Pokémon GO Halloween 2022: data mining, plushies and other speculation

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For many of us, Halloween takes a special place in the world of Pokémon GO. From Spiritomb to Giratina, from Gengar to Trevenant, it is that very special time when Ghost and Dark–type Pokémon rule the overworld.

Year after year, Pokémon GO Halloween events have been a staple, somewhat of a golden standard of how a good, rewarding, event should look like. We expect nothing less of Pokémon GO Halloween 2022, and if recent data mines are anything to go by, we are in for a treat.

Now, please be aware that all of the data mined information in this article is just that – data mined – and that it can change at any moment, or not be released at all. Niantic has (and will) never officially endorse data mining, and thus all of this should be taken with a grain of salt.

Reminder: Pokémon GO Halloween 2022 starts on October 20, 2022, at 10 a.m. local time.

Halloween Map and Zorua assets discovered in a recent data mine

A recent teardown of the 0.251.0 update was quite the event, and revealed two key bits of information that we “speculatively” believe could be tied to Halloween:

  • A new feature that allows Pokémon GO to run a different theme on the in-game map, and assets for a Halloween version of the in-game map.
  • Assets for Zorua, the Tricky Fox Pokémon, which is currently listed as a “Ditto-type encounter”, meaning that the current expectation that Zorua would appear as a surprise encounter, rather than being visible immediately 

These (and other) assets have been compiled into a handy infographic which is attached below:

One of the biggest changes that was discovered in this data mine is the game’s ability to render a different theme on the in-game map.

Data miners found the following code and new features relating to Pokémon GO’s map theming:

  • theme configuration settings, including the map palette colors,
  • PokéStop color and decoration settings,
  • theme specific decorations for POIs,
  • event sky colours,
  • new effects for the Moon,
  • additional renderers and triggers on most map objects, including new grass shaders, new sky box components, map layers, etc
  • and theme-specific effects for when Pokémon spawn on the map

A big departure from the original map rendering infrastructure for sure!

Halloween Map

Trainers went along with this discovery, even creating mockups of possible implementations of these new assets.

Like we said earlier, the changes hint that the map should now support new map textures, new skybox, glow effects on the Moon, different colours for ground tiles, buildings, roads and more.

Reddit user 8BitCR created a mockup of the new Halloween map using nothing but the new textures, autumn grass decoration and the new leaves effects:

Halloween Map in Pokémon GO

We think that the effect looks pretty good, and we’re quite interested to see how it plays along with the game’s dynamic lighting system throughout the day. Not sure if the dark pumpkins will make the cut – they could obscure spawns – but the overall mockup looks quite good.

Zorua assets and spawn mechanics

Zorua

The same reddit user – 8BitCR – created a mockup that uses assets related to Zorua, the new Zorua glow and background assets that were discovered. The current understanding is that Zorua will work in the same way as Ditto, who is called “metamon” in the game’s code base:

metamonBackdrop
zoruaBackdrop

Here’s the mockup for Zorua’s potential encounter in Pokémon GO (Zorua model is from somewhere else tho):

Zorua in Pokémon GO

If you are confused to why Zorua would follow a similar mechanic to Ditto, take a look at Zorua’s Pokédex entries throughout the main series games. The Pokédex entries hint quite clearly at a Ditto–style mechanic:

Black It changes into the forms of others to surprise them. Apparently, it often transforms into a silent child.
White To protect themselves from danger, they hide their true identities by transforming into people and Pokémon.
Black 2
White 2
It changes so it looks just like its foe, tricks it, and then uses that opportunity to flee.
X
Omega Ruby
It changes so it looks just like its foe, tricks it, and then uses that opportunity to flee.
Y
Alpha Sapphire
To protect themselves from danger, they hide their true identities by transforming into people and Pokémon.
Ultra Sun This Pokémon has a cowardly disposition, so when it’s not around friends, it basically always stays transformed as something else.
Ultra Moon If a normally talkative child suddenly stops talking, it may have been replaced by Zorua.
Sword Zorua is a timid Pokémon. This disposition seems to be what led to the development of Zorua’s ability to take on the forms of other creatures.
Shield Zorua sometimes transforms into a person and goes into cities to search for food. When Zorua does this, it usually takes on the form of a child.

New plushies? New costumes?

Of course, it’s not just this data mine that got picked up on by keen eyed Trainers.

Pokémon recently released a new batch of Halloween 2022 plushies, featuring Pikachu, Vulpix, Pumpkaboo, Calyrex, Zorua, Gengar and Fennekin plushies.

The name of the new collection is Spooky Festival, and they are selling as hot potatoes currently on Pokémon Center:

Halloween Spooky Festival Plushies

Curiously, we don’t expect Zorua to be released as a costumed Pokémon this Halloween. Calyrex hasn’t been released yet as well, so that’s probably not coming, which leaves Vulpix, Pikachu, Fennekin and Pumpkaboo.

All of those seem equally likely, and historically, Pokémon GO did follow releases like this with in-game costumes (image shows Halloween 2019 Pokémon):

Bulbasaur wearing Shedinja costumes, Charmander wearing Cubone costumes, and Squirtle wearing Yamask costumes in raids. In the wild, be on the lookout for Pikachu wearing Mimikyu costumes

Looking for more Halloween 2022 speculation?

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