Community Voices

Young Observers: Editor Francine Vudoti: Early December 2022

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet

Just a few weeks ago, the newest installments of the Pokémon franchise were released to the public: Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. These Nintendo Switch games by company Game Freak introduce the ninth generation of Pokémon to the masses, along with over 100 new Pokémon, a brand new storyline, and a vast world to explore. As a young academy student, you can collect your favorite Pokémon, become a master trainer, and roam about the first fully open-world map in the franchise’s history either on your own or with your friends (using the new co-op feature). As a big Pokémon fan myself, I have already played through a large portion of the game and have seen much of what it has to offer me. So, with that being said, here is my honest opinion on Pokémon Scarlet and Violet based on my own experiences, highlighting two main components: performance and content.

The performance and gameplay of a video game is arguably its most important aspect. How well does a game run, and do its visual flaws prevent the user from enjoying the game? Unfortunately for these two Pokémon games, their performance is only mediocre at best. You will most likely encounter quite a few lag spikes and small but noticeable freezes during your playthrough as you run about and explore the open world, especially near bodies of water.

These issues are by no means gamebreaking and do not make the game unplayable, but they can be a bit of a nuisance for most players. However, you cannot place all of the blame on the developers for this problem. These are the 4th and 5th games they have produced within the span of a year, so they most likely had to rush these products a bit in order to make the November release date. In addition, the Nintendo Switch can only display games at 30 frames per second, meaning that it isn’t as capable of running high-quality games as more high-end consoles such as the Playstation or Xbox. However, despite their slight performance flaws, the incredible content and storyline that Pokémon Scarlet and Violet offers to its users heavily overshadow its flaws.

In my opinion, the variety and versatility of the gameplay are unlike any other game I have played before. Instead of the typical path that includes eight different gyms for the player to battle in, the new games offer three different paths for the player to embark on at their own pace, each with a different goal in mind. Almost every important character you meet during your journey has an extensive questline or story, which allows players to grow way more attached to them than to the characters in previous games.

If you ever grow bored of the main story or just want to take a break from the action, you can host a picnic with your friends and Pokémon and make your own sandwiches, go shopping for various items such as clothing and sandwich ingredients, and take classes in the academy on subjects like math and home economics. No matter what stage of the game you are on, there will always be something that will pique your interest.

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are a stimulating pair of games that are perfect for people who enjoy long adventures and deep storylines. Although it is unfortunate that these games are short of being exceptional due to lag spikes and freezes that occur just a bit too often, hopefully, a quick patch or two can help eliminate some of these glitches altogether. If you have some spare cash and a lot of time on your hands, feel free to try one of these games out for yourselves. I can almost guarantee that you will have an enjoyable time as you explore the vast world of Pokémon.

Fentanyl: #JustKNOW

In 2019, 33,725 people died. In 2020, 53,480 people died. In 2021, over 71,000 people died. After studying these past three years of data, one would expect over 90,000 deaths this year.

The Energy and Commerce Committee stated these alarming U.S. statistics in an article covering a recent crisis that even became a shocking issue in our school districts. This fast and rising danger is fentanyl, an easily hidden, dangerous, and accessible substance that many in the community are not aware of. Yet it demands attention from parents, teenagers, and children.

Fentanyl is one of the most lethal drugs one can use. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more dangerous than morphine. Two milligrams are considered deadly for its users. This measurement is simply overlooked as one long-grain rice weighs 25 milligrams, almost 13 times the weight of a fatal dose. Usually laced or hidden in pills or lollipops, the CDC informs readers that one cannot see, smell, or taste fentanyl, making it way more noxious than other drugs and alcohol. Test strips are available to test if drugs are laced with fentanyl, but more potent forms of fentanyl-like drugs may not even be detected with these.

Teenagers and children, as the fastest growing group to die from fentanyl overdoses, need to become aware of the life gamble that fentanyl poses. Resources such as those from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Association (DEA) are available for everyone to be aware of these risks and can be accessed through this website (https://www.dea.gov/fentanylawareness).

If your loved one is a victim of fentanyl overdose, you can participate in the #JustKNOW commemoration by posting their picture and name which can be used in the DEA’s special exhibit The Faces of Fentanyl.

Sources: Energy and Commerce Committee, CDC, BBC

Winter may be around the corner, but reading the summer romance People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry was the perfect way to end my Thanksgiving break! It has been so long since I found a romance that lives up to its reputation, and I’m ecstatic that this one did.

Here, two former best friends attempt to reconnect after a past event that ruined their decade-long friendship. Despite their completely different personalities, both Poppy and Alex have been best friends since college. They used to go on vacations to celebrate their friendship, but after an unfortunate incident tears apart their relationship, Poppy is determined to go on one last vacation with Alex to reconcile their feelings. Honestly, I don’t know where to start with a book that made me go on a rollercoaster of emotions all in one sitting. The witty banter, the mutual pining, the grumpy/sunshine dynamic, the unreal chemistry—I couldn’t ask for anything more.

The novel takes place over the course of 10 years, jumping back and forth between the past and the present, which maximized character development and allowed a bittersweet romance to unfold. Alex and Poppy’s relationship has its ups and downs, as with any friendship there is, and as their feelings for each other only grow, it’s hard not to root for them.In this sophomore novel, it is evident that Emily Henry has perfected the art of romantic comedy as she displays her talent for writing romance that not only entertains but also passes on little slices of wisdom to its readers. This is one of those books I wish I could read again for the first time, and I couldn’t recommend it enough.

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