Have you ever wanted to play as the bad guys in a Pokemon game?
If you said yes, then I’d recommend you go to therapy as soon as you can, but before that, why not try one of the best ROM hacks that can give you all of your Pokemon dreams?
Pokemon: Team Rocket Edition allows you to truly experience what it could be like to be utterly evil and completely devoid of morals while giving you an extremely humorous and sometimes downright hilarious insight into what’s REALLY (not really) going on in the world of Pokemon, and what the evil old man Oak is truly up to.
Stealing Pokemon From A Baby
You’re able to use every Pokemon from Pokemon Fire Red, except with mechanics and the presentation from Generation VI.
This can mix weirdly at points since this world wasn’t designed for those mechanics, but often it works pretty well.
The big difference here is that you don’t choose a starter. You’re just given a Rattatta by your Team Rocket squadron lead, and then you’re sent out into the world.
Instead of catching Pokemon, as you might expect from every Pokemon game, you steal them from people you beat.
Indeed, the first trainer you fight is a little girl who you defeat and steal one of her Pokemon while she begs you not to.
Throughout Pokemon Team Rocket Edition, you can choose whether you want to be a good person or whether you want to just be the cruelest person around, though the branching nature of this is limited by the very nature of the game itself as a fairly linear adventure.
It doesn’t help that really the only way to get better and more powerful Pokemon is by stealing them from other trainers, which isn’t exactly a morally good thing to do, which kind of defeats the very implementation of a morality system in the game.
Part of the big appeal of Pokemon FireRed: Team Rocket Edition is that it leans much more into comedy than other Pokemon ROM hacks do.
The developers understand that you’re playing as a bad guy, and as a bad guy who is fairly bad at what they do (when was the last time that you ever saw Team Rocket actually succeed in what they’ve set out to do?), and as such they play into this.
You’ll come across many characters from Pokemon FireRed who are fairly one-note and unmemorable in the grand scheme of things and who have new life breathed into them by comedy beats when you meet them in this hack.
Pokemon Team Rocket Edition Plays It Up For The Fans
In order to do this, Pokemon Team Rocket Edition plays into old fan theories that at a glance seem absolutely ridiculous, or just straight-up stupid.
The theory that MissingNo is actually a corrupted Pokemon that was once loved by a trainer comes up in the game, for example, and you’ll discover that beloved character Professor Oak isn’t all he seems and might actually be the true bad guy of the entire Pokemon franchise (at least, from a certain point of view).
Maybe the player character from FireRed isn’t all they seem to be, and maybe there are actually a lot more people who sympathize with Team Rocket than you initially thought.
It’s quite cool, and extremely fun to see these fan theories given life, but it does come with one extreme flaw.
You see, a lot of these fan theories were made in the late ’90s and the early ’00s. This was an edgy time for the internet at large, and you can really see that reflected in these fan theories.
There are so many fan theories that exist just to make something seem more adult, or to make an adult not feel stupid for playing what they perceive as a ‘kids game’, and Pokemon Team Rocket Edition falls into this trap of edge for the sake of edge rather than actually adding any decent depth to the ideas that it presents, which stops the game from ever becoming more than surface level.
Pokemon Team Rocket Edition is fun. It’s not much more than that, and sometimes the humor can come across as edge for the sake of edge instead of actually doing something smart with the concept, but for what it is, it’s not awful.
You’re not going to return to it once you’ve beat it like some of the best Pokemon ROM hacks, and there’s a fairly decent chance you’ll just get tired of it after a few hours, but you should still give it a go. After all, when else are you going to get to play as the villains of a Pokemon story?
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Ryan is a seasoned retro gaming features writer with bylines at Fanbyte, PCGamesN, Lost In Cult and more. When he’s not writing, you can find him playing retro video games.