It's strange that Unown is such a hot commodity in Pokémon Go because its initial appearance in Pokémon Gold and Silver was pretty underwhelming. However, its comparative rarity in Niantic's mobile game has made it a hot topic of speculation for new events.
If you're not familiar with this one-eyed letter Pokémon, read on, because we've got the scoop on it.
Pokémon Go Unown: The mysterious Pokémon is from the Johto region
Unown's humble beginnings are in the Johto region of Pokémon Gold and Silver, where it inhabited the Ruins of Alph south of Route 36 and west of Route 32. You could unlock additional "letters" of Unown by solving four sliding block puzzles with images of Kabuto, Aerodactyl, Ho-oh and Omanyte, for a total of 26 different variants. This makes the idea behind naming them "The Ruins of Alph" pretty obvious.
Unfortunately, there's not really a whole lot else you can do in the Ruins of Alph, so it was just kind of a cool mystery and a bit of world building. Unown was also, all things considered, a pretty bad Pokémon. You didn't even get anything for catching all 26 letter variants of it, though we guess you could use them to spell out a word in your active party, assuming that it was worth having a party of six mediocre psychic types.
Pokémon Go Unown: The mysterious "Letter Pokémon" plays a much bigger role in the Pokémon movies
In Pokémon media, however, Unown have a bigger role — if only slightly. In Pokémon 3: The Movie — Spell of the Unown: Entei, Unown create an Entei for a young girl whose father and mother have disappeared into another dimension. If you think that's weird, this Entei that has been created by the Unown and gifted to a young girl (which she calls "Papa" by the way) which then goes off to find her a mother, and settles on Pokémon series protagonist Ash's mom.
It might be a weird proposition for Ash's mom, but if you're going to have to marry a Pokémon, you might as well gamble on the stately dog Pokémon with a deep voice and giant fangs that look like a mustache, who lives in a giant crystal castle with a small girl and is best known for being able to run away from battles while asleep. Other than creating this particular Entei, the Unown have never been a huge part of the Pokémon universe aside from being a cool little mystery and a small bit of world-building.
It's still cool to run into an Unown in Pokémon Go, but what's even cooler is that they're one of the stranger parts of the Pokémon universe that hasn't been retconned yet and doesn't really offer any sort of explanation. Unown are just around, and if you work hard enough, you could spell "hello" with them. It's not much, but it also doesn't have to be.
More Pokémon Go guides, tips and tricks
If you're booting up the game for the first time in a while to get ready for Gen 2, be sure to check out Mic's guides on how to get stardust, how to determine how long it will take you to reach level 40, the kind of Pokémon you get from 10km eggs, how to create new PokéStops, how to maximize your chances of catching Pokémon and how PokéStops distribute Pokémon eggs. Also check out how to catch Gen 2 baby Pokémon, our analysis of post-balance update Chansey and Rhydon and everything you need to know about finding the long-awaited Pokémon Ditto.