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Opinion: Nobody Asked - A Maniacal Engineer's Thoughts on Scarlet and Violet - Part 7: ★ Starfall Street ★

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Nobody Asked Maniacal Engineer
Meet Team Star
Now, we come to the third and final of the three main story arcs of Scarlet and Violet, ★ Starfall Street ★. In this arc, the player is blackmailed into helping out a mysterious hacker who goes by Cassiopeia into defeating the five Bosses of Team Star in order to disband that organization. Along the way, the player meets up and is helped by the extremely hip and stylish Clive, who is definitely not a disguised Director Clavell.

But let's start from the actual beginning of the story. When the player first arrives at the academy, Nemona goes off to get them a Tera Orb of their very own. The player then witnesses a timid looking girl with an Eevee backpack being harassed by two boisterous individuals claiming to be part of Team Star, who are trying to get her to join. The player intervenes and defeats the goons, prompting a stammered thank you from the girl, and much adoration from Nemona. From this interaction, we are led to believe that Team Star are a bunch of school skipping delinquents and bullies.

The player character doing their best impression of a Shocked Pikachu face
The player then receives a “phone call” from Cassiopeia. I say “phone call” because she quite literally hacks your phone, giving you no choice but to accept the call. Cassiopeia then reinforces the idea of Team Star being a bunch of hoodlums who caused problems for the school, and how she has a plan, Operation Starfall, to bring them down. But, of course, she needs help from strong trainers to make her plan a success. This conversation takes place in the school cafeteria, right on the heels of Arven asking you to help him with his sandwich quest. As such, you’re overhead by Director Clavell, who seems interested in Team Star.

Cassiopeia calls the player again as they are about to head out from Mesagoza, and reveals the power structure of Team Star, being divided into five squads each headed up by a Boss. She then tasks the player with taking out the Bosses, and promises a reward for success. What she never explicitly says is that, having taken control of the player’s phone, she has access to all manner of blackmail material, should the player refuse to participate in Operation Starfall, but the threat is implied. Okay, maybe I'm slightly exaggerating Cassiopeia's intentions, but it really isn't that far of a stretch considering that the game goes out of its way to tell you that she "hacked" your phone instead of just called you, like a normal person would have. Still, kind of makes you wonder just what the player has been storing on that phone...

Raiding a Team Star Base
As the player approaches the first base, Cassiopeia reaches out to the player, providing insights and strategies on the Boss, information on Team Star’s code, and explaining how to raid the Team Star Bases. She also mentions, casually, how she sent a declaration of war to each of the bases in the player’s name, putting a target on their back. The player also meets the handsome and roguish Clive, with his giant pompadour. Clive’s motives are unknown, but he wants to join in Operation Starfall, and Cassiopeia, reluctantly, allows it. At each base, the player needs to take out the guards at the gate, and then ring the bell to declare their challenge. Once in the base, the player has to use the first three Pokémon on their team to take out 30 of the Grunts’ Pokémon with the “Let’s Go” battle mechanic, all within a certain time limit. You can use the vending machines or Clive to heal your team as you progress. It’s definitely a unique enough method for battling the Team Grunts, and the surprises didn’t end there.

Fighting a Starmobile
Each Team Star Boss has standard Pokémon that they use, but each of them also has a custom Starmobile, which incorporates a specially modified Revaroom that they use as their ace Pokémon. These Starmobiles have preset stats, cannot be hit with volatile status conditions, have different Abilities, and, as I found out when I tried to out stall the Fighting Starmobile, have unlimited PP for their moves. They are much more of a challenge and a unique concept than the Titan Pokémon, and, honestly, the Team Star Base raids as a whole were very refreshing and a decent introduction to the “Let’s Go” battle mechanic, even if the raids themselves were perhaps a bit too easy. It’s a massive shame that, outside of the Team Star Bases, the player can’t send out multiple Pokémon at once, but such is life. I'll chalk this one under "it would have eaten up too much of the limited development time to properly implement outside of the Star Bases", and leave it at that. Which is not to excuse the limited development time, of course. I previously mentioned that releasing Scarlet and Violet so quickly was a massive mistake, and I stand by that.

Atticus is basically an overgrown chuunibyou
The one kind of amusing thing is that Cassiopeia bothers to give us commentary on every single boss’s personality, but the strategy remains the same no matter what. Giacomo is a strategist who stays calm, so just rush in and beat up on his Grunts. Mela is a hot tempered redheaded goth girl, who tends to fix her problems violently, so just rush in and beat up her Grunts. Atticus is an unpredictable oddball, so just rush in and beat up his Grunts. Ortega is pretty easy to wind up and is a snobby rich kid, so just rush in and beat up his Grunts. Eri is a wrestler and expert battler who is the protector of the group, so just rush in and beat up her Grunts. Like, okay, I get wanting to give the Bosses their own personalities, but if the battle plan is going to be the same every time, don’t pretend like their personalities actually make a difference when it comes to raiding the bases. As for their personalities, I do find them all to be quite memorable, and certainly a very vivid group of characters, but I don't particularly care for any of them, outside of Mela, and that really just comes down to my aesthetic preferences and her ridiculously high boots and resulting hilarious walk. Despite my general apathy toward most of their characters though, I do appreciate the story of their eccentricities, and how that brought them all together as friends. Through their personalities and quirks we can also see what each of them brings to the group, and it does give us a very good look at Team Star and the ideals it was founded on.

As we battle our way through the Bosses, the player is treated to flashbacks at the end of each successful raid, through which we learn that not all is as it seems when it comes to this particular group of misfits. We learn about the sinister sounding “Operation Star”, and the creation of the first menacing Starmobile, only to find out that Team Star weren’t the aggressors, and that “Operation Star” was meant as a collaborative effort to stand up to their bullies. We also learn about the sixth Boss of Team Star, who was the mastermind behind the group’s creation and who will only show up when all five of the more public Bosses are defeated. Additionally, we find out about the academy’s “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to bullying, and how the members of Team Star were supposed to be punished, despite literally never throwing a single punch and only trying to stand up for themselves.

These two grunts give the team a bad name
As someone who did have to use my fists to stand up to my own bullies as a middle schooler, and someone who was subsequently punished due to a “zero tolerance” policy, I feel the frustration and the injustice that the Team Star Bosses must have experienced. It’s not like they were bad students across the board, either. Heck, Giacomo was the student council president prior to Nemona, and is extremely intelligent. The story here is an incredibly relatable one, and it does make me feel bad for the members of Team Star, and the bad reputation they subsequently developed, simply for standing up to their bullies. However, that’s not what I was looking for in what had been advertised as the “villainous team” arc. Honestly, as over-the-top and nonsensical as they sometimes got, I miss the truly evil villainous teams, which we haven’t really had since Team Flare in Pokémon X and Y. Lusamine was evil, as was a small faction of the Aether Foundation, but that ultimately was just a few individuals. Chairman Rose wasn’t evil, he was just an idiot, and Macro Cosmos and the Galar Pokémon League itself weren’t evil either. I miss villains like Giovanni, Cyrus, and Ghetsis, and the power they wielded as leaders of evil organizations. Giovanni would not have been the same without his Poke-mafia. Cyrus could not have gotten so close to literally rewriting the universe without his Galactic cult, and it showcased that, despite his generally antisocial nature, he was extremely charismatic. Ghetsis without N and Team Plasma would have just been a raving lunatic.

Maniacal Engineer - signing off
The stories and goals don’t need to be so complex. I mean, in the first generation games, Team Rocket isn’t looking to conquer the universe, or even the Kanto region. There’s no explicit plot relating back to Mewtwo, or how Giovanni intends to use Mewtwo to crush those who oppose him. In fact, it isn’t until the Rainbow Rocket arc in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon that Giovanni is even seen with a Mewtwo in the first place. All Team Rocket wants is to make massive amounts of profit, and it does so in illegal ways, namely theft, extortion, blackmail, gambling, racketeering, and so on.. It feels satisfying to defeat the Grunts, and Giovanni, and ultimately thwart their plans. I just don’t have the same level of satisfaction beating up on Team Star. Ultimately, while I acknowledge that Team Star’s story is phenomenal, and the boss battles were very creative, I wish that we had an actual villain in the story to defeat.

I do have more to say about the story, in particular about Clive and Cassiopeia, but I will save that for next time.
 
Maniacal Engineer

Maniacal Engineer

Bulbagarden Multimedia Executive
Whoa, how did you know about my adventure to find my Greatest Treasure!? I'm not that famous, am I?
 
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