While appearing relatively simple on face value, Pokemon games are in fact deeply complex beasts. There are dozens of values that go into determining various factors, such as a Pokemon’s strength, its happiness, and even how much experience it gains in battle.
The bulk of these values started out hidden from player’s view, and over the years developer Game Freak has worked to demystify many of them.
Pokemon Sun and Moon is no different, continuing to educate and show player’s previously hidden values such as EVs and IVs (two values which determines the strength of your ‘mon and how it grows as it levels up).
Two values that continue to confound players both new and old, however, is Happiness and Affection.
The Happiness value was first introduced back in Pokemon Gold and Silver, wherein it was tied to the evolution of certain Pokemon such as Togepi, the new Eevee evolutions in Espeon and Umbreon, as well as Pichu and others. There was really no clear indicator by which to measure a Pokemon’s happiness, and players mostly had to try anything and everything in the hope that it stuck.
Thankfully, the internet was around back then, so as soon as someone figured it out, we all did. I remember how irritating it was to raise the happiness of my Eevee to get an Umbreon.
So how do you raise a Pokemon’s happiness? Well there’s a few simple, albeit costly and time consuming, methods available;
- Having the Pokemon in your party
- Levelling the Pokemon up
- Feeding the Pokemon vitamins (calcium, iron, etc.)
- Giving the Pokemon a massage at certain locations in-game (generally only once a day)
Checking the current level of your Pokemon’s happiness is actually straightforward, but you have to know where to look. In Sun and Moon, there’s a woman in Konikoni City, located on the second island, Akala. She stands beside the store with a DVD sign: further down you can find the massage giver, too, so talk about convenience!
Talk to her and she’ll check your Pokemon’s happiness, and depending on her phase is how you determine their current level:
- My! It feels incredibly close to you! Nothing makes it happier than being with you! (250+)
- You clearly love your Pokemon, and you must spend a lot of time together (200-249)
- Hm. I’d say that you and Pokemon have the potential to be an even greater combo (150-199)
- Hmmm. I think…it feels friendly toward you. At least a little… (100-149)
- Hmmm… I’d say that you and your Pokemon still have a long way to go (50-89)
- What is going on here? Do you let it get knocked out a lot in battles or something? This is bad. (1-49)
- Oh dear. You must be a merciless Trainer… Do you use Frustration or just not know better? (0)
A happiness of 220+ is what’s needed for Pokemon that evolve via this method to, well, evolve. A list of these Pokemon includes:
- Eevee (Umbreon during the day, Umbreon at night)
- Budew (only during the day)
- Chingling (only at night)
- Riolu (only during the day)
Now, Reddit has discovered a little loophole wherein constantly teaching your Pokemon two different TMs for upwards of five minutes will max out their happiness. I haven’t tested this method myself, though people are reporting it works (though some aren’t having luck with Eevee).
Beyond being required to evolve certain Pokemon, Happiness isn’t a terribly useful hidden value, which perhaps explains why Game Freak haven’t gone out of their way to make it as transparent as, say, IVs. Due to this, many players are beginning to confuse Happiness with Affection, yet another value introduced in the last generation games via the Pokemon Amie mini game.
Designed as a cute new way to interact with your favourite ‘mon, Pokemon Amie enables you to increase their affection towards you. The benefit of doing so sees Pokemon performing a little better in battle (i.e. dodges attacks more, etc.) and gaining more experience, not unlike traded Pokemon.
Sun and Moon retains this mini game, though it’s now called Pokemon Refresh and is a lot more streamlined: it drops the little mini-mini games featured in Amie, and brings in PokéBeans and a function that lets you care for your Pokemon post-battle.
Checking your Pokemon’s affection level is super easy, indicated by the number of hearts against their name when using Refresh. Due to the use of hearts, I believe a lot of players are confusing this value with Happiness.
This results in many maxing their Pokemon’s affection levels and becoming frustrated when they won’t evolve. Pokemon like Golbat, Pichu, and Munchlax won’t evolve by raising affection.
At time of the seventh generation, the only Pokemon that evolves using Affection is Eevee, which evolves into the Fairy type, Sylveon.
So remember, if you want to evolve those early-game Pokemon like Pichu and Munchlax, don’t waste time maxing their affection via Refresh. Instead, focus on keeping them in your party, battling with them and try to avoid them being knocked out (that reduces their happiness). Before too long, roughly 10-15 levels, they’ll evolve.
Of course, don’t discount Refresh entirely, as it’s useful in giving your Pokemon an experience boost. It’s just not useful to raise the Happiness value.