Pokemon Go raids are a confusing beast. They were the first thing announced for Niantic’s augmented reality game in an epic trailer that saw thousands of trainers descend on Times Square to beat a Mewtwo. While they didn’t actually arrive for another year after the game’s launch, when they did, they were game-changing when they did. I have countless great memories of joining throngs of players moving from Gym to Gym to catch as many Rayquaza or Giratina as possible, and they’re the part of the game that has brought players together more than any other.
However, they’re more than a little controversial. Some Pokemon are locked behind raids, unavailable to earn otherwise, which practically forces players to spend money if they want to catch them. Raid bosses are usually the best Pokemon, too – fan favourite Legendaries and the most powerful monsters are found here, behind a soft paywall. The costs spiral even further if you want to try to get a shiny or 100 percent IVed Pokemon. As it stands, you practically have to pay to encounter Rockruff.
Surprisingly, things got better for raiding during the pandemic. Niantic introduced Remote Raids, and gave out free passes regularly while we were all stuck at home. This goodwill was swiftly rescinded earlier this year, however, as remote raid prices increased as remote raiders themselves were nerfed.
Raids will always be a prickly subject for Pokemon Go players, but I’ve recently enjoyed going back to Mewtwo to try to get a shiny or a hundo – I still have neither – and hopefully more powerful Pokemon will appear in future to make the most of our passes. And no, Ultra Beasts don’t count as powerful Pokemon, they just count as, well, new Pokemon. Why aren’t these Pokemon from alternate dimensions super strong? That’s a question for another article.
If you’ve ever done a Pokemon Go raid, Legendary or not, you’ll have likely noticed the logo is a Rhydon. There are a few fan theories as to why, but only one seems to be correct.
The first theory is that Rhydon was the first Pokemon ever designed. That’s a cool feat that Niantic perhaps wanted to reference in-game, but it seems like a long shot. While Rhydon was one of the first Pokemon available in raids back in July 2017, so were Magikarp, Bayleef, Quilava, Croconaw, Pikachu, Muk, Exeggutor, Weezing, Electabuzz, Magmar, Arcanine, Alakazam, Machamp, Gengar, Vaporeon, Jolteon, Flareon, Venusaur, Charizard, Blastoise, Meowth, Golem, Lapras, Snorlax, Dragonite, Wobbuffet, Ursaring, Piloswine, Houndoom, Tyranitar, Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres, Mewtwo, Riakou, Entei, Suicune, and Lugia. Thanks to Serebii for keeping track of this kind of thing, but my point is clear: it’s hardly an exclusive club or a specific reference to being the first Pokemon when it was released at the same time as 38 other raid bosses.
The second main theory is much more compelling, however. If you remember going into Gyms in any Pokemon game, there are often a couple of statues as you enter. It’s not the case in every Gym, but remember back in Red & Blue? And you remember what they were statues of?
The Rhydon logos on Pokemon Go’s Gyms are a reference to the Rhydon statues that decorate Gyms in the main series. After all, in the Pokemon multiverse (yes, that’s been a thing since Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire), the two are equivalents. Instead of being defended by Misty, Volkner, or Wallace, they are places for trainers to convene and battle together. It’s a much more egalitarian and co-operative approach to gym battles, showing the power that trainers have when they battle together instead of being rivals. There’s power in collective action, and in Pokemon Go that manifests by encountering strong Pokemon through teamwork. I got all that from a Rhydon logo? You bet.
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