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How could Pokémon work without an evil team?

Blast

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From ruthless Team Rocket of the first two generations to the ambiguous Aether Foundation of Generation 7, evil teams have been a staple of the Pokémon games (other media) since the very beginning. With Sun and Moon, one of the most basic and consistent features of the Pokémon adventure, namely the Gym battles and the badge system, has been removed. In general, the games were praised for mixing up the old formula and introducing something that felt fresh and unique to the region. Perhaps this is a sign GF is reconsidering more core elements of what makes a Pokémon game.

This got me wondering, what would a Pokémon game be like without evil teams? Would such a huge change also get a positive reception, like the Island Trials? What would be the alternative? Maybe we ourselves will even get the change to join a team, be it good or evil? I think this a very interesting topic to discuss, since it's not unthinkable GF decides to replace or alter this Pokémon tradition in future games.
 

Patrick Haines

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In the traditional games, you need an antagonist. I suppose it could be a Pokémon (like Necrozma/Mewtwo), instead of a team, but you need something to break up the monotony of "hey I beat a gym, let's go beat another gym."

It would be a major shift from the traditional games, but I think it could be done on the Switch (or def the internet), but I would like to see a Pokémon game run something like an MMORGP. You get to choose your age, what city you are from (the game has all the regions, possibly even the spin-off regions), and you get to travel at your pace, not one pre-determined by the game. The game wouldn't need an evil team because you could team up do do quests or challenge the gyms and train at your own rate. Obviously, a TON of changes would have to be made, but I could see a game like that without an evil team.
 

Silktree

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The problem is that once you remove the dozens of grunts, not that much happens in the story outside the very climax. Getting rid of the grunts would mean coming up with a more immersive story, and Game Freak haven't shown that they're capable of that (no, cute cutscenes and information dumps don't count), nor has the average fan shown interest.

I think that having the rival become gradually antagonistic would the best way to do it.
 

Blast

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The problem is that once you remove the dozens of grunts, not that much happens in the story outside the very climax. Getting rid of the grunts would mean coming up with a more immersive story, and Game Freak haven't shown that they're capable of that (no, cute cutscenes and information dumps don't count), nor has the average fan shown interest.
Something to replace the events were you battle a horde of grunts with could be seperate yet rewarding tasks. For example, you would have to save a child or Pokémon that got lost in the wilderness, mediate a conflict between two Trainers or do research of some kind in a special area in relation to a Legendary Pokémon. The things I imagine a ranger would do. Of course, there could also be battles with individual crooks, such as poacher or hunters. These kinds of sidequests would immerse players a lot more in the Pokémon than battling 10 bad guys wearing the same outfits in some warehouse.
 

Silktree

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Well, if we're talking hypothetically, then those aren't bad ideas (although they border on anime filler territory). But if they're treated as afterthoughts, then keep them optional like the USUM sidequests.
 

Patrick Haines

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You could try and remove the humans as antagonists completely. Re-imagine RSE without Team Aqua/Magma. The Delta Episode happens first, the meteorites cause all kinds of problems that the protagonist has to solve (Mega Evolving Wild Pokémon, Pokémon Attacking Villages, Ect) and the climax is still having to defeat Groudon/Kyogre on a rampage, awakening Rayquaza's Mega form and battling Deoxys to return everything to normal. The gyms could even be worked into the story because, let's say a group of Pokémon is a attacking a village and you have only two badges, someone says you aren't strong enough (you need three), so come back later.

Something similar could be done with Sun/Moon, with the Ultra Beasts being the antagonists, causing the problems for the protagonist to solve. Essentially, the games having the same plots, but the climaxes occurring naturally instead of being caused by an evil team.
 
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