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A move (Japanese: わざ move), also known as an attack (Japanese: こうげきわざ attack technique) or technique (Japanese: とくしゅわざ special 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 core series
Characteristics of moves
A Pokémon can only know four moves at a time, which are drawn from a pool of 719 total moves. However, no single Pokémon has access to each move; all 802 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 179 moves as of Generation VI, and Smeargle can possess almost any move due to 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 number 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 conditions 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. Most moves can target only one adjacent Pokémon, but some moves instead can target the user, more than one Pokémon, or non-adjacent Pokémon.
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 taught 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 Reminder.
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 the 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 to highlight game mechanics or create unusual effects. One example is Smeargle's Sketch, which allows it to possess almost every conceivable move.
In other games
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In the Mystery Dungeon series
- Main article: Mystery Dungeon game mechanics → Attacks
In the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series, Pokémon can learn and use up to four moves much like in the core series games. When Pokémon level up, they learn the same moves as they would in a contemporaneous core series game. However, all Pokémon also have a basic attack (called a regular attack) that they can use that does not require PP. The regular attack can be used any time, but the player can only use one of their character's learned moves at a time, depending on which move they've "set". Other Pokémon in the player's party will use their learned moves at their own discretion, but the player is able to set or unset any number of their moves to partially control what they do as well.
While moves have PP like in the core games, the default amount of PP for a move may be different than in the core games. Pokémon can also relearn moves at different places in the games much like the Move Reminder in the core games:
- MDRB: Gulpin Link Shop
- MDTDS: Electivire Link Shop
- BSL: Slaking Move Relearner
- MDGtI: Scraggy's Savvy Moves
- SMD: Hawlucha's Slam School
Unlike the Move Reminder, however, these facilities can teach Pokémon any move they or their pre-evolutions can learn by leveling up.
In the Pokémon Ranger series
In the Pokémon Ranger games, Field Moves and Poké Assists may be considered analogues to moves. Field Moves are used against environmental obstacles in the world, while Poké Assists are used to help Rangers capture Pokémon with the Capture Styler.
In Pokémon Shuffle
In Pokémon Shuffle, Pokémon do not have moves, but they still attack and damage each other so that the player can capture wild Pokémon. Effectively, every Pokémon's attack has the same basic strength.
In Pokémon Conquest
In Pokémon Conquest, a Pokémon only has one move. As a Pokémon's link with its Warrior increases, so does its move rank. If a Pokémon is able to achieve a Perfect Link with its Warrior and maximize its move rank, some moves will gain new effects, such as Leaf Storm and Outrage.
In contrast to the core series, the Speed stat does not affect when a Pokémon goes, but instead affects the accuracy of attacks, with faster Pokémon being harder to hit and better able to land attacks than slower Pokémon. Moves are also not split into physical and special categories; all moves use the attacking Pokémon's Attack and the defending Pokémon's Defense stats, and there is no Special Attack or Special Defense.
In Pokémon GO
In Pokémon GO, moves are divided into two types: Fast Attacks (Japanese: ノーマルアタック normal attack) and Special Attacks (Japanese: スペシャルアタック special attack). Each individual Pokémon has one of each kind of move, randomly chosen from the moves their species can know. When a Pokémon evolves, its moves are also randomly reselected.
In a battle at a Gym, the player can command a Fast Attack at any time by simply tapping their Pokémon on the screen. Special Attacks, however, can only be used when the Special Attack meter's energy has been sufficiently filled. The Special Attack meter can be seen next to the move's name on the Pokémon's summary screen or below the Pokémon's HP bar during a battle; it is a gauge divided evenly into one to five bars (depending on the move). Using a Pokémon's Special Attack requires consuming one of these bars. The meter is charged by attacking with Fast Attacks or taking damage. When a Pokémon is ready, the player can command it to use its Special Attack by holding a long-press on their Pokémon.
Despite being called Special Attacks, these moves do not do special damage; the physical/special distinction from the core games does not exist in Pokémon GO. Both Fast Attacks and Special Attacks use the attacking Pokémon's Attack and the defending Pokémon's Defense stats, and there is no Special Attack or Special Defense.
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 Pokémon battles, moves may be used in unorthodox manners, especially to overcome type disadvantage. Invented, anime-exclusive moves have existed since the third episode, and custom-made moves have been prevalent in the Diamond & Pearl series. Additionally, during Contest Battles, moves are often fused together to create brand-new attacks.
The process in which moves are learned is changed slightly; TMs and HMs do not seem to exist. Also, even though it's been stated in the anime that moves can be learned at certain levels, Pokémon seem to learn them more at random, and often out of sequence from the games. The term Move Tutor has never been used in the anime but there are several characters 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.
In the manga
In the Pokémon Adventures manga
Water Gun was the first move used in the Pokémon Adventures manga. Since then, moves have debuted in a story arc corresponding to the generation in which the move was introduced. The exceptions are Generation I's Roar which was not properly used in battle until the Generation II Gold, Silver & Crystal chapter, and Sweet Scent, a Generation II move which debuted in the Yellow chapter, a Generation I arc.
In the TCG
- Main article: Attack (TCG)
In the Pokémon Trading Card Game, attacks are similar to moves. Pokémon cards generally have only one or two attacks, but different cards of the same species may have different attacks. The TCG also often introduces attacks that do not exist in the core series, and it does not limit the attacks a Pokémon can know to those it can learn in the core series games.
In the TFG
In the Pokémon Trading Figure Game, Pokémon figures have a ring around their base which is divided into colored sections, some of which are moves. Depending on the figure, Pokémon may have as few as one or as many as four moves. Battles are fought by spinning the Pokémon and its ring inside the base, and the section that stops under an arrow on the base determines its action in the battle (which may also be affected by the outcome of the opposing Pokémon's spin).
- 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.
- In some instances in the anime, certain Pokémon have been shown to know more than just four moves at the same time, with as many as 10 being used in a single battle. The closest the anime has got to acknowledging the existence of move slots is the fact that Meowth can't learn Pay Day because of the effort exerted in learning to speak human language.
In other languages