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Completing my Pokémon Sword and Shield Pokédex was bearable, thanks to my friends

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We kept each other going, even when it came down to the final rare Pokémon

A Pokémon trainer throws a Poké Ball to catch a Pokémon Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via Polygon

It’s a bit after midnight and my friends and I have finally gotten the specific weather conditions we needed to get some rare spawns in Pokémon Sword and Shield. We’re all whining about the Pokémon we need not spawning, but we’re all whining together.

Soon after the games’ release, my friends and I immediately got started on putting together a living Pokédex. This means that you have one of each Pokémon in your collection. Rather than just having a Raichu, evolved up and registered for my Pokédex, I’ll have a Pichu, Pikachu, and Raichu, all in my PC storage. The National Pokédex was cut in half, so it was a much more doable task.

A PC screen showing a living Pokédex from Grookey to Thievul
A living Pokédex is extremely satisfying to look at
Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via Polygon

I completed my regional Pokédex in Pokémon Moon (though it wasn’t living), and my experience wasn’t too bad, but I was prepared for the worst. In Moon, I had to deal with low spawn rates or the clawing agony of either giving up something precious to me on the Global Trade System to get a rare Pokémon. Even worse, there were times where I had to try to catch a Pokémon for hours, hoping it’s holding the right item.

The GTS doesn’t exist anymore in Sword and Shield, and at the time, there weren’t very many folks around with the rare Pokémon who were willing to trade for what I had.

At one point, one of my friends spent nearly two hours to find a Goomy in the wild, only to have one of my other friends find a Sliggoo, the evolved version, soon after.

We began to realize that all the remaining holes in our Pokédex were rare catches, like Feebas, a fish Pokémon that has a one percent spawn rate in a very specific fishing location. We would all kind of mumble, “OK, who’s catching Feebas?” but nobody would volunteer for the job.

A Pokémon trainer fishes, hoping to bring in a Feebas Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via Polygon

Eventually my Pokédex was nearing completion, so I just shouted, “Whoever catches a Feebas first wins!” and with no questions asked about what the person would win, everyone set off to the Feebas fishing location. Whoever found it, would then breed it and distribute the eggs among us all. Whoever did not find it was subjected to find the next rare spawn, Dhelmise, an anchor Pokémon that only had a one percent spawn rate.

The Pokémon that we couldn’t have a contest to catch, because of version differences, were made more bearable thanks to being in Discord calls during our hunts. After finally getting the sunny weather I needed to find Turtonator, my hunt began. Twenty minutes later, I began to gripe about how I couldn’t find the Pokémon — and how I kept accidentally running into small, unwanted spawns in the grass.

“Now you know the pain,” my friend Johnny, the Goomy hunter, replied.

I did not give up. Many encounters later, I did end up finding a Turtonator. On the third turn using my Gallade, I had it use Hypnosis. Not only did the move that would have put the red fire turtle to sleep miss, but the Turtonator used Explosion immediately after, killing itself. It was almost like it said, “I would rather die than be of use to you.” I screamed loudly. My friends laughed at me. I caught the next Turtonator I ran into 10 minutes later after immediately putting it to sleep on the first turn.

Hearing each other suffer when we couldn’t find a rare Pokémon or encouraging each other to keep going really helped the process. It might seem trivial, but having people rely on me to get their Turtonator made me more dedicated to finding one.