From Bulbapedia, the community-driven Pokémon encyclopedia.
A move (Japanese: わざ move), also known as an attack or technique, is the skill Pokémon primarily use in battle. In battle, a Pokémon uses one move each turn. Some moves (including those learned by Hidden Machine) can be used outside of battle as well, usually for the purpose of removing obstacles or exploring new areas.
In the games
Characteristics of moves
A Pokémon can only know four moves at a time, which are drawn from a pool of 559 total moves. However, no single Pokémon has access to each move; all 649 Pokémon have a given movelist with a limited amount of moves that relate to the type and concept of the species. The amount of moves in each movelist varies between species: some Pokémon, such as Ditto and Unown, only have one move to learn, while Mew can learn 139 moves as of Generation V, and Smeargle can learn almost any move via Sketch. Sometimes, Pokémon's movelists vary between evolutionary relatives. This often is tied to a secondary type gained or lost on evolution, but can also provide incentive to prevent a Pokémon's evolution to a higher stage. Most trios and duos have similar movelists.
Pokémon are limited in the way that they may use their moves in battle. The amount of times they can use each move is restricted by the move's Power Points. Power Points vary from move to move, but typically stronger moves have fewer Power Points than weaker moves. The amount of Power Points for each move may be altered by items such as PP Up. The only move that is not affected by Power Points is Struggle.
The strength of a move is measured by its power, and other factors such as accuracy affect whether it does damage or not. Some moves have additional effects that cause status ailments on the target, and some do no damage at all. Moves that do not explicitly cause harm to their target are known as status moves; the remaining moves are divided into physical and special moves depending on the individual move's characteristics; the category of the move determines whether the move's power relies on the Attack or Special Attack stat. It is important to note that prior to Generation IV, the move's category was dependent on the move's type, rather than a distinct variable.
Learning and unlearning
Since Pokémon Red and Green, there have been three main methods of acquiring moves on a Pokémon: by leveling up, by use of Technical Machines and by use of Hidden Machines. Generation II added two further methods: Egg moves learned through breeding, and moves learned by a non-player character Move Tutor. These two newest methods have been part of all further Pokémon handheld games.
A Pokémon can only know four moves at a time. In order to learn new moves once four have been learned, it must forget one old move for every new move. Some moves cannot be forgotten naturally, such as moves learned by HM. To remove these, a Trainer must incorporate the help of a Move Deleter. Moves that were available at an earlier level that the Pokémon does not currently know can be learned with the help of a move relearner.
In Generation I only, moves learned via level-up won't be learned if a Pokémon gains enough EXP Points to "skip" the level on which they are learned, while in Generation II they were learned after leveling up. Since Generation III, they are learned while Pokémon levels up.
Some Pokémon have moves specific to themselves or their evolutionary line. These unique moves are known as signature moves. Some of these moves are powerful moves that only certain legendary Pokémon can learn, but other moves serve as "gimmicks" for novelty Pokémon. One example is Smeargle's Sketch, which allows it to learn almost every conceivable move.
In the anime
Moves in the anime often appear different to how they are depicted in the games. Ash's Pikachu often uses Agility as a physical attacking move, rather than a move that merely raises Speed. The almost limitless nature of the anime lends itself to many more differences between the games and anime in relation to Pokémon's moves. Pokémon are able to use many more moves outside of battle, such as Bulbasaur's Vine Whip. In battle, moves may be used in unorthodox manners, especially to overcome type disadvantage—perhaps best exampled with the battle between Ash's Pikachu and Blaine's Rhydon. Invented, anime-exclusive moves have existed since the third episode, and custom-made moves have been prevalent in the Diamond & Pearl series.
The process in which moves are learned is changed slightly; TMs and HMs do not seem to exist. The term Move Tutor has never been used in the anime but there are several people in the anime that have taught Pokémon certain moves that they would not normally be able to learn. These people, such as Chaz and Clayton, are much like Move Tutors in the games except for the fact that they do not ask for anything in return. Even Ash has taught his Treecko Bullet Seed. Consequently, all moves learned by anime Pokémon appear to have been learned by level-up or by Move Tutor, including special Egg moves such as Volt Tackle.
- During an in-game Double Battle, after a move is issued, if that Pokémon levels up before its in-battle turn and replaces the move currently awaiting execution with a new move, the new move will be used instead of the old one.
- Multiple turn moves such as Outrage will continue to be performed even if the move is deleted between turns. This can happen in both single and double battles.
- In some instances in the anime, certain Pokémon have shown to know more than just four moves, and the concept of having to forget moves has never been mentioned. It could just mean that more powerful and reliable moves are used in favor of older ones, but it's also possible that Pokémon will forget a particular move over time from limited use.
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