The first wave of DLC for Pokemon: Scarlet & Violet, The Teal Mask, transports players to the land of Kitakami, a region inspired by Japan.
Kitakami is a nice change of scenery from Paldea, being filled with Japanese inspired buildings, clothing, and even Pokemon, a breath of fresh air for those who grew tired of the main setting of the game.
The main story of The Teal Mask tasks trainers with exploring Kitakami to find signboards with information regarding a local legend involving an ogre and the Loyal Three Pokémon. The story also introduces the trainer to two new students from the Blueberry Academy, Kieran and Carmine, which are characters that trainers will continue to bond with throughout their journey in Kitakami.
However, there are some issues with the story. The narrative is actually quite short, being only a few hours long, and follows the same formula that Pokemon has been using for years, track down the Legendary Pokemon and learn about their importance to the region along the way. The story can feel very predictable and mundane at times, but the pacing is not bad, and has some exciting moments and likeable characters as well.
The most enjoyable portion of the DLC for me was the side-story with the photographer, Perrin, where trainers embark on a journey with her to snap pictures of a various Pokemon and ultimately capturing Bloodmoon Ursaluna. The quest was filled with interesting camera mechanics built just for the mode, and Perrin was one of my favourite characters from the game.
In terms of sheer size, Kitakami pales in comparison to Paldea, but is still large enough to explore for days on end. There are many trainers, side-quests, and Pokemon spread throughout the map, giving players a reason to explore every inch of the map.
Kitakami’s Pokedex count stands at an impressive 200, but is somewhat deceiving. Aside from returning Pokemon from past generations, there seems to be a lack of new Pokemon, with only 7 being introduced in The Teal Mask. Veteran trainers who have completed the Pokedex in the past would find no challenge in completing the Pokedex. I found myself finishing the entire Kitakami Pokedex in less than a hour by transferring most of them from my Pokemon HOME to my box. This seems to just be a problem exclusively for veteran players, though. Those without prior experience with past Pokemon Games or don’t have access to Pokemon HOME would find it challenging to catch and evolve both the new and returning Pokemon for the Pokedex, especially considering some evolution methods can be strange and difficult to figure out without the assistance of the internet.
Trainers who have completed the base game before visiting Kitakami would find the DLC to be a breeze, as you’ll find the wild Pokemon and trainers in the region to be severely under-leveled. Battles were something I didn’t look forward to, as it mainly consisted of me mashing the ‘A’ button with my Iron Thorns.
Even the climax of the story felt anti-climactic, with all the Legendary Pokemon dying to a single hit.
I strongly suggest trainers to finish the DLC in the mid-game before proceeding with the main story, as it will serve as a challenge and provides an opportunity for you to add powerful Pokemon to your arsenal to assist you in the main storyline.
However, the quests make up for the lack of a challenge, being interesting enough for me to sit through the mundane battles.
As a consequence of the hardware limitations of the Nintendo Switch and poor optimisation, performance issues are still prevalent and continue to haunt the game. Expect frequent frame drops and even some unexpected crashes during exploration. It can be frustrating traversing the lands of Kitakami with the fans on my Nintendo Switch deciding to become a blow dryer.
Overall, The Teal Mask DLC is a solid addition to the game that Pokemon fans will enjoy. It’s not a must buy any means, being so short and only having very little new additions. However, the story, setting, and new Pokemon are all worth checking out.
I would recommend The Teal Mask DLC to those that looking for a quick play and are eager to explore more of what Pokemon: Scarlet & Violet have to offer.