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  • Bella Terhune

Shiny Pokémon: Palette Swaps or Manual Designs?

Hi, everybody! My name is Bella Terhune, and I’m new to Scribbling. My blog page will be all about the Pokémon games, and I plan to cover topics ranging from the mechanics of the game to the Pokémon themselves (I already have plenty of ideas!). I’m excited to share my passion for Pokémon with you all, and I hope you enjoy my blog!

Shiny Pokémon are extremely rare, alternate-colored variations of normal Pokémon. The only difference between shiny and non-shiny Pokémon is their color schemes. The palette changes range from wildly different to barely noticeable.

Shiny Pokémon were introduced to the series in the second generation games (Gold, Silver, Crystal), where a Pokémon’s shiny form was determined through a palette swap: the game designers had no input on a Pokémon’s shiny form. This method of creating shiny Pokémon continued until the sixth generation of Pokémon (X, Y, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire), when the creators of Pokémon, Game Freak, began to design shiny Pokémon’s color palettes themselves. Was this change for the better, or should Game Freak have stuck with the old way? Let’s take a closer look!

Palette Swaps (Generations 2-5)


• Unique, Varied Combinations:

Hundreds of palette swap shinies have given Pokémon fans a variety of shinies to enjoy in all sorts of delightful color combinations. If you want a shiny Pokémon of a specific color, you’ll definitely find it if you look hard enough. Palette swap shinies have provided many beloved color combinations over the years, including the well-known gold, silver and orange color palette of shiny Ho-oh.

• Hidden Gems:

Amongst the palette swap shinies are what I consider hidden gems — not fully evolved Pokémon (commonly abbreviated as NFEs) that have really cool shiny colors that are different from their fully evolved forms. For example, shiny Golduck has an intense blue and blush color scheme while its pre-evolution, Psyduck, has an aqua blue shiny that many love much more than the fully grown Golduck’s colors. These hidden gems are unique to palette swap Shinies since evolution lines with manually designed shinies tend to keep the same shiny palette throughout, and it’s a pleasure to discover pre-evolutions of Pokémon.


• Nearly Identical Shinies:

Palette swaps have yielded us some wonderful shinies, but they are also responsible for the worst shiny Pokémon of all: the shinies that are almost the same as their normal form. Although whether you consider a shiny Pokémon good or bad is very subjective, everybody agrees that nearly identical shinies are the worst of all, such as the infamous shiny Garchomp. Finding a shiny Pokémon is supposed to be a special event, but when you can’t even tell a Pokémon’s shiny from its normal form, it really detracts from that experience.

• Repetitive Patterns:

Palette swap shinies are created by swapping the palettes of regular Pokémon, so Pokémon with similar palettes to begin with have similar shinies, which can lead to the same colors popping up again and again. In the third generation alone (Hoenn Pokémon), there are ten different water types whose shinies have nearly the exact same shade of magenta, and there are a few non-water types with this color as well. I like it when shiny Pokémon have a wide variety of palettes, and it’s disappointing to see so many shinies with the exact same colors.

Manual Designs (Generations 6+)


• Great Designs:

The shinies of newer Pokémon consistently impress me with their unique color combinations. For example, the sixth generation Pokémon Slurpuff uses its cream and brown shiny palette with red highlights to stand out against its regular form. While shinies in previous generations were often a hit or miss, I know I can expect great color schemes from manually designed shinies both now and in the future.

• Risk-Taking:

Game Freak certainly could have played it safe with their shiny Pokémon by using tried and true color combinations and not changing their palettes too much, but instead they went for it and utilized drastic color changes and combinations. Take the seventh generation Pokémon Kommo-o for example: although its shiny form’s lime and magenta color palette doesn’t look great in my opinion, Game Freak tried to do something different with Kommo-o. I appreciate Game Freak’s boldness in its modern shiny designs.


• Oversaturation:

One of my biggest problems with the new sixth and seventh generation shinies is the oversaturation of black and white shinies. While generations 2-5 had only two black shinies (three if you count shiny Charizard) and one white shiny, generations 6 and 7 combined have over ten black shinies and ten white shinies. While black and white are colors that look great on almost any Pokémon, the overuse of those colors on shinies have made them lose the specialness they once had.

• Doesn’t Completely Solve the Problem It Wanted to Fix:

Although Game Freak probably chose to manually design their shinies in order to actually control them and consistently create great shinies, there are still iffy shinies amongst the pack. Sometimes, Game Freak will even do the unthinkable and purposefully make shinies nearly identical to their normal counterparts such as seventh generation Pokémon Pikipek and Marshadow. Game Freak has great sense when it comes to their shiny Pokemons’ palettes, but their choices are occasionally baffling, and the two Pokémon I listed aren’t the only ones.


By looking at the pros and cons of palette swap shinies and manually designed shinies, it’s easy to say that manually designed shinies reign supreme by providing consistently great shinies with only a few missteps here and there. Palette swap shinies, however, will always be my personal favorites, despite their many flaws because they too have provided us with many cherished shinies over the years. What do you think? Whether you like a shiny Pokémon or not is entirely subjective, and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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