New Pokémon DLC has fans roped back into the franchise

Fans were welcomed back to the world of Pokémon this month with the long-awaited release of “The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero Part 1: The Teal Mask,” a new adventure and storyline in the form of additional downloadable content (DLC) for the main-series game, “Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.”

“The Teal Mask” brings players to the land of Kitakami, a new region in the Pokémon world. Here, we set out on a school field trip to explore the land and seek out the truth behind its rich mythology and folklore.

The start of this DLC’s story is spearheaded by a new character, Ms. Briar, who teaches at the battle-loving Blueberry Academy in the Unova region and has a mysterious interest in the Terastal phenomenon to be expanded upon in “Part 2: The Indigo Mask.” She is excited to tell you that she is the chaperone for a cross-academy school trip to Kitakami and that you and a few of Blueberry’s own students will be going. Once the player arrives in Kitakami, they are greeted by the DLC’s two protagonists; domineering elder sister Carmine and shy, younger brother Kieran. Warning you now, there are spoilers ahead.

The story that plays out regarding these siblings was one of the most interesting to come from Pokémon in quite some time. When we meet her, Carmine is bitter towards the player, but gradually warms up as the pair complete tasks together. Her younger brother, on the other hand, is quite fond of the player to start. As the story progresses Kieran does a heel turn, erratically seeking out power after the player defeats him repeatedly. As the story ends, we see Kieran alone in his room, shaking and repeating the words “Stronger… Stronger!” to himself as the text “To Be Continued” fills the bottom of the screen.

On a lighter note, “Pokémon Legends: Arceus” fans will be delighted to meet Perrin–a young photographer and descendant of the leader of ancient Hisui’s Diamond Clan–as she invites them to conduct a photographic ‘survey’ of Pokémon in the Timeless Woods. There we meet a new and powerful form of Ursaluna, the ‘Bloodmoon Beast.’ As “Legends: Arceus” is one of my favorite Pokémon games to date, this sidequest made me incredibly nostalgic and excited for when we see Perrin again in “The Indigo Disk.”

This first half of the DLC also brings with it a slew of new features and Pokémon for fans to meet and engage with. Introducing Dipplin (a candy apple themed evolution of Applin) and Poltchageist (a matcha based convergent evolution to Galar’s tea themed Sinsistea), this DLC’s new Pokémon designs truly encapsulate the energy and character of the lush Kitakami countryside. More focus is placed on new Pokémon Okidogi, Munkidori, Fezandipiti (a poison-type trio) and Ogrepon (the teal mask touting ogre) as their interactions and conflict are central to the DLC’s plot.

In addition to these new faces, Kitakami is home to many beloved Pokémon from past games, most notably those from the Unova, Hisui and Johto regions respectively. Fans can encounter old favorites like Sewaddle, Basculegion and Gligar. With this many Pokémon not being found in Paldea, “The Teal Mask” includes a whole new Pokèdex for players to complete, giving them a wide array of new goals to accomplish in this region. To the delight of many, this DLC also included a few hairstyles and outfits previously unavailable in-game. I for one was delighted as these hair options included a side-swept undercut, allowing my avatar’s appearance to finally match my own.

“The Teal Mask” is not without its faults, with its rocky optimization worse than the base game. Anytime the player goes in or around water the game slows greatly, forcing players to explore lakesides and Oni Mountain’s crystal pool less than other areas. However, a bug that ‘bugged’ me more than anything was fixed with this DLC, allowing me to enjoy picnics with my Pokémon without the picnic table glitching through both the food and floor.

What will come of Carmine and Kieran as they return to Blueberry Academy? Stay tuned for the release of “Part 2: The Indigo Disk” in winter 2023!


5/5 stars

Featured photo courtesy of Pokémon, poké