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Legendary Pokémon downloads available throughout 2018

A lesson on the difference between ‘mythical’ and ‘legendary’

Pokémon players are getting a chance to collect a wide variety of legendary monsters starting next month, The Pokémon Company announced. Between February through November, fans will be able to download a different pair of legendaries into their Nintendo 3DS Pokémon games.

First, here is the full list of giveaways and when you can go collect them through the games’ Mystery Gift functionality.

  • February: Dialga and Palkia
  • March: Regigas and Heatran
  • April: Entei and Raikou
  • May: Xerneas and Yveltal
  • June: Shiny Zygarde
  • July: Tornadus and Thundurus
  • August: Groudon and Kyogre
  • September: Latias and Latios
  • October: Reshiram and Zekrom
  • November: Ho-Oh and Lugia

And now, I want to take the time to spell out an important distinction in the realm of Pokémon. It’s easy to mistake “legendary” Pokémon for all rare, unique monsters in the franchise; yet there is actually a key distinction between what are known as legendary Pokémon and mythical ones.

Let’s go back to 2016, when The Pokémon Company released one “mythical Pokémon” a month in honor of the franchise’s 20th anniversary. Mew, Celebi, Shaymin and other hard-to-find Pokémon were available on a limited basis.

None of those guys from the 2016 distribution event are included in this year’s legendary selections. It’s not because fans already collected the mythical monsters and don’t want any more of them — no one is going to turn down a Mew. It’s because legendary Pokémon and mythical Pokémon are, by definition, different monsters entirely.

Legendary Pokémon versus mythical Pokémon

Stay with me here; I know it sounds immensely confusing.

A mythical Pokémon is one that is only obtainable through an event. These Pokémon cannot be found within the game itself; players must go through other means to unlock and collect them.

A legendary Pokémon, on the other hand, can be found within a Pokémon game without any extra legwork. These are typically your cover stars, like February’s Dialga and Palkia (from Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl, respectively).

If you’re annoyed that you’d much rather receive an Arceus or a Jirachi or what-have-you as a gift this year, it’s because of this delineation. But a free Pokémon is a free Pokémon no matter what, and 2018’s assortment is nothing to complain about.