Change in Receiving Event Pokemon

Today, I went to the Pokemon Center in Nagoya to grab that Shiny Tyranitar they are currently giving away. Though, unlike previous mystery gifts, you had to receive it via connection to the Internet, rather than local wireless.. which is somewhat curious.

Mystery Gifts

First off, there are 3 ways you can receive mystery gifts in the recent Pokemon games: Internet, local wireless, and serial codes.

Serial Codes are new with the Gen VI games. You input a 16-digital code. The game verifies the code online. And then it'll give you the gift. There are two kinds of codes, too: unique and non-unique. Unique codes are strictly one-time use. Once the code is used, it can no longer be used by anyone. Non-unique codes can be used once per game. If code hasn't expired, anyone is able to receive that gift.

One nice thing about unique codes is that you can receive repeat events as long as you have multiple codes for that event.

Connecting to the Internet for gifts has been around since Gen IV. If Nintendo is currently holding an event, just connect online, and receive the gift! Simple. Though, one thing to note is that is tied to whatever region your game is from. US games can only download US events, and so on.

Gifts distribute via local wireless connections have been already since Gen III on the GBA. Though at that time, you needed to own the wireless adapter. To receive these gifts, you must be within proximity of the wireless network in order to make a connection, and download the gift.

Prior to that, there were other shenanigans required to receive gifts, but the always revolved on your showing up to the event in person. The local wireless gifts are the modern evolution of that.

Gen VI Local Wireless Events

Japan has a shit-load of local events throughout the year where you can receive plenty of unique gifts that almost never come to the states. As mentioned above, the current event is a Shiny Tyranitar.

Every local event in Japan has been region free for me. I've been able to receive the event pokemon on both my Japanese games and US games. Receiving these events have had an interesting effect, too. Whichever region these Pokemon were received in, becomes the region of that Pokemon. Even though these events are Japanese, receiving it on my English game creates an English Pokemon, rather than a Japanese one.

Though, for some reason, this method changed with this Shiny Tryanitar

Nintendo Zone

At the Pokemon Center, rather than collecting the Tyranitar over local wireless, you had to connect through the Internet to receive it. Specifically, your 3DS had to connect to the Nintendo Zone Wi-Fi network, and download the mystery gift through the Internet. As I mentioned before, it's a curious change.

Through wireless, the only authentication done has been on the client-side, or on the 3DS itself. The wireless signal simply broadcasts when the box is turned on, and does nothing else. The 3DS searches for any signals. When it finds one, it does a quick compatibility check, and then either accepts or denies it.

This new route has a lot more handshaking. First, on the system level of the 3DS, it must connect to the Internet through the Nintendo Zone. If the wireless mode is turned on, the 3DS does this automatically. When connecting through the Internet, the 3DS will send a bunch of information about your game and 3DS through the Internet to Nintendo. On the server-side, Nintendo will do all the authentication. Then, Nintendo will decide whether or not to allow you to have the mystery gift.

One thing that Nintendo authenticates on the server-side is region. I was not able to download the Tyranitar on the English version of game. Only the Japanese version worked. So, I was only able to get one mystery gift, instead of two.

Yeah, yeah.. boo-hoo, and all that. But, it's a very interesting change.


Because of the region blocking, this allows the event Pokemon to retain their intended region. The Tyranitar I downloaded from a Japanese event can only be a Japanese Pokemon now. But, I think that's really just an unintended side effect.

Because of all the authentication done on the server-side and system level, this allows for a lot more security, which prevents any problems caused by piracy. If you had some way of receiving the signal outside of the 3DS, now, there's no way you could download a million copies of the event Pokemon.

Additionally, this gives more control to Nintendo for distributing events. Back at HQ, they only need to flip one switch on and off, rather than each distribution center having that power. Everything can be handled at a central location. Also, distribution centers need not worry about handling any extra hardware on their end. Only the Nintendo Zone, which is really just a router.

Whatever the reason, it seems that Nintendo of America recently did this for their Hoopa distribution. To receive that Pokemon, you had to connect through Nintendo Zone at McDonalds.

Update (3/18): There's an event going on right now for a Shiny Ho-oh at Pokemon Centers. But for this event, it goes through Wireless, rather than Internet. I figured that would continue with the Internet going forward, but I guess they went back to wireless. Weird.. why?