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Roaming Pokémon

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Roaming Pokémon is a feature first introduced in Generation II. Roaming Pokémon are Legendary Pokémon that appear randomly across a certain region and do not remain stationary unlike most other Legendary Pokémon. When encountered, they will attempt to flee in every turn of the battle unless Mean Look, Block, or Spider Web is used before they flee, or if the player's lead Pokémon has a trapping ability such as Shadow Tag or Arena Trap, preventing their escape.

When they are encountered and escape, they will go to a different route. Some roaming Pokémon will automatically go to a different area when other Pokémon are encountered when the player is close to them. Any damage from previous encounters carries over the next battle, including statuses.

In Generation II and III games, the player can track their ever-changing locations by checking their location in the Pokédex. In Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, Roaming Pokémon can be tracked using the Marking Map Pokétch App. In HeartGold and SoulSilver, they can be tracked using the same method as in Generation II and III games. In Generation V games, Roaming Pokémon can be tracked by checking the Bulletin Boards for strange weather.

In Pokémon Platinum and on, if the Roaming Pokémon is defeated, the player can respawn the Pokémon by defeating the Elite Four again and triggering any events that were required to start the roaming.

Capture methods

The most efficient way to catch a roaming Pokémon is to simply use a Master Ball the moment it is encountered, as they are by far the most difficult legendary Pokémon to capture given the frustration and tedious process of even encountering it in the first place. Aside from the Master Ball, it is recommended to have a fast, high-Level Pokémon with a trapping move or Ability such as Mean Look, as well as the usual False Swipe and non-damaging status move. One example of a Pokémon that can obtain all of these is Smeargle.

Upon encountering a roaming Pokémon, you must use your trapping move immediately to prevent them from fleeing, and only then beginning the usual process of reducing their HP to nearly zero, afflicting them with with the relevant status condition, and throwing many Poké Balls (Dusk Balls at night are generally recommended).

The fact that damage and status carry over between encounters can be used to the player's advantage to make the Quick Ball uniquely effective, as it is the only situation where the low-HP, status, and massive Quick Ball catch rate boost can all be used at once. To do this, allow the roaming Pokémon to flee after reducing their HP and inflicting status, then encounter them again and throw a Quick Ball on the first turn. Note that the roaming Pokémon will flee right after this, unless your lead Pokémon happens to have a trapping Ability such as Shadow Tag.

Pokémon

Generation II

Gold, Silver & Crystal

Pokémon Method for encounter Level Game
243
Raikou
Encountered at Burned Tower 40 Gold, Silver and Crystal
244
Entei
Encountered at Burned Tower 40 Gold, Silver and Crystal
245
Suicune
Encountered at Burned Tower 40 Gold and Silver

Generation III

Ruby, Sapphire & Emerald

Pokémon Method for encounter Level Game
380
Latias
Defeat the Elite Four 40 Sapphire and Emerald
381
Latios
Defeat the Elite Four 40 Ruby and Emerald

FireRed & LeafGreen

Pokémon Method for encounter Level Game Conditions
243
Raikou
Actives after Lorelei returns to the Elite Four 50 FireRed and LeafGreen Squirtle as a starter
244
Entei
Actives after Lorelei returns to the Elite Four 50 FireRed and LeafGreen Bulbasaur as a starter
245
Suicune
Actives after Lorelei returns to the Elite Four 50 FireRed and LeafGreen Charmander as a starter

Generation IV

Diamond, Pearl & Platinum

Pokémon Method for encounter Level Game
144
Articuno
Talk to Professor Oak in Eterna City 60 Platinum
145
Zapdos
Talk to Professor Oak in Eterna City 60 Platinum
146
Moltres
Talk to Professor Oak in Eterna City 60 Platinum
481
Mesprit
Encounter at Lake Verity 50 Diamond, Pearl and Platinum
488
Cresselia
Encounter at Fullmoon Island 50 Diamond, Pearl and Platinum

HeartGold & SoulSilver

Pokémon Method for encounter Level Game
243
Raikou
Encounter at Burned Tower 40 HeartGold & SoulSilver
244
Entei
Encounter at Burned Tower 40 HeartGold & SoulSilver
380
Latias
Deliver Copycat's doll 35 HeartGold
381
Latios
Deliver Copycat's doll 35 SoulSilver

Generation V

Black & White

Pokémon Method for encounter Level Game
641
Tornadus
Obtain the Legend Badge and go through the Route 10 gate 40 Black
642
Thundurus
Obtain the Legend Badge and go through the Route 10 gate 40 White

Generation VI

X & Y

Pokémon Method for encounter Level Game
144
Articuno
Defeat the Pokémon League, depending on the starter Pokemon 70 X & Y
145
Zapdos
Defeat the Pokémon League, depending on the starter Pokemon 70 X & Y
146
Moltres
Defeat the Pokémon League, depending on the starter Pokemon 70 X & Y

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