Before we begin, it’s important to understand what Shiny Pokémon are. As mentioned earlier, Shiny Pokémon are different-colored versions of Pokémon. They also have some sort of flash, sparkle, or jingle when they’re sent out in battle, depending on which game you’re playing.
How Rare Are Shiny Pokémon?
Shiny Pokémon are also very, very rare. In recent main series Pokémon games, the standard chance of running into a Shiny Pokémon in the wild or obtained is 1 in 4096! If you prefer percentages, that’s about a 0.024% chance that a Pokémon will be Shiny.
Before Pokémon X & Y were released, the base chance of running into a Shiny Pokémon was far lower than that of newer games — it was 1 in 8192 in Generation II–V (all pre-3DS games), or a 0.012% chance. Unless otherwise noted, this guide will be focusing on the newer games, since the rates are doubled and it’s easier to get Shiny Pokémon, but you’ll find instructions on how to get Shiny Pokémon on older games as well if you’re patient enough to attempt it.
Keep in mind that these are odds, not guarantees. This means that your 4096th Pokémon encounter is just as likely to be a Shiny as your 1st. You aren’t guaranteed to get a Shiny Pokémon after 4096 encounters. It might take 10,000 encounters, or even 20,000 before running into a Shiny Pokémon! Likewise, you could get lucky and find one in under 100.
Each individual encounter a chance — you’re just playing the odds. It’s important to understand that.
Are Shiny Pokémon Any Stronger?
It’s easy to think that a super rare variant of a Pokémon would be much stronger than its normal counterparts, but the reality is, unless you’re playing in Pokémon Gold, Silver, or Crystal, the answer is a definite no, Shiny Pokémon are not any stronger or weaker than normal Pokémon! Period. It’s purely cosmetic.
But what about Gold, Silver, and Crystal, you may be wondering? It’s a bit complicated to explain, but back then, “Shininess” was determined based on a Pokémon’s random stats — its IVs, or, more correctly, its DVs. There were only certain, fixed combinations that resulted in a Pokémon being Shiny, and while Shiny Pokémon didn’t have perfect DVs, most combinations were stronger than average, especially when it came to Attack.
Since a Pokémon’s gender was also determined based on DVs back then, this resulted in it being impossible to have a female Shiny Pokémon for any Pokémon with a 87.5% chance of being male, such as starter Pokémon.
Starting with Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, shininess is calculated completely separately from IVs (previously DVs in Generation II games), so Shiny Pokémon from these games onward have no statistical advantage over non-Shiny Pokémon.
Can Every Pokémon Be Shiny?
The short answer is yes, every Pokémon has a Shiny version programmed into the game’s data. However, just because the data exists doesn’t mean that there’s actually a way to obtain a Shiny version of that Pokémon.
Some Pokémon are Shiny Locked, meaning they cannot be Shiny when you encounter or obtain them, no matter what. This lock is almost always reserved for Legendary or Mythical Pokémon, not ordinary Pokémon.
Shiny Locking started in Generation V with Black and White, where Reshiram, Zekrom, and Victini could not be Shiny when encountered. Since then, several other Pokémon have been Shiny Locked across various games.
Event Pokémon received from Mystery Gift are often Shiny Locked, although this depends on the particular distribution. Sometimes, though, certain Mystery Gift events reward players with Shiny Pokémon that were previously Shiny Locked.
Just because a Pokémon is Shiny Locked in one game doesn’t mean it is Shiny Locked in every game. Games where you can encounter a lot of Legendary Pokémon in optional features, such as Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire and Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon, offer the ability to find Shiny versions of some previously Shiny Locked Pokémon.
Cheating For Shiny Pokémon
I feel it’s very important to talk about this, because it’s all too common for people to want a Shiny Pokémon so badly that they will skip directly to the end result by cheating to obtain the Shiny Pokémon. Yes, that is a thing, there are ways to do so, but I do not recommend doing this!
Although it may sound fun having an entire team of maxed out Shiny Pokémon, or perhaps an entire collection of Shiny Pokémon in your PC to use as you see fit, what do you actually gain from that? What satisfaction would you feel from it? You might think it’s cool for a little bit, but since you didn’t earn it, it will have no meaning. You’ll know those Shiny Pokémon weren’t legitimately obtained.
Think of it like cheating on a test — if you just get the answers from a classmate, you’re not doing the work yourself, and even though you may pass, you won’t be any smarter for it.
Part of what makes Shiny Hunting fun is the rewarding feeling of running into a legitimate Shiny Pokémon! You set a goal for yourself, you put in time to achieve that goal, and eventually, through your own persistence, you accomplish that goal. You’ll actually feel accomplishment from it.
Trading For Shiny Pokémon
It’s important to note that there are a lot of people that have cheated to obtain their Shiny Pokémon. There are also a lot of people that clone their Shiny Pokémon via cheating or exploits. If that’s what someone wishes to do for their own enjoyment, so be it, but it gets murky when that person tries to trade their illegitimate Pokémon to players expecting legitimate Pokémon.
Because of this, you should always be wary when trading for Shiny Pokémon. It’s very possible that these Pokémon are cloned or were obtained by cheating.
It’s also important to consider whether you even want to trade for Shiny Pokémon in the first place. It’s kind of like the above situation with cheating — by simply trading for a Shiny Pokémon, there’s no sense of accomplishment. You just have the Shiny Pokémon, without putting in the work to obtain it. Sure, what you traded might have had value, but it’s also entirely possible and actually quite likely that the person you traded with may not have obtained that Shiny Pokémon legitimately. Whether they did or didn’t, though, you didn’t put in the work to obtain that specific Shiny Pokémon.
That’s why I would recommend avoiding trading for Shiny Pokémon. However, if you are Shiny Hunting with some friends, and if you can trust that they’re playing legitimately as well, you can trade your Shiny Pokémon for theirs or even give your Shiny Pokémon to your friend as a gift — although that sense of accomplishment isn’t there, it’s still a nice gesture.