Catching the Legendaries and rare Pokémon
In these games, only five Legendary Pokémon can be caught. The first generation Pokémon, alongside Celebi, cannot be caught in the Virtual Console copies.
Note that for Lugia and Ho-Oh, you need a Silver Wing and Rainbow Wing respectively. You get one depending on your version during the game (following the Goldenrod Radio Tower events, after the 7th Gym badge). The other you can get from an old man walking around the middle of Pewter City.
Lugia requires the Silver Wing, Surf and Whirlpool. Flash can also help you navigate. Follow this video, or these instructions:
- Surf to the north-eastern Whirl Islands and use WHirlpool to access the entrance.
- While walking east, take the northern route over the ledges and climb the ladder down.
- Follow the path to the next ladder down.
- Surf to the right and down the Waterfall (do not need the HM), and then Surf to the route into the next room. Lugia is directly ahead; Surf north to it.
Lugia is level 40 in Silver, and level 70 in Gold. In Gold he will not know his unique attack Aeroblast.
Ho-Oh requires the Rainbow Wing to access. To find him, follow this video, or these instructions:
- From Ecruteak, head north and through the building walk onwards to Tin Tower.
- Take the stairs and work your way up the Tower. You have to navigate ledge and warp puzzles. Check our Puzzles section for more information.
Ho-Oh is level 40 in Gold, and level 70 in Silver. In Silver he will not know his unique attack Sacred Fire.
The three Johto Legendary Beasts are the series’ first roaming Pokémon. You activate them by exploring the Burnt Tower in Ecruteak City. Afterwards they roam the Johto region at random (but cannot be found in buildings or caves). They will also run away as soon as you encounter them, and often change Routes when you move to a different one or enter and exit a building!
Short of throwing a Master Ball, you will have to chase them down. Luckily, we can use the fact they are level 40 to our advantage. If you have encountered them already, then you can track them via the Pokédex map. Otherwise, they will be harder to track.
Go to adjacent routes (e.g. Routes 38 and 39). Move between them and search the grass. Using a Repel and a lead Pokémon above the levels of the wild Pokémon (in this case, level 20 or above) and below level 40 will ensure the only Pokémon we could encounter are the roaming Legendaries.
To ensure they do not escape, use a move like Mean Look (e.g. by Haunter) or Spider Web (e.g. by Spinarak) as your first attack. Inflicting Sleep by Hypnosis by Haunter will also aid your catch rate. Be careful not to knock them out; they will not return otherwise.
These are one-off or rare Pokémon that aren’t Legendaries.
- Sudowoodo is obtained along the way to Ecruteak — once you defeat Whitney at Goldenrod City Gym, you’ll be able to obtain a SquirtBottle to make Sudowoodo battle you. It’s the only one you can battle in the game!
- Once you obtain Surf, you’ll be able to access a sub-level floor in Union Cave. Lapras appears in one part of this cave on Fridays every week. It’s level 20 and is a solid addition to any team.
During the story you will be forced to battle a Red Gyarados. You can catch it, but be warned; it’s level 30 and has Dragon Rage. It’s the only Pokémon that is 100% Shiny as well. Also: if you are looking to shiny hunt in Gold/Silver, make sure that it is male when you catch it. Check our shiny hunting guide for specifics.
- After obtaining Rock Smash, Waterfall and Strength (and possibly Flash to aid your vision too) you’ll be able to reach and battle the Karate King Kiyo at Mt. Mortar. Upon his defeat, he’ll award you a Tyrogue. Take the middle entrance. Importantly, make sure to have a spare slot in your party; you will not be able to receive it after the battle until you do so!
- When you enter the Ecruteak City Pokémon Center you’ll bump into the PC Storage System’s creator, Bill. He’ll return to his home in Goldenrod City’s south-west. Speak to him to receive an Eevee.
- In a house in Cianwood City you will talk to an NPC who wants you to take care of his Shuckle. Eventually if you return he’ll ask for it back, but you don’t have to return it! However, you can also catch wild Shuckle.
- In the gatehouse of Goldenrod, the guard will ask you to deliver mail attached to a Spearow to a friend east of Violet City (he’s sleeping next to a Berry tree). You can keep the Spearow; transfer the mail to another Pokémon you don’t want and deliver that.
- Heracross can be found by Headbutting trees on Routes 29/30/31/32/33/42/43/44/45/46. This is the only way it can be found.
- Larvitar can be found on all levels of Mt. Silver’s cave, but is a rare encounter. It is only level 15 to 20, but also has a low catch rate. Meanwhile, Misdreavus can only be caught inside at night, but is more common in the cave accessible via Waterfall.
In order of accessibility:
- Onix for Bellsprout in Violet City, house west of the Pokémon Centre. This is a good trade to do as Onix is strong against both the first and second Gyms. Note however that it will stop obeying you if above level 10 before getting your first badge!
- Machop for Drowzee in Goldenrod City, Department Store. This is also recommended if you’re having trouble with the third Gym Leader, Whitney (and a particular Miltank).
- Voltorb for Krabby in Olivine City (house around the middle of town). A less useful trade but an alright choice for an Electric type.
- Rhydon for a female Dragonair in Blackthorn City (home south of the Gym). Dragonair are rarer and evolve into Dragonite, so only do this if you happen to have a spare Dragonair… and have one that is female to boot.
- Rapidash for Gloom in Pewter City’s Pokémon Centre. Wild Rapidash can be caught, so it’s not an important trade.
- Aerodactyl for Chansey in Route 14 (NPC in grass behind Cut tree, far east of Fuchsia City. Chansey can be found in that very Route, but are also very rare. Try breeding offspring with a Ditto before doing the trade. This is the only way to get Aerodactyl without trading with Red, Blue or Yellow.