How Moves Work

By cookie. Art by Fatecrashers.
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A lot of what goes on in the world of Pokémon appears to completely defy the laws of nature—indeed, there are many examples where this seems to be the case. However, any such paranormal or magic-like occurrences merely await advancement in our understanding of the world: the mystery of the where the Sun gets its energy from wasn't solved until we began looking inside the atom, and how diseases are transmitted was demystified with the invention of microscopy. In this article I will similarly use modern science to uncover some of the mechanics behind Pokémon moves.


It might be surprising to find out but Bulbasaur actually is "firing its lazor" (sic)—SolarBeam is the manifestation of a laser effect that is completely separate from photosynthesis.

A laser works as thus: it is a resonant cavity that amplifies a given frequency of light by making copies of the photons as it passes through. The skin of a Pokémon that knows this move has cells like chromatophores responsible for camouflage in octopuses. Inside these cells are reflective plates that, in the right orientation, allow the cell to behave as a resonant cavity. This means that the Pokémon can control whether it uses the move or not in the way an octopus can change its color. When light shines on the cells, they begin to lase with the help of an unusually large number of mitochondria to supply the energy needed. The light is directed through the skin via microscopic intercellular structures that act as optical fibers, which all meet at wherever the Pokémon attacks.

The "charging time" is due to a pulsed lasing effect of the cells. The cells will build up power with the photons bouncing back and forth in the cavity until a critical point, at which the gain of the laser will drop because of the high power and cause the cell to discharge.

All the sunlight does is provide an initial input to the system—most of the energy for the attack is generated by the Pokémon itself. This makes sense from a practical point of view—the amount of sunlight at a narrow frequency range falling on the Pokémon is far too small to power an attack. This allows the Pokémon to use the move during any weather condition or even at night.

Magnet Rise

It was originally thought that this move was enabled by some extremely powerful electromagnet inside the Pokémon: the problem with this is that to keep the magnet going you would need a stupid amount of electrical power to provide a field strong enough to give enough force against Earth's pitiful magnetic field.

Instead, the Pokémon employs a superconductor that, once a current is passed into, will maintain that current without the need for consistent power. Once the superconducting coil has been powered, a nanosecond-fast switch closes the circuit off from the resistive part that initially powered it. In order to keep the coil superconducting it must remain at temperatures below about 90K.

However, this does not last forever. Superconductors do not have exactly zero resistance; they merely have a ridiculously low one that for all intents and purposes is zero. While the massive current is flowing through the Pokémon's coil, it is heating up ever so slightly. After about five turns or so the temperature rises to above the superconducting temperature, and the coil suddenly becomes resistive again. The current rapidly dissipates and the levitation fails.


Pokémon knowing Electric-type moves have the same electric organs that electric fish have, to generate electric fields by setting up a potential difference within their bodies. However, without the conductive medium of water, how does Electabuzz manage to shoot bolts of lightning through thin air?

Air conducts electricity, as observed during lightning storms, when its molecules are ionized. In storms this occurs because of the huge potential difference between the clouds and surface. When the potential is high enough, the air molecules are ripped apart, and current flows from positive to negative. In a Pokémon the potential difference is set up inside it so the field generated outside it surrounds the Pokémon. If you created a field strong enough to ionize air you would end up shocking everyone and everything around you, not just your target. What happens is the Pokémon heats the air between it and the target so much that it becomes a plasma—and conductive. This allows a current to flow from the user to the target, generating the desired shock.

Pokémon such as Electabuzz and Ampharos can use their intrinsic superheating abilities in the form of Fire Punch; this mechanism also explains why Magmortar can use Thunderbolt but Magmar can't: Magmar can't heat air to high enough temperatures to ionize it.

Worry Seed

The user releases a parasitic seed that germinates on the opponent's skin, rapidly inserting roots into its blood vessels for nutrients. From here, the plant begins to produce high quantities of caffeine, which is absorbed by the target's bloodstream to prevent it from falling asleep.

Egg Bomb

Some Pokémon's egg-laying abilities have evolved to produce something altogether more life-threatening rather than life-giving. The egg fired during this move is very similar to regular ones, but for two differences: the albumen has a high concentration of potassium chlorate and glucose, while the yolk contains sulfuric acid. When the egg hits a target it breaks, causing the yolk to break—at which point the acid ignites the mixture in the white and causes an explosion. The other adaptation is a much thicker shell to minimize the chances of shattering inside the Pokémon, but not so strong as to resist impact with the target or ground.

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