As of this writing, the legendary Pokemon from the first-generation Pokemon games – Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres, Mewtwo, and Mew – are not yet available for players to capture in Pokemon Go. It’s a good move by the developer, Niantic, to hold off on releasing the five Pokemon in the wild. It gives players an incentive to keep playing the game until they catch all five, which will presumably be the last ones they need to complete their Pokedex, assuming they also managed to catch the region-exclusive Pokemon.
Considering the way Nintendo holds special events in the past that are specifically catered to distributing the rarest legendary Pokemon, it’s a safe guess that Niantic will probably go for the same route. But what if they simply released the five legendary Pokemon in the wild without making any fuss? Where would the creatures spawn? Let’s speculate on the possible places.
Articuno is the first of the legendary birds. It’s an Ice/Flying type that can originally be encountered in the first-gen Pokemon games by taking a detour at the Seafoam Islands on the way to Cinnabar Island, home of the seventh Gym. According to its original Pokedex entry, it’s “a legendary bird Pokémon that is said to appear to doomed people who are lost in icy mountains”. Taking solely that into account and it’s easy to say that Articuno will spawn at the icy top of Mt. Everest. But unless Niantic is feeling heartless and want reckless and unprepared people to brave the cold mountain and experience a similarly cold death, the blue-feathered legendary bird will most definitely NOT appear at Mt. Everest. The mountain already has enough unrecovered corpses lying around its snowy path – it doesn’t need a few more.
So where could Articuno spawn? The safest would be out in snow-covered locations of a country known more for its harsh winters than cozy summers – like Canada and Russia. Even with the travel expenses, flying off to a country abroad is a much safer and doable course of action. If Niantic is feeling generous, they could also make Articuno spawn anywhere that experiences the winter season, but naturally only during those times. That makes the appearance of Articuno seasonal, forcing players to wait for other seasons to pass.
In the main Pokemon games, not just the first-gen games, Zapdos is typically considered the best and most powerful of the three legendary birds. So it’s a bit confusing that Team Instinct, which Zapdos represents, is getting the most ridicule out of the three teams in Pokemon Go. In the first-gen games, Zapdos can be encountered by wandering off to an abandoned power plant somewhere between Cerulean City and Lavender Town. Players need to Surf along a path to reach the place, which is quite weird because the last thing someone would want before taking on a very powerful Electric-type is being soaked in water.
The easy answer to where Zapdos might spawn is exactly just that: a power plant. Typically, power plants are off-limits to the general public, however, so aside from the power plant employees, no one will be able to grace their eyes with the yellow-feathered bird. The most plausible locations for Zapdos to spawn are the electric companies in each country or anything related to generating power, but not entirely within the premises, similar to how PokeStops don’t need players to actually be inside a building. Niantic can make things more interesting by only allowing Zapdos to spawn when there is a heavy dose of lightning populating the skies.
The last of the legendary birds, Moltres is actually the easiest one to find in the first-gen games. Players don’t need to take detours or go to specific places to locate the Fire/Flying legendary. The last leg of the first-gen games require players to go through the Victory Road before arriving at the Pokemon League, home of the five most powerful trainers in the game. Moltres is simply hanging around the depths of Victory Road – if players did not run into it, they can actually see it right before the exit, prompting them to go back. Since Moltres has the element of fire, the quick guess is that it will spawn near a freaking volcano. Of course, Niantic won’t ever do that, even in their most merciless times.
So where to find the fiery bird in Pokemon Go? Simple: deserts. Moltres could simply spawn in any location that has deserts in them – like Arizona, Nevada, and Africa. Braving the heat-laden frontiers is another thing, of course. So it’s not like everyone can easily wander around them for hours, hoping to catch a glimpse of Moltres. Players still need to prepare for such treks. But compared to the magma pits of a volcano, deserts are the friendlier option for Niantic.
One of the most powerful legendary Pokemon in the main Pokemon games, Mewtwo is a walking ball of anger and hatred, despising humans like nobody’s business. In the first-gen games, Mewtwo can be found hiding in the deepest parts of the Cerulean Cave, home of the most powerful wild Pokemon. The cave is only accessible once players managed to defeat the hosts of the Pokemon League. The popular opinion is that Mewtwo will spawn in Area 51, a US military base famously speculated in pop culture to house alien corpses and otherworldly stuff usually featured in science fiction movies. Of course, the US will never consent to having Mewto in the premises.
Niantic, however, doesn’t really need to be creative with Mewtwo’s spawn place. They can simply place it in locations similar to its original home – underground. It can be underground caves, mining caves, or even deep in the sewers (eew). That might sound a little too easy, at least compared to the legendary birds, but wandering around caves isn’t exactly the safest thing to do. And there’s also the chance of being trapped and suffocated inside, courtesy of a wall collapse. Sewers, on the other hand, are, well, just plain gross for people to excitedly venture into.
The last Pokemon in the original Pokedex actually started off as a myth. Nintendo thought their first-gen games only held 150 Pokemon, but it turned out that the developer, Game Freak, slipped in one more Pokemon in the game: Mew. Once Nintendo found out that there’s a secret Pokemon lying around in the game data, they used it to organize an event specifically to hand out official copies of Mew to a few lucky players. And thus, the “Event Only Pokemon” term was born. In subsequent generations of the main Pokemon games, Mew was similarly made available through exclusive events only, which just may be the route that Niantic will similarly take. Why would they break tradition and let Mew fly around like it’s the most ordinary thing? Even though Nintendo had no hand in Pokemon Go, it would be a disservice to treat Mew that way. So expect Mew to only pop up in organized exclusive events.