Pokémon Go Fest is in full swing in Dortmund, Germany, and the game developers have already teased a surprising future update. At one point during the special event, Pokémon spawns ended for the day and players gathered for an event-wide photo, when a hot air balloon appeared in the sky. The balloon was a plain black color with a red “R” emblazoned on the side – the logo of Pokémon’s Team Rocket.
Yes, it seems that Team Rocket, iconic Pokémon villains since the first release of Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue, is coming to Pokémon Go. It makes sense. Not only are they the original villains of the series, but the hapless Team Rocket trio of Jessie, James, and Meowth have been fan favorites in the Pokémon anime for years. The balloon may even be a reference to their Meowth-shaped hot air balloon that they used to travel between crimes.
The hot air balloon is not the first teaser that Team Rocket will be introduced to the game. At Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago in June, players that used the game’s alternate reality photo mode to take pictures were surprised by members of the villainous team photobombing their Pokémon. It looks like Team Rocket is back at it again in Dortmund, appearing in players’ pictures, ready to snatch up their Pokémon.
In addition to Team Rocket, some leaked files have suggested that various “shadow Pokémon” will be added to the game. Shadow Pokémon, which so far have mostly appeared in the Pokémon spin-off games Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness and Pokémon Colosseum, are Pokémon that have been corrupted by evil in order to control them. The leaked files show that shadow Pokémon are connected to the Team Rocket teasers. It seems that Team Rocket is using the Shadow Pokémon as part of their evil schemes. You can catch them by battling Team Rocket grunts in special events called Invasions. After catching them, you then have to purify them.
Not much more can be determined from the files that were leaked. It is unclear how to purify the Shadow Pokémon, but it may include walking with them or using them in gym battles. Only a few types of Pokémon have been confirmed to be possible shadow Pokémon, including Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle, Ratatta, Zubat, Snorlax, Dratini, and Mudkip, along with their evolutions. It is unclear if the other Shadow Pokémon from the spin-off games will be joining them in Pokémon Go, but either way, it looks like there will a lot of new content with the addition of Team Rocket to the game.