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What's The Big Deal With Shiny Pokémon?

Many diehard "Pokémon" fans know the feeling of excitement that comes from catching a Shiny Pokémon. These randomly-generated pocket monsters, which sparkle and feature shading that deviates from the species standard, have been in the series since the second generation games "Pokémon Gold" and "Silver," according to Bulbapedia. But where did they come from? How did Pokémon developer Game Freak come up with the idea? And why have they risen to such heights of popularity?

While the programmers' motivations remain a mystery, the developer code from past Pokémon titles, along with a few other clues, may offer some hint as to why Shiny Pokémon have become a fixture of the franchise. According to Eurogamer, the advent of Shiny Pokémon all started with the introduction of a red Gyarados in the second generation entries (the same Shiny Gyarados that appeared in "Pokémon Go" years later). In this case, players come across the "Shiny" Pokémon as part of a pre-determined event. Following the red Gyarados, Game Freak coded the installments to allow other rare instances of Pokémon with alternative color schemes.

The secret code for Shiny Pokémon

In the generation two games in which they first appeared, Shiny Pokémon generate based on their stats. Pokémon spawn as Shiny if they have an Attack level of 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14, or 15, and if their Speed, Defense, and Special levels all manifest as 10 (per Bulbapedia). These Pokémon can even appear in generation one games via trade. Starting with generation three, the formula for determining Shinieness involves the player's Trainer ID number and secret ID number along with the Pokémon's personality value. 

Essentially, Shinieness stems from the luck of the draw. According to Bulbapedia, the base rate at which you can find one varies from game to game, but remains low in all cases. In generations two through five, you have a 1 in 8192 chance of encountering a Shiny Pokémon. In later entries, that chance roughly doubles, giving you a 1 in 4096 chance. Given this, if you find a Shiny Pokémon, make sure you don't lose it.

The motivation behind Shiny hunting

Why do so many "Pokémon" fans spend time searching for Shinies when they are coded for rarity? Is there more to Shinies? To some players, the twists and turns of a journey to catch a Shiny have as much, if not more, value than the Shiny itself.

A few of the most dedicated "Pokémon" content creators spoke to TechRaptor about the value of Shinies back in 2021. They all agreed: The process holds the greatest appeal. "It sounds weird to say when you're doing the same thing thousands upon thousands of times, but it really is more about the journey than it is the destination," YouTuber Matthew "AbsolBlogsPokemon" Brandl told the outlet. 

Another content creator, Dallas "TheSupremeRk9s" MacDermant, went as far as to say Shiny Pokémon don't have any value on their own. "A hacked Shiny Registeel is indistinguishable from the one I spent months hunting down — the difference is my personal ties! The memories I make along the way and the work I put into my hunts is what gives the Shiny its value," he said.

If you spend countless hours searching for a Shiny, don't forget to stop and smell the roses. If you don't have fun with the process, you might end up disappointed by the time you catch one.