Back in January of this year, Pokemon Legends Arceus was released, bringing with it a whole host of changes to the Pokémon formula that, in my opinion, were largely to the series benefit.

From the addition of a Pokédex that required actual research to complete, to overworld encounters that allowed for a variety of approaches, I’m a big fan of the overall design direction that Legends Arceus took the Pokémon series in going forward.

However, not every change made in Pokémon Legends Arceus was universally liked by the playerbase, and perhaps no change to the format was as controversial and polarising as the increased ease with which Shiny Pokemon could be found and caught.

While not perfectly accessible, Pokémon Legends Arceus made Shiny Pokémon easier to find, and harder to lose out on encounters with, without changing their actual base rarity in the games. They included an in-game tutorial that showed an example of a shiny Pokémon in the wild which could be caught, and had easy to understand mechanics for hunting shiny forms of specific individual species.

If any of you follow me online, there’s a good chance that you know that I’m a shiny hunter in the Pokémon series, approximately 90% of the way to having a complete collection of Shiny Pokémon at the time of Pokémon Scarlet’s release, and I really loved the changes made in Legends Arceus to shiny hunting, both in terms of disabled player accessibility, and more generally in terms of availability to the average player. That said, there was also a VERY vocal contingent of the shiny hunting community, with more gatekeeping perspectives than my own, who felt that the game made shiny hunting too easy, and devalued the achievements of those with an admittedly niche hobby.

In the run up to Pokémon Scarlet and Violet releasing, I’d personally been advocating for shiny hunting in those games to be more accessible for disabled players than it had been in Legends Arceus.

Unfortunately, what we saw was ultimately the opposite.

So today, on Access-Ability, we’re going to be talking about the level of Shiny Hunting accessibility seen in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, and how it compares to the mechanics that were available in Legends Arceus. We’re going to talk about which Legends Arceus mechanics have been removed, which new mechanics have been added to Scarlet and Violet, and why adding back in mechanics from Legends Arceus isn’t all about making shiny hunting less of an overall challenge.

For a quick refresher, we’re going to start this video with a recap of what Shiny Pokémon are, how Shiny Hunting works in Legends Arceus, and the pros and cons that game’s system came bundled with.

In the Pokémon series, any Pokémon you encounter, with a handful of exceptions, has a chance to appear in a rare colour variant form called a Shiny. They don’t do anything special in battle, but their unique appearance is somewhat of a status symbol.

While early games in the series had a roughly 1:8000 chance of a Pokémon being shiny, this has been lowered to approximately 1:4000 in recent years, with methods introduced to bring these odds even lower with dedicated effort.

In Pokémon Legends Arceus, shiny Pokémon appear as shiny in the overworld, similar to Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee, which released in late 2018. Where Shiny Pokémon back in Let’s Go featured both their Shiny colouration and a sparkling effect when walking around, Legends Arceus took a slightly different approach.

In Legends Arceus, Shiny Pokémon appear in the overworld in their Shiny colouration, but also feature an audio ping, and a visual sparkle animation, when they spawn in.

As Pokémon Legends Arceus was a pseudo open world game, split into five large explorable maps, players could encounter a lot more pokémon than usual while playing, and check whether or not they were shiny more quickly than past series entries, due to not having to start a battle to see if a Pokémon was its shiny form.

By locking onto a Pokémon, players could also see a sparkling icon, letting them know that they were aiming and looking at the correct creature.

Also, the addition to the series of Ride Pokémon, including a gliding mount, meant that players could quickly fly over large amounts of Pokémon spawns, checking whether or not they were shiny at a distance.

In addition, the game introduced a Pokédex system where players could complete easily laid out tasks to increase their shiny odds for a specific species, and introduced Mass Outbreaks, where players could encounter large numbers of a single species of Pokémon, with boosted shiny encounter odds.

The system wasn’t perfect, largely due to the fact that hearing players had a distinct advantage shiny hunting compared to their deaf peers. While the audio sparkle sound effect that plays when a shiny spawns in could be heard regardless of if you were looking at the Pokémon when it spawned in, the visual sparkle effect required a player to look in the right direction to see it, at the moment the creature spawned.

While the system largely made shiny hunting more accessible to more players, there was room for improvement. I personally advocated for either adding a visual sparkle that was visible on screen no matter where you were facing at the moment a shiny spawned, or for Scarlet and Violet to include shiny spawning information on the game’s minimap, a feature which was shown in trailers to include information on nearby Pokémon encounters.

However, now that Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are officially released, I can confirm that not only were neither of my suggested methods for making Shiny Hunting more deaf player accessible introduced, but in fact several accessibility options for hearing but partially sighted or colourblind players have been removed.

So, how does Shiny Hunting work in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet by comparison?

While Shiny Pokémon are still visibly in their Shiny coloured forms in the overworld, and able to be seen as Shiny without being encountered in battle, Scarlet and Violet have removed both the audio and visual sparkle effects when a Shiny Pokémon spawns nearby, as well as the Shiny icon when locking onto a Shiny on the overworld, seemingly in response to outcry from Legends Arceus making Shiny Hunting “too easy” for casual players.

Now, those cues only occur if and when you start a battle with a shiny.

While this already makes Shiny Hunting less accessible than it was previously for certain disabled players, changes have also been made to how ride Pokémon work, most notably nerfing the distance that a gliding ride Pokémon can travel before being forced to land on the ground, making fly-over Shiny Hunts a lot less viable.

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, despite in my opinion being overall great games, do suffer from a noticeable drop in visual fidelity and resolution as a compromise made in the move from Legends Arceus’ segmented large maps, to being a truly singular open world. This makes small details in some cases more difficult to see on Pokémon, in particular Pokémon species who are particularly small in the overworld, or when viewing Pokémon from a distance, specifically when gliding over a zone. This compounds the difficulty of seeing a shiny Pokémon without the aid of spawn in visual and audio cues.

Also, in a move that I personally feel is pretty unforgivable given the removal of on spawn accessibility cues, numerous species of Pokémon introduced in Scarlet and Violet have incredibly subtle Shiny colour alterations, making them near impossible to naturally notice while playing.

For years, my reference point for a hard to spot Shiny Pokémon has been Gengar, but new additions Tandemous and Paldean Tauros easily rival Gengar in terms of their minimal colour alterations. Even Pokémon such as Charcadet, whose shiny contains bright blue eyes in place of orange eyes, is incredibly hard to spot due to its small size, and the game’s reduced resolution.

In my view, if Developer Game Freak knew that they were going to reduce the audio visual feedback provided to players regarding Shiny spawns, the least they could do is ensure that Shiny forms of new Pokémon all looked drastically different from their original versions, to make sure that players with reduced vision could at a glance tell that something was abnormal about a species as they walk past.

Now, there are still ways that a low vision player can identify a shiny Pokémon without engaging every single Pokémon they see in battle, but doing so is a more time consuming process, and it is easier to miss a Shiny if you do not slowly work your way through every in-game spawn methodically.

The main way to identify a visually indistinct shiny in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet is to use the game’s new Let’s Go auto-battle feature, which sends the lead Pokémon in your party to automatically fight nearby Pokémon, for crafting materials and a small amount of reduced experience points.

Contrary to reports prior to the game’s release, this auto-battling feature will not defeat a Shiny Pokémon, and is actually the only method of quickly determining hard to visually determine Shiny status.

If you send a Pokémon out to auto battle a Shiny, the Pokémon will refuse to fight, instead shaking its head in refusal.

If you, for example, see a group of Charcadet, or attend a mass outbreak, you can send your lead Pokémon to knock out each and every Pokémon you see, and if they refuse a battle, you can walk over and start a fight, where you should, in theory, see the sparkle animation and sound cue play at the start of the battle.

In positives, you can still, much like Legends Arceus, manually save your game before encountering a suspected shiny, if you have autosave turned off, and if the shiny is accidentally knocked out or flees, you can reload your save to find the creature still there.

While I get that for some Shiny hunters their Shiny collections are a status symbol, hunted methodically over several years, in games without accessibility tools to speed up or aid Shiny Hunting or make it more approachable, I’ll personally never understand that kind of sentiment.

I take a lot of pride in the fact that I am 90% of the way to having one of every single Shiny Pokémon released prior to Scarlet and Violet. I also know that my collection only holds the value that I assign to it, and someone else having an easier time than I did does nothing to reduce the pride that I feel in my own collection, and the work that it took me to achieve.

As an accessibility focused critic and disabled gamer, I know that some past Pokémon games have actively felt unhealthy for me to play due to the ways that they breed compulsion and Fear Of Missing Out into the Shiny Hunting experience, and I also know that if I want to keep this hobby going into my old age, I need to ensure that as my hearing and vision deteriorate, I’m not ultimately forced to drop a hobby that I get a great deal of joy from engaging with.

I don’t personally care if someone has an easier time than me Shiny Hunting, and I think that allowing deaf, blind, and colourblind Shiny Hunters an equal footing on Shiny Hunts, as well as bringing new fans into the hobby I love, is ultimately a net positive for the Shiny Hunting community.

So yeah, Shiny Hunting is less accessible in Scarlet and Violet than it was in Legends Arceus, and that sucks. I’m still an advocate for Game Freak adding back in the audio and visual sparkle on spawn from Legends Arceus. I’m an advocate for the in-game mini map showing players when a shiny spawns nearby, regardless of if they’re looking in the right direction. I am an advocate for Shiny Hunting being more accessible to more players, and I want to see Game Freak do a better job than they’ve been going forward.

Legends Arceus showed that, in my opinion, it is possible to make Shiny Pokémon rare, but also accessible. I want to see a return to that game’s Shiny Hunting mechanics, but I also want to see progress past that point too.

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