Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are Smart to Move Sword and Shield-Style Gym Tests Outside – GameRant

Pokemon’s last two Generations have experimented with Gyms to an extent, but Scarlet and Violet can shine by really leaning into worldbuilding.
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet will take the franchise a step beyond its predecessors with an open-world Paldea, and there are three overarching storylines to pursue while exploring the region. These stories segment familiar Pokemon tropes, with "Victory Road" following the conquest of eight Gyms, "Path of Legends" bringing players into contact with unique entities called Titan Pokemon, and "Starfall Street" taking down of delinquent students from Team Star. The latest Scarlet and Violet trailer suggests Paldea's Pokemon League will stand out by giving challengers a series of test that better involves the local community.
Collecting eight Gym Badges will be familiar to Pokemon fans of all ages, and on the surface Scarlet and Violet don't seem to change much about this tradition. Players' in-game friend and fellow student Nemona encourages them to tackle Gyms across the region, and this is the first time that all eight will be available in any order. As a result, the Gym Tests seem to lean harder into activities rather than trainer matches, as was seen at times with Galar's League in Sword and Shield.
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Pokemon Gyms have more or less followed the same formula since Pokemon Red and Green released in 1996. Players typically have to complete a puzzle in order to move through an enclosed space and reach the Gym Leader, with weaker trainers matching their type specialty standing in front of puzzle components. Sometimes a Gym is more cerebral, for example asking players to answer trivia questions, and on rare occasions there are cases like Olivine City's Gym that require outside tasks to open up the battle.
Pokemon Sun and Moon radically changed things up in Generation 7, pivoting to Alola's Island Challenge. Players visit landmarks across the Hawai'i-inspired region to complete Trials on behalf of Trial Captains, often involving a familiar set of puzzles, quizzes, and other activities. However, the Trial Captains were not battled like Gym Leaders; instead players took on Totem Pokemon who could call for assistance to create more challenging scenarios. Each Trial also took place in a diverse setting, from caverns and jungles to an abandoned supermarket and bustling observatory.
Generation 8 went back to basics with the Galar region, but Sword and Shield shook things up by presenting Gyms as though they were part of a real-world Football (Soccer) league. Each Leader dukes it out on a pitch that leaves room for Dynamax or Gigantamax Pokemon, and at the end of the game players participate in an elimination-style tournament. Galar's huge stadium Gyms opened a few more unique Gym Tests that showcase a Leader or city's personality, like herding Wooloo in Turffield or riding Stow-on-Side's pachinko board. However, just as many stuck with abstract ideas like water puzzles, an "audition" quiz, and tests of battling prowess.
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The latest Pokemon Scarlet and Violet showcase on October 6 gave fans a general overview of the upcoming games' different facets, in particular highlighting the Artazon Gym as part of the "Victory Road" story. The Gym Test to face Grass-type Leader Brassius is playing Sunflora Hide-and-Seek, seemingly having to search all of Artazon Town as the Johto Pokemon are disguised in flower pots and art installations.
Each Gym Test will be unique according to Scarlet and Violet's website, and by completing them players "might come to learn more about the customs and unique features of each city and town, as well as what kind of people the Gym Leaders are.​" This sounds reminiscent of Alola's Island Challenge, which delved deeper into the region's culture via tasks like sending players up Wela Volcano to learn traditional dances from Alolan Marowak, or cooking a local delicacy for Totem Lurantis.
Gym Tests like Turffield's Wooloo herding kept this idea to an extent, giving players an idea of daily life for farmer-turned-Leader Milo, but many of them were held back by restrictions to one building. Scarlet and Violet appear to find a "best of both worlds" approach that lets Gym challenges spill into the Paldea region's open world, letting players do things like learn about Artazon's artisan community. It remains to be seen how much the Champion Assessment overseen by Pokemon League chairwoman Geeta will iterate on the typical Elite Four side, but on the whole this Victory Road storyline appears to be on a smart track.
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet launch November 18, exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.
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Jason learned to read playing Pokemon Crystal on the Game Boy Color, and hasn’t looked back. He received a Journalism degree at California State University, Fullerton while working on news coverage and investigative content for its paper, and came to Game Rant soon after graduating. Nintendo games are his primary wheelhouse, but he’ll try most anything once.


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