Let me open with a confession: I spent hours last night on my Nintendo 3DS running a little animated version of myself back and forth from a girl standing next to a bipedal cow in a hood, to a little fence enclosed area, and running in aimless circles on a three-tailed bull so some pixelated eggs would hatch on the off chance I’d find a fire larva of a slightly different color than the other fire larva.
I’ve already done this 300 times.
If that doesn’t sound crazy enough, I’m prepared to do it another 200 times before I start getting frustrated, and probably another 500 more before I give up for a while.
If you play Pokemon, you’re probably already smirking because you know what I’m doing and understand it. Differently colored Pokemon are really rare. We call them “shinies” because when they pop up, there’s a little sparkle animation that accompanies them. If you aren’t doing anything special, the odds are about 1 in 8,192 that you’ll get one. If you’re doing everything, it’s still about 1 in 455.
Some shiny Pokemon aren’t that great. They’re barely any different from the normal version, or they’re just green for no good reason. But others? Others are just beastly, and I’m about to share my top ten favorite ones.
10. Salazzle shiny
Salazzle is a fire/poison type Pokemon that looks like a lizard. It’s got this sleek black design, purple and pink accents in the front. All in all, it was cool to begin with.
The shiny version has the same pink and purple accents, but a white body. On regular Salazzle you could almost mistake the purple bits for part of its regular black coat. Not so on shiny Salazzle.
It’s the evolved form of a Pokemon called “Salandit,” and here’s where it gets tricky. Only female Salandit evolve. So even if you get a shiny salandit, getting one that can evolve into Salazzle is a huge pain in the butt. You’ve got about a 50 percent chance.
Tip: If you want a shiny Salazzle, try a male Pokemon with “cute charm” when you go after it. It’ll make female Salandit more likely to appear for you.
Ariados is a giant spider. I know a lot of people are arachnophobic, and plenty of people that aren’t afraid of spiders think they’re gross, but I just love them and think they’re the cutest things ever because apparently there’s something wrong with me.
But even if you aren’t a fan of spiders in real life, look at this one. It’s a cute cartoony spider with big eyes and bandy legs! I just love how colorful it is to begin with, but the shiny version is even better than that.
The eyes stay that purple color and the yellow stripes remain the same, but the red body becomes pink and the purple bands on the legs become blue. It’s just as colorful as the normal Ariados, but you can tell at a glance that it isn’t, even though the general feel of the Pokemon remains the same. I just love that.
An oldie but a goodie. Ninetails was one of the original 151 Pokemon, and its shiny is still one of the best ones.
Even just looking at original Ninetails, it just feels magical. Suffice it to say it’s a fire type and evolves from a smaller — but no less cute — Pokemon called Vulpix.
Meanwhile, the shiny version is more silver than off-white and the tails, instead of being tipped in orange, are tipped in blue.
It’s barely even a change, but the entire impact is different. It’s this sudden veer from hot to an almost cold appearance, ghostly.
It took an amazing mystical-looking Pokemon and made it look even more magical, and it just goes to show that the change in a Pokemon’s shiny version doesn’t have to be excessively dramatic in order to be awesome and have a lot of impact.
Whimsicott was just grass type up until X and Y version when it added Fairy to its typing. It is this little ball of fluff with green ear thingies and a brown body and these adorable button, amber-colored eyes that just perfectly set off its diabetes-inducing little face.
And just look how happy it looks. Can you imagine having one of these around and not being happy all the time? I sure can’t.
Well, the shiny version is just as cute as the normal one, and it does everything a shiny should do, right. You can tell, in an instant, that this is not regular Whimsicott. The green ear things are blue, the face and body are black, and even the white fluff on the back is a little more white. And all of these colors work well with what’s still the same: the button amber eyes.
If the shiny version of Whimsicott were a regular fixture in the game, you wouldn’t be sitting there thinking ‘what is this piece of garbage.’ It still fits.
Umbreon is already a special case. It’s an evolution of a Pokemon called Eevee that only evolves once but can evolve into eight different Pokemon at this point. Umbreon is the dark-type evolution.
It’s got four paws, a brush-shaped tail, pointed ears of some considerable length, and little yellow bands and circles on its body. The design is simple and that is part of what makes it brilliant.
The shiny version of Umbreon is barely even different from the normal one, even less altered than Ninetails was. The bands and circles all turn blue instead of yellow. It’s deceptively normal looking.
It’s the final evolution of the grass starter from Sun and Moon. Decidueye starts as Rowlett, and by the time it reaches it’s final form it’s grass/ghost and this awesome archer-looking beast.
Like, look at this thing and tell me you don’t see Robin Hood as an owl. It already is one of the coolest looking Pokemon in the game.
For the shiny, the browns become blacks and the greens are slightly bluer. And that is it. It’s a great example of how an amazing-looking shiny Pokemon can exist and not be too over the top.
The only word for this one is ‘cool.’ I’m looking at this giant bird and honestly feeling a little intimidated as a human being that it can’t come anywhere near.
It’s blue with a big silver “x” on its face that serves as both its mouth and eyebrows. If you saw this thing coming at you, you’d definitely think twice about standing where you are.
This thing is incredibly strong, steel type, and has a convenient flat spot on top of its head that you can sit cross legged on and ride around. It’s definitely a less natural-looking Pokemon, but there is no question this thing is awesome.
And they did an amazing job on its shiny. I can’t emphasize this enough. Instead of blue metal with a silver “X,” it’s white metal with gold. It’s chrome-looking as heck, and instantly makes an impression.
Those bold colors say, “Here I am, first prize metagross, you’ll not find a better one than this one right here.” And they’re right.
Trevenant is already a beast to begin with. This thing is a ghost tree. It’s spooky, and it looks like what it’s supposed to represent with the bark and the leaves and all that.
They could have done something really dumb with its shiny, and thank goodness they didn’t. Not only is it awesome looking, but it makes total sense and gives me the chills every time I see it.
See, instead of having regular brown wood as the base color for the shiny version, it’s white like a birch tree and the leaves are dark red. It gives it this haunted effect while still looking very much like something that could occur in nature.
It’s right and it’s wrong. It’s exactly perfect for what it is, both unsettling and real looking, and so very clearly a shiny version of that Pokemon rather than something that looks sun-faded or just green for some reason.
If you thought this one wasn’t making the list, you’re loopy. Charizard was the single most sought after Pokemon in the game when I was a kid, and for good reason. It’s a dragon! What child doesn’t want a dragon for a friend!
And if this thing didn’t already look intimidating enough, the shiny just makes it better. Charizard is not one of those sissy shinies that they dyed pink, oh no.
In the words of my little brother, Max, “If you have a black Charizard, you’re a boss.” And it’s no big question why kids feel that way. Look at it! That’s the kind of thing you have dreams about slaying and nightmares about being eaten by!
It isn’t trying too hard to be edgy, it isn’t throwing on too many colors just to make itself different, it just is total and unmitigated attitude.
Honorable Mention: Ribombee
Before I get to the #1 best shiny, let me take a moment to list my honorable mention that wasn’t objectively enough to make the list, but I love it for personal reasons (and not just because it’s the best Pokemon in my party right now), so I’m going to throw it out there anyway.
Ribombee is totally cute. It’s quick, it packs a punch, and it’s like a little autumn barista in that scarf.
The shiny version is very obviously shiny with the coloring completely different. It’s pink! It’s like a cute little pink barista Pokemon! Every time I see it, I just feel so happy, and I know it makes me a dork on some level, but I don’t even care. This is one of those situations where I feel like the shiny is just way better than the normal one.
Now without further delay, the number one best shiny in the game.
1. Mimikyu shiny
Every generation has a Pokemon that tries to be Pikachu and isn’t. This time, they went with a ghost type and got super meta with it. This thing is so scary that a grown man saw it without its costume on and died of a heart attack, but it wants people to like it so it wears this Pikachu costume because people like Pikachu, so if it’s more like Pikachu people will love it, right? Right?
Mimikyu just breaks my heart on a lore level. But then you get to the shiny and it gets even better. See, most shiny Pokemon are either too many colors and threaten to send you into a seizure or you can barely tell their shiny or they’re just green or purple.
Not so with Mimikyu. To get shiny Mimikyu, all they did was take all the colors out. Shiny Mimikyu is greyscale, and the opposite of shiny, and I think that is the most genius thing the Pokemon developers have ever done.
My friends and I have a joke that this particular Mimikyu is colorblind and that’s just what it thought Pikachu looked like. Someday, I will have one of those. Just wait.