Shiny Zapdos ‘Pokémon Go’: Did Niantic accidentally release this rare version?

Shiny Pokémon and legendary raids, two longstanding points of Pokémon Go speculation, have finally reached critical mass, or so it seems. The final Gen 1 legendary bird Zapdos flew into the game on Aug. 7, and some fans are seeing something interesting in its coloration.

In short, they think Niantic accidentally released the shiny variant of Zapdos instead of the regular version. Here’s why.

Shiny Zapdos Pokémon Go: Fans are reasonably certain Niantic released the shiny variant of Zapdos

In a post on the Silph Road, a user named karlyn90 posted a chart from Pokémon Go Hub to compare the coloration of Zapdos as released in-game to what it “should” look like.

Pokémon Go Hub

Karlyn90 and other users pointed to the brighter yellow coloration and the red-orange foot coloration on the Zapdos model in-game to corroborate their findings. A user named Unubore posted a side-by-side comparison of the in-game model with the “normal” coloration as well:

Leek Duck

Even the official Pokémon Go banner for Zapdos’ release is a little iffy based on this evidence — its claws are too dark to be the normal Zapdos, but too light to concretely be the shiny variant.

Pokémon Go

Other posters were quick to point out that this might be intentional on Niantic’s part and reminded more excitable posters that this wasn’t actually a shiny Zapdos, just a regular Zapdos with the shiny sprite.

Shiny Zapdos Pokémon Go: The issue with shiny Pokémon is that not all of them are distinct enough

Ignoring for a moment whatever’s going on with this shiny-not-shiny Zapdos — because let’s face it, Niantic probably won’t comment one way or another even if they do change it — there’s another issue with shiny Pokémon.

Some of them aren’t nearly distinct enough.

Longtime players will remember during the Worldwide Bloom event, players got equally excited that Niantic might be revealing a shiny Bulbasaur, based entirely off one or two images “comparing” the coloration of the one on the event banner to the one in-game. Given how slight the difference in coloration between shiny and not shiny Bulbasaur are, it’s not hard to see why everyone got so excited.


This certainly isn’t the case for all Pokémon. Most shiny variants, such as Golden Magikarp and Red Gyarados, are quite distinct. But these edge cases like Zapdos — and to a lesser extent Bulbasaur — make it difficult to assess whether or not a Pokémon is shiny or whether it’s just a trick of the light. Shiny Pokémon should be visible from the moment you see them, and it shouldn’t have to come down to speculation and comparison.

This could be something Niantic can change, but we can only guess if they actually will. Catching shiny Pokémon should be exciting and not a Magic Eye picture.

More Pokémon Go news, updates, tips and tricks

Raids are here — and not just for ordinary Pokémon. Check out our coverage of the legendaries now in-game, Lugia and Articuno. Find out what went wrong at the Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago while you wait for the debut of the European Safari Zones in August and September. Finally, check out some reporting on the issues plaguing rural players a year after launch, how the game created a space for black female gamers and how Pokémon Go can continue to build its community.