Pokemon have drastically reduced timewasting and their methodical implementation over the years has done wonders for the game’s ebb and flow.

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new pokemon starters in scarlet and violetThe Pokemon Company
The new Pokemon starters are an example of an element that never needs to change.

We’ve spotted that Scarlet & Violet looks to go one better by making Poke Centers completely outdoors, meaning you can saunter over, cut out the middle man, and nurse your Pokemon back to health faster than a Quick Attack.

All games grow, try to learn from their mistakes, and ultimately try to become better versions of their past selves.

There are so many new features to be excited about in Scarlet & Violet and the effort to move the series in a new direction is great, but the apparent absence of one of Pokemon Legends Arceus’ improvements has left a sour taste in my mouth.

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