Pokémon Movepool Oddities & Explanations

Karxrida

Death to the Undying Savage
is a Community Contributor Alumnus
People here (especially veterans) might be vaguely familiar with the New York Pokémon Center distribution event that took place during Gen 2. This event is known for giving a bunch of moves to Pokémon they would otherwise not have (or got in later gens), with some like Lovely Kiss or Growth making a huge impact on competitive viability. I wanted to highlight a few of the odder move choices:
  • Petal Dance on a lot of random things
  • Splash Snorlax
  • Mimic Wobbuffet (kind of makes sense, but still a fascinating oddity)
  • Scary Face Marill (listed more for the humor factor)
  • Whirlwind Swinub
  • Absorb Phanpy
 
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QuentinQuonce

formerly green_typhlosion
People here (especially veterans) might be vaguely familiar with the New York Pokémon Center distribution event that took place during Gen 2. This event is known for giving a bunch of moves to Pokémon they would otherwise not have (or got in later gens), with some like Lovely Kiss or Growth making a huge impact on competitive viability. I wanted to highlight a few of the odder move choices:
  • Petal Dance on a lot of random things
  • Splash Snorlax
  • Mimic Wobbuffet (kind of makes sense, but still a fascinating oddity)
  • Scary Face Marill (listed here more for the humor factor)
  • Whirlwind Swinub
  • Absorb Phanpy
I love the NYPC events (in both Gen II and III) and wish there'd been some equivalent to them in the VC titles as a lot of Pokemon really appreciated those moves. The fossil Pokemon in particular only ever got Rock moves in Gen I by way of those. Interestingly Meowth wasn't one of the Petal Dance recipients in Gen II but then ended up getting it in Gen III.

I feel like a lot of the special moves in Gen II were pure novelty picks and like a lot of them for how creative they feel. You can tell there was some thought and care put into who got what: I love how the Nidos got Moonlight/Morning Sun and Onix got Sharpen, for instance.

Some of them were decent enough, though still largely inferior to the egg moves you'd have to pass up to get them (from a quick scan of the list, Paras got Synthesis, Pinsir got Rock Throw, Bulbasaur got Ancientpower, Charmander got Crunch, and Squirtle got Zap Cannon). There are definitely a few standouts, though: Poliwag and Eevee got Growth, Geodude got Rapid Spin, Magnemite got Agility, Drowzee got Amnesia, Magikarp got Reversal, Totodile got Submission, Sudowoodo and Pineco got Substitute, and Dunsparce got Horn Drill). Pichu probably quite appreciated Petal Dance though overall that line prefers having Surf to hit Rock and Ground-types. Can't imagine Petal Dance being too much of an asset to Jynx, Clefable, Wigglytuff, or Golduck though.

Whereas a lot of the similar Gen III moves felt more like slight attempts towards viability: everything that got Wish could make good use of it (tbh it's a move that is pretty much good on anything) and there was stuff like Oddish getting Leech Seed or even Wynaut getting Tickle.
 

QuentinQuonce

formerly green_typhlosion
Apparently Steelix gets Dark Pulse? Like sure Gen 1 movesets and all, but that's a Gen 4 move, and Steelix is a physical attacker...
Huh, it's only Steelix. Onix doesn't learn it. They looked at those two and thought "something about Steelix sets it apart from Onix that lets it use Dark Pulse"

??
It's a weird one for sure, but then Steelix does get a couple of elemental moves, like Dragonbreath, and a few coverage moves more colourful than you'd expect, like Ice/Fire/Thunder/Psychic Fangs. Notably Onix doesn't get the latter four moves, or Crunch (makes sense, does Onix even have teeth?) or Aqua Tail and Ice Ball.

And Steelix does get Torment, which for the longest time was a move I incorrectly believed was one that pretty much everything that learned TMs could learn (like Facade or Swagger) - I always assumed this was because it's got a big scary face, because it doesn't have much flavour text that implies that its temperament or disposition is in any way meaner or crueller than Onix.

But going by the flavour text, Dark Pulse doesn't really imply any special capability beyond the general spectrum of powers a lot of Pokemon share ("The user releases a horrible aura imbued with dark thoughts") so if Steelix can tap into psychic power and generate heat and cold and electric and draconic energy from its breath, releasing a malicious aura doesn't seem totally beyond it.
 

Kin+ak (✧∇✧)

I COULD BE BANNED!
Ice beam is Very random. No flavor Or sth. Just 40% chance the pokemon has it. Like, linoone, claydol and kanghaskam have it for No purpose. I underrlstand for water, Just cold a vite and hit grass, but raticate? Marowak-alola? For real?

Shoutout to gulpin, rhyhorn and zogzagoon galar for having it totally randomly

Edit: among the Very random spécial moves alolan marowak has, There is, hold it, BUBBLE BEAM
 
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Ice beam is Very random. No flavor Or sth. Just 40% chance the pokemon has it. Like, linoone, claydol and kanghaskam have it for No purpose. I underrlstand for water, Just cold a vite and hit grass, but raticate? Marowak-alola? For real?

Shoutout to gulpin, rhyhorn and zogzagoon galar for having it totally randomly
Ice Beam is one of those attacks that have been created when Pokémon was just a kaiju-battle game and when there were no types yet, therefore, many Pokémon, notably the kaiju-like ones (such as Cubone, Rhyhorn or Lickitung) get it. Also note that Ice Beam is way less spread among the modern Pokémon (that are not related to old Pokémon ofc), but for the older ones, it's just a leftover of that part of history.
 
Ice beam is Very random. No flavor Or sth. Just 40% chance the pokemon has it. Like, linoone, claydol and kanghaskam have it for No purpose. I underrlstand for water, Just cold a vite and hit grass, but raticate? Marowak-alola? For real?

Shoutout to gulpin, rhyhorn and zogzagoon galar for having it totally randomly

Edit: among the Very random spécial moves alolan marowak has, There is, hold it, BUBBLE BEAM
Bubblebeam Alolan Marowak is because Cubone could learn the TM in gen 1.
 

ScraftyIsTheBest

On to new Horizons!
is a Top Contributor Alumnusis a Smogon Media Contributor Alumnus
More specifically Gen 1 had a very simple philosophy when it came to movesets, not like how we are conditioned to think about Pokemon moves in modern generations. It was a very basic old school JRPG design. Normal-type moves were treated as "physical/melee" skills that everything had at least a few of based on their attributes, and then Grass/Fire/Water/Electric/Ice/Psychic were the "magic/elemental" skills: most mammalian land-dwelling Normal-types and things like the Nidos, Rhydon, and Dragonite learned Normal-type attacks naturally by level-up, but could learn every "magic move" by TM, aka artificially taught to them, which meant all of Bubble Beam, Water Gun, Ice Beam, Blizzard, Solar Beam, Thunderbolt, Thunder, Psychic, and Fire Blast via TM.

And then a few could learn Submission, Counter, and Seismic Toss which as Fighting moves were treated as "advanced physical skills" which had the benefit of hitting Normal-types and Rock-types super effectively. Well at least, Submission was that. Seismic Toss was basically a constant damage attack and Counter was a reactionary move.

Their learnsets stand out as eccentric today, but it's an ancient relic of a simpler, more JRPG esque design philosophy that they originated from.

Basic Normal-types could learn everything "magic" by TM and were not as good at using them as dedicated "magic" monsters that specialized in one "magical" element and with STAB and higher Special would use one "special type" well.
 
Solar Beam is a funny one because it has really limited distribution in gen 1 that was expanded upon in gen 3 and 4 (mostly Fire types in 4). Lapras notably had it cut and briefly added again in Let's Go. Going over some gen 1 examples,

-Butterfree and Venomoth get Solar Beam in gen 1, Beedrill gets it in 3.
-Clefable, Wigglytuff, Chansey, and Snorlax get Solar Beam in gen 1. Lickitung, Kangaskhan, Tauros, and Porygon get it in gen 3.
-Mr. Mime, Mewtwo, and Mew get it in gen 1, the only gen 1 Psychic types to do so (besides Exeggutor).
-Exeggcute is the only Grass to not get Solar Beam in gen 1, gaining it in gen 2.
-As mentioned, Lapras had Solar Beam in gen 1, then proceeded to lose it.

Gen 2 wasn't much different. Most Bugs got it, but Togepi and Dunsparce were the only new Normals to get Solar Beam. Stuff like Aipom and Granbull gained it in gen 3. Meanwhile Natu/Xatu got it for seemingly no reason.
 

Karxrida

Death to the Undying Savage
is a Community Contributor Alumnus
Solar Beam is a funny one because it has really limited distribution in gen 1 that was expanded upon in gen 3 and 4 (mostly Fire types in 4). Lapras notably had it cut and briefly added again in Let's Go. Going over some gen 1 examples,

-Butterfree and Venomoth get Solar Beam in gen 1, Beedrill gets it in 3.
-Clefable, Wigglytuff, Chansey, and Snorlax get Solar Beam in gen 1. Lickitung, Kangaskhan, Tauros, and Porygon get it in gen 3.
-Mr. Mime, Mewtwo, and Mew get it in gen 1, the only gen 1 Psychic types to do so (besides Exeggutor).
-Exeggcute is the only Grass to not get Solar Beam in gen 1, gaining it in gen 2.
-As mentioned, Lapras had Solar Beam in gen 1, then proceeded to lose it.

Gen 2 wasn't much different. Most Bugs got it, but Togepi and Dunsparce were the only new Normals to get Solar Beam. Stuff like Aipom and Granbull gained it in gen 3. Meanwhile Natu/Xatu got it for seemingly no reason.
I feel like there might be some flavor reason for Natu/Xatu. I recall a Xatu in the first PMD game spends its time staring into the sun for psychic visions or whatever.
 
According to bulbapedia: "Xatu seems to be based on a resplendent quetzal with design elements from a Native American totem or kachina. Behaviorally, it displays the ancient art of Sun Gazing, a form of spiritual meditation practiced by the Aztec and Mayan peoples..." Some of its dex entries write: " It eyes the sun's movement all day" and "Xatu is known to stand motionless while staring at the sun all day long". Unfortunately it never got the move Morning Sun which would fit the flavor too.
 

Karxrida

Death to the Undying Savage
is a Community Contributor Alumnus
So while Archaludon having access to Electric moves isn't a huge surprise (a decent amount of Steel-types get them and metals are commonly known to make good conductors), Electro Shot being its signature move is definitely kind of odd. Most sig moves match one of the typings of the Pokémon that initially learns it.
 
So while Archaludon having access to Electric moves isn't a huge surprise (a decent amount of Steel-types get them and metals are commonly known to make good conductors), Electro Shot being its signature move is definitely kind of odd. Most sig moves match one of the typings of the Pokémon that initially learns it.
Not always, especially not in the past couple gens.
Not counting Status moves, since their type is irrelevant unless they're Thunder Wave or the user has Protean, in the last couple gens we've also got:
  • Jaw Lock (Dark) was originally the signature move of the Drednaw line (Water/Rock)
  • Snap Trap (Grass) is still only learned by Galarian Stunfisk (Ground/Steel)
  • Order Up (Dragon) the signature of Dondozo (Water)
There are other older ones that I can't remember at the moment as well.
 
There's something seriously wrong with Bloodmoon Ursaluna's TM list, there's a bunch of moves missing that it should be able to learn since Ursaring can, and even some that it can learn but not through the TM.

Charm, Fake Tears*, Aerial Ace, Bulk Up, Metronome, Play Rough**, Close Combat*, and Throat Chop.

Ursaring learns all of them. In fact, due to the fact that Fake Tears and Close Combat are Egg Moves for the Teddiursa line Bloodmoon can actually learn but only via Mirror Herb, not by TM. Play Rough should have also been in this category too, but it's inexplicably not an Egg Move for the line anymore in SV.
 

Karxrida

Death to the Undying Savage
is a Community Contributor Alumnus
Not always, especially not in the past couple gens.
Not counting Status moves, since their type is irrelevant unless they're Thunder Wave or the user has Protean, in the last couple gens we've also got:
  • Jaw Lock (Dark) was originally the signature move of the Drednaw line (Water/Rock)
  • Snap Trap (Grass) is still only learned by Galarian Stunfisk (Ground/Steel)
  • Order Up (Dragon) the signature of Dondozo (Water)
There are other older ones that I can't remember at the moment as well.
Forgive me for not knowing about these, I totally skipped Gen 8. Also haven't played Gen 9 yet even though I own Violet.

Snap Trap being Grass is weird tho. You'd think it would be Steel, especially since it seems to be a bear trap.
 

Kin+ak (✧∇✧)

I COULD BE BANNED!
Forgive me for not knowing about these, I totally skipped Gen 8. Also haven't played Gen 9 yet even though I own Violet.

Snap Trap being Grass is weird tho. You'd think it would be Steel, especially since it seems to be a bear trap.
Spoiler: it's not a bear trap, it's a snap trap. Joking aside, it would be decent that Dragon Type was removed From dozo pretty late in developpment. I mean, what was meowscarada doing during The first months of VGC? what it couldnt have done If The bozo was Dragon.
 

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