Moves are the bread and butter of Pokemon battling. While things like type and held items are all important, moves determine what each Pokemon does on their turn, and no one can win a battle without attacking. Having a wide variety of move-type and supporting capabilities for each team member is essential to success when battling, especially at a competitive level.
There are hundreds of moves to choose from when creating the perfect team. However, in recent years, Game Freak has seen fit to limit players’ options somewhat. When Pokemon Sword & Shield were released, players found that along with half the Pokedex, just shy of 150 moves, had vanished as well. Some of these moves were fairly pointless, and it made sense to cut them, but others were seeing widespread use by both single players and competitive trainers, who now have to look into new strategies to get around these Pokemon moves that were removed.
8 – Foresight
An odd choice for removal, Foresight didn’t have the most extensive usage, but it was vital for players who needed it. Not a competitive move by any stretch of the imagination, Foresight simply let Normal-type moves hit Ghost-type or evasive opponents. It wasn’t the most crucial piece of utility, but it had its place, and certain players will be mourning its loss. Ghosts have a habit of working trainers into tight spots and giving them one less option to get themselves out of it is an annoyance.
Before it was cut, 69 Pokemon could learn Foresight, but a whopping 66 of them were from Generation 5 or earlier. It’s a move that Game Freak clearly had no interest in supporting anyway, so looking at it that way makes its cutting more understandable.
7 – Heal Block
Ways to heal in competitive battles are few and far between. Moves can do it, but wasting a whole turn healing can do more harm than good. Other methods include abilities like Regenerator, which heal when switched out of battle or held items like Leftovers or Sitrus Berries. On the other side of the coin, an opponent finding a way to heal in a battle is potentially devastating, undoing all the hard work your team has done. That’s where Heal Block came in.
As may be evident from the name, this stops the opposing team from healing for five turns. In competitive, five turns is a long time and plenty of time for things to go wrong. While it could be argued that it’s too powerful, it is balanced by the fact that only 21 Pokemon could learn it. Especially considering that, of those 21, only a few were competitively viable. Its removal makes those battles just a little less strategic.
6 – Embargo
Using held items is a vital part of battling. The massive variety available means that any individual Pokemon has two or three items that would be absolutely perfect for them. Whether it increases their attacking power, defensive might, or supporting capabilities, taking the right trinket into battle with them is how they get a competitive edge. Naturally, then, other players will look for a way to shut that edge down. Enter Embargo.
This move stops the opposing team from using their held items for five turns. It would remove those little bonuses that players could often rely on to get them through the battle and perhaps reassess their strategy. The case for this move’s removal is more reasonable, as a whopping 119 Pokemon could learn the move, which might be a bit much. However, it would’ve been much better for Game Freak to just remove it from the movepool of about 50 rather than cutting it entirely.
5 – Chip Away
Chip Away feels like a move that barely got a chance to live, only being added in Generation 5. It didn’t see a great deal of competitive use, but it definitely had its place and was one of those moves that were perfect for a particular scenario. It’s a Normal-type attacking move with 70 Base Power and 100 Accuracy. Already, that makes it a decent attack for single-player. However, it has a kicker. Crucially, any stat changes the user had affecting them would be ignored for this move.
While that last aspect would mean it didn’t benefit from buffs, it also meant it wasn’t hurt by debuffs, which is where it becomes so valuable. It’s not a move that’s going to win any tournaments, but it might be enough to see players through the Elite Four. For such a late addition to the movepool, a surprising number of Pokemon could learn it, with 50 total. Its removal is far from the most baffling, but taking it away seems a bit pointless, all things considered.
4 – Dragon Rage
This is by no means an incredible move and may not even have been that widely used. However, it was a lot of fun to mess around with or unexpectedly encounter. A move learned at very early levels by most Dragon-types, Dragon Rage is a move that always does 40HP of damage, not a point more or point less. As it happened, since most Dragon-types aren’t encounterable until later on in the game, it was very rare to get a playthrough where it is useful. That said, it still had its place.
Anyone who has ever played one of the games under Nuzlocke rules will understand why the loss of Dragon Rage is such a shame. When playing a game under that style, especially with a randomizer, encountering a Pokemon with Dragon Rage was a terrifying but fun experience. 40HP is often a one-hit KO in the early game, and working out a way around that was part of the fun. Conversely, getting the move on your team was great and allowed players to tear through the game for a little while. Its removal may not even be noticed by many, but a certain type of player will mourn its loss.
3 – Pursuit
This is a move where its removal is highly questionable. Pursuit was not only a competitively used move, but it was one that a significant amount of singleplayers would’ve used, too, thanks to its unique effect. A Dark-type attack with 40 Base Power may not seem like anything special at first, but that’s not all. Uniquely, it can hit as an opponent switches out of battle, and if it hits in this manner, it has double power.
This was such a massive help in battles. It was a way to stop a weakened opponent from slipping away unharmed and do some potentially huge damage to types weak to Dark. Additionally, a whopping 149 Pokemon could learn the move, meaning just about everyone would’ve had the move on their team at some point during their adventure. It arguably may have created even more work in the long run, as that’s 149 creatures whose learn-sets had to be readjusted.
2 – Z-Moves
As the Generations roll on, it’s becoming clear that the various gimmicks each one introduces aren’t long for the world. Mega-Evolutions were all but forgotten about once Generation 6 ended despite being a beloved addition, and unsurprisingly, when Generation 8 came around, Alola’s Z-Moves were a thing of the past. While they weren’t as popular or as strategic as Mega-Evolution, Z-Move had a lot to offer battles.
These insanely powerful moves required Pokemon to be holding the right item to use them. This meant trainers had to seriously consider which Pokemon they wanted to hold the Z-Crystal. Similarly, picking the right moment to unleash it was a fine art. Doing it too early could be a waste, but leaving it too late and letting the opponent do it first could be catastrophic. Additionally, while the animations in Generation 7 were pretty derpy, seeing them updated for the greater capabilities for the Nintendo Switch would’ve been cool.
1 – Hidden Power
Not only was Hidden Power an extremely popular competitive move, but its removal has made one Pokemon completely unusable. While Unown is yet to be added to a Switch game, if it ever is, some serious changes will have to be made if Hidden Power isn’t coming back with it, as that is the only move it can learn. What made the move so popular amongst trainers is that it could theoretically be any type.
The ability for Pokemon to be storing unexpected types in their arsenal was a huge boon and vastly increased the number of opponents it could take down. For example, a Garchomp may think it’s pretty safe against an Infernape until that Infernape busts out an Ice-type Hidden Power. The move’s type is determined by each creature’s IVs, so trainers would have to be experts at breeding and raising their team to get exactly what they wanted. It was a move that required skill to use for great rewards, which made it massively popular.