Pokémon ROM Hacks Where You Play The Bad Guy

This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).

We’ve all been enticed by the appeal of the dark side sometime in our lives.

Whether you’ve dreamed of becoming a Sith Lord, or think of Resident Evil’s Albert Wesker whenever you put on sunglasses, there’s always a dark temptation in the back of our minds.

Pokémon is no different.

The many criminal gangs may get defeated by a child every time, but they’ve still got cool uniforms, and their higher-ups are usually badass.

So if you’ve ever wondered what Team Rocket was up to whenever they weren’t busy losing to your overleveled Charizard, you’ll enjoy these custom hacks where you get to play as the bad guy.


10. Pokémon Team Rocket Edition

Team Rocket Edition / Pokemon Red & Blue ROM Hack

Check Out This ROM Hack

Pokémon TRE is a hack of the GBC classic Pokémon Red where you’ll play as a Team Rocket grunt competing with their sibling for a chance at being the successor to Giovanni as the leader of the Pokémafia.

Great plot right off the bat.

The game still tasks you with beating all eight gyms and the Elite Four, but several minor changes and extra events frame it as a criminal venture.

It’s pretty challenging, and you’ll have to grind a bit to clear it.

But that’s the cost of going from zero to villain.


9. Pokémon Black

Pokémon Black Ghost ROM Hack

Check Out This ROM Hack

Have you ever heard the story of Pokémon Black?

This cursed cartridge has been an internet legend ever since the famous creepypasta was first posted online. And now, you can play it too.

This game revolves around a special Pokémon called “Ghost” that mysteriously appears in your party upon starting the game. This creature has the power to “Curse” Pokémon and Trainers alike, instantly making them vanish from existence.

If sending people and Pokémon to the Shadow Realm isn’t evil, I don’t know what is.


8. Pokémon Toxic Purple

Pokémon Toxic Purple ROM Hack Screenshot (GBA)

Check Out This ROM Hack

Pokémon Toxic Purple is an evil FireRed ROM hack where you’ll play as a Team Rocket grunt.

You’re not vying for supremacy or anything – you’re just a grunt, doing your best to bring the mafia’s dastardly plans to fruition.

Instead of beating gyms, you’ll have to complete missions for Team Rocket, such as stealing the fossils on Mt. Moon or nabbing some Cubones from Pokémon Tower.

Something I love about this hack is how many “rivals” you have.

You’ll battle Red in Kanto, Kris in Johto, and an Officer Jenny who’s hell-bent on stopping you – along with a more traditional rival who’s also part of Team Rocket.


7. Pokémon Ruby Destiny: Life of Guardians

Pokémon Ruby Destiny: Life of Guardians ROM Hack

Check Out This ROM Hack

At first glance, Pokémon Ruby Destiny: Life of Guardians doesn’t look like a “dark side” hack.

But it can become one depending on your actions.

You get two choices in Life of Guardians:

You can either resist the bad guys like a loser, or join their ranks like the Poké-entrepreneur you are.

Regardless of what you choose, you’ll get to explore the amazing region of Hevah and catch an all-star team including Pokémon from Sinnoh, Unova, and some custom ‘mons native to this area.


6. Pokémon Fuligin

Pokémon Fuligin ROM Hack Screenshot

Check Out This ROM Hack

One bad apple can spoil the bunch.

And this hack proves it.

Pokémon Fuligin starts out pretty normal. You’re a budding about to start their Pokémon adventure to help Prof. Oak gather Pokémon data – except your older brother got mixed up with the wrong crowd, and now they’re dragging you into a life of crime.

Well, it can’t be that bad.

Instead of becoming a Pokémon Champion, you’ll climb the ranks of Team Rocket until you become their leader – and stop some rogue Pokémon from taking over the world in the process.


5. Pokémon Outlaw

Pokémon Outlaw ROM Hack Screenshot

Check Out This ROM Hack

If there’s a criminal organization, there are reasons behind it.

They don’t just pop out of thin air – and Pokémon rarely shines a light on the backstory of the average Team Rocket grunt.

Pokémon Outlaw takes place in Kanto, but seen from a different perspective.

You’ll play as a 15-years-old straggler from the slums who decides to make something for himself.

Though not exactly a bad guy, our protagonist will constantly interact with the seedy underbelly of Pokémon society and operate strictly outside the margins of the law.

This hack is famous for its hilarious (if sometimes offensive) dialogue, which portrays the citizens of Kanto as much more crude, violent, and realistic.


4. Pokémon Korosu

Pokémon Korosu ROM Hack Screenshot

Check Out This ROM Hack

From the same creator comes Pokémon Korosu, another fantastic FireRed hack focused on the dark side of Kanto.

Violence, stupid government officials, and a profoundly corrupt society are some of the hallmarks of Outlaw and Korosu’s Kanto – and you’re no exception.

This time you play as a young girl who’s been sold into slavery after her parents were murdered by the mafia. Yikes.

Now you’re out for revenge, and you’ll kill anyone who stands in your way – contributing to the cycle of violence that keeps the underworld spinning around.


3. Pokémon Topaz

Pokémon Topaz ROM Hack Screenshot

Check Out This ROM Hack

The life of a Team Rocket recruit is fast and full of action.

In Pokémon Topaz, you’re always on the run – but that’s part of the charm of joining a criminal organization.

Manage to steal some rare Topaz region Pokémon and earn Giovanni the big bucks, and you might just make it to the top.

While most “dark side” games focus on narrative changes without worrying much about the setting, Pokémon Topaz takes place in a whole new region with over 200 custom Pokémon to catch.

It’s very refreshing for this kind of hack, easily earning it a place on the podium here.


2. Pokémon Mega Power

Pokémon Mega Power ROM Hack Interior Screenshot

Check Out This ROM Hack

I’ve always been fascinated by the high-ranking members of these Pokémon criminal organizations.

Despite being seemingly intelligent and well-adjusted individuals, they still get wrapped up in the schemes of people calling themselves “Team Rocket,” “Team Magma” or “Team Galactic.”

What gives?

Pokémon Mega Power answers this question through its main character, the scientist Neil (or Tyra), who’s so obsessed with perfecting Mewtwo they end up joining Ivara region’s Team Delta in exchange for resources to keep their experiments going.

This hack of Pokémon Emerald features all Mega Evolutions, and the regions of Ivara, Lande, and the Sevii Islands are full of Pokémon from Gens 4-7 to supercharge your team.

I’d say this is worth a try if you’re a big Pokémon fan.


1. Pokémon FireRed: Rocket Edition

Pokémon FireRed: Rocket Edition as Team Rocket (Hack Screenshot)

Check Out This ROM Hack

As we’ve seen so far, Kanto is a very violent and unsafe place.

Red only scratches the surface in his battles against Team Rocket – but what strings are pulled behind closed doors?

This Team Rocket hack is my favorite of the bunch for its conspiratorial angle.

It reveals the hidden intentions of many characters that Red meets in his own adventure, and the hack addresses a bunch of fan lore that’s been floating around on the Internet for decades.

It’s also a hack that lets you choose just how evil you’re going to be.

You’re still a member of Team Rocket. But it’s up to you whether you steal candy from children or try to keep a semblance of ethics.

Browse: Video Games

Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely playing games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.