Shiny Pokémon and the Few Trainers Who Actually Catch ’em All
With the largest Pokédex in the series to date, collecting all 898 pokémon is no easy feat. While catching them all is a goal that many Trainers strive for, some players push themselves even further by attempting to capture prestigious Shiny variants.
Originally introduced during Pokémon: Gold and Silver, shiny Pokémon are only found during extraordinarily rare encounters and are immediately recognizable thanks to their unique color scheme and signature sparkle. Shiny Pokémon also used to guarantee special hidden ability stats, but these bonuses were removed with the release of Pokémon: Ruby and Sapphire.
To say finding a Shiny Pokémon is difficult is an understatement. According to Serebii.net, a hub site for anything and everything related to Pokémon, every time a player discovers a Pokémon – whether in the wild or through breeding – there’s only a 1 in 4,096 chance of that creature having a variant color. The original odds (starting in 1999’s Pokémon Gold and Silver versions) were 1 in 8,192 but were improved with the release of Pokémon: X & Y in 2013. Despite the egregious amount of luck needed to even see a Shiny Pokémon, certain players make it their mission to fill their Pokédex with as many of these uniquely colored monsters as possible.
The span of time between shiny encounters can last days – if not weeks – meaning that players who embark on this journey have a level of patience that is unrivaled within the Pokémon community. We spoke with several hunters – ranging from casual collectors to professional Shiny hunt streamers – who discussed why they willingly put themselves through this immense endurance test.
For Pokémon Trainers like Emilee Dzadovsky, Shiny hunting is a fun accompaniment to playing each game. Like most players, her first Shiny appearance was mere happenstance, a chance encounter with a Zubat at the age of 11 while playing Pokémon: Ruby.
“I was bumbling about Granite Cave on Dewford Island early on in the game when a green Zubat popped up on the screen and dazzled me with a starry animation,” she said. “I immediately recognized that the color was off and had never found a Pokémon like this before. I didn’t really realize what a ‘Shiny’ was yet, but I knew that Zubat was special – I had to have it!”
Her collection is by no means large – only seven she found or hatched and a few more acquired in trades – but each Shiny Pokémon is an important addition to her specific team, as well as a personal milestone. Due to the ridiculous length of time it takes to find a shiny, she regularly includes each shiny Pokémon in her party as a testament to her hard work.“I think what drives me most to find them is not only how beautiful many of them look,” she says, “but also the sense of accomplishment and pride you feel after finally encountering one.”
Ash Jefferson’s first Shiny Pokémon story is much like Dzadovsky’s. While playing Pokémon: Fire Red, Jefferson found an Abra and thankfully managed to capture it before the creature could use Teleport. “Neither I nor any of my friends had ever encountered one,” she says, “and I definitely rubbed my cool pink Abra in their faces for months after I found it.”
Years later, Jefferson now has a collection of approximately 100 Shiny Pokémon, with Mimikyu being her favorite. Whether 100 or seven, the dedication required to find a shiny monster is intense. Jefferson’s longest hunt resulted in hatching over 3,000 Hawlucha eggs before finally claiming her prize and, as she notes, is a great way to simply decompress. “I can absentmindedly Shiny hunt while watching a movie, listening to a podcast, or chatting with my friends on a call – which helps with the repetitive nature and boredom that sometimes comes with Shiny hunting.”
Yet for other hunters, the thrill and appeal of catching them all in their Shiny form becomes a game in and of itself.
While casual hunters like Dzadovsky and Jefferson simply seek their favorites or hunt as a means of relaxation, certain players strive to fill the Pokédex with shiny variants. When not acting as coach of the Jamaican Jolteons in the community-created Treecko Pokémon League, David ‘Lyncoln’ Folkes spends his time building competitive teams. As an avid fan of the franchise and staunch collector of Shiny pokémon, Folkes views shiny hunting as another way to present a unique team.
“[W]ith the advances in Pokémon breeding over the years, simply having a Pokémon with the stats I wanted wasn’t enough,” he says. “I like using unconventional and rare builds and having those as Shiny Pokémon really adds to the pride of having them.”
But having a full team of rare Shiny pokémon wasn’t enough, apparently. “I’ve also now shifted to obtaining all my Shinies in luxury [Poké]balls for the extra sparkle at the beginning of the match,” he says. “It’s also my favorite Pokeball.”
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Folkes says he someday hopes to have a Shiny version of every Pokemon in the National Dex – a catalog of every Pokemon in every region, ever that currently stands at 898 entries. Filling the National Dex in its entirety is already a time-consuming endeavor; add on the extra layer of ensuring that every Pokémon is Shiny and Trainers can expect to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of hours mindlessly grinding through Pokémon encounters.
For other collectors, like Laura Kate Dale, filling out just a National Dex isn’t enough. She’s currently working on what’s known as a Shiny Living National Dex, meaning that every Pokémon – including their pre-evolution forms can be selected as a Shiny. “It [feels] productive, even if it’s ultimately meaningless,” she says.
Dale is a more recent convert to the life of a Shiny hunter, but considers it an entertaining way to build a tangible collection that also provides a unique brand of stimulation. “I am autistic, and I have always had a part of my brain that craves completion of collections, and repetitive tasks, and doing the same thing over and over in a predictable manner,” she says. “There were a few years as a gamer where I got really hooked on buying loot boxes in games, which was pretty bad for my finances and my mental health. Shiny hunting provided a safe, healthy, outlet for that aspect of my disability. I could squeeze hundreds of extra hours of play out of games that I loved, and channel my brain’s need to collect, and sort, and obsessively repeat things into something harmless, that would eventually become something impressive that very few people manage.”
Dale’s first foray into the world of Shiny hunting occurred during a press event for Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! While demoing the game, Dale discovered a shiny Zubat. Unlike in previous Pokémon games, players see every pokémon in the overworld before choosing to enter a battle or capture sequence. This even includes shiny variations, thus streamlining the overall hunting process.
“I didn’t know this at the time, so seeing this green sparkly Zubat flying around the cave took a Pokémon I usually don’t care about and put it front and centre as something I desperately wanted to have,” she said. “The fact I could let it out of its Pokéball so it would fly around behind me in all its Shiny glory, only solidified the moment for me.”
Whether attempting to fill the Pokédex with Shiny pocket monsters or simply searching for a specific creature, Shiny hunting can not only be a painfully monotonous experience, but also a solitary one. Some hunts have the potential to last for weeks, meaning Trainers can be left behind by friends while they attempt to capture a specific Shiny Pokémon. Yet, within the streaming community, Shiny hunting has become a popular pastime.
Dallas “TheSupremeRk9s” MacDermant began uploading Shiny hunting videos about 10 years ago on YouTube. What originated as short clips to showcase the fruits of his exhaustive hunts eventually transitioned into near-daily streams. With approximately 191,000 subscribers, MacDermant actively engages with his audience as he undergoes the repetitive task of finding a Shiny Pokémon.
“Hunting, in general, didn’t even get mainstream until a good few years into making Shiny videos for me, so the fact I was able to meet and interact with so many people through it shocks me right to this very day,” he said. “It feels like a fever dream more than anything to have your hobby blow up to the extent Shiny hunting has in 2021.”
While hunters all have their own personal methods, MacDermant challenges himself by only completing what are known as “Full Odds” hunts. Rather than utilize specialized breeding methods, capture combos, or items that significantly increase the rate at which Shiny pokémon appear, Full Odds hunters instead just wander around the world trying to find a new Shiny. Not only does he say he finds this personally more rewarding, it also draws people to his streams, with some hunts requiring tens of thousands of encounters before a Shiny Pokémon is found.
“Finding a shiny instantly at the Full Odds rate is like having a mini-miracle occur, while having one take forever, like my recent Registeel–70,908 soft resets for a single Shiny–really takes dedication and time,” he says. “It ultimately makes you more proud of what you’ve achieved by completing the hunt, no matter how long it takes!”
It’s not all fun and games, though – MacDermant says pressure to keep his audience entertained can make longer hunts somewhat frustrating. Shorter hunts interspersed with longer encounters are better for his viewers – as well as his mental health, he notes.
“Shiny hunting has always been my escape and mindless hobby, so even though YouTube is my job as an adult, I make sure I keep the right mindset when it comes to doing what I love,” he says. “If the hunt begins to feel like a chore, it’s no longer doing what I need it to for my mental health, and I simply change the hunt, take a break from Pokémon, or take some time away from streaming altogether.”
For other streamers, it’s more about the community you go hunting with than the hunt itself. Music producer Courtney “GlitchxCity” Williams, who streams for fun in her spare time, is a relative newcomer within the Shiny hunting community. Even though she views hunting as a fun activity while waiting for new games to release, she enjoys interacting with the Pokémon community in her Twitch chat.
“For me it’s like a limit test, a gut-checker of some sorts, and I like to take on gut-checker challenges,” she said. “It also gives me a good opportunity to chat with the community and learn more about Pokémon from different [people’s] perspectives.”
If the challenge becomes too demanding, Williams – like MacDermant – will prioritize her mental health over finding a specific shiny Pokémon. “Sometimes it can be because you have this mindset ‘I just need to get this shiny so I can move on to the next one,’ but I’ve learned to just sit back and enjoy the journey so far.”
Whether playing for an audience, trying to capture them all or searching for your favorite Pokémon, shiny hunting is a deeply personal experience. Even though it requires an immense amount of willpower, the satisfaction and sheer exuberance of discovering a Shiny is indescribable – it just requires a certain degree of perseverance. As Dzadovsky says, “The Shiny will show up eventually, but it will never appear if you stop altogether.”