'Pokémon Go' Easter Eggs: 4 gameplay secrets fans love and the stories behind them


Nothing connects Pokémon Go to the rest of the Pokémon legacy as well as the awesome Easter eggs and gameplay secrets hidden inside the mobile app.

An "Easter egg," if you're not familiar with the term, is a hidden piece of content in media, usually in a film, television show or video game. Easter eggs are throwbacks to previous movies, episodes or games, and a love letter to fans. Some Easter eggs are easy to find, and others require some work to uncover. 

Here are some of the Pokémon Easter eggs that have been found in Pokémon Go and the stories behind them.

Pokémon Go Easter Eggs and Gameplay Secrets: Team colors

When you reach trainer level 5 or higher and tap on a gym for the first time, you will be asked to join Team Valor, Team Mystic or Team Instinct. You will then fight for that team when you fight at gyms in the game. You can tell which team owns a gym by what color that gym is. Red corresponds to Team Valor, blue corresponds to Team Mystic and yellow corresponds to Team Instinct.

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The team colors are a reference to the very first "main" Pokémon games released in the North American market. Pokémon Red and Blue were released in 1998, and Pokémon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition was released in 1999.

Pokémon Go Easter Eggs and Gameplay Secrets: Eevee evolution trick

Of all the Easter eggs in Pokémon Go, this one may be the most widely known because it has practical ramifications on gameplay. This trick is a guaranteed way to get a Vaporeon, one of the best Pokémon in the game.

If you rename an Eevee "Rainer," "Sparky" or "Pyro," exit and re-enter the game and then evolve the renamed Eevee, you will get a Vaporeon, Jolteon or Flareon, respectively.

This "Eeveelutions" trick is a reference to an episode of the Pokemon animé about three trainers named Rainer, Sparky and Pyro, each of whom controlled one of the three Eevee evolutions.

Pokémon Go Easter Eggs and Gameplay Secrets: Pikachu starter trick

At the beginning of a new game of Pokémon Go, Professor Willow will offer you a choice between Bulbasaur, Charmander or Squirtle as your starting Pokémon. But if you tell him to go to hell, you can start with a Pikachu instead.

This might be one of the coolest Pokémon Go easter eggs for long-time Pokémon fans, because it's a reference to the very first episode of the Pokémon anime that originally aired in 1997.

In episode one of the anime series, hero Ash Ketchum (get it?) wants to become a Pokémon trainer. But instead of getting a Bulbasaur, Charmander or Squirtle on the first day of his training, Ash is instead given a Pikachu after arriving late. 

To work this trick in Pokémon Go, rather than tapping as instructed on the Bulbasaur, Charmander or Squirtle that appear on the map after your orientation with Professor Willow at the beginning of the game, walk away. Ignore them. Eventually, a Pikachu will pop and you can catch it as your starter Pokémon.

Pokémon Go Easter Eggs and Gameplay Secrets: Carry Pikachu on your shoulder

Pokémon Go's buddy system allows you to choose one Pokémon as your "buddy," after which they are considered to be walking around with you on the map, and after a certain amount of distance traveled your buddy Pokémon will "find" a piece of its candy. This is an excellent way to score candies for rare Pokémon.

Typically when you choose a Pokémon buddy, you will see your buddy displayed either at your feet or in the background, depending on how large the Pokémon is, when you click on the portrait of your trainer in the lower-left-hand corner of the Pokémon Go map screen. But if you choose Pikachu as your buddy and walk with him for long enough, Pikachu will appear on your shoulder in the buddy portrait.

This may be a reference to the growing pains in the relationship between Ash and Pikachu in the anime. Their partnership started off rough, with Pikachu refusing to get into his PokéBall. But when Ash saves Pikachu from an attack by Spearows, Pikachu returns the favor by springboarding off Ash's shoulder, jumping into the Spearow swarm and using his lightning ability to save the day.

More Pokémon Go guides, tips, tricks and updates

Check out Mic's Pokémon Go tips and tricks. Here are guides on how to get stardust, how to determine how long it will take you to reach level 40, the kind of Pokémon you get from 10km eggs, how to create new PokéStops, how to maximize your chances of catching Pokémon and how PokéStops distribute Pokémon eggs. Also check out how to catch Gen 2 baby Pokémon, our analysis of post-balance update Chansey and Rhydon and everything you need to know about finding the long-awaited Pokémon Ditto.