My Top Ten Pokemon Moves


Just because we're once again out of Pokemon doesn't mean I don't have more opinions about more things in this series, and I find myself having a lot more thoughts about certain moves than I expected myself to.

These are some I find the most interesting, each brought to you by a Pokemon that learns it, either obviously or more surprisingly.



DREAM EATER

A psychic type health-draining move with 100 base power was downright obscene by the standards of the first generation, which was why they made sure it could only be used on a sleeping opponent, tying in with Drowzee and Hypno's status as Baku. Now that sleeping status doesn't last nearly as long as it used to and there are faster ways to drain more health or do more damage, use of Dream Eater has become fairly rare, but it's still just so damn FUN. I love that Swalot learns it, as if it's just SO gluttonous it can even eat your dreams, though the only way Swalot can induce sleep is with the two-turn "yawn."

More surprisingly, did you know Yanmega can eat dreams? Even in the Pokemon world, it feels pretty wild that a giant, prehistoric dragonfly can telepathically sustain itself on a diet of nocturnal whimsies if it so desires. Imagine your dreams vanishing from your mind because a huge, sleek bug monster perched on your rooftop at night.



SUBSTITUTE

This is a move that can be learned by pretty much any Pokemon capable of learning TM moves, which is pretty much every pokemon line in the game, though back in the first generation it was still kind of presented as a special signature move of Mr. Mime, the first Pokemon that could ever learn it by ordinary leveling up, if I recall correctly.

What this move does is cut a quarter of the user's health to set up a plush dummy that'll absorb status moves and damage until it "breaks." Where does the plush come from? I assumed during the red/blue days that the substitute was some kind of biological or telekinetic clone, or something, and thought I was extra clever giving it to Pokemon like Muk and Weezing who really seemed like they should be able to branch little duplicates off themselves. I'm pretty sure Substitute was even portrayed a variety of different ways in manga, anime and trading cards.

I don't know when it became canon that it was just a stuffed animal, but if we're going to stick with that, isn't it high time we also evolve the poor thing into a Pokemon all its own? Other Pokemon are already pouring their "life energy" into these plushes every single day, only for them to get beaten up on. Isn't that an even angrier Banette situation waiting to happen?



SPORE

I love the fact that no matter what, the game's only 100% accurate sleep-inducing move is learned exclusively by fungus based creatures. It's a shame that Paras and Parasect no longer have exclusive access to it, but it's still fun as heck that there's a "mushrooms only" Pokemon attack at all. Considering the concept behind Paras and Parasect and early artwork like this, I think the whole idea behind Spore was that it infested the opponent with parasitic mushrooms in order to "take control" of them, represented by the sleep status rendering them temporarily harmless.



SPIKES, TOXIC SPIKES, STEALTH ROCK

These three moves, the original "entry hazards," are kind of centralizing in competitive play, or they were until a zillion Pokemon were given moves that could clear them from the field. It's still one of the most fun combat mechanics I think they ever introduced to battle, and I like the whole idea of a Pokemon booby trapping the battlefield with thorns and caltrops. Originally, only regular Spikes existed, and were a signature move exclusive to the wonderful Pineco line, but now you can breed it onto a select couple dozen other monsters such as Venipede, Shelmet, Trubbish and Wimpod, while Toxic Spikes are learned by loads of poison types and the weird Stealth Rock by countless rock, steel and ground pokemon. Stealth rock might be the most confusing, since apparently they're also floating spiny rocks.



PERISH SONG

Entirely too badass for its own good, Perish Song is an evil melody that lasts three turns before it faints every pokemon on the battlefield, including the user, on the fourth. Introduced in the second generation, it was originally learnable only by Misdreavus, Politoed, Lapras and Jynx by level up, and could be bred onto only Marill, Igglybuff, Cubone, Gastly and Seel.

Years later, this move is still available to only a handful of newer Pokemon, and not a lot of them really grab me, but Popplio is the first-ever starter to have access to it, and the unassuming little Kricketune can also serenade you to death.

The coolest choice thematically, however, is almost definitely Murkrow, playing in to the idea of crows and ravens as dark omens!



FOREST'S CURSE

I already talked about how awesome of a concept this is when I reviewed Phantump and Trevenant, the only Pokemon who learn it as of Generation VII. All it does is turn the opponent into a grass type, thus changing their weaknesses and strengths until they switch out. It doesn't see a lot of use with "serious" players, but how great is it that these haunted trees force intruders to become a part of their forest?



TRICK OR TREAT

Phantump and Trevenant's Jack O' Lantern counterparts appropriately learn a similar move, but one that turns the opponent into a ghost type, I guess just like that episode where Gastly, Haunter and Gengar temporarily murdered Ash and took his restless soul joyriding. My favorite thing about the move are the lovely purple ghosties featured in its animation, unrelated to any particular ghost pokemon, so maybe they're illusionary or maybe they're just regular dead souls that have yet to solidify into pocket monsters.



PAIN SPLIT

I am SO delighted, from a world building perspective, that Nihilego can learn this move as of Ultra Sun and Moon. Originally exclusive to Misdreavus, this attack "shares pain" and effectively "evens out" your current health with that of your opponent, the usefulness of which may be too circumstantial to see widespread use, but it's such a cool idea, so satisfying when you pull it off, and currently the only thing in Nihilego's arsenal that really feels "parasitic." Why wasn't it one of its level-up moves to begin with?

Back in the day, Eviolite Dusclops was actually kind of a terror with this strategy, which was great because it was also one of my very favorite ghost types at the time.



LEECH SEED

And speaking of parasitism, this move inflicts the opponent with a nasty little vine that sucks out some of their health each turn and siphons it back to your active pokemon, which is amazing, even if it clears as soon as the opponent switches out, and has been my favorite move both mechanically and conceptually since the very first generation. I even talked back in my review of the grass type that I wish Leech Seed itself could evolve into a pokemon, and that still stands.

Problem is, my all-time favorite move on paper is learned by only a small number of Pokemon that I really like, and not by any of my top favorites except Parasect and Tangrowth, who still have a hard time fitting in on my teams. Oddish, inexcusably, could only ever have Leech Seed from a Japan-only distribution event or from the New York City Pokemon Center.

The move is also exclusive to grass types with the exception of Comfey and Celesteela, even though I personally think a life-draining weed would make perfect sense for my favorite garbage and pollution mons to unleash on their foes.

Here's hoping that, some day, they might at least come out with an equivalent for some other type. Infestation really would have made perfect sense with Leech Seed's mechanics, and I could see the ghost and psychic types wielding similar multi-turn draining attacks as well.



INFESTATION

So, to the surprise of nobody, one of my favorite moves in the series and the best choice for my "#1" is this relatively newer sixth-gen bug type attack that traps your opponent for several turns in a swarm of black pixels representing some sort of "infestation." Are they actual, non-pokemon insects, or are they conjured from "energy" like so many other moves? An outbreak of phantom lice willed into existence by the essence of pure bugness?

I don't know the answer, but the reason this beats Leech Seed on my personal list is that they gave this one to very nearly every single Pokemon I'd have given it to myself. If it's crawly or slimy or stinky or spooky, there's a high chance it can unleash a plague of fleas on its opponent, including such favorites of mine as Gloom, Sliggoo, Garbodor, Cofagrigus, Carnivine, Tangela, Toxapex, Mimikyu, Barbaracle and even Magcargo.

Pretty much the one and only Pokemon who learns this move without any obvious thematic reason?

Mr. Mime.

It's rare that they ever acknowledge the "creepiness" so many people see in this innocent little weirdo, but they apparently decided a puppet clown should be capable of drowning you with bugs. Of course it can. Why in the world would it ever not.

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