June 12, 2023
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Even if you don’t know much about rare and expensive Pokémon cards, you’ve probably heard of the legendary “Shiny Charizard” and its insane value to collectors. But what exactly does “Shiny” mean in the world of Pokémon? What’s the difference between Shiny Pokémon and the “shiny” reverse-holo TCG cards? Get out your best pair of shades as we reflect on everything you need to know about Shiny Pokémon.
In the main video game series, Shiny Pokémon are ultra-rare variants introduced in Pokémon Gold and Silver. Unlike normal Pokémon, they have an alternate color scheme, and their sprites are animated with a special sparkling effect. This led players to start calling them “Shiny” (despite the game menu simply calling them “Rare”). Eventually, “Shiny Pokémon” became the official name used in future games.
In-game, Shiny Pokémon have an extremely low chance of being encountered in the wild, and many players have suffered their whole lives having never caught one. Not to be deterred, the most fervent fans have formed “Shiny hunting” communities where they share tips and tricks to maximise the chances of Shiny Pokémon appearing in their game.
Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal are the only games in the series where Shiny Pokémon will give you a competitive edge. In every other Pokémon game, a Shiny variant is purely a cosmetic collectible.
So how much better are Shiny Pokémon in Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal? Every Pokémon in the game is generated with a set of hidden stat values known as individual values (IVs). If a Pokémon has the right combination of IVs, the game will produce a Shiny Pokémon. The IV combinations that produce Shiny Pokémon are always stronger than what a normal Pokémon would have, particularly when it comes to Attack.
However, when Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire came out in 2002, the calculation for Shiny Pokémon changed. From Generation III onwards, Shiny Pokémon only have value as collectibles.
Nevertheless, Shiny hunters are just as determined to collect these rare Pokémon variants and enjoy the bragging rights of a complete collection. After all, can you really call yourself a Pokémon Master if you don’t have all the Shinies too?
Yes, there are Shiny variants for every single Pokémon coded into the games. However, some special Pokémon (like Mythic and Legendary Pokémon) are “Shiny Locked”, which means that, while a shiny version technically exists, it’s impossible to actually encounter them while playing.
This has caused fans to speculate that the art for early Shiny Pokémon is created algorithmically by the games rather than manually. This could explain why some of the Shiny colorations are more subtle than others (for example, the Shiny Pikachu is simply a different shade of yellow, while Shiny Charizard goes from bright orange to a greyish purple or black).
In all the Pokémon games before Generation V (Pokémon Black & White), your official “Shiny odds” is 1 in 8192, or 0.012%. For Pokémon games from Generation V onwards, the Shiny rate is doubled to 1 in 4096 or 0.024%.
Even when the rate is doubled, your chances of finding a Shiny Pokémon are incredibly slim. Catching Shinies primarily comes down to random luck, especially in the earlier titles. However, depending on the game you’re playing, there are methods you can use to increase Shiny odds and get your hands on more Shiny Pokémon.
For all Pokémon games from Generation II and up, the two main methods for obtaining Shiny Pokémon are random encounters and soft resets.
Random encounters: Catching Shinies through random encounters is as simple as marching up and down through tall grass (or anywhere Pokémon can attack you) until the game throws a Shiny at you.
Soft resets: Using the button combination A+B+START+SELECT will ‘soft reset’ the game so that it does a fresh roll on your odds of getting a Shiny. This is primarily used in situations where you can only get one of a certain Pokémon, such as when you pick your starter at the beginning of the game.
The trick is to create a save game before you receive the Pokémon, and if you don’t get a Shiny, soft reset the game and load your save again. However, since you only have a less than 1% chance every time, it could take thousands of soft resets before you get a Shiny.
Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s a video where it took a Shiny hunter almost 3000 soft resets to get a Shiny Eevee.
Since the base chance of finding a Shiny Pokémon is so low, Shiny hunters rely on various tricks and shortcuts to collect Shinies as efficiently as possible. Here’s a basic explanation of the most popular and reliable techniques:
Every Shiny variant has its own evolution cycle. For example, a Shiny Magikarp will evolve into a Shiny Gyrados, etc. This means that the easiest way to get shinies like Charizard and Blastoise is to level them up from a Shiny Charmander or Shiny Squirtle rather than hoping to encounter them as wild Pokémon.
While Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow don’t have Shiny Pokémon, if you transfer a Pokémon with the right IV stats to your Pokémon Gold, Silver, or Crystal game, it will show up in your Pokédex as the Shiny version. This is why it’s always worth checking the stats of your Generation I Pokémon, as you might already have a few shinies in your collection.
Also, if you’re playing the older Pokémon games on the 3DS virtual console, the same method works for Pokémon you transfer to Pokémon bank boxes. This allows you to move normal Pokémon to games where they automatically become Shinies.
Pay attention to the HP score when checking your Generation I Pokémon to see if they have the right IV combo to be a Shiny. Regardless of the other IV scores, if the HP is not a 0 or 8, the Pokémon cannot be Shiny.
Also introduced in Generation II, the Pokémon breeding mechanic offers players a way to breed Shiny Pokémon rather than trying to catch them in the wild. Due to how parent Pokémon transfer their IV scores (basically their genes) to their offspring, using a Shiny as a parent increases the odds of hatching a Shiny Pokémon.
Because the female Pokémon determines what species get hatched, you can use a Shiny male from one Pokémon species to get a Shiny in a different species (as long as they’re in the same egg group). In Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal, this technique nets you a 1/128 chance of hatching a Shiny (0.78%).
Interestingly, you can increase Shiny odds to 1/64 (1.563%) by using a Shiny Ditto as one of the parents. This is because a Shiny offspring must always be the opposite gender to the Shiny parent. Since Ditto is genderless, your chances of getting a Shiny are doubled.
Check out this guide by Nose Club on how to breed Shiny Pokémon in Generation II games.
In 2007, Junichi Masuda (director of Game Freak, the company that develops the core games) posted a blog article describing what fans have dubbed the “Masuda Method” for breeding Shiny Pokémon. The Masuda Method involves breeding two Pokémon from different language versions of the game, which results in higher Shiny odds. How much your Shiny rate is multiplied by this method depends on which generation the game is in. For example, in Generation IV, the Masuda Method multiplies your Shiny odds by 5, while in Generation V, your Shiny odds are multiplied by 6.
Masuda designed the method to encourage more players to use the Global Trade System (GTS) introduced in Generation IV. By using the GTS, Shiny hunters can exchange their native language Pokémon for one from another region, allowing them to attempt the Masuda Method in their game.
Generation V introduced an item called the Shiny charm that also multiplies your Shiny odds during breeding and random encounters. The best part? This effect stacks with the Masuda Method, allowing you to maximise your chances of breeding a Shiny.
For example, in Pokémon Scarlet & Violet, your Shiny odds with just the Masuda Method are 1/683 (0.146412884334%). If you combine the Masuda Method with a Shiny charm, your odds increase to 1/512 (0.20%).
Here’s a full breakdown of the Masuda Method from Bulbapedia.
Introduced in Generation IV, the Poké Radar is a key item used to track down wild Pokémon in tall grass. When used correctly, Poké Radar dramatically increases the odds of encountering a Shiny Pokémon.
Here’s a simple breakdown of how it works:
Like breeding/the Masuda Method, the mechanics of this technique are quite complex. For an in-depth explanation of this technique, check out this Poké Radar guide by YouTuber The domiNATION.
While most Shiny hunters stick to the main series titles (as they have the most efficient techniques for catching all possible Shinies), Shiny Pokémon also appear in several spinoff Pokémon games like Pokémon Stadium, Pokémon XD, and even in other Nintendo titles like Super Smash Bros. The way these Pokémon appear varies greatly from title to title, and many wouldn’t technically be Shiny Pokémon by the standards of the main series games.
For example, in Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD, you have the same 1/8182 Shiny odds as the main series titles, but the color variations can be widely different. The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games also have the 1/8182 Shiny odds, but only 36 species of Shiny Pokémon are obtainable. In Super Smash Bros, Shiny Pokémon take the form of different costumes you can swap out in the character select screen to represent their color variations.
Pokémon GO is unique in that each Pokémon species has its own Shiny odds, and the default rate for most is approximately 1/512. Pokémon GO also features many in-game events and unique opportunities to catch Shiny Pokémon, making it one of the easiest titles to build a collection.
Shiny Pokémon aren’t just limited to simulated caves and tall grass; they’re also a part of the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG).
Shiny Pokémon were introduced in 2001’s Neo Revelation expansion, and fans became obsessed overnight. Just like in their video game debut, these Shiny Pokémon feature their alternate color schemes and better/different abilities and stats. A special rule meant that you couldn’t use multiple Shiny Pokémon in your deck, so it didn’t become overpowered, but most players would have counted themselves lucky to just have one!
However, it wasn’t until the fourth expansion that Shiny Pokémon cards really started to shine…literally! When the Neo Destiny expansion was introduced in 2001, the art for Shiny Pokémon was treated with a reflective foil to give them their signature sparkle effect from the games.
Suffice it to say, collectors were drooling over these ultra-rare cards!
When originally introduced, the odds of finding a Shiny Pokémon in a booster pack were stated as 1:300. This was done to simulate the rarity of finding Shiny Pokémon in the games. Since then, the rarity of Shiny Pokémon cards has fluctuated with different expansions to the TCG, with some having odds up to 1:36 or higher.
See this guide to rarity in the TCG for more info on the odds for different Pokémon cards.
Let’s clear up some confusion.
The main reason people outside the Pokémon community are aware of “Shiny” Pokémon is because of headlines about high-profile card sales, specifically in regards to the coveted Shiny Charizard owned by social media influencer Logan Paul. However, the Charizard depicted in that card technically isn’t a Shiny Pokémon because it doesn’t have an alternate color scheme.
Logan Paul’s Charizard, and other cards like it, are called ‘Shiny’ because of the special holographic effect applied to the card, making it literally shine in reaction to light. This is different from a card representing an actual Shiny Pokémon (the rare versions of Pokémon encountered in the wild). Because cards depicting Shiny Pokémon are also often given a reflective foil treatment, this creates some confusion as to what people mean when they say Shiny Pokémon, at least with regards to the TCG.
To avoid confusion, most seasoned TCG players and collectors would call Logan Paul’s Charizard a “holographic Charizard” or simply “holo” rather than use the name “Shiny Charizard”.
Well, the most obvious answer is that Shiny Pokémon are rare and aesthetic, making them standouts in any Pokémon collection. But even with the Shiny hunting techniques we’ve discussed above, Shiny hunting still takes hundreds if not thousands of attempts to bear fruit. So, why would anyone suffer through countless hours of repetitive gameplay just to catch ‘em all?
Here’s another question; why do people climb Everest? Because it’s there!
Throughout human history, people with a certain drive have challenged themself to achieve feats just for the sake of saying they accomplished something few others have. Whether they’ve got something to prove or just love the feeling of tackling impossible odds, these individuals live for the bragging rights, even if achieving the goal has no practical benefit.
So, are Shiny hunters the same as people who climb Everest? Of course not; it’s actually harder to catch every Shiny Pokémon!
Here’s what some Redditors have to say about why people are willing to go spend hours and hours hunting Shiny Pokémon:
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June 12, 2023
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