Evil Teams


Professional Hot Pepper
A force lurks just out of your reach, plotting something out of your control and you can only deal with the breadcrumbs they leave behind along your journey. The evil team that plagues each region of the pokemon world plays a big part of both the hero's story as well as a gameplay variety tool. We've seen some great teams over the years and some have had some of the best moments of the series.
  • Discuss the importance of the evil team for what they provide to the pokemon experience
  • Share moments past teams have been effective or subverted your expectations
  • Brainstorm ways past or future evil teams could do their jobs better to create a better game for the player


Obligatory "my first post on Relic Castle!!"

Evil teams are my favorite part of Pokémon; the game I'm making revolves almost entirely around its evil team, and my evil team is the part of my game I've put the most love and work into. (I've been focusing on the evil team since October, whereas the game itself only just came into thought about a month or so ago!) As someone who loves villains and Bad Things in fiction, a fan-game's Evil Team is what makes or breaks the game for me.

If your game focuses more on a younger audience (much like the official Pokémon games), you can absolutely get away with a cliche Evil Team, because there's nothing wrong with a cliche Evil Team. There's no Right or Wrong way to handle them, but there are certain ways you should handle them if you want them to be viewed a certain way. If you game focuses on an older audience, or has a more serious tone, you're going to have a difficult time using an Evil Team that isn't unique, interesting, or even "realistic".

My favorite canon Evil Teams are Team Rocket and Team Aether, but if I had to only choose one, it would be Team Rocket.
The thing that makes Rocket stand out from the crowd is that its leader (Giovanni) doesn't act as though his plan/goals are beneficial for the world. Giovanni is evil, Rocket is evil, their entire goal is to make money and make profit and they aren't afraid to do anything to get that. Rocket is corrupt, disgusting, and stands for nothing except its own personal gain. There's no "I'm trying to help the world be a better place", there's no "I'm trying to protect the Pokemon", there's no "I'm trying to fix the problems in the world".
It's just "I want money, so I'm going to get it."

Again, there's no wrong way to write an Evil Team; your Evil Team doesn't inherently suck because you took inspiration from Team Plasma or Team Aether and their motives. But, in my personal opinion? Those types of Evil Teams are so overdone- I'm bored of Evil Teams that come to me acting like they're the world's saving grace. GameFreak has done those almost every region since Gen 3, and it's tiring to watch this new cool Evil Team make the exact same mistake that every other Team before them has done.
"I'm going to make the world a better place, with the help of this Legendary that will definitely give me the power I need- oh no, the Legendary didn't listen to me, everything is falling apart, it's almost as if my plan was unrealistic and I should've thought about it for longer than 10 seconds!" It's difficult to take an Evil Team seriously when they keep doing this, especially after SIX evil teams have had this exact thing happen to them.

For me to personally get engrossed in a fan-game's story, the Evil Team (if it has one) needs to break the mold. I don't want to roll my eyes and be able to predict the rest of the entire story because a weird looking guy/gal walks up and monologues about how the world needs to change. What's the point of me even playing the game when I'm already 90% confident that I know the entire story just from that one encounter? Again, there's nothing wrong with that, but if you plan to do something like that, you need to bring something to the table that makes it clear that your game isn't another regular boring Pokémon game with new maps and maybe new Pokémon.

But, once again: if you're having fun making/writing your game, you're not doing anything wrong. But everyone can benefit from breaking the formula for once!
I think my favorite part of challenging an evil team is uncovering the secrecy behind them. Now that everyone knows all about Team Rocket, it may seem obvious going back through the game, but Team Rocket had some pretty fantastic twists. The game corner that just seemed to hold minigames and prizes actually held a secret base? The absentee gym leader was only gone because he was busy leading Team Rocket? Those were honestly huge reveals!

A couple other secrets I enjoyed-
  • Reborn's Team Meteor isn't always very subtle, but they have quite a few surprises, including a secret takeover of the Day Care Center and recruiting a number of gym leaders to their cause.
  • I know people always say that the Aether Foundation wasn't as much of a shock as it should've been (given the cutscene at the start of the game), but to find out that only part of it was corrupted, while also being made up of volunteers and even government agents, as well as discovering just how many projects they had their fingers in, was still quite a surprise.
  • Team Flare didn't have many surprises, but Malva being part of the Elite Four was actually quite a shock! I wish they'd have done more with it...
  • pokemaniacal also has a very interesting idea I'd love to see in a game!

I think part of the reason why other evil teams didn't have the same shock to their twists is that there wasn't any other purpose to their secrets.Team Magma/Aqua's hideout is in a cave that you had absolutely no reason to visit before. (You can't even go in without knowing that it's their hideout) Team Galatic's HQ literally has their logo on the front. Lysandre's reveal could have been more of a surprise were it not for the fact that Diantha was also present in his introduction. (Two characters with custom models-it's usually only the champion that shows up in places before you battle them, and you can guess that the guy with the same colors as Team Flare talking about wanting to alter the world is probably not the champion.)

My most crucial piece of advice for anyone wanting to write twists is this-Make your audience suspect something else. If they're not expecting the story to go a certain way, the reveals won't surprise them at all.
Unpopular opinion: I'm not really a fan of any evil team. I think they're always secondary to the main Pokémon journey which is getting badges and beating the Elite Four.

In terms of game design, I'd have to say Rocket was the best, as they were pretty non-interfering and weren't the main plot of the game. From Gen 3 onwards it seems like GAMEFREAK decided to make an evil scheme/evil plan the center of the plots of these games. Not my favorite design choice.

That being said in terms of actual teams, Aqua/Magma take the cake easily. They're so silly and over the top, especially in ORAS.
In my personal opinion, a strong antagonistic force is a great way to make your story flow. While you can make a story without an evil team still eventful and unique, it can still be fun to have what is essentially a cult trying to bring some absurd goal.
But for Pokemon, evil teams make a lot of sense. Rather than being a single, primary antagonist, having a large team of antagonists helps to raise the number of trainer vs. trainer battles that are so important in the series. They just as much help to push the plot and keep the story from being a simple scenic walk from town to town.

But the most important parts of an evil team are their goals and reasoning. Do they want to just make a ton of money? Do they want to use the region's legendary to do some absurd thing to the world? Or are they just insane?
You can give an evil team whatever goal you like, but it's important to keep in mind that the best motives are the ones that you can understand the reasoning behind.
Team Magma and Aqua's motives tie in with the region itself, due to the large amount of water compared to most regions. Therefore, you can understand why they would want more land or water.

This also bring me to an evil team who's motives in my opinion don't work in their respective game. Team Flare wishes to reset the world and create a reality without Pokemon. That's arguably a sympathetic goal, knowing the injustices that often occur in our world. But here's the thing: they keyword is our world. Pokemon X and Y does next to nothing to establish that they may be in the right. All of the bad things in the game are caused by Team Flare themselves, conveniently the people that will survive and make the world "beautiful". Also they want to make money? Um... Those are two very different goals that do not line up with eachother very well.
But it's okay, they do plenty of things to meet their goals, including... Stealing fossils... Trying to get the president of the Pokeball Factory to join them... Also they were bullying an Abomasnow for some reason. Uh. Okay. Great way to make money.
To their credit, raiding the power plant made sense, as they were stealing electricity to power the ultimate weapon, but for the most part it feels like Team Flare only existed as a forced antagonist.

Team Galactic had a similar goal, but it was one handled much better in my opinion. First of all, recreating the universe without emotion was Cyrus's goal, which was kept a secret to the organization, and acted as a reasonable excuse for their unrelated endeavors. Second of all, they were very extreme with their actions to capture the Lake Guardians. Blowing up a lake full of Magikarp? Forcing you to walk through a maze of them? A little extreme, but it well-reflected Cyrus's motives of a world without emotion. To disregard hundreds of lives to meet your goals definitely reflects this.

Also, I like it when evil teams are humanized. Team Plasma did this best, with N and even some of the grunts having their doubts and even turning over a new leaf at the end of the game. Though BW2 Plasma wasn't as solid in this regard, it was still really interesting to see the reformed grunts and even a reformed sage at Driftveil City.
It's good to remember that "evil" teams are formed by ordinary people with varying levels of extreme viewpoints. Every person has a reason to do what they do, which means by all means raises the quality of a team when this is kept in mind. As I see it, the best villains are the ones you don't want to defeat.


Sandwich Master
Discuss the importance of the evil team for what they provide to the pokemon experience

I think the evil team allows you to have opportunities for discovery by distracting you from doing your main goals like gyms. But more importantly they give you a story to focus on as your go on your Adventure...

But, for the teams themselves I feel pretty mixed, I think team Skull technically was the most interesting because they were a failures and not considered a threat to the public. But in reality I like team plasma the most just because their goals were logical even though they could've had the climax with out the Legendaries.
I think gen 3, 4, and 6 technically were all the same team, however, I think the reason 3 did it correctly (in Emerald that is) they had the two teams make progress simultaneously, they both were able to successfully summon the mascots which caused conflict. So while they were cheesy, the climax was done in an interesting way.
Now for the Aether foundation... tbh, I find them basically like 3, 4, and 6 just with an ultra beast instead of a Legendary. The only difference is that it's only a few members are like this and they have their own version of Mewtwo.
Now for team Rocket, they are just okay, I really don't think they are the best or worst. They are just there.

For the future of games I was to see more interesting styles and I have thought of some myself...

-Have the Legendaries not the focus or necessary for he goal, maybe they obtained it but only as a prisoner and nothing else.
-Make their goals more relatable like maybe a conflict between having Development/Change vs. Keeping old culture. Another is how humanity would continue (XY had potential for this but it was poorly executed).
-Make them more intimidating and show them have more progress then before. This can in ways such as maybe have them own their own E4 basically or have a hideout in almost every town? Oh! Or maybe their own entire base is a town (but not stolen like Po town).
-The last and most important thing is to stop making them have this conclusion always before or after the 8th gym, it's too cliche at this point, and I find it underwhelming that when you go finish that gym you have nothing else to do, it's pretty boring.

So overall, I want to see more innovation and creativity with these concepts and have a new way to present them.
Personally I believe that Evil teams are vital to the experience as a whole. It's a fair point that they are secondary to the true goal, the gym challenge as the elite four - without a main goal or main opposition, the gameplay feels a bit lacking; without a major source of conflict, the game just feels off.
Further, If we're jumping off with the notion of the gym challenge and elite four being the main driving focus, then an evil team is essential to that experience, as gym leaders and the elite four are the strongest trainers in the region and are sworn protectors - Unova tied that fact to them as more than just an obstacle for the player. Defeating an evil syndicate is very befitting of an upcoming champion.

As a concept, they're very entertaining, They're typically an over the top group of individuals with a relatable goal taken to the extreme. However, Something that might be a bit more impactful is the way the Persona series handles villains - in the sense that the people you're supposed to hate, the villains, are absolutely and unequivocally horrible. The you should only be sympathetic to a villain to a certain degree, enough that they are indeed human and not just displaceable evil, but also absolutely unforgivable, and a threat that needs to be taken out. Personally, I feel that having a game with just the basic gym challenge is good for a short, small scope game, but if you're aiming for a bigger classic style game, having a sub plot or over arching story that ties in a villainous group is definitely essential to keeping the player engaged in the world, and wanting to continue playing, it draws the player in, wanting to fight for justice and avenge others, or right the wrongs of the world, and prove their worth of the mantle Pokemon Champion.


How am I still alive
The heart of Pokemon game is traveling with your companion. The manga and anime also reflects this theme. Hence, evil team is not a must-have in your game.

But things can get pretty interesting when there's a strong conflict. But getting 2edgy4me can be a hard blow to your game. LSTF covers the antagonist topic really well. And while it's quite tricky to apply in a typical Pokemon game (because the player IS the main character), fangame has the opportunity to step outside the norm and gain its own strength. It's risky, but I think it's a matter of plot execution to keep player interested to the lore.

You don't have to make an evil organization. You don't have to make a legendary MacGuffin. A talking protagonist can be as enjoyable as silent one. Saving the world is an obvious answer when there is no consequence--what about a difficult choice when there is something to lose? Even when it comes to who plays the antagonist role, there are pokemon thieves in PMD and even non-pokemon creature, and they did just fine! We went emotional and conflicted on PMD games, but rarely ever on Pokemon journey game.



I think one thing that hasn't been mentioned here is a huge advantage evil teams have over singular antagonist, or a small group: Strength in numbers. An evil team can march up to any location and can turn it into a trainer filled maze of a dungeon. A singular antagonist would have to battle you over and over, or find some other way to challenge you. This concept makes evil teams a great pokemon antagonist. The vanilla mechanics don't really allow for non-human opponents to offer a threat, so it's hard to design a dungeon that challenges someone's battle abilities without adding a lot of trainers.

Evil teams also have the benefit of being an antagonistic force, and therefor being a proactive force. The player is usually proactive in their goal of getting the badges, but they're never proactive in their goal to stop the evil team. Teams take action, the player reacts and solves those actions. This makes it so that evil teams make great plot drivers. They force events to happen. It's not rare for that to be misused, though. Sometimes, a team is designed only with an end-goal in mind, and the mid-game encounters are just there to have 'story-elements' happen. Both Team Galactic and Team Flare suffered from this. Their mid-game encounters were inconsequential to the greater plot. Stealing honey or raiding a pokeball factory were actions that didn't need to happen. They just happened to remind of you of those teams presence in the game, creating the feeling of a larger narrative throughout your travels.

I personally don't see evil teams as a requirement for a game. I like the idea of someone designing a game without an organized crime syndicate as a looming presence. I feel like it's somewhat of a crutch for fangames, or rather pokemon in general. Every plot automatically falls in the same plot structure because of it, and it's somewhat rare to see someone break that.


Social Media
So my evil team organization is called Team Infinite, they are both Team Plasma and Team Galactic combined. Team Infinite wants to erase the Pokemon Universe by calling the Divine-Beasts of Love and Eternity. That's my evil team. What's yours?


dabbling in game design
Well, I was working on a game where Team Rocket weren't going to be the bad guys; they were actually going to be the good guys, sort of, stopping other evil teams while the player moves up in the ranks and finds out all sorts of hidden secrets. I stopped working on it, though. I figured if I was going to pour hours and time into something, it might as well be something that will get past Nintendo if it becomes popular.

I like Team Rocket but not because I see them as totally evil, more because they are unique. Here are a few examples:

Pokemon Members:
Team Rocket are the only openly criminal organization that actually recruits wild Pokemon members! It's revealed in one episode of the Pokemon anime that Meowth is actually a field agent, along with Jessie and James, not just a companion Pokemon. I think focusing on Team Rocket's Pokemon members would be a great angle for a game. They aren't all owned Pokemon, which, to my knowledge is unique. Most evil teams use their Pokemon to commit crimes, but Team Rocket is capable of convincing wild Pokemon to carry out their evil deeds. Yeah, I know the games don't expand on this much, and we really only see it with Jessie and James, but let's just assume they aren't a unique case.

Organized Crime:
Team Rocket is highly successful. They covertly run legitimate businesses, like the game corner, carry out smuggling and Pokemon poaching operations, take over whole towns, etc., all with minimal police interference. It's also suggested that the members don't act on their own accord but are overseen by admins. That means that every criminal act committed by low ranking Team Rocket members was carefully planned, and if the police get involved maybe it's all a trick to throw them off of the scent of something bigger?

Controller Boss:
Giovanni is the mastermind behind Team Rocket, and we find out in Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon that he's even capable, and willing, to alter the timeline to get what he wants. That pretty much means that Team Rocket is capable of anything, even recruiting members of defeated evil teams to join their ranks.

Powerful Custom Pokemon:
Well, again, this is exclusive to the anime, but we find out in Mewtwo Strikes Back that Giovanni ordered the creation of Mewtwo. What other evil teams actually have the resources and imagination to create their own super powerful legendary Pokemon? Okay, there are a few, but Team Rocket was the original. Other Pokemon games also hint at this by giving some Rockets extremely powerful legendary Pokemon, like Zapdos.

The Rockets have awesome style for video game villains. Not only are their uniforms cute, but they have these little idiosyncrasies that set them apart from the other teams. The "motto" is one example.

Not Just Gangsters:
Well, this may only apply to the anime, but, taking Jessie and James as an example, the members of Team Rocket seem to be complex multi-layered characters. They also aren't all just mere Pokemon thieves. In the anime, Jessie and James, and presumably other field agents who work for the organization, are supposed to be finding and catching rare Pokemon; there's no mention of stealing or even using illegal means, even though that seems to be the preferred method.

The anime also reveals that Team Rocket has powerful intelligent scientists working for the organization and with certain field agents, mainly Butch, Cassidy, Jessie, and James. These scientists may have been responsible for such things as reviving fossils, collecting information on Pokerus, and creating shadow Pokemon!
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