Disclaimer: Writer is an investor in Nintendo.
It’s only been a couple of months since my review of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet: The Teal Mask DLC, but part 2 of the expansion is already here! Read on to find out how it compares to the last wave and if it fixes any of the issues I had last time.
Once again, you’re called back to Naranja/Uva academy and offered a special trip – this time to Blueberry academy, in the Unova region! Based on the United States, Unova is also where the Pokémon Black and White games take place. You meet up with the academy director Cyrano and are soon shown the Terarium (yes, it’s spelt that way), a giant dome under the sea that contains artificially created biomes for different Pokémon. It serves as the main attraction in this DLC, and for good reason.
It’s packed to the brim with returning Pokémon from old games and has 4 distinct areas to explore, although many graphical assets do seem to just be reused from the base game. Still, this place is quite large and about as fun to explore as Paldea was. There are lakes, caves, mountains and of course tera raid dens everywhere just as before. Healing and item stations are scattered throughout, as well as 5 different plazas (one in each biome and a single in the center). These are nice to have but nowhere as interesting as towns – they really just house a few NPCs and a court to battle on.
Yes, you’ll be doing lots of battle as always and I’m happy to say things have finally been turned up a notch. All trainers at Blueberry academy use the double-battle format, which is how competitive Pokémon is typically played. Many of them use specific strategies and coordinated teams which means as long as you don’t use level 100 Pokémon, battles aren’t going to be so easy. I myself tried to train up a new team, and after losing to members of the Blueberry Elite Four too many times, I actually had to bring in a few members from my original teams to get by.
Oh yeah, Blueberry Academy has its own Elite Four! The school has its very own league you can join, and it’s revealed that Kieran (the boy from The Teal Mask) put his all into battle and became the Blueberry Champion after repeatedly losing to you in Kitakami. However, it’s clear that he’s not in a healthy state and someone needs to get through to him. I don’t want to reveal what happens, but I will say that the conclusion of this story is significantly more interesting than in the last DLC, although it doesn’t quite reach the highs of the base game.
Last thing for this section – while in the Terarium, you are given a small selection of repeating “Blueberry Quests”, or BBQs for short. You’re rewarded points for completing these, which you can use for a variety of awesome things, such as the ability to customize the League Clubroom, print rare items and Pokéballs, and even trade with over a dozen main characters. However, the costs for some of these things are quite high and therefore means you have to complete a lot of BBQs. Seeing as most of the quests aren’t that interesting, I’d highly recommend anyone who decides to tackle them to join up with at least 1 other player, as you can work together to complete tasks much faster.
Now, in this day and age it wouldn’t be a Pokémon review if I didn’t talk about the performance. I’m once again sorry to say that little has been improved. The game still runs at a snail’s pace in certain areas, and even within the first few minutes I was already experiencing strange graphical glitches. I didn’t have any crashes at the very least, but I’m seriously sick of talking about this. If the performance of the base game turned you away, I don’t recommend the DLC either. Look at my original Scarlet and Violet review if you want to see a video of how bad it gets.
Perhaps my favorite thing about the Pokémon series is its forward compatibility. It is still possible to catch a Pokémon on your 2001 Gameboy Advance and transfer it all the way into these games if you have the right hardware – at least until Pokémon Bank shuts down. I spent a lot of time in Blueberry Academy with my Scizor that I caught in Pokémon Soulsilver on the Nintendo DS!
However, supporting such features means that it would be upsetting to newer players that aren’t able to get their hands on specific items and Pokémon that were introduced in games which are no longer sold. This DLC attempts to remedy this by making available about 25 Legendary Pokémon from past games, which will appear throughout Paldea after completing enough BBQs and talking to a certain NPC. I appreciate having them so accessible and it makes for nice endgame content.
Kieran from a faith perspective (minor spoilers)
As strange as it may seem, I can kind of relate with Kieran’s ambitions and struggles. Whenever I play a video game, I have a habit of… going all the way. Whether there’s optional collectibles, challenges, or story content, it can genuinely be difficult for me to play through without doing everything, even if I’m not enjoying my time. Whether it’s my pride, OCD, an unhealthy attachment to material things, or all three, I’m not sure.
And while we are often called to do things we don’t like, I mostly play video games for leisure. But spending a bunch of hours in a game painfully completing tasks just so I can be certain I “100%” it doesn’t do much for me. It’s usually just a waste of time and leaves me feeling bad afterwards.
It seems to me like Kieran is doing something similar here. He reveals that everything he’s going through, pushing himself to improve at Pokémon battles, is just so he can beat you. And for what? Nobody in the story even wants him to. There’s nothing for him to gain, except perhaps inflating his pride. It’s also clear that he’s become quite unhappy, no longer repeating his signature cheery catchphrases and lashing out at others.
So, next time you find yourself unfulfilled while playing a game, consider asking: why am I feeling this way? Is it just a momentary boring point in the game, or am I chasing after some quick dopamine hit that will soon go away? Could it be from something else entirely that’s going on in my life? In my experience, doing so can not only be spiritually insightful, but also simply help you have a better time.
Gameplay: 4/5 – Terrarium is fun to explore, but the Elite 4 is not that interesting.
Story: 4/5 – An improvement over previous DLC.
Music: 5/5 – Remixes of old songs are awesome.
Graphics: 2.5/5 – Frame drops and stutters are frequent. Many textures load in at low resolutions and stay that way. It is brought up by awesome trainer animations and world design.
More or less equivalent to the original review. I have copy/pasted the original ones below if you need a refresher.
Violence: While Pokémon do battle each other, everything remains cartoony. All Pokémon faint when they run out of HP instead of dying. You do hear of the death of characters and see unusually injured Pokémon throughout the story but nothing graphic is shown. You may hear of Pokémon harming people or other Pokémon in their dex entries.
Sex/Nudity: Most characters are dressed quite modestly, save for a few characters including a female team star boss who is a wrestler & has a short top and shorts. Professor Sada in Scarlet Version is similar. Players choose male or female characters at the beginning of the game but can customize them with any hairstyles, clothes, etc. they want even if it’s typically meant for the opposite gender. Finally, you will see some males with several feminine styles and the ice type gym leader in particular looks a lot like a female but is referenced as male.
Magic/Occult: Several Pokémon are based off of ghosts & have psychic moves. Bramblin’s Pokédex entry in Scarlet version states that it was originally a soul unable to move on to the afterlife and Medicham’s states it gained psychic power from yoga. Many other entries have similar themes. Some Pokémon have also been revered as deities in times past.
Online connectivity: You can connect with other players online which of course means a risk of running into inappropriate usernames. Seeing as you can also set custom profile pictures with the camera feature, I’m sure people will find ways to make inappropriate pictures as well. This feature can easily be avoided or turned off, however.
Misc. There is a section in the game which requires the player to lie to a character (albeit over a pretty small matter) and some characters complain/talk about the poor qualities of their parents & suffering they have endured, such as being left alone for long periods of time.