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An image of a shiny Larvesta in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. Instead of having an orangish-red appendages, it has gold ones. The Pokémon trainer is taking a selfie with it and she is holding her hand out to show it off.

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Everyone has a shiny Pokémon now

Shiny Pokémon are common now. What’s next for hardcore Pokémon players?

Image: Game Freak/The Pokémon Company, Nintendo via Polygon

Shiny Pokémon used to be a prized possession of Pokémon fans everywhere. These rare Pokémon that sport an alternate color scheme have a 1 in 4,096 chance of appearing in the wild in more recent games. Because of this, the special Pokémon long served as an emblem of a dedicated trainer that would put the hunt for rare monsters above anything else. Catching a single shiny Pokémon could take multiple sessions of grinding for hours at a time. But that’s starting to change, as recent mainline games have made shinies easier to find, and now it seems like everyone and their mother has shiny Pokémon.

Technically speaking, anyone who has played Pokémon Gold and Silver, or their remakes, has probably caught at least one shiny. In those games, you catch a red Gyarados as part of the mainline story. But outside this special Gyarados, catching a shiny proved to be difficult in earlier generations. From the second generation through gen 5 (Pokémon Black 2 and White 2), the rate of seeing a shiny was even lower than it is now — 1 in 8,192.

Of course, each game led players to develop their own tricks and strategies for getting shiny Pokémon. In Gold and Silver, some shiny hunters estimated that a player could achieve a 1 in 64 chance of hatching a shiny if one of the parent Pokémon is shiny. However, that requires starting with a shiny, so those who want something other than Gyarados are left to grind and get one in the wild. So getting started catching one in the wild still required an enormous amount of grinding as players bore through the low odds. In the early days, items that boosted the appearance rates of shiny Pokémon didn’t exist, so if you didn’t breed you would have to cycle through encounter after encounter in the grass as you ran around and bumped into each Pokémon one by one.

Over time, shiny hunting has trended toward becoming easier. In Diamond and Pearl, we learned about the Masuda breeding method, which increases the odds of hatching a shiny Pokémon from an egg when you’re breeding Pokémon from two different languages. (Because of this, Dittos from other countries are a mainstay of Pokémon breeding. Sorry Ditto!) Black 2 and White 2 introduced the Shiny Charm, which effectively tripled the odds of encountering a shiny Pokémon. After that, Game Freak roughly doubled general odds of running into a shiny Pokémon in X and Y.

This trend of shinies becoming more common continued with Nintendo Switch games and remakes. In Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu and Pokémon: Let’s Go Eevee, Game Freak made the jump from wild monster spawns in the grass to overworld spawns. Instead of seeing a single spawn in battle, we could see dozens of Pokémon walking around all at once, including shiny ones. Combine that with in-game events like Mass Outbreaks in Legends: Arceus and Scarlet and Violet, and you have ample opportunities to chase down shinies.

Based on the odds and anecdotal evidence, there’s no doubt that this once hardcore way of monster catching has gotten easier. When I tested out a shiny hunting exploit in Scarlet and Violet, I ended up catching a shiny Larvesta within 30 minutes. (It was a shiny I had longed and hoped for since Black and White.) Of course, a bit of luck played into my own success, but I’m not alone. TikTok is filled with accounts of people bumping into shiny Pokémon by accident without seeking them out; one viral video, according to the user who posted it, shows a person catching loads of shinies in a single day. I spoke with two die-hard shiny hunters who often stream their hunts for hours on end, who both confirmed that it has gotten easier to hunt in general.

For Wafer, who streams his hunts on Twitch, hunting shinies in new games has gotten easier, even though games like Scarlet and Violet lack audiovisual clues that point out the Pokémon in the wild. (In Legends: Arceus, a chime alerts players to the presence of a shiny; Scarlet and Violet doesn’t have that feature, and it unfortunately can exclude colorblind players or those simply unfamiliar with what a certain shiny Pokémon looks like.)

“I have to say, I’m personally happy with the changes in shiny hunting, as I don’t have as much time to shiny hunt as I used to when I was younger and I love hearing the stories about people who have played the games for years finally getting their first shiny,” Wafer said.

Wafer acknowledges the joy that comes with getting that special Pokémon. But gatekeepers have responded by emphasizing the relative rarity in shinies across different Pokémon games. Steve Sarumi, a streamer and podcaster who runs the Pokémon podcast It’s Super Effective, noted an uptick in gatekeeping shiny Pokémon now that it’s gotten easier to catch them.

“The argument revolves around how ‘easier’ shiny Pokémon would devalue other shinies, which to me is nonsensical. If I stumble upon a shiny Koffing on my journey in Pokémon Crystal, I personally wouldn’t consider it more valuable than stumbling upon that same Pokémon in Shield. Both are shiny Koffing at the end of the day,” Sarumi said.

As catching shiny Pokémon has gotten easier over time, those wanting the extra challenge have found ways to up the difficulty of collecting Pokémon. Wafer told me he’s seen a growing number of players who are going for the “shiny living dex,” and attempting to get the shiny version of every single Pokémon in the game. So instead of going for a specific Pokémon, hunters will try to catch all 400 in games like Scarlet and Violet.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t super-rare Pokémon to chase after now. Pokémon Sword and Shield introduced marked Pokémon. A marked Pokémon has a special “mark” in the ribbon submenu of a Pokémon’s summary. Each mark functions as a sort of honorific that attests to the unique circumstance under which a trainer caught it. When you send a marked Pokémon out, it will have a special title, like “Mimikyu the Sleepy.” Scarlet and Violet has dozens of marks, with Serebii estimating the rarest marks having a 1 in 1000 appearance rate.

Sarumi said these marked Pokémon have become a new target for intense hunters.

“Not only do I think a marked shiny is such an incredibly fun thing to collect, but it gives that feeling of a ‘harder’ target to find without making the barrier to shiny hunting intimidating for a wider audience.”

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