Legendary Pokémon and Mythical Pokémon might seem similar, but one type requires a lot more real-life legwork on the part of the player.

Legendary Pokémon are some of the most feared and powerful beings in the Pokémon world. There is a second classification of Legendary Pokémon, too, called Mythical Pokémon, and the main difference between the two involves how they are encountered. The discussion of Mythical vs. Legendary Pokémon has softened over the years, as it’s far easier to acquire the former group than it was in the pre-Nintendo DS era.

The original crop of Legendary Pokémon appeared in Pokémon Red and Blue, which included Mewtwo and the three Legendary Birds. It quickly became common knowledge that there was another Legendary Pokémon in the game’s files, called Mew. Since Mew could not be obtained normally in-game, its discovery led to fake methods for acquiring Mew spreading online – rumors and false secrets fondly remembered by old-school fans. The first Pokémon movie involved the Legendary vs. Mythical Pokémon battle that fans had been waiting to see, as Mew battled Mewtwo on the big screen.


Related: Pokémon Colosseum’s Big Lie: Box Legendaries You Can’t Catch

Mew set the standard for what was to come in future Pokémon video games. It took a while before the distinction between Legendary and Mythical Pokémon was brought into canon outside of Japan, but fans instantly knew what separated Mew and its successors from the other Legendary Pokémon in the Pokémon universe. The differences between Mythical and Legendary Pokémon come as much from outside sources as they do the lore within the games.

Pokémon: What’s The Difference Between Legendary & Mythical?

Pokémon mythical giveaway for the 20th Anniversary

The main difference between Legendary Pokémon and Mythical Pokémon is how they’re acquired. Legendary Pokémon are typically encountered over the course of the story in each Pokémon game, with some reserved for post-game encounters or trades between different game versions of a particular generation. Mythical Pokémon can only be encountered through outside means. In the case of Pokémon like Mew or Celebi, the player had to visit real-life events to get the Mythical. When the Pokémon series finally gained internet compatibility, it became possible to download Mythical Pokémon during special events. It wasn’t until very recently that players could encounter Mythical Pokémon in-game, as The Crown Tundra expansion for Sword and Shield allowed encounters with Keldeo, which is normally considered a Mythical Pokémon from Black and White.

It seems The Pokémon Company is experimenting with Mythical Pokémon distribution, as was the case with Meltan’s Pokémon GO-exclusive integration. At the time of writing, Pokémon Sword and Shield only contain a single Mythical Pokémon of their own: Zarude. The Pokémon Company gave fans around the world different methods for downloading it, but it has an alternate form currently locked behind Pokémon movie tickets in Japan. Mythical Pokémon will likely always have strange methods of acquisition, but that’s exactly what makes them special to Pokémon fans.

Next: Do Pokémon’s Ash and Serena Ever Get Married?

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