Game Inbox: Are Pokémon Scarlet/Violet’s Performance Issues Exaggerated?

Pokémon Scarlet/Violet – how serious are the problems? (photo: The Pokémon Company)

The Thursday Letters page discusses the best space combat simulators, as one reader celebrates their cheapness Xbox Series S.

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Acceptable performance
I’ve been playing a lot of Pokémon Scarlet over the past week and… am I the only one who finds the performance complaints highly exaggerated? I mean, it’s not God Of War, but where were all these complaints about Sword and Shield or Pokémon Legends: Arcues, which were much, much worse?

The draw distance issue dates back to Sword and Shield and at least an attempt was made to hide it here. I haven’t seen any major glitches and the frame rate isn’t an issue, it gets rough like once every five hours? And then only for a few seconds, in my experience.

I’m not saying these things should be excused, but why are we making such a fuss now when the two games that preceded it, one of which came out in January, were much worse? The only thing that’s actually worse in Scarlet is the weird trick of lowering the frame rate, which is super ugly and used a lot more than before, but that’s not exactly the feat, that’s just how the game is made.

Game Freak definitely needs to spend more time and money on their games, but all these boring technical analysis sites and YouTube channels need to get some perspective and stop just chasing trends about what to complain about.

Streaming generation
I’m not surprised Sony already has plans for PlayStation 6. I don’t think consoles are in any danger of dying out until broadband is super fast and super reliable, which won’t happen for another 10 years, if ever. If you can’t guarantee that you can play your games whenever you want, at the highest possible quality, then it’s not worth having them.

I’m willing to bet that Microsoft will be the first to give up on consoles and I suspect Sony, as so often, will sit back and see how things go. Since they’re signed up to use Microsoft’s streaming technology, it should be pretty easy for them to copy, they just need to decide when exactly they want to put their eggs in that basket.

Personally, I’m glad consoles aren’t going anywhere given how quickly companies shut down online services once they’re no longer profitable. No one is going to one day dust off an Xbox Series Z subscription from their attic to give all those great retro games a god.

Chorus of approval
I didn’t realize how much I needed a space shooter until I started playing Chorus – what a great little hidden gem it is! While it has its flaws, the fight is spectacular and worth the ticket price alone. Too bad the script isn’t up to date, but at least it kind of explains what you do in space and what your powers are.

However, it got me thinking that it would be cool if you could also visit the planets. Then I remembered that Starfield is coming out. I don’t have much hope for the space combat in that game, based on Bethesda’s previous work, but if they can nail that, along with a good plot and interesting things to do on the planets, I think that could be my dream game!

What are GC’s favorite space games?

GC: TIE Fighter is one of the greatest video games ever made. Freespace 2 is pretty good too.

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Emotional response
If the Activision deal falls through, I think the implications for PlayStation could be worse. I can’t imagine the heads at Activision will be very pleased and hold Sony partially responsible so they would say goodbye to extending their marketing deal for Call Of Duty and all the perks that come with it. So the tables would turn, with Xbox getting all those nonsense additions that Sony currently deems so important.

Then there’s Microsoft itself, who have a good chunk of the spare cash they’re happy to invest into bolstering Game Pass. I imagine Microsoft will spend money like no other, for studios and exclusive deals with third parties that don’t involve regulators. Sony is the biggest culprit for acquiring such deals, but I can imagine a “gloves off” scenario that would legitimately affect consumers.

A minimum 10 year contract for Sony is their best option in my opinion. Phil Spencer’s approach is better for everyone involved – which could even result in Call Of Duty on Switch. Perhaps I’m being naive in thinking that Phil Spencer is sincere when he claims he doesn’t want PlayStation or Nintendo going anywhere. To be more competitive with their rivals, yes, but not to the point where they cease to exist.

I suspect Xbox’s Plan B, coupled with some unavoidable bad blood between Sony and Microsoft, could have much worse consequences. While I don’t expect a return to the console wars of yesteryear, recent statements from execs have gotten a little snappy, which isn’t a good sign of how the situation could escalate. One thing’s for sure: neither Sony nor Microsoft are above petty.

Xbox bias
I got the latest Call Of Duty (my first dive into the franchise since Black Ops!) while me and my old Xbox clan mates were pining for it.

In the first few weeks we noticed some annoying bugs (like the loadouts not working properly in the menus), but once we got into games it was generally a lot of fun.

However, since the last update with DMZ and Warzone, we are unable to create a game party of more than two people.

It’s been like this for over a week now and while fixed on PC and PlayStation 5, still not so on Xbox. How is this possible?! A multi-billion dollar franchise and we can’t even play decent online in a group. Incredibly frustrating. So much so that it basically killed all the momentum we had been building.

Anyone else on Xbox with this problem? Are there solutions if so?

Everything or nothing
It’s clear that much of Microsoft’s plan is based on Game Pass becoming dominant in order to succeed and it’s clear that Call Of Duty is central to that ambition.

Ultimately, if they manage to secure the deal with Activision, it could make the subscription model strong for better or worse for not only the industry, but consumers as well.

(Personally, I share the fear of the creative malaise this would likely lead to, just look at most of Netflix’s output and indeed Microsoft’s.)

They’re getting more and more desperate to get this deal, but you have to wonder what their plan B is?

Can they give up games altogether? If they can only make a modest profit with Game Pass (assuming it actually does), how viable is it really and is it enough considering it already seems to have peaked in popularity?

It’s no doubt true that Sony and Nintendo make much more profit from game sales than they do from Game Pass subscription, which makes Game Pass even seem like a bad idea.

Microsoft may have finally dug its own grave with Game Pass, as they’ll certainly never again be able to convince Xbox owners that they’ll ever have to pay for games again, should they have to veer off course.
Pilgrim soul

Company crossing
I may be a little late, but £200 for an Xbox Series S is an absolute bargain. Between first and third party support for years to come, backward compatibility, and emulation, there’s an absolutely eye-watering amount of stuff to play on it.

I’m currently playing F-Zero GX on my fancy new OLED TV and I’m done with the setup. A Microsoft console is definitely the best way to play a Nintendo game developed by Sega.

For all ages
Why can’t we play as adults in traditional Pokémon games?

I am 41 years young and have been playing said games occasionally since January 2004, starting with Sapphire.

Every time I play as a kid or young teen, but what about a story where that youngster falls away from Pokémon, grows up, lives a life without collecting and battling, but an event forces them to pick up a Pokéball again?

Perhaps the life or family of the protagonists was saved from a wild pokémon that wanted a (new) trainer or the (favorite/first/starter) pokémon of the protagonists died and couldn’t resist replacing it.

OK, those plots are a bit dark, but The Pokémon Company and/or Game Freak can flesh that part out.

Even Power Rangers, my all-time favorite franchise, had a few dark installments and even a dark(er) series in RPM, but neither was too unsuitable for kids.
PS: Currently playing FIFA23, No Man’s Sky and Pokemon Violet all on Switch. I prefer Violet to Brilliant Diamond and Arceus, but Sword is still my favorite Switch Pokémon game (maybe because I’m from England, the country it’s based on).
PPS: May the Power protects Jason David Frank who played Tommy Oliver on five Power Ranger teams. This is my first email to GC since his death and this sad news definitely has devastated the Ranger Nation (the official term for PR fans). I never thought I’d ever see my childhood hero, but I finally did when I met him at a Nottingham Comic Con in May 2018 (see attached photo).

Jason David Frank

RIP Jason David Frank (Photo: LeighDappa)

Inbox is also running
Reader Kets was looking for the new Horizon Forbidden West game and found it for £35.
Smyths currently has it for £25 on PS4 and £27.50 on PS5.

That’s a weird number of cowboys versus the supernatural video games you mentioned in your Evil West review. I wonder why they keep showing them as I had never heard of any of them?

Hot topic this week
The topic for this weekend’s Inbox is inspired by reader Grackle and their recent Reader function about the best games on the PlayStation 4.

Expanding to include all last-gen consoles (i.e. Xbox One, Wii U, and Nintendo Switch), what do you think was the most technically impressive game of the last generation, and the one that made the most impression on an artistic level? ?

How impressed were you with the improvements made over the generation and did you feel they were a significant advancement over the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 era?

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The fine print
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