Pokemon Scarlet & Violet: The Teal Mask on Switch
Before getting into it, I want to state in advance I didn’t go into the Teal Mask DLC with an open mind. I kept my expectations low, mainly because of how the first DLC of the Pokemon Sword and Shield games, The Isle of Armor, went down, which was a mess. While the Teal Mask was a fun experience for what it was, it certainly shouldn’t have taken nearly a full year after the game’s launch for it to be released.
The Teal Mask DLC Storyline [Spoiler Warning]
Let’s start with the main storyline for the DLC. You’re called to Naranja Academy to meet with a new professor, Briar, who invites you to Kitakami Island for a school trip alongside some students from Blueberry Academy. Blueberry Academy is based in the Unova region, which strongly hints we may see Pokemon Black & White remakes sometime next year. However, again, I will keep my expectations low based on what happened with “Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.”
When you arrive on the Island, you meet with the two main characters of the DLC, the sibling duo of Carmine and Kieran. For what it’s worth, they did a pretty good job with the dynamic between the two, as I have a younger brother myself. The main gist of the story revolves around the legend of “The Loyal Three and The Ogre.” We were taught that Ogre was the bad guy and the Loyal Three were the good guys, but instead, it was the complete opposite as we dove further into the story. Making “The Ogre” into the adorable green mask Pokemon, Ogerpon, was definitely the right call in order to win the player’s heart over.
While deciphering the truth behind Ogerpon, we also start to see the crack in Kieran’s psyche, who taps into his anger multiple times, to the point where he almost puts on the Teal Mask, which was meant for Ogerpon. I definitely enjoyed seeing Kieran’s character growth throughout the DLC. From a shy, scared little kid to supposedly becoming a future antagonist by the end of the DLC, swearing vengeance against us for taking Ogerpon from him. I’m very excited to see what happens to him when he shows up again, presumably in the next DLC, The Indigo Disk.
The DLC wraps up with us befriending and catching Ogerpon, clearing its name and no longer hated by the townsfolk, and saying goodbye to the sibling duo until further notice. Overall, the storyline was fun, had a great premise, and had a more meaningful impact than the Isle of Armor for sure. That said, I do have some gripes.
For starters, for a DLC titled “The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero,” the DLC had virtually nothing to do with it, only mentioning it a few times when Professor Briar was present, as she stated she was interested in discovering its secrets. Otherwise, no new Paradox Pokemon were introduced, nor were there any references to the events that took place during the base game.
The Teal Mask felt more like a side story/what-if adventure rather than a paid continuation of what occurred in Scarlet & Violet. The mascot of the DLC, Ogerpon, also had nothing to do with Area Zero, as it isn’t a Paradox Pokemon, though it was able to change Tera-typings, which was cool. It’s clear The Teal Mask was meant to be a setup for what might occur in The Indigo Disk, but even still, the fact that Area Zero had virtually nothing to do with the DLC definitely stung.
Moving onto the gameplay, Scarlet & Violet have already dealt with their fair share of bashing for the poor graphics and technical issues, but the Teal Mask didn’t improve upon it. Kitakami Island is very small, only taking up maybe a corner portion of the Paldea region itself. However, they do make up for it by adding more attention to detail in certain aspects of the Island rather than throwing a plain texture over it.
This is especially true for the most significant portion of the Island, Oni Mountain. Oni Mountain redefines what a cavern-like space should be like, especially compared to what we saw in the Paldea region. Giant rock structures resembling teeth as if you were in a jaw. Huge waterfalls that lead out to some plains and more. Overall, they did a solid job with Oni Mountain and Kitakami Island itself.
That said, if you play the DLC after you beat the main storyline of Scarlet & Violet, which the large majority of the player base has at this point, then the improvements made to the landscape are entirely overshadowed by the ability to scale the mountain and fly on your respective Legendary to your next destination in an instant. This leads me to the next point, specifically, difficulty scaling.
As mentioned before, the large majority of players who hopped into the new DLC are those who have already beaten the main storyline of Scarlet & Violet. This means all of their Pokemon are either in the 70’s or high 60’s when they beat the final boss, AI Turo/Sada. Even if you had stopped playing right then and there, your team would still be high-leveled and ready to go.
At no point in the DLC did I feel threatened by an opposing trainer, as virtually all of the fights were with pre-evolved Pokemon in the 70’s, except for the final battles with Carmine and Kieran, who both were relatively easy to defeat. I’m not asking for a massive jump in power like the Volo battle in Legends: Arceus, but it would’ve been nice to have a surprise challenge in some shape or form.
“New” Pokemon Added
Finally, the Teal Mask introduced a measly eight “new” Pokemon, with only four of them being brand new while the rest are additional regional variants of pre-existing Pokemon. It’s an upgrade from the Isle of Armor, which gave us one new regional variant and two “new” Pokemon, but it doesn’t change we had to wait nearly a year for four “new” Pokemon.
Meanwhile, the remaining 192 entries of the Kitakami Pokedex are Pokemon that were already in the base game and some returning ones from older games. While it was nice to see some returning faces, it would’ve been better to see some fresh ones.
Overall, the Teal Mask DLC was precisely what I assumed it would end up being: a small update that would take me a few hours at most to complete. While the quality of life changes are noticeable, it doesn’t make up for Scarlet & Violet’s pre-existing graphical issues, and the lack of new Pokemon leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I have higher hopes for the next DLC, the Indigo Disk, but it would’ve been nice if the same effort that’s going into the Indigo Disk was also put into the Teal Mask.
Strong story with solid potential for future updates.
Updated models & animations look much cleaner.
Better design to environment/more attention to detail.
Hardly any new Pokemon added.
Story had nothing to do with Area Zero.
No challenge/increase in difficulty.
Not much to do in post game.
September 13, 2023
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