In-Depth Stories

All About Shiny Pokémon

This article goes in-depth with a very grand variation of Pokémon. What are the odds? One in 4,096! Yes, we’re talking about Shiny Pokémon!

One of the best parts of the Pokémon games is the joy of finally encountering and catching a shiny. Whether it was a random encounter in Crystal or a Masuda method shiny from Omega Ruby, we all have that memory. However, there’s a lot more to Shiny Pokémon than you think.

Shiny Pokémon in the games

Shiny Pokémon have been around in the video games since Generation II’s Pokémon Gold and Silver. They were likely added due to Generation II being playable in color on the Game Boy Color. Most trainers already know this, but a Shiny Pokémon is a variation of a Pokémon that is colored differently than normal. In Generations 2-5, they have a 1 in 8192 chance of spawning, but in Generation 6, it’s a 1 in 4096 chance. Note that this does not mean that you will encounter a shiny after 8192 or 4096 encounters – it just means that for every encounter, there is a very small chance it will be shiny.

Shiny Sandshrew
An encounter with a shiny Sandshrew. Source: Bulbagarden.

There is a lot of math behind Shiny Pokémon. In Generation II, shininess was determined by a Pokémon’s Individual Values (IVs), which are primarily used for a variation in a Pokémon’s stats, such as Attack and Speed. It’s also worth noting that there was a 0-15 IV system in that generation instead of the 0-31 IV system used in later games. If all of a Pokémon’s IVs except Attack were 10 and the Attack IV was either 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14, or 15, it would be shiny. This allowed for Pokémon transferred from Generation I via the Time Capsule to become shiny in Generation II if they had this set of IVs. Since shininess is determined by IVs in these games, it can technically be passed down by parents if done correctly.

The dependence upon the IVs and hence the stats of the Pokémon no longer holds however. In Generation III and all subsequent games, whether your Pokémon is shiny or not depends on various variables, some of these hidden from the player. To begin with, every player has a Trainer ID (TID; a value which shows up as the “Original Trainer” number for each Pokémon in the game; e.g. ‘23412’). However, each player’s save file has a hidden “Secret ID” (SID) as well. Meanwhile, every Pokémon has their own hidden number generated by the game – you can only find this “Personality Value” (PV) number through hacking the game. PVs are used to generate, for example, the nature and gender of the Pokémon.

These values are together used to calculate whether a Pokémon is shiny through this formula:

(TID ⊕ SID) ⊕ (PV31..16 ⊕ PV15..0)

What does this formula mean? It’s not straightforward, and those aren’t simple addition signs! If you don’t want the details, all it means is that the game takes the two numbers assigned to your character – or save file – and mixes those with a number associated with the Pokémon you’ve encountered, which it splits into two. This formula will give a number between 0 and 65535, and if the result is lower than 8, the Pokémon will be shiny, resulting in a 8/65535 shiny chance, or 1/8192. In Generation VI, the Pokémon will be shiny if the answer is lower than 16, resulting in a 1/4096 shiny chance.

If you do want the details, you need to consider that the game, like any other computer program works in the binary base (0s and 1s), rather than our decimal system (which uses 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9). You can convert between the two; you have 010 in our decimal system (or ‘base 10′, hence the ’10’ subscript here) also equals 02 in binary (or ‘base 2’), and naturally 110 = 12. But as binary only has two numerals, 210 = 102, much like how we need a second digit or more for numbers larger than 9 in our decimal system! So 310 = 112, 410 = 1002You can read more about this here.

The Trainer ID and Secret ID numbers ranges from 0 to 65535 in base 10. This range is 16 digits long in binary (a number with sixteen 0s or 1s – e.g. “10110101110010112“). A Personality Value meanwhile is 32 digits long in binary, but in calculating whether a Pokémon is shiny, this number split into two 16-digit values (hence the subscripts in the formula above for PV). You then ‘co-add’ these four numbers, which is a special operation known as an “exclusive or” operation (“XOR” for short) which is different to multiplication or addition. A simple explanation of XOR in binary is that if the same digit within the two numbers match, you get a 0, and if they are different, you get a 1. 0 ⊕ 0 = 0, and 1 ⊕ 0 = 1; so 11002 ⊕ 10102 = 01102. (Look at the first digit: 1 ⊕ 1 = 0. Then the second: 1 ⊕ 0 = 1… and so forth).

The above formula hence gives you another 16-digit binary number, and if that number converts to less than 8 or 16 in decimal, depending on the generation of game, your Pokémon is shiny. Phew!

However, you might ask how to find these Pokémon in-game. Worry not! I will discuss some of the best ways to hunt for Shiny Pokémon in Generation VI.

Chain Fishing

Chain fishing is one of the easiest ways to learn how to shiny hunt. First, you need any fishing rod. You also need a place to fish. Finally, you need a Pokémon in the front of your party with either the Suction Cups (SC) or Sticky Hold (SH) abilities. After this is ready, go to the fishing area with your rod registered and your Pokémon with SC/SH at the front of the party. If you reel one in, your chain has started. You may run, catch, or KO the Pokémon. After a chain of about 30 to 100, you will encounter a shiny. Remember, moving around and using your skates/bicycle will break the chain. Failing to reel in a Pokémon will also break your chain. However, encountering a different species or closing your 3DS during battle will not.

Soft Resetting

Another way to hunt for a Shiny Pokémon, especially non-shinylocked Legendary Pokémon, is via soft resetting. (Shinylocked Pokémon cannot be found shiny without the use of cheats.) Soft resetting is simple: save in front of the legendary, encounter it, soft reset by pressing L+R+Start+Select at the same time if it’s not shiny, and repeat steps 2 and 3 until you encounter a shiny. This method is for very patient players as it can take thousands of resets. One man even spent five years soft resetting for a shiny Mewtwo on the Game Boy Advance games!

Soft resets.
It’s been 3000 years, and tens of thousands of soft resets.

Masuda Method

The Masuda method is a very popular Pokémon shiny hunting method because it can be used to get virtually any Pokémon shiny except for Ditto, Legendary Pokémon, and other Pokémon that cannot breed. This method got its name when Pokémon director Junichi Masuda introduced it on his blog. The Masuda method can take a long time and thousands of eggs hatched. With the Masuda method, your chances of hatching a Shiny Pokémon increase to 1/682, and combined with the Shiny Charm, these chances further increase to 1/512. What you need for this method is a Pokémon from another language game, a compatible Pokémon from your language, access to the Day Care Center, and patience. Some optional items include a Pokémon with the Flame Body Ability at the front of your party and the Hatching O-Power. Both of these help eggs hatch faster and can be stacked.

Poké Radar

The Poké Radar method for shiny hunting is easily one of the most complicated shiny hunting methods. After beating Pokémon X or Y, go to Professor Sycamore’s lab. One of the people in there will give you the Poké Radar. The Poké Radar is a Key Item, and when used in grass, patches will shake. You can enter one of these patches, and after fainting or catching the Pokémon that appears (without running away!), you will see up to four different grass patches shake around you. The idea then is to go into the patch of grass that gives you the best chance of encountering the same species of Pokémon you previously saw. and building up this chain of consecutive encounters.

There are different ways grass patches will shake; for instance, if the patch you walk in is barely shaking, no Pokémon will appear. If it is modestly shaking, it has a high chance of not being the Pokémon you are chaining for. However, if it is violently shaking, it is likely to contain the Pokémon you are chaining for. Lastly, if the patch has sparkles on it, a Shiny Pokémon will be encountered when you walk into the patch. The higher your current chain number, the higher chance you have of seeing a shiny patch, with the ‘golden’ number being regarded as 40 (although you can go higher than this, just for no added benefit). At a chain of 40, your shiny encounter chance is 1 in 200, or 0.5%.

Ideally, you should go for violently shaking patches. If you don’t see any, walk 50 steps without walking into another patch to recharge the radar, then try again. You’ll need to use Repels as well to prevent random wild encounters which will break your chain. Repeat until you find that shiny patch!

DexNav and Friend Safari

Finally, one of the best ways to shiny hunt in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire is via the DexNav. Once you have obtained the DexNav, you can start using it for shiny hunting. Simply walk into any patch of grass or cave with your DexNav on and search for a Pokémon. Using the DexNav improves your shiny chance by an unknown amount (some have claimed this change is roughly 1/308), so after a few encounters (could be 3, 30, 300, or any amount) you could see a shiny. Remember that chains do not improve your chances of encountering a shiny – they only make for higher levels, hidden abilities, and egg moves. The only thing improving your chances is using the DexNav itself.

Likewise, the Friend Safari in Pokémon X and Y is similar. After beating the game, you may go to Kiloude City, which is home to the Friend Safari. The Friend Safari is usable if you have at least one 3DS friend added. You may visit their safari and from there you have a 1/512 shiny chance, so just encounter Pokémon and run until you encounter a shiny. The Shiny Charm does not increase your shiny encounter chances, nor does the Poké Radar, since the latter cannot be used in the Friend Safari.

Shiny Pokémon in the anime

Shiny Pokémon have been given various anime appearances. In the episode Fowl Play!, Ash encountered a Shiny Noctowl, and eventually caught it. Some alternately colored Pokémon have appeared in earlier and later episodes alike. Two of these include the pink Butterfree seen in Bye Bye, Butterfree! as well as the purple Kecleon seen in The Kecleon Caper. Another strange situation is the Red Gyarados seen in Talkin’ Bout an Evolution. Originally, it was a non-Shiny Magikarp. However, it was forced to evolve into a Gyarados before it was ready, resulting in a red Gyarados.

Shiny Gyarados
Red Gyarados likes to party. Source: Pokémon anime.

Shiny Pokémon in the TCG

In the Pokémon Trading Card Game and the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online, Shiny Pokémon have been featured on rare cards. Starting with the Neo Revelation set, a new type of card, Shining Pokémon, was introduced. The first Shining Pokémon released were Gyarados and Magikarp. They had a 300:1 chance of being in a booster pack, and both cards sold for high prices very quickly. The Neo Destiny set also included Shining Pokémon, and a Shining Mew promo card was released only in Japanese.

After Neo Destiny, Shining Pokémon were never seen again in the TCG under that name. Shiny Pokémon were later re-introduced under the name Pokémon Star. These cards were available beginning with EX Team Rocket Returns and ending with EX Power Keepers. They were equally as hard to find, with chances of pulling one being 1 in 2 booster boxes. Certain Diamond and Pearl sets included Shiny Pokémon featured as having an alternate coloration but not with a special rarity as Shining Pokémon and Pokémon Star had.

Later, all secret rare cards during the Black and White series depicted Shiny Pokémon. In the present, with the XY series, only a handful of cards printed depict Shiny Pokémon, with the most recent being M Gardevoir-EX as part of the Steam Siege set.

TCG Card
A secret rare Garbodor from the Plasma Freeze set depicted as shiny. Source: TCGPlayer.

In real life

There’s one last thing to point out – shiny Pokémon are akin to albino animals, where ‘albinism’ is a congenital disorder in which the animal  (or even plant) has no color in their skin, hair or eyes. As a result, ‘shiny’ animals or plants are typically white skinned with pink eyes. This can even apply to people.

What are the chances of finding a real-life shiny? According to this site, it’s pretty similar to the rate found in the games:

The degree of albinism varies among animal groups. Some researchers working with mammals estimate that true albinos occur in about one in 10,000 births. Some of our Conservation Department hatcheries have seen albino catfish produced as frequently as one in 20,000 fish. Yet some researchers working with birds found that albinism occurs in 17 of 30,000 individuals, or one of 1,764 birds.

Do you have any special memories with Shiny Pokémon? Discuss them in the comments section!

Information from Bulbapedia, YouTube and Pokemon Forever.
Edited by Astinus, bobandbill and Charlie Brown.
Cover art by Pebbles (with credit to Sugimori).
Poke Radar, ‘In real life’ section and shiny determination explanation by bobandbill.