Over the past four years, I have been attempting to complete a Living Shiny Dex in the Pokémon series titles.
For the uninitiated, every Pokémon has a 1/4096 or 1/8192 chance, depending on its game of origin, of being a rare colour variant. Optional methods can in many games be used to improve those odds from there, and I have been questing to collect one of every single species of Pokémon in their shiny form, including each individual evolutionary stage of any Pokémon which can evolve.
However, today I want to talk about one specific Shiny Pokémon I have been trying to collect since the very beginning of my journey. A Pokémon I am convinced series developer Game Freak actively works to prevent modern players legitimately obtaining.
This is the story of my four year long quest to try and obtain a legitimate, Game Freak endorsed, Shiny Mew, and the alternative aquisition methods I tried out of frustration along the way, because Game Freak really doesn’t want the average person to ever aquire this perfect blue baby.
Official (And Free) Distributions of Shiny Mew (Which are No Longer Available, and Were Region Specific)
Up until February 20th 2021, there were only ever two oportunities in the history of the Pokémon series to legitimately obtain a Shiny Mew. Both were region specific events, time limited, and resulted in only a small handful of legitimate specimens of the creature ever making it out into the world.
First available Thanksgiving 2002, players who could travel to the Pokémon Centre store in New York City could once per day, during a six day window of time, recieve a special gift Mew from staff present at the store as part of the “Gotta Catch Em All” event distribution. You were not guarenteed to get a Shiny Mew from this distribution, with shiny rates locked to 0.5%, meaning that even if you attempted to get a Shiny Mew every day of the distribution, the chances were still very much against you managing to recieve this rare Pokémon.
A little later, in 2005, a second distribution took place exclusive to Japan and Taiwan. Players who brought their copy of Pokémon Emerald to either Pokémon Festa 2005 or the PokéPark theme park for a limited time could recieve an in game item called the Old Sea Map. This item allowed players to visit a special island where Mew would spawn, and was not “shiny locked”, a term for species programmed to not be able to randomly spawn as shiny.
This Mew was also not guarenteed to be shiny, but at least could be brute forced to be shiny with enough time and persistance. Players could save next to Mew, and encounter the Pokémon to see whether it was or was not shiny. If it was not shiny, you could reset the game and try again. In Pokémon Emerald the odds of encountering a shiny Pokémon are 1/8192, and there is no way to improve the odds for this particular static encounter, but if you had the Old Sea Map you could eventually catch a Shiny Mew of your very own.
And, for the majority of the series history, those were the only legitimate ways to aquire a Shiny Mew. If you were not a very lucky trainer in New York in 2002, or a very persistant trainer in Japan or Taiwan in 2005, there was no legitimate way to ever earn a Shiny Mew.
Finally, a Worldwide Shiny Mew Event (Which Cost Real Money, and is no Longer Available Either)
So, let’s talk about February 2021, and the first time Shiny Mew was ever officially distributed worldwide.
The Kanto Tour was an event that took place in Pokémon Go during the weekend beginning Saturday, February 20, 2021, and encouraged players to catch a bunch of Pokémon species from the first generation of games, with elevated shiny odds. However, the real draw of this paid, time limited event was an official and guarenteed distribution of a legitimate Shiny Mew.
So, how did the distriution work? Well, some time prior to the event players would need to spend real world money for a virtual event ticket. Then, during that weekend, they would need to complete a quest chain as part of the event.
If players completed all of their assigned tasks during the Kanto Event, they would unlock a special “
Masterwork Research” quest, which could be completed slowly, over time, after the event was over, to eventually unlock a Shiny Mew.
I will be honest, I for the longest time really resented this quest. I had recently stopped playing Pokémon Go after years as a daily active player, due to the game’s monetisation around transfering Shiny Pokémon out of Go and into other mainline series titles. I jumped back into the game, and begrudgingly paid developers Niantic money, to take part in this event, because it seemed like the only way I was ever likely to get a legitimate Shiny Mew. I felt coerced into spending real world money to get a bunch of work to do in order to get a Pokémon I couldn’t get without spending money, and that felt pretty gross. It was an event seemingly built around charging money to access a rare Pokémon that couldn’t in the modern day be earned any other way.
That frustration only increased when I saw the specifics of the Shiny Mew quest, which seemed deliberately designed not only to require sustained daily active play, and huge amounts of time investment, but quest steps were also deliberately designed to require the same work be done multiple times needlessly.
I will include the quest steps below, then explain why they were so frustrating to me, and why for over a year I didn’t even start trying to work through its steps.
Earn The Platinum Kanto Medal
Send 151 Gifts to friends
Make 151 Great Throws
Catch a Pokémon for 30 days in a row
Catch 151 different species of Pokémon
Catch 30 of each of the following Pokémon types: Normal, Fire, Water, Grass, Flying,
Fighting, Poison, Electric, Ground, Rock, Psychic, Ice, Bug, Ghost, Steel, Dragon, Dark and Fairy
Reach Level 40
Spin 151 PokéStops
Complete 151 Field Research tasks
Walk 151 km
Catch 1510 Pokémon
So, a few things about this quest line. Firstly, the requirement of reaching Level 40 is a huge hurdle for any player to climb. Levelling up in Pokémon Go is an exponential process. Going from level 1-37 and from 37 to 40 take identical amounts of experience to achieve. As a daily active player since day one, I was not yet at level 40 when the quest was released, and that requirement basically required me to return to being a daily active player for a decent chunk of time if I was ever fgoing to recieve the Pokémon I had paid money in pursit of.
Secondly, quest steps in many cases do not take into account past perfomance. It doesn’t matter if, over years of play, you’ve walked 151 KM, caught 1510 Pokémon, and completed 151 field research tasks, you will still need to do those tasks all over again when you unlock their stages of the quest.
And lastly, and most infuriatingly, the steps are laid out in such a way as to make it impossible to work on multiples at once. Take for example the fact that in step 1 you have to send 151 gifts to friends, but in step 3 you have to spin 151 Pokéstops, an action which grants you gifts to send to friends. Players will have had to spin 151 Pokéstops in step 1 to get 151 gifts, but that didn’t count toward step 3 asking them to spin 151 Pokéstops, causing that work to be doubled up.
Or, look at the quests in step 1 requiring catching 151 different species of Pokémon, and 30 each of several different types of Pokémon. This happens in a different step of the quest to being later told to catch 1510 Pokémon. Surely those could have been placed together in the same step and worked on at the same time as each other?
This was what frustrated me about this quest. Not only were players charged real world money for this quest, for many people the first and only legitimate oportunity they had been offered to get a Shiny Mew, but even after paying that money, the quest felt deliberately designed to waste players time, and lock them into a commitment to daily active play.
Still, it was a legitimate way to aquire a Shiny Mew.
If you did not pay for a ticket to the Kanto Tour event prior to February 2021 there is no longer any legitimate way to aquire this quest in Pokémon Go, but if you did pay for a ticket to the event, the Shiny Mew is guarenteed, and there is no limit on when you can complete the quest to achieve it.
I finally did that this week. After a year of being annoyed at the quest’s existance I buckled down, played a bunch of Pokémon Go over a few weeks, got my Shiny Mew, and got back out. I was not going to let the game win, and get me back into Daily Active Play after the developer’s monetisation methods pushed me away.
The Not So Official, But Kind of Achievable, Ways to Achieve a Shiny Mew (That Pokémon Home Will Consider Legitimate Enough to Use)
So, let’s say you’re a Pokémon trainer who has missed out on the three above methods to earn a Shiny Mew, but you still desperately want one for your collection. What are your options? Well, below, I am going to detail a number of options which technically work, and can be employed if you are eager to get one of these less than legitimately added to your team of Mon.
All of the below methods do work, but they all come with caveats. I will start with those that most closely emulate a legitimate aquisition, and work down to the methods that least closely mimic legitimate aquisition.
Getting an Unofficial Old Sea Map
Officially, there is no way to get an Old Sea Map in Pokémon Emerald in 2022, but if you don’t mind fudging the rules a little there are options available to players.
You could either purchase a legitimate distribution cartridge from the original Old Sea Map event, or find a rom for that cartridge online to place on a flash cart, and use that to give yourself an Old Sea Map that works in a modern physical copy of Emerald. Alternatively, some people online sell Pokémon Emerald cartirdges with an Old Sea Map modified onto the save file, or cheat devices which can give your save file the item.
While these methods all circumvent Game Freak’s desire for the Old Sea Map to be a time limited event exclusive item, you will still have to aquire the Shiny Mew the same way a legitimate player would have back in the day, by soft resetting the game an unholy number of times.
As far as unofficial ways to get a Shiny Mew, fudging the numbers to get yourself an Old Sea Map is about the closest you’ll get to the official legitimate experience.
And, really, if you can find an official distribution cartridge out there, who’s to say that Shiny Mew isn’t legit?
I’ll leave that debate for others to have. For most, it’s the closest there is to a legit method available today.
The Gen 1 Mew Encounter Glitch
Okay, this method is going to involve a few glitches, and is definately not Nintendo sanctioned, but doesn’t require anything outside of a copy of Pokémon Red or Blue, and you could argue carries some legitimacy due to its aquisition within an official game copy.
So, I won’t detail the specifics of the original glitch here in too much detail, but in the Gen 1 Pokémon games there is a specific trainer North of Cerulean City who you can step into view of, and teleport away before they manage to engage you in battle. Depending on which Pokémon was last encountered before this teleportation, players can then head North to Nugget Bridge, and encounter Pokémon based on overflow stats from the last encounter.
This glitch can allow players to, if done correctly, encounter a wild Mew in their copy of Pokémon Red and Blue.
So, how do you ensure this Mew is shiny? Well, Shiny Pokémon don’t actually exist in the Gen 1 games, but there’s a fun trick associated with that. Pokémon in Gen 2 are determined to be shiny or not based on their IVs. So, if you can catch a Mew in 1 one via this glitch, and check it has the correct stats, you can transfer it to Gen 2, and it’ll be shiny.
If a Pokémon’s Speed, Defense, and Special IVs are all 10, and its Attack IV is 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14 or 15, it will be Shiny. Below, I have linked to a video showcasing someone using this method to get a Shiny Mew, and transfering it to check it is Shiny in Gen 2.
However, something the above video will not tell you is that while this glitch soft reset method does work, including on the 3DS Virtual Console ports of the original games, you won’t be able to transfer this Shiny Mew into Pokémon Bank, and later Pokémon Home, without a bit of slightly daunting legwork.
I will include a video below, but the short version if you’ll have to use another Glitch, the Missingno Glitch, where players encounter a placeholder Pokémon deliberately which causes issues with the proper operation of the Gen 1 games, and causes them to behave strangely, including duplicating items or leading to Pokémon above Level 100 being able to exist.
The Missingno glitch can be used as part of somethinc called ACE, or Arbitrary Code Execution. Much like the Mew encounter glitch, you’re basically deliberately loading certain values into the game’s memory, so that when executed unexpected events will resolve. In the case of Shiny Mew, you’re basically trying to change its Original Trainer name and Original Trainer number value.
This process is complicated, tedious, and can easily be messed up, but if perfectly followed you can get a Shiny Mew which will transfer forward to Bank and Home, achieved without using anything but an admittedly very broken copy of Pokémon Red or Blue on the 3DS Virtual Console.
Maybe, Just Maybe, Buy a Fake One off Ebay
Look, I know I have just spent an entiere article explaining in depth every possible way to try and get a legitimate, or semi legitimate, Shiny Mew in 2022. But, let’s be honest, unless Game Freak some day decides to do a free event giveaway for Shiny Mew which isn’t time or region limited, or release a game where Mew is available to all and not Shiny Locked, your choices are to have already got a Shiny Mew distribution, or to get one in a way Game Freak probably doesn’t want you to.
You can get that flashcart of the Old Sea Map distribution cartridge, or even buy a legit copy for a ridiculous price online. You can glitch your way into a Mew and glitch it into having the right info to show up as official in Pokémnon Home. But, like, in a world where Game Freak won’t offer you any official way to get the creature today, and makes no promise it will ever be available officially again in future, you could just pay someone on Ebay to generate you one that looks legit enough, and let them trade it to you.
I know that sounds like a cop out, and it kind of is, but let’s be honest. Is the Shiny Mew I got this week from a paid Pokémon Go event you can no longer pay to take part in really worth anything more than a Shiny Mew someone else uses a distribution cart rom to soft reset shiny hunt in Emerald today? Is that any more legitimate than someone who soft resets in Gen 1, and fudges the numbers to earn one through hard work in that game without any outside tools? If Nintendo won’t give most Pokémon players an official way to get this creature, is getting it through rule dodging means justified?
Finally Completing My Quest
I love Shiny Hunting in the Pokémon games, but I’m not a snob about it. I don’t care if your Shiny Mew is fake or real, if you have fun playing with it then it’s serving its purpose. I know I have a legit one, but I also know that if not for that Pokémon Go event last year my quest for a legitimate Living Shiny Dex would have been literally impossible for me to actually complete.
I started looking at alternative methods of obtaining a Shiny Mew back in late 2018 because I knew that, at the time, it was going to be impossible for me to earn. No matter how many hours I put into my collectathon quest, there was no official method for me to collect one, a situation many new collectors today will find themselves in.
If Game Freak has made a specific Pokémon impossible for anyone other than literal time travellers to legitimately achieve, I honestly think buying one online is pretty justified. I say this as someone who just spent four years questing to try and find one I could call legitimate, in the end I think it’s okay if anyone just wants to buy a cute blue friend to play with in their video game.
Just because I was lucky enough to finally get my legitimate Shiny Mew doesn’t mean I want to keep the Pokémon away from other people.