Previous generations of Pokémon games had players fighting through enemy trainers while solving little puzzles before reaching the Gym Leader. Then rinse and repeat eight times before unlocking the finale.
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet shakes up the classic formula in many ways, and the Gym battles are no exception. Each Gym features a unique test before unlocking its Gym Leader battle.
Some of these tests are more interesting than others, however. We’ve ranked all eight Gym Leader battles, and come away with some good news: the earlier Gyms feature some of the lamest tests, but they will get better!
#8 Cortondo Gym (Bug)
Cortondo is one of two Gyms you’re likely to tackle first. That’s a shame, because you might think all the Gym Tests are as lame as this one! Nestled in the heart of an olive grove, the test involves pushing a comically gigantic olive around a pitifully small and easy obstacle course.
You’re given the choice to take some slightly harder routes, or engage in easy trainer battles for some shortcuts. Thankfully it’s all over very quickly, and you’ll soon have the Bug badge and can forget all about stumbling into giant olives.
#7 Levincia Gym (Electric)
Home to the modern influencer Iono, the Levincia Gym has a lot of potential for interesting tests. Instead it oddly settles on a series of hidden picture puzzles starring Director Clavell, er, “Mister Walksabout.”
We’re a fan of Where’s Waldo and hidden pictures, but don’t expect much of a challenge here. It’s disappointing that the puzzles didn’t go with finding actual Pokémon in more interesting scenes than the town of Levincia, and for that we rate this test near the bottom.
#6 Artazon Gym (Grass)
The other low-level Gym you’re likely to tackle first or second, Artazon Gym features a literal hide-and-seek test. The task is simple: find a bunch of Sunflora hidden around the town.
This Gym Test is similar to Levincia’s, but instead of a static picture, we get to explore around town. And at least we’re searching for Pokémon! It’s a decent excuse to wander around the town and check various nooks and crannies.
#5 Cascarrafa Gym (Water)
Cascarrafa’s Gym Test presents a classic fetch quest: simply go to the next town over (in this case, Porto Marinada), and deliver the forgetful Gym Leader’s wallet. We wish more tests gave us an excuse to visit different areas of the world. Reaching Porto Marinada requires crossing the Asado Desert, which is teeming with Pokémon that you’re unlikely to see anywhere else.
But that’s not all. Once you reach the coastal town, you’ll learn how to engage with the rudimentary auction house as part of the Gym Test. We’re thankful to Kofu for teaching us about the daily-rotating auction house, but we wish the actual bidding gameplay was more involved.
#4 Alfornada Gym (Psychic)
The town of Alfornada and its Psychic Gym is the only location that’s hidden away in a not-so-obvious spot on the map. For most places, the Pokémon and the Gyms get more difficult as you head further north, but that’s not the case for Alfornada. The town hosts the Psychic gym and is located on a tall plateau with Pokémon levels in their 40s.
The Gym Test is a simple Simon Says-style rhythm game. Rhythm mini-games can be a lot of fun, though like most of the Gym Tests, we wish this one was a bit more challenging. But it gets big points for being cute as heck.
#3 Montenevera Gym (Ghost)
The Ghost Gym is likely one of your last Gyms on Victory Road, although it doesn’t boast the highest-level Pokémon. Even if you’ve combed over the map in the recommended zig-zag path, you’re likely over-leveled by the time you make it up to Montenevera.
That’s a shame, because this Gym Test couldn’t be simpler — Double Battles! Double Battles have been around in Pokémon games for years, but for some reason they’re incredibly rare in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. Yet they’re a lot of fun, encouraging slightly different tactics and Pokémon pairs. For that reason we rank Montenevera’s Gym Test quite high.
#2 Glaseado Gym (Ice)
The highest-level Gym also features one of the best Gym Tests. The slope run is the perfect test for a snowy mountain top — not to mention that we already have the perfect mount!
The slope run also suffers from being way too easy, but the controls work well, and it’s a fun little diversion to carefully slide down the mountain through the banners. Out of all the tests this is one we wish we could take on increasing challenges.
#1 Medali Gym (Normal)
Ranking some of the Gym Tests was a difficult task, but there was no question for number one. The Medali Gym Test is a multi-step riddle, guess the ingredients and style to a secret menu item at the nearby restaurant.
To do so we’ll have to fight three trainers, who each give a different clue. The clues encourage exploring the town and paying attention to our surroundings. Only with proper observation and deduction can we discover the answer and unlock the final Gym Leader battle. A truly brilliant Gym Test!