It comes as a much-anticipated change to go to the whole open-world genre for the Pokemon franchise for some time now, and the newest additions of the Gen 9 titles Pokemon Scarlet and Violet have been made to target that very base of the fans. However, coming through before was the last Gen 8 title that was surprisingly a very big hit among critics and fans alike in the form of Pokemon Legends Arceus. This title came as a new departure from the basic norms the mainline Pokemon videogames were following, and it can be arguably said that there are many aspects of Legends Arceus that make it the better Pokemon videogame title on the Nintendo Switch, that too if it is not considered the best Pokemon title on the Switch.
How I myself have seen and experienced, the many factors to this statement come from all parts of the game, some from the plot, some from the gameplay, some from the basic build-up of the immersive experience of everything that makes Pokemon Legends: Arceus truly stand out as a great game. But as we’re only talking about the basic comparison of Legends Arceus with Scarlet and Violet, we’ll be limiting our retrospective just a little to see both these titles side by side and going through all the parts to show my viewpoint of how the newest titles seem to not come through in the greatness department as the Pokemon title that preceded them.
Here are the following ways how Pokemon Legends: Arceus stands out in comparison to Pokemon Scarlet and Violet. Note that these headings below do not state the absolute overclass of each sect or part of the games, it’s just basic viewpoint and preference that takes these parts as better in one game than the other.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus came with the first new departure of the basic gameplay for Pokemon, introducing a new manner of exploration and catching Pokemon now from various locations. The basic gameplay overturned the basic encounter and catch mechanic and was a welcome change. Battles were also quicker and more dynamic, with players able to move around while battling, alongside a few new mechanics such as throwing out pokemon to gather various items, start battles, and much more. The basic gameplay was also shifted to Pokeball usage over encounters leading directly to battles against wild Pokemon, this allowed players to experience the world in a much more fresh manner with more focus on getting the perfect sneaky Pokeball throw on a pokemon’s back. The Hisuian Region truly seemed vast and beautiful because of this change because of how the gameplay added and complimented to the immersive feel of the whole world.
In comparison, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet took a lesser new route in turn for something in the middle, a stance where the basic gameplay would again be shifted to basic encounters leading to pokemon battles, and the gameplay mechanic of Pokeballs coming back as usual where players have the ability to catch pokemon like normal. Aside from this, the gameplay route came back towards the roots again, and hence the newest games feel a little bit less stellar and slower than Legends Arceus. It also doesn’t allow the immersive feel of the world to be as strong as in the other title, where using the world to approach Pokemon would have players factor in each new location’s various characteristics and contents.
Although there are many other aspects to the gameplay that have been added now that Legends Arceus does not contain, this main gameplay element could be taken in to factor in a better gameplay feel for Pokemon Legends Arceus than for Pokemon Scarlet and Violet.
It is noted that The Pokemon Company and GameFreak do not consider Pokemon Legends Arceus to be a fully open-world title, constituting the seamless world to be the basic necessity to put the open-world tag. However, the world of Hisui came as a form of pseudo Open-world where each location came as a separate full working area within itself. Players would be needing to leave one area in order to reach another fully new area, however, each location was vast and huge in itself, and factored in the open-world feel, just minus the seamless connection of each part of the full world with each other. This at least is how people and The Pokemon Company seem to look at Pokemon Legends: Arceus. However, for myself, the diversion of each new location from the other paved no such problems to make me feel like the world was not vast and not interconnected with each other. Hence, for me, the game comes as an open-world title, the better one if you may excuse my subjectivity. The only difference is areas separated by a full location window UI and loading times, which is not that big of a deal for me. Even getting into and leaving some main area for example the main city in Paldea in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet shifted to a black screen and a loading time, but people don’t consider that to be a dent in the immersive and seamless open-world.
Hence for me, this is considering the comparison of two different open-world titles, where Legends Arceus also sticks out as a better experience with much more scenic beauty and quality. This is partly due to the reason that Hisui comes as a world from the past while Paldea is a very modern location. The artistic style and naturalistic traits of Hisui were much more noticeable and enjoyable than the more generic world of Paldea.
There can also be a comparison of Pokemon as parts of the world. Legends Arceus basically nodded fewer new entries to the Pokemon variety while Paldea had a whole new lineup of Paldea Pokemon. But over here, it came that Legends Arceus was the first hash of Pokemon as fully animated parts of the world, where they would fight, sleep, eat, sit and do so much more within the world. These are also cases in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, however, this aspect is also less commended by the gameplay mechanic mentioned earlier, where Legends Arceus’s basic pokeball gameplay mechanic would have players wait and observe each pokemon outside of the encounter mechanic. This would have people notice each Pokemon’s new unique animations in the world. Hence this is the reason why the World can also be taken to be a more commendable notion for Legends Arceus than for Scarlet and Violet.
It’s not an uncommon aspect of the newest Pokemon titles Scarlet and Violet that is known to fans. The Performance dips for Scarlet and Violet have garnered much backlash, with critics holding this aspect to be one of the biggest factors of why they are giving relatively lower scores to Scarlet and Violet than to Legends Arceus. The Performance dips of Frames per second in the Gen9 titles are much more frequent and noticeable, with the release dates coming with many visual glitches and bugs as well. This is one of the reasons why Legends Arceus comes as a better title in terms of performance, even now when the newest patch that was intended to fix the performance issues and bugs of Scarlet and Violet is out.
In contrast, Pokemon Legends Arceus did have a smoother feel and a considerably better release window that was better optimised and more polished. The reception for the game was also much more positive, with criticism more towards the graphics rather than the performance. In graphical comparison, it might be an even dispute between Legends Arceus and Scarlet/Violet, where both titles sit at just alright graphics for the newest Pokemon video game titles.
The Whole Experience:
If you’re a Pokemon fan you know that the mainline videogame titles are known to come in two different versions with each new release. Ever since the start, the mainline titles came in the form of Red and Green, Red and Blue, Ruby and Sapphire, Diamond and Pearl, Black and White, Sun and Moon, Sword and Shield and so on. This was for the basic notion that the sales would be better, and there would be a better-suited chance of interaction between the two versions of games such as for trading Pokemon, getting trade exclusive evolutions, battling, and more. It did come to that singular titles were released such as Emerald and Platinum, but GameFreak departed with the idea after the Nintendo 3DS, and even those singular titles were somewhat of an upgrade of their exclusive versions.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus came as the first mainline Pokemon title that was a singular release fully whole within itself. This allowed people to fully complete the game with minimal need to interact with other copies of the game. This made me love the game even more, as I’m one of the people that do not find it enjoyable to interact with another version of the game for some basic things such as evolving specific Pokemon and more. Having a whole experience within a singular title was a great thing, leaving the need to buy and play through the other version of the game or ask another person to interact with their other version copy.
So Much Else:
There are many other aspects that can be taken in comparison to these two games. For myself, Legends Arceus did many things right and overall just gave a better experience as a Pokemon videogame for me. The newest additions of Hisuian Version Pokemon was a welcome addition, with one of the biggest surprises being the brand new Hisuian Version Evolutions of older Starter Pokemon. This was never done before with any other title where starter Pokemon were given completely brand-new versions, other than Mega or Gigantamax Forms, but that is somewhat different. Having Decidueye, Typhlosion and Samurott become Hiusian Versions was a nice little addition to the Hisuian exclusive lineup. There is also the fact of the many new Hiusian forms of other Pokemon such as Lilligant and Zoroark and many more.
There is also the aspect of the new movesets and new mechanics. Because Legends Arceus was not considered a viable choice for the official competitive scene, the new moves of various Pokemon had much more variety and were very OP. This may be a minus point for those that looked only for competitive advantage, but for me, it just made raising Pokemon and having them learn new moves a much more fun and enjoyable experience in Pokemon Legends Arceus. Paldea did bring new moves as well, but they were still made to fit the competitive scenario and seemed somewhat bland in comparison.
Coming back to the graphics, the world of Hisui was still a very beautiful one, the classic art style seemed cool as heck to me. The Paldea Open-World however is also very nice to look at, but there are a few issues that make Paldea look less good than Hisui. The performance issues in Scarlet and Violet make the world show parts running at less than 10fps, such as windmills or characters walking which wasn’t the case in Legends Arceus.
Another thing I noted for myself was that Pokemon Scarlet and Violet seemed much more bloated in comparison of Paldea to Legends Arceus’s Hisui. Hisui had each location suitably made and filled with the Pokemon that were intended to be seen over there, with the gameplay mechanic making each part feel suitably comfy and fulfilling. This was not the case in Scarlet and Violet as I quickly felt each new area would be this big landfill that I have to roam and explore for rare Pokemon as quickly as possible and just move on to the next. In Legends Arceus, I found myself taking my time with every single place, with every new Pokemon, to fully get immersed and mesmerized by what was my first open-world experience with a Pokemon game, and I loved every second of it. Hence this is one of the many things that I find Pokemon Legends: Arceus did right and better.
Overall, it’s not to say that Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are bad Pokemon titles. As a Pokemon fan, I still found myself enjoying the games very much, with the few performance issues not ruining the experience for me. The newest additions of Paldea Pokemon were great and I found many new favourites, the world came as vast and full of new things to explore and discover, and overall it is still going as a great experience. Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are even getting their DLC content later this year, which is looking to be very good.
It’s only the fact that the Legends title was a great thing to have as a Pokemon fan, and I hope that GameFreak and The Pokemon Company do continue to chase and follow this route in the future. It would only add to give more variety to Pokemon after all.
If you think this article made you want to give Pokemon Legends: Arceus a try, here’s a link where you can buy it for yourself. You can even check out Pokemon Hisuian Snow on YouTube, the short anime miniseries that Pokemon made for the Hisui Region, which is one of the most beautiful animated works done for Pokemon.
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