Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are ambitious entries in the Pokémon series. The opening games of the ninth generation will feature an open-world setting and sport a lot more impressive graphics and textures compared to its predecessors. Still, Pokémon be Pokémon. There will be some elements that will return in one way or another in every main-series game. The already famous starter-trio is notable among these permanent features. Furthermore, every region is based on a real-life location like France, England, or in this case, Spain (and possibly Portugal). Of course, we can’t forget about another crucial element that has consistently either energized Pokémon games or failed to live up to expectations. Like every region, there is likely going to be an evil team in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.
Will the evil team in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet be one for the memory books or will it end up in the dustbin of gaming history? Let’s explore how the villains of this region can become the best ones yet!
While discussing how the possible future evil team of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet could be great, why not check out 5 other hopes we have for the games as well!
Taking Notes from Evil Past
The main series so far has had seven different villainous teams. Although they all fulfilled the role of recurring antagonists throughout the plot of their various games, their aims couldn’t be further apart. So to get to what Pokémon Scarlet and Violet’s evil team should look like, it’d be good to look at what the earlier villainous teams got right and where they fell short. Be aware that in my discussion of the villainous goals and actions, there may be spoilers for the games and the manga. You’re warned!
Between Moderate and Megalomaniac
Right off the bet – Team Rocket is one of the most realistic, if not the most realistic evil team. Pokémon’s equivalent to the mafia aims to make money using Pokémon in various cruel and unethical ways to achieve world domination. This team is one of the more down-to-earth ones. Its objective is simple, and in trying to fulfill it, Team Rocket makes a very effective antagonist. Just as everyone tells you that Pokémon are wonderful creatures that crave love and care, this organization abuses those little creatures and harnesses their power for their selfish goals. The main problem the player should have with Team Rocket is the world they’re trying to build, they’re not an existential threat to the world of Pokémon and the player.
That changes with teams like Aqua, Magma, Galactic, and the worst offender of all, Team Flare. All these teams want to build a better world at an existential cost to everybody living in it. Teams Aqua and Magma compete in what’s essentially an ethical debate around land reclamation. If Team Magma gets their wish, the world’s landmasses would expand at the expense of the sea to further human civilization. This would wreck the ecosystem, with some pretty negative consequences for humans, too. Team Aqua wants to wipe out humanity to restore the world to a pure state for Pokémon to inhabit.
In the same vein falls Team Galactic, which aims to use the power of space and time to create a new universe and wipe out the one in which everyone lives. Team Flare is the worst offender of all, aiming to eliminate everyone who isn’t fashionable enough (which is about everyone) with a massive laser that destroys the world.
Putting the ‘evil’ in ‘evil team’
“Evil” teams have become a lot less evil in the previous few generations. This might be due to Pokémon catering increasingly to its younger demographic and thus wants to feature kids-friendly content. In any case, it’s difficult to deny that Team Skull and Team Yell aren’t particularly evil. Although Team Skull’s frontman Guzma does have some interesting events going on that can be seen as evil, most of the team are just a bunch of thugs. Team Yell is similar since they’re over-zealous fanboys of one of the contestants in Galar’s Pokémon League. The most ‘evil’ thing they do is intimidate some people by standing around them, which is hardly even illegal.
Those readers who pay attention to detail noticed that there’s one team missing in this discussion so far: Team Plasma. Although the (initially secret) main goal is pretty straightforward – world domination – the means and apparent objective are far more interesting: separating people and Pokémon. They’d be excellent competitors to Team Rocket. Whereas Team Rocket preaches that Pokémon exist to further their means in every way possible, Team Plasma (nominally) exists to prevent exactly that from happening – and separate humans and Pokémon so that the latter can be free.
The team’s mission isn’t necessarily evil, it’s possibly even noble. The team is unmistakenly villainous due to certain elements that try to corrupt the organization. However, the goal of Team Plasma makes it uniquely truly questionable whether the player character is on the “good” side of history. Are they fighting an evil organization that aims to separate them from their Pokémon? Or are they simply advancing their self-interest while the organization strives for a higher, noble goal that just can’t exist alongside the player’s journey?
A kids-friendly villain theme doesn’t make a team lame per se
Could there be another Team Plasma? Over the years, Pokémon has emphasized its kids-friendly content, which keeps evil teams from doing not kids-friendly villainous things. However, that doesn’t mean an evil team can’t be a good antagonist. There are plenty of good villains and antagonists in stories that appeal to adults and kids alike. And that’s not to mention that both Team Plasma appearances were in kids-friendly ranked games.
The evil team in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet should take notes from Teams Rocket and Plasma rather than from Teams Skull or Team Yell. The stakes should be high but realistic. The player should clash with the team should be because the team directly opposes something the player character is trying to do. Imagine if the goal is to defeat the gym challenge, but the regional evil team aims to overthrow the gyms. The player character has a reason to be upset. And if the reason this team wants to overthrow gyms is noble, it could lead to a similar dilemma that Team Plasma poses.
In all the cracks of society
There’s one specific thing that always annoyed me with every evil team. The members exist outside of society. It isn’t just your neighbor, your professor, the local shopkeep, or the gym leader who is a member of this team. The teams have many dedicated members who are defined by nothing but their team. What’s more, they can’t even exist outside of the team! Sure, some high-ranking individuals live double lives, but you won’t find your average Team Galactic grunt being both a shopkeep and supporting Team Galactic. They’re either in or out.
There are alternatives, fortunately. The best example is in the Pokémon Adventures manga. The manga retells the events of Pokémon Red and Blue, although with a couple of twists. One twist I should mention here is the role of Team Rocket, who are both a lot more violent and a lot more threatening. Their main threat comes from their role in Kanto’s society. The gym leaders Lt. Surge, Sabrina, Koga, and Blaine all have ties to Team Rocket in one way or the other, making this rendition of Kanto feel like a true turf war in the region between the ‘good’ powerful trainers and the ‘bad’ ones.
The evil team of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet should infiltrate the ranks too. That can be anywhere – from random NPCs to trainers, even gyms, elite four members, or champions! Even the Pokémon Professor could support or be sympathetic to the team’s cause. Having a team infiltrate every corner of society makes it way more threatening, but it also becomes much more exciting and rewarding to take them down.
So where does that leave us? Based on this discussion, here are a couple of ideas for great evil teams in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.
1. Nobody expects…
I’m sorry, I couldn’t keep this idea off this list. Aside from the many memes on social media, I unironically think that an evil team based on the Spanish Inquisition has incredible potential. Of course, Game Freak has to be sensitive in this scenario. The Spanish Inquisition was a brutal organization. It tortured, murdered, and was ferociously against everything that threatened the Catholic church.
Still, the Spanish Inquisition can serve as inspiration for an evil team in Scarlet and Violet. Of course, they can’t go around murdering and torturing. That wouldn’t be very child friendly. Still, they could besiege and occupy buildings, take important people hostage, and be on the hunt for a legendary Pokémon that would allow them to achieve their goals. Their goal would be to gain influence throughout the entire region so everyone behaves ‘correctly.’ This would let the organization gain friends in high places, like mayors of towns, gym leaders, and elite four members. And of course, the encounters throughout the game should come out of nowhere. After all, their chief weapon is, among other elements of their weaponry, surprise.
2. Steal from the Rich
Pokémon games generally do a good job emphasizing a regional character. The games clearly show the ties a region has to its real-life counterpart. Kalos is distinctively French, with its chateaus and Lumiose Tower. Alola can’t be anything but Hawaii, and the dialogue and behavior of the Galarians are unmistakably English. It would be cool for Scarlet and Violet to continue this trend. Not only through architecture, characters, and dialogue, but also through the evil team.
The southern region of Spain especially has a rich bandit-romance tradition. Similar to Robin Hood, these bandits would steal from the rich and give to the poor. Game Freak could base an interesting villainous team on this. The team would try to steal possessions and Pokémon from the rich and give them to the poor. Maintaining a Pokémon team is expensive – you have to buy potions, status condition healing items, pokéballs, and repels. Life in the world of Pokémon without a Pokémon is quite dangerous, as many professors will tell you. Since not everyone has the money to maintain a Pokémon, there’s room for an ‘evil’ team to bring their sense of justice to this world. Such a team could have a noble motive (equality) but evil means (theft), which could make for great villains, the likes of Team Plasma.
3. Vigilante Justice
Spain also has a rich mythical tradition, leaving plenty of cultural splendor to inspire an evil team. The myth shouldn’t even be evil per se to serve as inspiration for a villainous team. Anjana are fairy spirits originating in northern Spanish folklore who take care of the forest, guide people lost in it, and reward the good while punishing the evil. This myth could be the basis for a rogue team, which aims to undermine the structures of the society in Scarlet and Violet that they consider ‘evil.’
Maybe they have a problem with particular corporations that manufacture problematic products. Perhaps they have an aversion to the Pokémon League and aim to undermine its activities in the region since gym leaders and elite four members tend to interfere with regional events, undermining the existing justice or police force. In that sense, such a team could be seen as an ‘anti-Pokémon League’ that tries to prevent the regular Pokémon league from getting too much influence in the region.
There you have it, my ideas of how Pokémon Scarlet and Violet’s evil team could be the best one yet. Now I’d like to hear from you. Do you agree with my ideas? What do you think I missed or got right? Let me know in the comments.