Pokémon Scarlet and Violet’s series of post-launch content finally wrapped up on January 11 with the release of The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero‘s epilogue. Now, having played through it, I find it to be a fittingly odd end to one of the weirdest generations of the Pokémon series ever.
Instead of adding some grand endgame challenges to overcome, this is a story-focused epilogue about a Pokémon that is brainwashing and controlling people through mochi. It’s a cute and comedic horror riff that gives entertaining final moments to the friends players made throughout the main game and DLC’s adventures. Despite that, it’s underwhelming and still subject to the technical problems that have plagued Pokémon Scarlet and Violet since launch.
Officially titled The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero Epilogue: Mochi Mayhem, this additional story begins once you place a Mythical Pecha Berry on a decoration at Peachy’s shop on Kitakami Island. That initiates a call from Arven, who decides to visit the player’s house in Paldea with Nemona and Penny. While hanging out there, the group is invited back to Kitakami by Kieran, the player’s main rival in The Teal Mask and The Indigo Disk. Things seem normal at first when they all visit, but they quickly notice that Kieran’s sister Carmine is acting oddly.
Her eyes have turned purple, and she seems brainwashed. She’s forced to do a chicken dance while begging for mochi. This kicks off the silly story, where characters from the main game and DLC are slowly picked off by this mochi curse, which a new Pokémon is at the center of. It’s a kid-friendly horror story that’s ultimately more funny than frightening and ultimately serves as an opportunity for Game Freak to go on a victory lap with its games.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure Scarlet and Violet deserve that yet. They’re some of the oddest entries in the mainline series, as Game Freak used them to experiment with full-on open-world design. It’s always been clear that the Nintendo Switch or the engine Game Freak is using just can’t match the studio’s current ambitions. This is one of the worst-looking AAA games on Nintendo Switch, with frequent frame rate drops and texture pop-ins that severely hamper the experience.
That’s a shame, as the story moments and classic RPG gameplay are otherwise very enjoyable. Shortly after Pokémon Scarlet and Violet were released, its developers said, “We are aware that players may encounter issues that affect the games’ performance. Our goal is always to give players a positive experience with our games, and we apologize for the inconvenience. We take the feedback from players seriously and are working on improvements to the games.” Well, this is seemingly the final major update for Scarlet and Violet, and those comprehensive improvements never arrived.
I wish this new content was free from any new technical problems, but textures would frequently pop in and out of the background during conversations in my revisit. The game’s frame rate tanked during the epilogue’s climax for me as well because too many NPCs were doing that Mochi dance on screen simultaneously. Yes, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet even struggle to handle dancing over a year after release.
The Teal Mask, The Indigo Disk, and Mochi Mayhem are all enjoyable in their own ways but just lay content on top of core problems instead of outright solving them. Even though Mochi Mayhem made me chuckle a couple of times, it ultimately feels like a weird, underwhelming joke to end this generation of Pokémon rather than a triumphant send-off.
If you’ve already sunk dozens of hours in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet and its DLC like I have, you might as well check out Mochi Mayhem to satiate any feelings of narrative sunk cost. It doesn’t add much in the way of compelling gameplay experiences, though. To those that haven’t touched Pokémon Scarlet and Violet since launch and hoped the DLC and post-launch updates would fix the game’s most frustrating issues: this is not a No Man’s Sky or Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty situation. It’s a whimper, not a bang.
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