I’m a pretty casual Pokémon Go player. I’ve been playing since launch, but I can easily go months at a time without logging in. I’ll hop back in when new Pokémon are added (or if I go abroad, where I’ll catch Pokémon unavailable in the States), but for the most part, Pokémon Go has been a nice way for me to stay connected with one of my favorite franchises.
A few months ago, however, a new challenge and in-game story was added to Niantic and Nintendo’s augmented-reality juggernaut: an invasion by Team Rocket. And y’know what? I’ve been completely hooked back in ever since.
“Team Go Rocket”, as they’re known in the mobile game, are up to the typical stuff* you’d expect if you grew up watching the cartoon. Stealing items, corrupting Pokémon to help them in their evil-ish deeds, and cackling maniacally at any trainer who strolls by, daring them to put a stop to their takeover. And wouldn’t you know it – it’s fun as hell to do just that.
*As the closest thing Pokémon has to a global organized crime syndicate, Team Rocket has never exactly been super evil. They’re always a few notches worse than hiding the remote intentionally, and a few notches lower than chemical warfare… Somewhere in the middle, y’know?
In the above image, you can get the gist of what this “invasion” looks like. A handful of the typical blue Pokéstops have turned to a Team Rocket black and red, and a Rocket Grunt stands watch at each one, where you have the option to battle them for additional rewards. Each time you defeat a Team Rocket member, you have a chance to rescue one of the “Shadow Pokémon” they’ve enslaved, which you can catch and “Purify” to make them into strong allies of your own.
This Team Rocket invasion capitalizes on the best part about Pokémon Go – the option to dive into the game’s features and minutia as much (or as little) as you want. Want to relive your Pokémon Red and Blue glory days and stomp a Team Rocket grunt here and there? Go for it. It’s fun enough right there. But, if you choose to dive into Pokémon Go’s storyline (and I use that term lightly) that goes along with this invasion, you’ll have a chance to challenge three different Team Rocket Bosses, who are really challenging to defeat.
For real, Team Rocket’s bosses have thrashed my teams over and over again, and have cost me dozens of Revives and Potions to get my guys back to full strength. At the time of writing this blog, I’ve defeated two of the three bosses, both of which took about ten tries and were serious nail-biters.
At the very end of the Team Rocket invasion quest (should you choose to go that far), you’ll have a final showdown with Vermillion City Gym Leader and Team Rocket Don – Giovanni. I haven’t gotten that far yet, but I’m going to book an appointment with my therapist for when that day comes.
So, if you haven’t logged back into Pokémon Go in a while, give it a spin. Go see how it feels to thrash a Team Rocket grunt for the first time since you were ten. Go all-in on the in-game quests and bring the whole damn organization down. Or, maybe do something in between. That’s the beauty of Pokémon Go, and Niantic doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon with giving casual and hardcore players alike new reasons to stay hooked.