Little by little, Game Freak has started to pull back the veil over Pokemon Scarlet and Violet. So far, lots of great details have come to light. Fans now know that they'll get the special experience of two different Pokemon professors depending on the game version, and they can also look forward to a more open-world experience than Pokemon has ever experimented with before. There are still a few other surprising Pokemon Scarlet and Violet details that haven't been revealed yet, like the region's name, but the region itself looks pretty appealing so far whether it has a public name or not.
Pokemon regions are very different from how they used to be, which is a great thing, but recently the franchise has fallen into something of a new pattern, and that pattern is worth breaking. A lot of recent Pokemon generations focus on a specific part of the real world, which means that the franchise has been missing out on a lot of great potential inspiration from other parts of the world. As charming as Pokemon Scarlet and Violet's setting looks, it should be the last in the franchise's current trend; there are many other parts of Earth that Pokemon ought to draw from.
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet Return to Europe
Although Game Freak still has plenty of secrets in store, it's pretty clear that Pokemon Scarlet and Violet take place in a new Pokemon region based on Spain. The game's reveal trailer showed off lots of architecture and landmarks that resemble real-life Spanish architecture, and the game features other design elements that evoke the image of Catalonian culture. The trailer also included glimpses at a possible map of the region, which strongly resembled the Iberian Peninsula where Spain is found. It also doesn't hurt that multiple new Pokemon like Fuecoco and Lechonk derive their names from Spanish words.
Pokemon hasn't based a region on a Spanish-speaking country before, so Spain seems like a great choice. However, it does perpetuate a certain pattern that dominates most of the recent games: lots of the last few Pokemon generations take place in fictionalized versions of Europe. Generation 6's Pokemon X and Y take place in the Kalos region, which draws heavily on French culture and history, even featuring its own Eiffel Tower. The more recent Pokemon Sword and Shield also famously took inspiration from the United Kingdom. If Scarlet and Violet really is based on Spain (and possibly Portugal), then it looks like the franchise won't leave Europe just yet.
Admittedly, Pokemon fans got a break from Europe in Generation 7, which took fans to the Hawai'i-inspired Alola region. However, while Alola was a treat, the fact remains that Generation 9 will seemingly be the third out of four recent European regions. Europe is a dense place that's rich with diverse cultures, but even so, focusing on this part of the world so heavily means that the Pokemon franchise loses out on many other geographical muses that could bring even greater variety to the franchise.
Possible Inspiration After Pokemon Scarlet and Violet
There are many parts of the world that have yet to earn a region in a core Pokemon game. For instance, while Pokemon Black and White borrow elements of the United States in North America, South America and Central America have yet to take the spotlight. Brazil seems like it could be an excellent inspiration for a Pokemon game with its sheer size, and Central America's many nations could be brought together in a Pokemon game that makes the most of the area's history and diverse geography.
Africa also hasn't found a spotlight yet in Pokemon, which is a shame, since Africa features tons of different biomes and cultures that seem ideal for a Pokemon region. Game Freak could maintain its current pattern by focusing on a specific country in Africa like Egypt, Madagascar, or Nigeria, or it could more broadly spotlight a certain section of Africa, representing various countries and cultures that come together to make up that region.
Asia and Oceania also still have a lot to offer Pokemon, even though the series takes plenty of inspiration from Japan already. For instance, China seems like a shoo-in for a Pokemon region, thanks to thousands of years of history and lots of different environments that could inspire unique Pokemon. South Asia has plenty to offer Pokemon as well. To cite just a few examples, India is a similarly vast and rich country with plenty of space for a Pokemon region, while Pokemon Sun and Moon have already laid the groundwork for an island-hopping Pokemon adventure in a region based on Indonesia.
Pokemon Needs Regional Variety
Pokemon's recent trend of European focus isn't entirely surprising, given the franchise's roots. All the first four Pokemon regions were based on different parts of Japan, ranging from the real-life Kanto region to Sinnoh's roots in Hokkaido. Nevertheless, Pokemon doesn't have to preserve the pattern of moving around one area of related regions just because it did so before; on the contrary, the franchise would be better off moving around more.
The bottom line is that Pokemon is leaving a lot of great ideas on the table when it comes to designing its regions. Europe certainly has a lot of very different countries to borrow from, but moving around Western Europe won't provide nearly the same amount as variety as creating new regions from all around the world. Different parts of the world can help make new Pokemon games feel fresher than ever, and Pokemon fans from outside of Japan, Europe, and the United States would certainly appreciate exploring familiar if fictionalized regions with a Pokemon companion.
For now, though, the journey to a region based on Spanish culture in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet at least sounds like its own change of pace. It may not be the same as a trip to South America or Africa, but for the Pokemon world, Spain is unfamiliar in its own right. Regardless of its setting, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet's open world region definitely lays the groundwork for exciting exploration in whatever region comes after Gen 9's Iberian world. Hopefully Scarlet and Violet turn out to be a jumping-off point for bold international adventures.
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet release on November 18 for Nintendo Switch.