Leveling up is the most common way of evolving a Pokemon. It’s straightforward, it’s natural, and it’s beautiful. Yet, for some Pokemon, that’s not enough. Even the uncommon methods, such as elemental stones and trading, aren’t enough for these outliers. Some Pokemon require you to go the extra mile (sometimes literally) to get them to change into something stronger. With the recent Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield games, even more Pokemon have shown up to make things complicated. The following Pokemon might not be the strangest, but their methods of evolution sure are. Read as these Pokemon spit in Darwin’s face in this list of the top 10 strangest ways Pokemon evolve.
#10. Evolution Through Symbiosis
The world of Pokemon is all about friendship, companionship, and shipping; but let’s not talk about that last one. The point is, you are not meant to make it through the world on your own. Both humans and Pokemon believe this. However, in the case of evolution, it’s almost always accomplished alone. Almost always. There is one, or rather two, Pokemon who believe that to reach greater heights, one cannot do it as simply one. Enter the duo of Mantyke and Remoraid. Now while Remoraid would never admit this to Mantyke, so as to not hurt its feelings, but Remoraid can evolve just fine on its own. However, Mantyke needs a little help. Remoraid is more than happy and willing to see Mantyke evolve into Mantine!
While this is the first, it won’t be the last time that your party’s conditions affect evolution. However, of those instances, the Mantyke/Remoraid relationship is the most wholesome. At least with the above interpretation. Certainly there are more cynical outlooks, but that’s not what Pokemon’s about! Anyway. Mantyke can evolve at any level, but can only do so if Remoraid is in the party. Sure, Remoraid goes on to latch onto Mantine and live off it in a symbiotic relationship, but it’s nice to think of two Pokemon entering into evolution together. Like Remoraid helping Mantyke learn how to ride a bike, and never, ever, letting go. Ever.
#9. Evolution Through Specific Trades
Evolution through trading. While not a common form of evolution, it’s been around since the beginning, and has been upsetting those without link cables and/or reliable trade partners for years. Far too many Haunters and Kadabras just sitting in Pokemon Red and Blue cartridges, waiting for greatness that would never come. With the advent of the Global Trading System (GTS), it became much easier to evolve those pesky Pokemon. However, you still had to rely on trustworthy strangers if your friends didn’t have copies. Even so, the evolutions were never so demanding as to require more than just a trade, and sometimes a specific item. Then along came Shelmet and Karrablast. These stubborn individuals won’t evolve unless they are traded with one another. Only through the specific wavelengths and electricity of a trade can either of these two evolve into Accelgor and Escavalier!
Shelmet and Karrablast require a trade to evolve, but not with just any Pokemon. They only evolve if they are traded with one another. It’s a very specific form of evolution, but a flavorful one. Shelmet is a snail that wears armor in a knightly fashion. Meanwhile, Karrablast is…some kind of beetle. The point is, when these two are traded, they seem to evolve into a Pokemon that is inspired by the other. Shelmet becomes Accelgor, going from a knightly snail to a dark and mysterious ninja type. On the other side, Karrabast goes from a beetle to a knightly beetle, complete with jousting lance. It’s as if while being traded, they both looked over at the other and thought, “That’s a cool look; I’m gonna steal that.”
#8. Evolution Through Stats
The basic premise of evolution is simple: when the Pokemon is strong enough, they evolve. Some, as seen already, Pokemon don’t follow that rule. They’re cowards. Those that do follow that rule are also cowards; at least according to one Pokemon. Nincada might be the Trainee Pokemon, but it can be argued that so is Tyrogue. Tyrogue is always fighting, always trying to become stronger. Tyrogue isn’t like other Pokemon who work out, though. It doesn’t evolve into a bigger Tyrogue with more muscles, like Machop into Machoke. Tyrogue has three paths it can go down, all determined by what it values most. Depending on its attack and defense, Tyrogue can become either Hitmonlee, Hitmochan, or Hitmontop!
Like Eevee, Tyrogue has branching evolutions. Tyrogue will evolve into one of three different Pokemon based on whether its attack is higher than its defense (Hitmonlee), its defense is higher than its attack (Hitmonchan), or its attack and defense are equal (Hitmontop) at level 20 and above. It can be tricky to pick a specific Pokemon to evolve into, ensuring that one stat stays above the other at the right time. Natures and items can help with this process, but really it’s better to put one’s effort into better Fighting types, unless you’re trying to get that 100% Pokedex.
#7. Evolution Through Beauty
All Pokemon are beautiful, in their own way, but some need a little extra help. Enter Feebas. Feebas is the more useful, and uglier, cousin of Magikarp. It’s shabby from birth, dull witted, and mostly ignored. Despite sounding like it’s as common as Magikarp, it’s not. Feebas is very rare, found either with a 5% chance or sometimes in very specific squares in a long, long, river. So, why would anyone want to waste their time fishing up an uglier Magikarp? Because in the Feebas lifestyle there is beauty. It does what it wants because no one cares what it does. It holds itself above the busy concerns of others, living wherever it pleases and opting for simpler pleasures. By force feeding it enough dry, blue, berries, a trainer can force that beauty into the visual spectrum. Its body a quivering mass of berries, a single level-up will evolve feeble Feebas into the mesmerizing Milotic!
While the method would change in later generations that don’t have Pokemon contests (and are lesser for its absence), the original means of evolving Feebas was far more laborious and thematically appropriate. The original method of evolving Feebas was to increase its beauty condition to max, then level it up to evolve it into Milotic. Later gens just had you trade it while it held a Prism Scale. Snore. Milotic is described in game as “the most beautiful Pokemon in the world.” Milotic also has some great stats and a capable move pool.
#6. Evolution Through Centrifugal Force
Imagine, if you will, that you’re a Pokemon. Not just any Pokemon; imagine you’re Milcery – an amorphous blob of floating cream native to the Galar region. Your trainer has just handed you a sweet. How sweet of them! You’re then placed back into your Pokeball to enjoy your fancy new accessory. Suddenly you feel movement. Intense movement. You’re flung against the side of the Pokeball, forced against it by the rapidly intensifying g-force. You feel your already confusing body start to change and, shockingly, solidify. Just when you think you can’t take anymore, the pressure lets up, and the trainer’s spinning stops. You’re no longer the creature you once were. Now you’re an Alcremie!
Technically, there are only two conditions that must be met to evolve Milcery into Alcremie. Milcery must be holding a sweet and the trainer must spin around. Whipped cream, get it? However, there are different criteria that can be met to have it take on different colors and accessories. What kind of sweet, what time of day, what direction the trainer spins, and for how long the trainer spins all have an impact on just which Alcremie Milcery will evolve into. There’s over 60 different combinations that make for over 60 different Alcremie looks! While it’s not recommended, for sanity’s sake, there will undoubtedly be those out there who will try to get every variant of Alcremie possible.
#5. Evolution Through Vacancy
“…it wont be the last time that your party’s conditions affect evolution.” Remember that? From sun-forsaken caves and holes comes Nincada. Nincada is the Trainee Pokemon. What is it training for, you ask? Considering its name is a portmanteau if “ninja” and “cicada,” it’s easy to guess. That’s right; it’s training to be a cicada! Hm? Oh…yeah I guess that makes more sense. Okay, it’s training to be a ninja! While other Pokemon leave behind nothing of their former lives when they evolve, Nincada is not so efficient. After evolving into Ninjask, Nincada leaves behind a hollow shell. A hollow shell called Shedinja!
Mantine requires a Remoraid to be in the party to evolve. However, Nincada requires you to have less than six Pokemon in your party to evolve. Well, it can evolve into Ninjask just fine. However, if you want to receive Shedinja, you must have an empty slot in your party and an extra pokeball when Nincada evolves. Now, does this count as evolution? Maybe, maybe not. One could see it as Nincada’s discarded husk “evolving” into a Pokemon itself. Does that work for you? Well, make your own list then!
#4. Evolution Through Performance
Since the very first generation, Farfetch’d has sat alone in its evolutionary line. The leek-wielding duck was fine with this, of course. Proud, defiant, and cocksure; this duck could stand proud knowing it was the first, last, and best of its lineage. It didn’t need to evolve. It was perfect as is. That all changed when the Galar region introduced the Galarian Farfetch’d. This meaner, tougher, duck may be just as proud as its Kanto cousin, but not so much that it knows it can’t be stronger. Through the fires of a truly epic battle, as nothing less would do, the Galarian Farfetch’d can become Sirfetch’d!
In order for the Galar variant of Farfetch’d to evolve into Sirfetch’d, it must score three critical hits in one battle. This doesn’t mean it must do so against one Pokemon, as that would be unlikely to pull off unless your Farfetch’d is much weaker than the opponent. This can be accomplished through the course of a trainer or gym battle. Critical hits are often left up to luck, unless you have a move that can boost that possibility. Farfetch’d does have Leaf Blade, but doesn’t learn it until level 55. So instead, it’s recommended you use TR13, found in Motostoke, to teach it Focus Energy. This move will allow it to raise its critical hit chance. Accomplish the three crits in one battle, and that duck wielding a leek named Dragonslayer will become a proper knight.
#3. Evolution Through Naming
For just a moment let’s leave the mainline games and enter into the spin-off world, specifically on mobile. Yes, yes, “mobile yuck.” It’s only for this one entry, though, so put on a Focus Sash and endure it, okay? Pokemon Go shares a lot with the mainline Pokemon games, but also does much that’s different. A perfect example is Eevee. Normally, to evolve Eevee requires an elemental stone (and sometimes other steps depending on the game). Pokemon Go offers an alternative. The Eevees in the mobile space aren’t so easily convinced to evolve by having shiny rocks tossed at their heads. These Eevees require some more convincing. In order to evolve, these Eevees ask, “What’s in a name?”
Eevees in Pokemon Go evolve like everyone else: by hitting the evolve button. However, if you want your Eevee to pick a specific path, you’ll have to do a little extra. Don’t worry, it’s easy. To choose what Eevee will evolve into, give it a specific nick name. See? Easy. If you name your Eevee Sparky, Pyro, Rainer, Linnea, Sakura, or Tamao it will evolve into Jolteon, Flareon, Vaporeon, Glaceon, Umbreon, or Leafeon, respectively. It’s a cute work around for dealing with the acquisition of elemental stones.
#2. Evolution Through Pain
Time for the third entry from the Sword and Shield games. Like Farfetch’d, Yanmask comes from another region, sporting a new look for Galar. Unlike Farfetch’d, Yanmask had an evolution already: Confagrigus. That evolution was simple enough in that Yanmask just had to reach level 34 and poof, it evolved. However, Yanmask figured that with a new region it should sport a new look and a new evolution, to boot. With that new look just had to come a new way to evolve, right? Yanmask seemed to think so. Not one to make things easy, Yanmask’s method of evolution is not convoluted, but it is obscure and peculiar. Through pain (and a little travel), Yanmask can become Runerigus!
Yanmask had just gotten done watching Hellraiser when it decided that pain and suffering were the keys to greatness. Thus, a Galarian Yanmask will only evolve once it sustains 49+ damage in one battle, and then have the trainer walk under a stone structure in the Dusty Bowl wild area. Some say that the 49+ damage must come from one hit, others say it can be accumulated over the course of a single battle. Dakota Gordon has written up a guide on how to accomplish the specific steps and how best to do so. Unlike Tyrogue, the effort will be worth your time, at least. Runerigus is one of the better new Pokemon this generation.
#1. Evolution Through Rotation
Sometimes leveling is not enough. Some Pokemon require you to do more. “You” doesn’t mean the player character, either. “You” means you, the person. Some Pokemon (well, one Pokemon) asks of you to go beyond the digital dimension and invoke the power of the physical plane. Pokemon…like Inkay. Inkay doesn’t play by the rules. Despite looking like a squid, quite often (see: always) a water-dwelling creature, Inkay sports the types Dark and Psychic. It’ll read your mind and implant dirty thoughts, the little scamp. It also comes with abilities that lets it stay in battle no matter what, have its stats raise instead of lower from enemy attacks, and ignores protective barriers. So, how does one evolve this rebel without a cause? You flip it.
After reaching level 30, and any level after that if you fail to evolve it, Inkay evolves into Malamar when you flip your 3DS after level up. That’s right. Flip your 3DS. More specifically, rotate it so it’s upside down. After all, Inkay is the Revolving Pokemon and Malamar is the Overturning Pokemon. In Sword and Shield, the method is similar, only this time you turn your Switch upside down. Please only attempt this in handheld mode. Even though every other Pokemon (except the culled ones) made itself comfortable in the console generation, Inkay and Malamar refuse to forget their handheld roots.