Saturday, December 23

Pokémon Scarlet/Violet; The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero DLC Review

I played on: Nintendo Switch
I paid: £31.49
Available on: Nintendo Switch
Notes: I played both the Scarlet and Violet versions of this DLC and besides a few exclusive Pokémon and a small difference during the secret ending there are no differences.

The DLC for Scarlet and Violet comes in 2 parts. Part 1 sees you exploring the Kitakami region while Part 2 sees you heading off to the Blueberry Academy within Unova. I’ve decided to review both of these together seeing as they tell one story spread over two parts. Considering that Nintendo is only allowing players to purchase this DLC set as a bundle it feels like this is the correct way to go about reviewing it.

Part 1, The Teal Mask sees you taking a school trip to Kitakami. This region is close to Kanto, Johto, Sinnoh, and Hoenn but is more inland. It’s amazing to go back to a region that feels so familiar yet new. The local Pokémon are all mostly from the early games in the series. I really enjoyed my time spent completing this Pokédex. Sadly, that’s all the positive I have to say about this region. It’s mostly just empty space. There is one major population centre and even that is lacking both a Pokécentre or a Pokémart. This is a real missed opportunity as they could have really played into the nostalgia of the region by having a classic, Kanto, style Pokécentre and Pokémart within the town. I would have loved to have seen the iconic orange and blue roofed buildings standing proudly out of place in the traditional village. It would have been reminiscent of places like Viridian City that only had 2 or 3 buildings yet were somehow also host to these fancy high-tech looking facilities. As it is Kitakami is bland and boring with an interesting collection of Pokémon.

When you first arrive in the region you’re quickly introduced to brother and sister duo Kieran and Carmine. I love these two and they really hold up the story of both parts. Carmine is the older sibling, and she is headstrong and confident but, underneath that façade, she really cares about her younger brother. Kieran is a timid kid, literally hiding behind his older sister when you first meet each other. He is obsessed with the Kitakami region’s legendary Pokémon known as Ogerpon. Most of the village thinks that it’s an evil monster but Kieran is determined to prove that it’s just misunderstood. Over the course of the Teal Mask’s story, you will work together with both Kieran and Carmine to uncover the truth of the legend. Kieran becomes obsessed with your strength and confidence. He promises himself that one day he will be strong enough to beat you which leads into The Indigo Disk. 

Part 2, The Indigo Disk, is clearly the better of the 2 parts. The region we get to explore is much more interesting, there is much more to do, and the story is much more engaging. Let’s begin with the gameplay simply because there is so much, I want to talk about here. You will find the director of Blueberry Academy waiting for you in your school’s entrance lobby. He quickly lets you know that Carmine recommended you as the perfect choice as an exchange student. From here you’re whisked off to the Unova region to explore the Blueberry Academy located in the ocean. This academy is amazing. Only the entrance is above sea level. The bulk of the facility is under water. This includes the dorms, including your own, the store, the classrooms, and the cafeteria. The most impressive part of the academy, however, is the massive terrarium. This is a climate-controlled safari split into 4 distinct biomes. You have the savanna, the polar, canyon, and lastly, the coastal biomes. Each of these are home to unique Pokémon from across the entire series. This includes regional forms as well. So, for example, you will find the original Kanto Exeggutor in the savanna biome but then over in the coastal area you will find the Alolan variant. I love this, it feels like a complete celebration of Pokémon’s rich history and all the amazing games that we’ve gotten over the years.

What makes this DLC amazing is simply how much you have to do! You have the obvious Pokédex to complete which as usual was one of my favourite parts and easily the bit I spent the most time on. But then you have so much more to do as well. Blueberry Academy uses Blueberry Points, or BP, as currency and nothing else. You earn BP by completing Blueberry Quests, or BBQ’s. These are simple little tasks such as catch a Pokémon of a certain type, photograph a flying Pokémon, pick up 10 items from the ground, and so on. Each of these tasks rewards you around 30BP. After you’ve completed 10 of these you will be given a more complicated task such as defeating a terastallized wild Pokémon. This will reward you around 150BP. These BBQ’s can be carried out alone or with friends online. While they are a lot of fun, they do become repetitive after a few hours of grinding. I’m a fan of the older Pokémon games so this grinding felt familiar but for newer fans this may be a little off putting. Of course, if you have a friend or two to join in these then they are much more fun. The other way to earn BP is by battling trainers around the 4 biomes. After beating a certain number of trainers, you can talk to a member of staff hanging around the rest areas in order to get a reward of between 100-500BP. I love that we finally have a reason to seek out and challenge all the local trainers. There are a total of 60 trainers within the terrarium and finding some of them was a really fun challenge.

As well as trainers Blueberry Academy also has a Pokémon league club, complete with an Elite 4 and even a Champion. You need to take on each of the Elite 4. Each member of the Elite 4 is located within each of the 4 biomes of the terrarium. Challenging a member of the Elite 4 costs you BP. This encourages you into battling the trainers located within each biome or completing the BBQ challenges. After you’ve taken down all 4 members of the Elite 4 you need to take on the champion of the League club, Kieran. That’s right in the months that have passed since you visited Kitakami Kieran has been training like crazy in order to become stronger. Your lies, deceit, and bonding with Ogerpon have acted as Kieran’s joker origin story. He is now much more confident, bordering on rude, smug, and overly aggressive. Far from the meek and mild person you befriended during the first part of the DLC. I love this as it gives us a personal investment in the Elite 4 challenge. I’m not joking when I say that I was more interested in this Elite 4 and champion fight than I was the entirety of Paldea’s league. Seeing Kieran go from this meek boy struggling to overcome his shyness to a smug arrogant champion was perfect motivation. We want to see him become his best self. Confident in his strength but not to the point of pushing those that care about him away with his attitude. While I love the base game of Scarlet and Violet, Nomara and the league was lacking any motivation. It always felt like you were only doing it because beating the gyms is what you do in a Pokémon game and no other reason. In the Indigo Disk, we have an incentive to want to take on this challenge. This is how you write a fantastic Pokémon league plot!

After you’ve finished the main story there is even more to do. Miraidon or Koraidon, depending on your version, will learn how to permanently fly. With this new ability, you can take on flying challenges in the canyon biome. If you complete enough solo and co-op BBQs, then certain legendary Pokémon will start to show up within the Paldea region. You can then return home in order to catch these and add them to your collection. Or you can invite special trainers from Paldea to Blueberry Academy and after defeating them you will be given a special prize such as a unique item of clothing. Then there is the usual shiny hunting that can easily see you wasting hours at a time. There is even a secret ending that connects the DLC’s story back to that of the main Scarlet and Violet story.

Ultimately when it comes to The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero Part 1 is a little lacking but Part 2 more than makes up for it. I enjoyed completing the Pokédex in Kitakami but now that I have done so I don’t think I really want to return. Blueberry Academy on the other hand is the best Pokémon has been since Legends Arceus. While the main plot is short, I mean it is only half of an expansion after all, it packs so much extra quality content in. If you already own Scarlet and/or Violet, then you really should play these pieces of extra content.

Recommendation Rating: 9 out of 10.

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