One of the most integral aspects of Pokemon is its illustrious battling system. While its turn-based structure is not too dissimilar from other games, the moves that Pokemon actually use have become iconic over the last two and a half decades. Even if you aren’t necessarily into the series, you’ll probably know about Charizard’s Flamethrower and Pikachu’s Thunderbolt. Even some of the more contemporary Pokemon/move pairs have become revered all over the world in recent years – Lucario’s Aura Sphere springs to mind as one.
The thing is, loads of these moves don’t even make sense anymore. Don’t jump the gun and get annoyed at me just yet – give me a minute to explain. I love Pokemon and have probably racked up enough hours to become a consultant at this point, but come on – it’s really weird when you see a Wooper who knows Ice Punch. It has no arms, let alone fists. Is it just headbutting people and calling it a dig? Are its weird ears supposed to be arms protruding from the area ears are usually appended onto?
I mean, Gastly can learn Ice Punch too, as well as Fire Punch and Thunder Punch. Have you ever seen Gastly? It’s a floating ghost head that looks… well, like a ghost. I think if you punched Gastly your hand would go right through it (it’s immune to Fighting moves, by the way). Also, just like Wooper: zero arms or fists. Please, at least have the decency to tell me what you are punching me with. Kyurem has arms made of literal ice and can’t learn Ice Punch.
There are some more infamous examples of this, too. Growlithe – a dog who has “growl” in its name – cannot learn Growl. Dugtrio is capable of learning High Horsepower if you use a TR. Allow me to point out that learning a kicking move 100% proves that Dugtrio actually looks like this.
The disregard for logic is really brazen, too. Vullaby is capable of learning Fly despite the fact its Pokedex entry says that it… can’t fly. Conversely, Yanmega cannot learn Fly despite the fact that its Pokedex entries say that it can. It makes no sense. You might argue that Yanmega is a large bug and can’t support a grown adult’s bodyweight, but Pidgey is a bird no larger than my shoe and is apparently just fine when it comes to transporting people halfway across the world.
I know I’m banging on about this a bit, but the list goes on and on. It makes sense that Pokemon have access to certain moves in order to make them more competitively viable, or even just vaguely usable in the single-player campaign. But there are so many moves out there that it seems weird that Cryogonal, a genderless Pokemon, used to be able to learn Attract, a move that only works on Pokemon of the opposite gender. If you used Attract with Cryogonal, it just failed – every single time.
Pokemon is brilliant and I love it to bits, but these weird inconsistencies have spanned two decades. You’d think Game Freak would change a couple of move descriptions slightly, or tinker with some Pokedex entries. Maybe it could even design an animation where Gastly conjures a big ghosty fist to use Fire Punch. But no – birds can’t fly and dogs can’t growl (they can Howl, for what that’s worth).
I think someone on Team Pokemon needs to look at a real animal and go, “Ah, wings, yes. That’s how things fly.” At the moment, it seems as if the person on “what can fly” duty is taking the piss, because Golurk – a giant ghost robot that looks like it weighs a million kilos (and has zero wings) – is apparently making the cut above actual birds.
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Cian Maher is the Lead Features Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.
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