While Pokémon is a franchise that has been around for ages, I came to it rather late. This is not because I was born too late, but rather because I perhaps was born too early. You see, I got the original Nintendo GameBoy shortly before leaving school and somehow never bothered to look into anything other than Tetris. My penchant for Pokémon developed once I had children of my own and they wanted Nintendo consoles, 3DSes, to be precise. Once my offspring had them and started playing Pony Friends and Bella Sara, I needed to get one to play Mickey Epic. Shortly after that, Pokémon Alpha Sapphire was released and I gave it a spin. Needless to say that I was immediately hooked like a helpless Magicarp dangling on a fishing rod.
What made me love Pokémon in the first place was not the story, even though it was nice, but more the collection aspect of the game. And since I had no one to trade with–my daughters would get their Pokémon games months later after they had seen me play the game–I heavily relied on wonder trade to fill my Pokédex. And I have to admit that enjoying wonder trade has been a common staple of my Pokémon experience throughout all the Pokémon games I now own. It’s the expectation and hope of getting something wonderful just by the benevolence of other players (or just sheer luck) that makes me trade again and again even after getting magicarps day in and day out.
I’ve gotten wonderfully strong and awesomely cute monsters that way and tried my hand at breeding to return the favour myself. All in all, this has been a very enjoyable past-time for me. Then, with the latest generation, something happened with wonder trade. A sinister invitation to the dark side appeared. One evening I received a suspicious Pokémon: a Urshifu, holding a master ball, with six perfect IVs. It’s name was a URL as was the name of its original trainer. I released it quickly.
Then, a few days later, I received a shiny Inteleon, also with a URL as name and trainer name. This time I got curious and checked the website. It lead to a Pokémon community and genning service where you could obtain your dream monster–for a price. The same evening, another monster of dubious origin appeared, this time leading to a Facebook group. Then another, pointing me to a Discord server. At all of these places, I could have acquired Pokémon made to order.
I had to put down my Switch, then. But instead of scratching my head and going to bed I asked some questions in the friendly German Pokémon Discord I frequent. As I suspected, others had also got these offerings via wonder trade. But my fellow fans couldn’t remember how many of them they had seen. So I thought about a little experiment.
Last weekend I bred four and a half boxes of Eevees. That’s 138 of cute, cuddly Eevees. I also bred 50 Ponytas which I transferred to Pokémon Home. There I put them into wonder trade and waited. I traded them all and got a variety of Pokémon in return. None of those was obviously hacked. Over the past week I then wonder traded the 138 Eevees. One by one. Again, I received a colourful bouquet of monsters in return, but this time six of them had a fake background. That’s 4.35 per cent. Quite a chance!
Now, let’s have a look at all those hacked Pokémon I’ve obtained. Because I have been wonder trading for quite some time before conducting the little experiment, I’ve amassed nearly twenty of those critters. Interestingly, two different URLs were responsible for the majority of hacked ‘mons. One of them, let’s call it Facebook1, lead to a private Facebook group offering made-to-order Pokémon in exchange for money. The other, let’s call this one Website1, directed me to a website offering a similar service. Both URLs are registered through an anonymising service, so I couldn’t obtain any further information. I also doubt that the person responsible for the “services” would have reacted kindly to my enquiries anyway.
Not having a Facebook account and not really interested in getting one, Website1 was the one “service” I decided to look into. Is it a scam? Does it really work? Only one way to find out! I always wanted a shiny Gengar and I’m known as TexJoachim on the internets, so I ordered the following Pokémon:
- Pokemon: Gengar (shiny)
- Name: TexJoachim
- Ability: Cursed Body
- Nature: Timid
- Item: Black Sludge
- Level: 100
- IV/EV Spread: 6/6, 252 SpA, 4 SpD, 252 Spe
- Moves: Substitute, Nasty Plot, Shadow Ball, Focus Blast
- Pokeball: Dusk Ball
Then I waited.
Not long, though, because only a few hours later I got contacted that the Pokémon was ready for transfer. Here is the result. (Please don’t mind the German screenshots. The Pokémon series are the only games I don’t play in English, simply because it is much simpler to trade with my daughters if I don’t have to constantly translate 800+ Pokémon names.)
Am I satisfied? Yes and no. It’s a nice ‘mon, but it lacks authenticity. I didn’t breed it. I didn’t train it either. It’s nice to have, but that’s all. Would I do this again? Probably not. I love collecting Pokémon and shinies are lovely, but getting them this way is absolutely unsatisfactory. This takes the fun and out of collecting and I can’t recommend it at all. Also, it’s still easy to spot that the Pokémon was obtained via hacks. If the 6/6 perfect IVs don’t alarm you, simply go into any Pokémon centre and ask the guy on the left about the memories of your ‘mon. It has memories of being in a team before it came to you and this will show the original trainer: the website where you bought the Pokémon from. Your mileage may vary, though, but this definitely isn’t for me.