Pokémon Scarlet Definitely Used to Be Called Pokémon Orange

The new OLED switch, the character design, and the central academy are all orange... so why are we calling it Pokémon Scarlet?

Today, Game Freak gave us another look at the upcoming Pokémon Scarlet and Violet and unveiled a brand new limited edition of the OLED Switch. I think it looks really cool, but one thing about it bothers me. It’s definitely violet, but the Pokémon are more orange than scarlet, aren’t they? Take a look for yourself:

The back of the new OLED Switch, which is decorated with purple and orange Pokémon from Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. The left joy con is purple, and the right joy con is a reddish-orange.

Say what you will about the joy con, but to me, the back of this switch looks pretty orange. A reddish orange, sure, but definitely not something I would refer to as scarlet. It got me thinking about the other colors we’ve seen in the game so far, and I’ve come up with a theory.

I think Pokémon Scarlet used to be called Pokémon Orange.

There’s a surprising amount of evidence that backs this up. In what we’ve seen of the upcoming games, a lot of characters and locations are specific to either Pokémon Scarlet or Violet, and they’re color-coded accordingly. Let’s start with the trainers they’ve used to advertise the game.

The two trainers form Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. the kid on the right wears purple shorts and a purple tie, while the kid on the left wears orange shorts with a matching orange tie.

The kid on the right is wearing violet shorts and a violet tie, so the kid on the left should be wearing scarlet, but their shorts are orange instead. I hadn’t thought anything of it before I had this theory, but now it feels odd. It’s pretty common for the main protagonist of a Pokémon game to match the color scheme of the title, so why would only one of them break that trend? It’s not an isolated incident either — the game’s hot, hot professors fit the pattern too.

The professors from Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. On the right is Professor Turo, a man with a white labcoat over what appears to be a purple wetsuit. On the left is Professor Sada, who wears a white lab coat over an orange crop top and shorts. Other than her labcoat, her clothes all look like they're made of animal hides.

Professor Turo (right) is definitely rocking some violet under his lab coat, but Professor Sada (left) is full on wearing orange! This orange is even less red than the kid’s shorts above. Here’s another example:

Two images of Clavell, an older man with white hair, white glasses, and a white beard. The left version of him wears an orange jacket, and the right version wears a violet one.

This is Clavell, the director of the academy your player is studying at. His attire varies by the version of the game, and guess what? He’s just as orange as everyone else I’ve mentioned this far.

Clavell is actually a perfect segue into the next point I wanted to make. The academy you study at varies based on your game, Uva in Pokémon Violet and Naranja in Pokémon Scarlet/Orange. Because the region is based on Spain, these academy names are actually Spanish words for fruits. “Uva” means grape, which makes perfect sense. Grapes are definitely a violet food, so it fits that version perfectly.

…can you guess what Naranja means?

The emblem of Naranja Academy, the school in Pokémon Scarlet, is a cross-section of an orange on an orange shield.

IT MEANS ORANGE!

Why on Earth would they name it Orange Academy if the game’s color is scarlet? There are so many red fruits! Cherries, apples, strawberries, pomegranates, raspberries, the outside of lychee, the inside of watermelon. Heck, I even would have accepted a tomato, but they specifically went with orange. I should mention that Spain does also have blood oranges, which are usually a deep red on the inside, but their color is nothing like the one in the school’s emblem. They’re far darker, almost wine colored. This orange is, well, orange.

At first glance, the biggest wrinkle in my theory is that the box art and the cover Pokémon are both definitely scarlet, but I actually think this works in my favor. At some point, the color of the game was changed, so they altered the title and box art, but there wasn’t time to change the character/world design they’d been working on for months or years already. If the box cover was also orange, I would just assume I have a misguided understanding of the color scarlet, but it’s definitely red.

This isn’t one or two confusing color choices. The use of the color orange was a decision, and I want to know why they seemingly backtracked on it.

Scarlet as the name for a version exclusive always confused me because the color red has already been used a ton in Pokémon games. Pokémon Red, Ruby, Fire Red, Y, Omega Ruby, and Shield all use red as their primary color. Most colors of the rainbow have already been used in early titles, but Orange and Violet have remained untouched.

Maybe Pokémon Orange was changed to Scarlet because it’s a cooler word. Maybe it tested better in focus groups. Maybe someone at The Pokémon Company just really likes red and wanted it to be featured in as many games as possible. Whatever the truth is, I don’t know. I just know that the head of Naranja Academy is definitely wearing orange, and it’s weird we’re pretending he’s not.