Pokémon Scarlet and Violet is immeasurably better on an emulator

share to other networks share to twitter share to facebook
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet on an emulator running at high resolution

At this point, there’s no denying that Pokémon Scarlet and Violet is a rough experience on Nintendo Switch. Nevertheless, I, like many long-term fans of the series, bought the new Pokémon adventure anyway.

However, unlike the majority of players, I’m not playing my copy on Nintendo Switch. Instead, I’ve decided to play the technically-shoddy-but-still-fun Paldean adventure on my PC with Ryujinx, a Nintendo Switch emulator.

Advertisement

Firstly, let’s put this straight: this is not an advocation of piracy. I bought my copy of Pokémon Violet (sorry, Scarlet fans); I own the game myself. Emulating games that you own is perfectly legal, if frowned upon by game companies. With that said: I’ll be continuing to play the new Pokémon game on PC, not on Nintendo Switch, but why?

The new region of Paldea has been rightly criticised for awful technical issues compared to past entries. In fact, the game is so rough and buggy that Nintendo is even offering refunds. Previously, 2019’s Sword and Shield were lasted for poor visuals; this new entry makes them look like fine art.

Surprisingly, the new game’s Pokémon creatures are actually fantastically detailed. New shaders give bird Pokémon actual feathers, reptilian Pokémon such as Seviper and Fuecoco have actual scales. However, on Switch, the game’s resolution is too low and murky to really see those details.

Look at the scales on this Seviper; what a cutie!
click to enlarge
+ 4
Credit: Pokémon Scarlet and Violet on an emulator: Seviper and Garyados fighting in a field
Look at the scales on this Seviper; what a cutie!
Advertisement

Those details are present in human models as well. This time around, clothes have actual stitching. To be fair, first-party Nintendo games have done this since the Nintendo Wii, but it’s still nice to see here. Furthermore, the game’s inside environments have gorgeous baked lighting and detailed assets.

Unfortunately, it’s in the open world where Pokémon Scarlet and Violet completely fall apart. Horrendously compressed textures and aggressive level of detail settings lead to a game that looks two generations old on console. Additionally, it’s offensive LoD management means you’ll be seeing low-poly versions of Pokémon until you’re right in front of them.

In just one step, Pokémon five feet in front of you can switch to low-poly models.
click to enlarge
+ 4
Credit: Pokémon Scarlet and Violet emulator: Two side by side images of a Stanler in Paldea with two different LoD settings
In just one step, Pokémon five feet in front of you can switch to low-poly models.

On Nintendo Switch, this does lead to a number of issues for me personally. I own a Nintendo Switch Lite, the smaller, handheld only version of the console. In the open world, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet have incredibly tiny creatures hiding in grass. With the game’s low resolution, I find it quite hard to determine where a lot of these Pokémon are.

Advertisement

On the other hand, slapping the game on my PC, I can play Pokémon Scarlet and high resolutions. Currently, I have the game running at twice its standard resolution, removing a lot — but not all — of the game’s aliasing and allowing the world to shine. Well, shine as well as it can. 

I’m actually enjoying exploring Paldea this way. Aggressive aliasing has always given me a headache and my generally poor vision does not play well with the Switch game’s low native resolution. However, on an emulator, with a decent PC, I can play the game at settings that are good for me.

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are absolutely not fixed this way, but I do think it’s a marked improvement. You’ll still notice the frenetic pop-in, the awful low-quality artwork in the open world, and areas of the game that just look unfinished.

Environments are still incredibly low detail, especially at a distance.
click to enlarge
+ 4
Environments are still incredibly low detail, especially at a distance.
Advertisement

Of course, the game’s bugginess is absolutely still present. In fact, in some places, it’s worse. You’ll still have to deal with lighting flickering just like on Switch. However, sometime’s you’ll also have to deal with texture steaming issues in a few cutscenes and eyeballs disappearing, but these additional issues are very few and far between.

High quality assets do exist inside the game. However, they are completely crushed into low-res versions in the open world.
click to enlarge
+ 4
High quality assets do exist inside the game. However, they are completely crushed into low-res versions in the open world.

The only true negative for playing on an emulator is that online multiplayer is not possible. While you can join LAN games with a specific version of the emulator, you can’t connect to Nintendo Servers. However, as someone who’s never really been interested in online Pokémon, I wasn’t really planning on interacting with this feature much anyway.

To me, on a decent PC, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are immeasurably better on an emulator. I’m not saying that the Nintendo Switch is the reason why these games are in such a poor state. Beautiful Switch titles like Xenoblade prove otherwise. However, outside of the Switch hardware, I can at least make the game more palatable for myself. I can see the Smolives now, and that’s only a good thing.