When Pokémon GO first launched, every player had his or her issue with the game, big or small. Some felt like the spawn rates were too low for specific Pokémon, while others were surprised to find how different the “battle” experience was from the mainline Pokémon games. But one thing most agreed upon was a mutual love/hate relationship with Magikarp.
In Pokémon lore, Magikarp is something of an ugly duckling. It’s an unassuming water-type Pokémon that is literally a flapping fish out of water. But evolve a Magikarp and the Pokémon becomes Gyrados, a fierce and menacing water dragon that is right up there with some of Gen 1’s best.
So considering the upside of Magikarp, many Pokémon GO players were actively seeking out the water-type Pokémon in the hopes of collecting enough candy to evolve it into Gyrados. However, where some Pokémon might require 25 or even 50 candy to evolve, Magikarp needs 400 to become Gyrados.
Needless to say, Pokémon GO players were searching high and low for Magikarp, dumping them for candy, and then hoarding enough to unlock the real prize. Magikarp had ostensibly become the ugly best friend that Pokémon GO players were willing to tolerate simply to get to their gigantic, water dragon other friend. Then everything changed.
Pokemon GO's First Shiny
With the release of the Water Festival Pokémon Event in Pokémon GO, developer Niantic added a few fun twists to the game. For starters, players would see more water type Pokémon spawns for a limited time, and the devs even added a guaranteed evolution stone drop to a 7-day Pokestop visit streak.
But the biggest news to come out of the event was the discovery of Pokémon GO’s first shiny Pokémon, Magikarp.
Things had come full circle: where Magikarp was once the most disposable Pokémon in the game and simply a stepping stone to a better, cooler-looking Pokémon, it was now the most sought after. Players weren’t hunting Magikarp for its candy, but were hunting Magikarp to catch a rare version. Shiny Pokémon, for those who are not familiar, are uniquely colored version of Pokémon that appear in very rare circumstances.
Pokémon GO players are now testing any strategies they can for finding a shiny Magikarp, but as of right now appearances are very rare. Moreover, one player finding a shiny doesn’t guarantee that is a shiny spawn location – the variation seems completely random.
Also, for those that are curious, there is a shiny version of Gyrados that evolves from the shiny Magikarp. It is red in design – unlike Gyrados’ traditional blue – and looks even more menacing.
Of course, choosing Magikarp as the first shiny likely doesn’t have much to do with the Pokémon’s (former) status at the low end of the mobile game’s food chain. It seems more like a playful nod to Pokémon Gold and Silver, where players captured a red Gyrados.
Still, it’s funny to think how players' opinions of Magikarp can change with just one small decision by Niantic. What was once a stepping-stone to bigger and better things is now its own destination.
Pokemon GO's Water Festival runs until March 30th.