We Played Pokémon Scarlet and Violet's Teal Mask DLC: First Thoughts and Review
Game8 got a first look at The Teal Mask, Part 1 of The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero DLC for Pokémon Scarlet and Violet coming on September 13 in a Japan-exclusive pre-release event. We've shared our first thoughts on the DLC here and details on all the features we had the chance to experience.
Details on Our Playthrough
|Purpose||To provide initial impressions for news coverage|
|Contents||Start of the Story, Ogre Oustin' Multiplayer Minigame|
NOTE: This event was held exclusively in Japan and was not accompanied by any overseas event.
Game8 had the chance to play a short segment from the Part 1 of The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero DLC, The Teal Mask, at a Japan-only event intended for news coverage. Since we haven't experienced the entire story and all of the features, we can't give a full review of the expansion as a whole, and there are many details we aren't allowed to share. We'll do our best to give a fair assessment of the contents we saw and explain what we can.
Ogre Oustin' is an Addictive New Minigame
In addition to a short runthrough of the initial parts of the story, we were given the opportunity to try the Ogre Oustin' Minigame in multiplayer mode through Local Connectivity.
Feels Made for Multiplayer
Ogre Oustin' is a simple concept that delivers on its premise. Ride around on Koraidon or Miraidon and pop Ogre Balloons of four colors to gather Berries, and bring them to the Berry Tables at the starting area. Hungry Pokémon will come to eat the Berries you've collected, so keep any eye out and scare them off before they get too close. Collect the required number of Berries of each color to win.
While both solo and multiplayer modes are available, Ogre Oustin' is a team game at heart. In the multiplayer mode, instead of competing against other players, you're working together to gather the required number of Berries. This is especially important because there's a limit to how many Berries you can hold, so you're dependent on each other to meet the quotas.
In addition, you'll quickly find how inefficient it is to try to both gather Berries and scare off invading Pokémon, and trying to do both will result in neither being accomplished. Instead, the team needs to either allocate members to guarding the Berry Tables for the full duration, or take turns to ensure that the Berry Tables are never left unguarded.
A Great Choice for Casual and Hardcore Players Alike
“Come play Ogre Oustin' and win fabulous prizes!”
The Ogre Oustin' minigame seems easy to pick up and play with friends, recalling the Pokémon Stadium minigames of yesteryear. Unlike the Tera Raid and Ranked Battle features of the base game, anyone can enjoy it regardless of their progression in the game.
On top of that, the Mochi rewards give the ability to boost and even reset a Pokémon's base points, a bonus rarely available throughout the series which will ensure that dedicated fans of the game also have a reason to play repeatedly for juicy rewards.
All Players Must Own the DLC
Above: A new NPC outside of the community center is the local twist on Nurse Joy
One limitation is that it seems likely that all players will need to own both the base game and the DLC to play Ogre Oustin' together. This does take away a bit from the potential for a minigame which could otherwise be enjoyed by any friends or family who happen to be around, which in retrospect is part of what made the Pokémon Stadium minigames as much fun as they were.
Scope Feels Small for an Open-World Game, But Packed with Local Flavor
To reiterate, we only experienced 1.5 hours of play in The Teal Mask, and we weren't able to see all the available features or the full storyline, so our accuracy in judging the scope is accordingly limited. Given that, we've shared our impressions on the scope as we saw it so far below.
As the first fully open-world game in the Pokémon series, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet put free exploration at the top of the list of selling points. Although it's to be expected that an expansion won't be as big as the base game, Part 1: The Teal Mask does read as an addendum to the original game instead of a brand new fleshed-out world. It doesn't feel like a big jump from The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra DLCs in the Pokémon Sword and Shield Expansion Pass, which similarly acted as new contained zones separated from the main map.
It's true that the player can freely explore the new map of Kitakami, which has a distinctly rural Japanese aesthetic standing out from previous Japan-based regions like Pokémon Red and Blue's Kanto. Even compared to the tradition-oriented Johto of Pokémon Gold and Silver, which features Goldenrod City and multiple developed cities, Kitakami has only one town which doesn't even use a modern Pokémon Center.
Even beyond the obvious features like rice paddies and Summer festivals, details like the quaint local store and even the constuction style of houses are a love letter to the Japanese countryside in the half-real-half-idealized form, and it rings true in a way that only homegrown Japanese games can. For those criticizing yet another Japan-inspired region, don't be too quick to judge the setting of The Teal Mask.
It's hard to see The Teal Mask breaking new ground for the series in the way the game it's based on tried to do, but for those who want to experience the familiar Pokémon Scarlet and Violet gameplay in a new atmosphere, it's looking like there will be a lot to enjoy about the setting of Kitakami.
New Characters Seem to Have Potential
“Welcome to Kitakami. Now taste dirt.”
From the moment you enter the first town in Kitakami, you'll immediately be faced with the piercing stare of your self-appointed rival, Carmine. Far from the good-spirited fun of Nemona, Carmine is ready to position herself as the classic Blue/Gary Oak rival we missed. That said, Carmine is protective of her younger brother Kieran and beneath her strict exterior, there might be more to see.
The Characters’ Story Continues into Part 2: The Indigo Disk
The Teal Mask Key Art
The Indigo Disk Key Art
Carmine and Kieran have been stated to also appear in the second half of the Pokémon Scarlet and Violet Expansion Pass, The Indigo Disk, coming in Winter 2023 – a first for Pokémon DLCs. The two also receive top billing in the key artwork for the expansions.
It's welcome to see a greater investment in new characters this time around, as although we met some wild personalities in The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra DLCs from the Pokémon Sword and Shield Expansion Pass, the lack of continuity between the two stories meant that we didn't really see character development happen in the short narratives.
The Story Is Still Full of Mystery
Ogerpon, the Legendary Pokémon at the center of the Teal Mask's story, hides behind a mask with its true form still unrevealed. However, it's shown to remove its mask during the story. Just what exactly awaits underneath?
There's also the Heroes of Kitakami, three other Pokémon known as Okidogi, Munkidori, and Fezandipiti. Together, these four Pokémon clearly reference the traditional Japanese story of Momotaro, in which a hero teams up with a dog, a monkey, and a pheasant to take down an evil ogre. But the story of Momotaro doesn't involve masks. Will the Teal Mask play it straight and have the main character take down the evil Ogerpon? Or is it possible that there's a twist on the classic tale?
From what we saw, the Teal Mask looks to bring an increased emphasis on story compared to The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra DLCs from the Pokémon Sword and Shield Expansion Pass. There's also still the mystery of how all this ties into the titular Area Zero, as the DLC as a whole is known as The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero. We can't say for sure yet, but we're hoping there's a lot more to this tale to make the most of its two-part structure.
Overall, A Familiar But Welcome Addition
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet's first expansion, The Teal Mask, probably won't be a revolution to the Pokémon series or redefine what we can expect from its DLC. However, it will almost definitely be a solid burst of new content for those who already enjoyed the original game.
There's also plenty more we still don't fully understand, and more content than the short segment we were able to experience in our preview, with a 19th tera type just announced, characters and story that span two expansions, and a photography minigame we still haven't seen.
We're looking forward to seeing how Part 1 of The Hidden Area of Area Zero, The Teal Mask unfolds when it releases on September 13. We'll be covering the full walkthrough, new Pokémon and features, and everything you need to know for The Teal Mask on our complete Pokémon Scarlet and Violet Guide at lightning speed. See you there!
Pokémon™ Scarlet and Violet: The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero Product Information
|Title||POKÉMON™ SCARLET AND VIOLET: THE HIDDEN TREASURE OF AREA ZERO|
|Release Date||2023/9/13 (The Teal Mask) 2023/Winter or later (The Indigo Disk)|
|Developer||The Pokémon Company|
|Supported Platforms||Nintendo Switch|
|Number of Players||1-4|
|Official Website||Pokémon Scarlet and Violet Official Website|