In the realm of Pokémon gaming, Generation 9 (Gen 9) received mixed reviews initially, with technical and performance issues dampening the experience. However, amidst this backdrop, two games stood out as shining gems: Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. These titles marked a significant upgrade for the series, rivaling the grandeur of Pokémon Legends: Arceus. What made Scarlet and Violet truly remarkable was their fully open-world design, allowing players to roam the wilds, encountering critters at every turn and exploring every nook and cranny in search of secrets and Easter eggs. But while the Teal Mask and Indigo Disk DLCs enhanced the Gen 9 experience, there is one crucial area where Pokémon Sword and Shield surpassed their successors.

This brings us to the heart of the matter: the endgame. Players flocked back to Pokémon Sword and Shield after experiencing The Indigo Disk, revealing the most significant flaw in Gen 9 and the lesson that Gen 10 must learn before its release, slated for 2025 or 2026. Despite its initial poor reception, Gen 8 turned out to be a solid generation, especially with the Crown Tundra DLC, thanks to its engaging endgame loop.

The main issue lies in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet's endgame, which hasn't evolved much after The Indigo Disk. While catching shiny versions of every returning starter and embarking on Snacksworth quests to obtain past Legendaries are worthwhile pursuits, the actual endgame content is rather limited. Currently, the primary activities revolve around farming Tera Raids and completing events that introduce exclusive Pokémon, such as the awe-inspiring 7-star Tera Raid bosses.

Undeniably, encountering these 7-star Tera Raid bosses in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet is thrilling since they are essentially collectibles, boasting the exclusive "Mightiest Mark" and perfect IVs. However, as satisfying as this may be in the long run, it fails to address Gen 9's most persistent problem: the endgame grind. In these games, the main grind involves obtaining materials and Tera Shards from raids. While this may offer some replayability, it pales in comparison to what Gen 8 had to offer.

Dynamax Adventures in Pokémon Sword and Shield remain one of the franchise's best activities, if not the absolute best. Why? These adventures are highly replayable and offer fantastic rewards. Through Dynamax Adventures, players can potentially obtain every shiny Legendary Pokémon available in Gen 8, except for the newly introduced ones and some rare cases of shiny-locked encounters. This alone is a compelling reason why Pokémon Sword and Shield currently hold more value than Gen 9. Once players complete the main storyline, there isn't much else to do in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, and that's where Gen 8 shines.

In contrast, Pokémon Sword and Shield boast an endgame activity that is endlessly replayable, immensely rewarding, and grants players a great deal of agency. During Dynamax Adventures, players can choose to catch and keep several Pokémon, with a Legendary encounter awaiting them at the end. This Legendary Pokémon can be swapped out for a random one or kept repeatedly, allowing players to engage in shiny-hunting until they find their elusive prize. Pokémon Scarlet and Violet lack an equivalent experience to Dynamax Adventures since Tera Raid bosses and all returning Legendaries are shiny-locked. Thankfully, Gen 8 rectified its successor's shortcomings and demonstrated that Pokémon games can and should provide meaningful grinds.

So, while Pokémon Scarlet and Violet stand tall as the main entries in Generation IX, introducing over 100 new Pokémon and whisking players off to the captivating Paldea region, it is Pokémon Sword and Shield that emerge triumphant in the endgame grind battle. As we eagerly await the arrival of Generation X, one can only hope that it learns from the past and delivers an endgame experience that rivals or surpasses the brilliance of Dynamax Adventures. Only time will tell if the upcoming generation can claim the crown and redefine the meaning of a truly satisfying Pokémon endgame.

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