Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet: The Indigo Disk Review

Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Switch
Price: $29.99

The Indigo Disk is the second and final bit of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet DLC included in The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero expansion pack. That's all, folks. Aside from any upcoming in-game events, this is the last Scarlet and Violet content we're going to get. As far as we know, at least. Pokemon Day is right around the corner. Maybe Game Freak is cooking up a lime-themed Pokemon Verdant or something. The Indigo Disk adds new story content, a new area, a new Tera type, 138 returning Pokemon, and 8 new Pokemon. And BTW, The Indigo Disk is all endgame content. All Pokemon are over level 55 and there's no level scaling.
The Indigo Disk adds a lot of content to the game, but just as I expected, there are zero performance fixes here. In fact, I think the new area, the Terarium (Get it?), has even more spots with bad performance than Paldea did at launch. There is no escaping the terrible framerate. It was probably a bad idea to cram all these different biomes right next to each other and add the ability to fly on top of it. Areas with mud perform the worst, with long stutters that make it look like the game is going to crash. There are also real crashes. More than I’ve experienced since the first few weeks after launch. It's a shame because there's a lot to like about this expansion.
The story of The Indigo Disk starts off by taking you through the Terarium while battling the Elite Four of the Blueberry Academy. It turns out that Kieran, the kid who thinks he’s the main character of this game and tried to take your legendary Pokemon in Kitagami, is the champion here and they have an Elite Four of their own. Of course, now you must beat them all and beat Kieran again and show him that he can never beat you, no matter how hard he trains.
After all that, you go back to Area Zero with Carmine and Kieran and this little jerk tries to steal another legendary from you! Unbelievable! So, what's the treasure of Area Zero? It's a Pokemon. Were you expecting a Triforce maybe? Well, it's that turtle Pokemon all over the new anime series, Terapagos. After you take your rightful Pokemon, you can go back to Kitagami and talk to the Cavewoman or Reed Richards professor and they basically say that there's multiple timelines and dimensions in Pokemon. And that's it for the Area Zero storyline. Kind of disappointing if you ask me. I was hoping we’d get to travel in time or something, but all we get is a few more caves in Area Zero and a new Pokemon.
There is one more story back in Kitagami. Remember that weird doll at the store that everyone thought was a Pokemon? Well, it turned out to be a Pokemon and it’s making everyone eat its mochi and dance like chickens in “Mochi Mayhem”. This is really just an excuse to get all your friends from Kitagami and Paldea (and Kieran) together for one final episode, but it also fleshes out the Ogerpon story. I liked it. It’s fun, goofy, you get to see all your friends (and Kieran) interact, and you get a new mythical Pokemon in the end.
That might sound like a lot of story content, but you can go through all of that in under 10 hours. The real meat of the game is in the new Blueberry League Club Room, which you unlock soon after getting to the new school. This club room has a bunch of stuff you can do and unlock with the new currency, Blueberry Points.
You get Blueberry Points from doing quests in the Terarium. These quests are called Blueberry Quests, or BBQs. These quests just keep popping up on a list as you complete them, just like the Nook Mile quests in Animal Crossing New Horizons. You don't even have to talk to an NPC. There's quests which require you to sneak up on a Pokemon, battle a wild Terastalized Pokemon, catch a Pokemon, and a bunch of other stuff. There's also multiplayer only quests that have you making sandwiches together, taking group photos, and other stuff. Basically, you get points for using the game’s mechanics.
You can then use these Blueberry Points on stuff like new photo filters, themes and music for the club room, and new Pokeball throwing animations. You can also use them to run the item printer, which is a machine that takes your Pokemon materials and turns them into items, like held items, Tera shards, vendor trash, and bottle caps. You can also get rare Pokeballs, like Master Balls and Friend Balls, from this machine if you randomly hit the “Pokeball Lotto”.
One of the coolest things you can buy with BPs is new Pokemon for the 4 biomes in the Terarium, which just means starter Pokemon in the wild, as far as I can tell. That means they can also appear in outbreaks, so you can easily shiny hunt them. All the starters from previous generations are available, but not the ones from Scarlet and Violet.
Another thing you can do with BPs is bring NPCs (or “coaches”) to the club room. You can host 2 at a time, and you can bring in all the Gym leaders, teachers, Nemona, Penny, and others. You can battle them and get rare items, emotes, and clothing, you can trade Pokemon with them, and they'll even talk to some of the other NPCs you bring in. You’ll have to mix and match to see all the unique interactions. It's not exactly a Battle Tree, but it's pretty cool if you like NPC battles, or just want to hang out with Iono again.
There's also an NPC who will give you special items that make legendary Pokemon appear around Paldea for doing BBQs. Most can be unlocked by doing solo quests, but there's also a bunch that require you to do group quests in multiplayer. These group quests aren't simply quests done in multiplayer, though. You have to do a bunch of quests in multiplayer for the group quests to pop up, and you have to do 12 of these to get the items for all the other version’s exclusive legendaries and all the group quest exclusive legendaries. It's a huge grind. I spent a lot of time doing solo quests and grouped up 4 different times for hours and hours of BBQing. All of these legendaries are 1 time spawns and they are shiny locked, BTW.
The new Tera type is Stellar, the type Terapagos comes with. This is a very complicated type. As if people didn't have enough trouble understanding what Terastalization did already. The Stellar type gives moves of all types the 1.5X boost from Terastalizing, but only 1 time for 1 move of each type. So say you have a Pokemon with 1 water, 2 fire, and 1 psychic move, you can get the boost once for all of the moves except the second fire move. Unlike other Tera types, Stellar doesn't affect your Pokemon’s typing at all, so if your Charizard Terastalizes into Stellar, it's still going to be Fire/Flying both offensively and defensively. There's no actual Stellar typing for Pokemon. Even Terapagos is a Normal type. All rumors of Pokemon changing forms while Terastalized into Stellar are false. Terapagos changes forms when it goes into any battle, but it doesn't have anything to do with the Stellar type. Stellar has a few other effects when using Tera Blast and Terapagos' signature move, Tera starstorm, but you should just go watch a guide video on that if you're interested.
After finishing a certain challenge from one of the Elite Four, you can unlock Koraidon or Miraidon’s flying abilities. Whenever you want to fly; you jump, start gliding, and then press L3 on the left stick. It's kind of an awkward button combination in practice, and the movement controls are weird because they change depending on where the camera is, but you can fly now! You can fly in any outdoor area, including in Mesagoza, and even in Area Zero. There are no weird World of Warcraft-like restrictions to it.
That's a lot of stuff to keep you busy until the next game comes out. You're definitely getting your money's worth with this expansion pack. I’d say it's a pretty good send-off for Scarlet and Violet. It would have been perfect if it also fixed the framerate, though.