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Everything You Knew About Catching Pokémon Was Wrong

Do you want to catch a Pokémon? Great! The first thing you want to do is knock it down as low as possible in HP, right? Then, you probably want to throw an Ultra Ball for your best chance—except, in the original Pokémon games, that’s not really how things worked, and things you thought you knew were just as much a placebo effect as holding down a specific button … which means you’re probably going to keep right on doing it.

This was all revealed by Hlín/Dragonfree’s work over on her site a few months back, where she painstakingly detailed the rather complicated algorithm used in Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow to determine whether or not the player caught a Pokémon. (Later games handle things differently.) With her help, Eurogamer put together the layperson’s version above, which helpfully explains that putting a “difficult to catch” Pokémon right to sleep and just tossing Ultra Balls at it is generally the best way to go, since doing anything else doesn’t necessarily raise your chances enough to be worthwhile, and some things you would’ve assumed were helpful don’t actually do a thing.

There’s even a quirk later on in the algorithm that makes Great Balls more effective if an Ultra Ball has failed in its advantages earlier on in the game’s calculations. It’s all fascinating, and worth reading through Hlín’s full breakdown if what you see here interests you, along with her thorough breakdowns of how other systems and other generations of the game work. If you recently finished playing through an eShop release of the original games, I’m so sorry for your inevitable realization that it was more frustrating than it needed to be.

(via Eurogamer, image via screengrab)

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Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.