Laughing then crying in the face of 1-in-8000 odds, the luckiest and unluckiest Pokemon Sapphire player finds 2 shiny starters at the same time and then immediately loses them both

Treecko seen in the Pokemon anime, ready to fight.
(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

In what might be the most upsetting Pokemon shiny fail I've ever seen, one hunter somehow managed to get not one, but two shiny starter Treeckos in Sapphire version simultaneously, before immediately losing them both in a split-second muscle memory disaster. It hurts.

Shiny Pokemon are rare – up until Generation 6's X and Y games, the odds of finding a sparkly new friend with an alternate color palette were a whopping 1/8192, meaning there's a good chance that even the most passionate players have never managed to encounter one. With that said, there's a large community out there constantly aiming to challenge those odds by hunting down specific shiny Pokemon – running around getting wild encounters, resetting their games, and hatching eggs until something sparkles. As is the case with any form of random chance, hunters might be there for a few hours, or a few months, but regardless, the thrill of finally finding your target is hard to top.

Pokemon content creator Aelfgar almost managed to get this feeling twofold, if it wasn't for the small lapse in concentration that made the streamer lose everything. Aelfgar had been resetting his game for a shiny Treecko in Pokemon Sapphire, using a duped save injected into four different ROMs, in theory allowing him to encounter four times as many Treeckos at the same time to speed up the process. However, this took a tragic turn after two Grass-type geckos, shiny and blue, graced the screen side-by-side, only to get sent straight back into the void from whence they came. As soon as this happens, it's clear that Aelfgar knew what he'd done, as he lets out a bloodcurdling scream before holding his head in his hands.

While the event was undoubtedly painful, it's worth noting that the odds of this happening might not be quite so astronomically low as you'd first think, but there's a lot to unpack to try and work out what happened. For a start, it's worth noting that Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald have notoriously questionable RNG (random number generator) mechanics, but they may not have been the cause of the shenanigans here. 

In Emerald, your game will always load up with a 'seed' of zero, which is crucial because it essentially ensures you get the same order of RNG events every single time you start the game. Things like finding shiny Pokemon are locked to specific 'frames' – there's about 60 of these per second, and your unique save file will determine what happens at each frame. If your Emerald save file determines that you have a 'shiny frame' at frame 2000, for example, every time you turn your game back on, because of that constant starting seed, if you hit that frame, you'll find another shiny Pokemon. These same-frame shinies will always have the exact same Nature since they're a result of the same RNG, and are referred to as RNG clones. 

Ruby and Sapphire have a similar issue if their internal battery, literally the battery of the Game Boy Advance game cartridge itself, has run out – you'll always start at seed 5A0, allowing you to do the exact same thing as in Emerald where the same frames will happen at the same time each time you load the game. However, this is only the case if the battery is dry, and for Aelfgar, it wasn't. Does that mean the streamer managed to get two totally unique shinies? There's a chance, but it's still not necessarily what happened.

Rayquaza seen in the Pokemon anime.

(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

Given that the streamer was using duplicated save files simultaneously, it's much more probable he was putting in the same inputs and loading them up at the same time across the different ROMs, increasing his chances of hitting shiny frames. While he wasn't guaranteed to load up his game on the same seed like he would if he had a dry battery, it could still happen, which would lead to an RNG clone if those same frames are hit. A number of other shiny hunters are speculating that this is the case here. 

Without looking at the status of each shiny Treecko, it's impossible to prove this for sure, although we can see in the split second that they're on the screen that they're both male and have 19HP – certainly not an unlikely thing to happen, but it's another small piece of evidence to point towards them being clones. 

With all of that in mind, it's very difficult to determine exactly what the odds were of this happening, but regardless of the technicalities, it was very rare, and definitely warranted a scream of pain. Aelfgar is bravely resuming the hunt tomorrow – this time with new files to ensure that no more potential RNG clones come along, so here's hoping it won't take too long to reclaim what he lost. 

Dedicated Pokemon player makes "the greatest advancement in shiny hunting history" by using a DDR mat to control two games at once.

Catherine Lewis
News Writer

I'm one of GamesRadar+'s news writers, who works alongside the rest of the news team to deliver cool gaming stories that we love. After spending more hours than I can count filling The University of Sheffield's student newspaper with Pokemon and indie game content, and picking up a degree in Journalism Studies, I started my career at GAMINGbible where I worked as a journalist for over a year and a half. I then became TechRadar Gaming's news writer, where I sourced stories and wrote about all sorts of intriguing topics. In my spare time, you're sure to find me on my Nintendo Switch or PS5 playing through story-driven RPGs like Xenoblade Chronicles and Persona 5 Royal, nuzlocking old Pokemon games, or going for a Victory Royale in Fortnite.