Why Are Some Pokémon Differently Colored in Pokémon Go?

Why Are Some Pokémon Differently Colored in Pokémon Go?

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If you’ve ever played Pokémon Go, you have probably noticed that the game has a lot of different concepts that are quite specific in the world of (mobile) gaming. Pokémon Go was truly a revolutionary phenomenon as it enabled users around the world to make their childhood dreams of being a Pokémon Master come alive in some form at least. The virtual reality game was a hit for Niantic and is still played by millions of players around the world, being one of the most popular mobile games ever. Today, we are going to talk about Pokémon colors as there are Pokémon in the game whose colors are different from the original colors of those same Pokémon. Why is that so and what are Shiny Pokémon in the first place? Keep reading to find out!

Some Pokémon have different colors in the Pokémon Go game because they are Shiny Pokémon. These Pokémon are extremely rare and although they have the same stats as their non-shiny variants, they are popular among players because they are so difficult to obtain.

Why are some Pokémon differently colored, i.e., what are Shiny Pokémon?

Pokémon are very curious beings. They have their shapes and their forms, and while most of them have just one, there are some Pokémon (e.g. Castform, Spinda, Genesect, etc.) that have different forms based on certain conditions and there are also those whose male and female versions are not the same. But, one thing Pokémon usually cannot do it – change colors, which is somewhat strange, seeing what powers and abilities they can have. But no, it is not natural for a Pokémon to change colors.

Still, the games – and also the anime – have shown us that there are differently colored Pokémon in the series and they are called Shiny Pokémon. They are also known as alternate coloration Pokémon or Color Pokémon, but the term Shiny Pokémon is by far the most common one.

Why Are Some Pokémon Differently Colored in Pokémon  Go?
Ash’s Shiny Noctowl in the anime

Shiny Pokémon are the same as their original counterparts but have acquired different colors through time. The exact mechanism is still a mystery, as well as the method of choosing the colors. There is an ongoing rumor that the colors are determined by an algorithm, but that has not been proven, nor denied by the creators of the franchise.

Why Are Some Pokémon Differently Colored in Pokémon  Go?
Red Gyarados, probably the most famous Shiny Pokémon in the franchise

As far as the colors go, there is no general rule. Some Pokémon (e.g. Pichu) can have very slight variations in color, like a darker shade of their basic color or just a segment of their bodies colored differently, while the majority remain unchanged. On the other hand, a large number of Pokémon receive drastic changes in coloration that render them almost unrecognizable.

An interesting fact about Shiny variations is that the evolved form of a Pokémon doesn’t necessarily have to keep the same color as its pre-evolved form, as witnessed – for example – by Charizard becoming black after evolving from a golden/yellow shiny Charmeleon.

The two important things you have to know about Shiny Pokémon is that they are (1) the same as “normal” Pokémon (they aren’t stronger or anything, they’re just extremely rare) and that (2) they are very difficult to obtain in all of the games. Bulbapedia has a very good guide on how often they appear so be sure to check it out.


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Are there Shiny Pokémon in Pokémon Go?

Seeing that Shiny Pokémon appear in all games, it is only natural that they appear in Pokémon Go as well and they do. In the core game series, Shiny Pokémon appeared within Pokémon Gold and Silver, while Pokémon Go introduced Shiny Pokémon sprites in 2017.

Why Are Some Pokémon Differently Colored in Pokémon  Go?

Shiny Pokémon have been released gradually by Niantic so not every Pokémon currently available in the game has a Shiny form at the moment, but that is certainly going to change with time. Shiny variants are usually released after a Pokémon becomes available, but there are some Pokémon whose Shiny variants have been released alongside their “normal” forms.

Shiny variants are often associated with certain in-game events, which usually release at least one new Shiny Pokémon during their duration. LeekDuck has a good (although not fully updated) list of the currently available Shiny Pokémon in Pokémon Go and it looks like this (for a full list, albeit not as impressive from an aesthetic point of view, you can check out Serebii.net):

Why Are Some Pokémon Differently Colored in Pokémon  Go?

Now that we’ve explained how the whole thing works within the game, we are going to answer some specific question on their nature and on how one can obtain them in the game.

How do you catch a Shiny Pokémon in Pokémon Go?

Shiny Pokémon are available in the game and they can be caught in the same manner as “normal” Pokémon. Still, Shiny Pokémon are extremely rare and although we don’t have a precise appearance ratio, a diligent Reddit user has done the work for us and has made a calculation on the probability of encountering a Shiny Pokémon in the game, and here is what he had to say:

A couple people in my local Discord were upset that they didn’t see any shinies from the event, saying they got “screwed” and posting screen shots of things like 1000 Omanyte seen. I wanted to put into context how many you actually need to check before you can be pretty certain that you’ll encounter one. Statistically, people often use 0.05 as a significance level, so how many do you need to check to be 95% sure you’ll encounter at least one shiny?

If the probability you encounter a shiny is 1/r (we’ll take r to be an integer for convenience), then the probability you don’t encounter a shiny after r checks is:

(1-1/r)r ~ 1/e

And the probability you don’t encounter a shiny after k*r checks is

(1-1/r)kr ~ 1/ek

Note that this is a very good approximation, especially when r is large. So if you want to be 95% sure you’ll encounter a shiny, you need to check k*r mons, where

1/ek < 0.05

20 < ek

k > 3 (since ln(20) = 2.9957…)

If the shiny rate for Kabuto/Omanyte during the event was 1/512, as many believe, you’d have to check 3*512 = 1536 of them to be 95% sure you’ll encounter at least one shiny.

As you can see, the numbers aren’t all that reassuring. You’d have to encounter around 1,500 Pokémon to be almost guaranteed an encounter with a Shiny but even that is not a fixed rule. Namely, the system is quite random and while there have been cases of people encountering several Shiny Pokémon in one day (yours truly has had that experience), there have been cases of people not seeing one Shiny Pokémon in months (yours truly has had that experience as well).


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The best way to catch them is to just check each Pokémon you encounter for being Shiny. Try to memorize the list of available Shiny Pokémon and each time you encounter one of them in the wild, click on them to see if they’re Shiny. It’s not a precise method, but it’s the only thing that really does the trick. You’ll be lucky at some point and encounter a Shiny Pokémon, that is certain, we just can’t guarantee when and how often that is going to happen.

Also, Shiny encounters are player-specific, so if your friend encounters a Shiny Pokémon while playing, if you click on that same Pokémon, it doesn’t have to be Shiny (and vice versa). While other stats are the same, Shiny Pokémon only appear to the player and are not connected to the Pokémon itself.

Why Are Some Pokémon Differently Colored in Pokémon  Go?

Also, the PokéDex registers the Shiny status for each form of the “normal” Pokémon you have encountered. So, if you – for example – catch a Shiny Alolan Meowth, the PokéDex will show it as if you have caught a “normal”, an Alolan, and a Galarian Shiny Pokémon, despite the fact that you have not caught the two others.

The probabilities increase during some special events and especially during Community Days, but most of the time – they follow the same random pattern. Raid Encounters with legendary Pokémon seem to have a higher probability ratio, but the exact numbers are unknown. A good thing is that Shiny Legendary Pokémon have a 100% catch rate, unlike “normal” Legendary Pokémon. The only thing we can say about this is – good luck with finding them.

Are Shiny Pokémon different from “normal” Pokémon?

As for their stats and abilities, Shiny Pokémon are in no way different than “normal” Pokémon. They can be as weak and as strong as them (CP-wise) and they have the same attack set and base stats as “normal” Pokémon.

Why Are Some Pokémon Differently Colored in Pokémon  Go?

They are also powered up in the same manner and their Candy and Stardust requirements remain the same. Also, they evolve – if possible – in the same manner, and under the same conditions as their “normal” variants. In that aspect, we can deduce that Shiny Pokémon are completely identical to “normal” Pokémon save for the different color but it is that color that makes them so special and worthwhile. Still, do not stress out over them that much – they are difficult to obtain and it is, in most cases, a matter of luck so just enjoy the game and be happy if you manage to encounter them!

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