Following the release of Generation II Pokémon in Pokémon Go, and the major movepool shake-up that occurred alongside it affecting first- and second-generation Pokémon alike, many players have expressed confusion at a few of the weirder moves certain Pokémon seem to wield. There’s Slowking, the Water / Psychic type that learns one of the game’s strongest Fire moves – Fire Blast. Then there are Ninetales and Typhlosion, Fire-types who learn Solar Beam, the game’s strongest Grass-type move. The confusion is understandable, since Fire and Grass are seen as antithetical, as are Water and Fire, but these strange movepool quirks have existed in the main series games for years and there are explanations for them.
Why Slowking Learns Fire Blast
There are essentially two questions to unravel here. One, why does Slowking learn Fire Blast at all? Two, why did Niantic decide this should be one of its key moves in Pokémon Go?
The original Pokémon games, Red version and Blue version (Green version in Japan), are notorious for allowing Pokémon to learn moves that seemingly make very little sense. The games’ TM system allowed you to teach Pokémon a wide array of moves that they would not learn naturally through normal leveling, and for some reason developers Game Freak decided to allow many Pokémon (Normal types in particular) to have strange mastery over the elements.
The reason this is important is because learning Fire Blast is not unique to Slowking. Slowbro could use Fire Blast before Slowking even existed. It was just one item in a long list of Pokémon who learned unusual moves thanks to the original games’ TM system.
The following first generation Pokémon also learn Fire Blast, despite it not clearly ‘fitting’ their theme: Gyarados, Tauros, Machamp & Golem.
Meanwhile, Raticate, Tauros & Meowth are examples of Pokémon who can cast Thunder. Tauros, Marowak, Raticate and Snorlax can learn Blizzard. Sometimes it’s easiest just not to question these things.
So perhaps Slowking just has a real fire in its belly, literally. But the simplest explanation is that as an immediate relative of the original games’ Slowpoke and Slowbro, Slowking has inherited a strange ability to summon elemental power that you might not expect.
Slowking vs. Slowbro: The Main Series Games vs. Pokémon Go
So why did Niantic opt to give Slowking Fire Blast, but not Slowbro? The likely answer was that there was no need to give Slowbro such an unusual move in the first release of Pokémon Go, but when Slowking was released, they needed to do something to make it seem unique compared to its cousin.
The main difference between Slowbro and Slowking in the main series games is that they have oppositional defensive specialties. Slowbro has a high physical defense stat and a more average special defense stat, while Slowking has high special defense and average physical defense. So they play slightly different roles and perform better against different opponents.
Stats in Pokémon Go are not split into physical & special like they are in the main series games. They are condensed into one unified stat during the stat calculation process – Defense. This strips Slowbro and Slowking of the main thing that makes them different to each other. They are left with identical stats and identical Water / Psychic typing, so only the moves they learn can distinguish them in battle. Slowbro learns Ice Beam and Water Pulse, more ordinary multiple-charged defensive moves, while Slowking learns the ‘nuke’ moves Blizzard and Fire Blast. Since Slowking requires a unique evolution method with the King’s Rock item in order to be evolved from Slowpoke, they probably wanted to give it moves that seem a little more ‘special.’ Fire Blast catches out those Grass and Bug-types who in theory have a type advantage over Slowbro and Slowking, so it’s a nice move to have.
Ninetales, Typhlosion & Solar Beam
It’s not too difficult to see why a Fire-type would learn Solar Beam. Solar Beam is a move based on harnessing the power of the Sun, which makes sense for Fire-types to learn as it does for Grass-types. Ninetales in particular has been carrying Solar Beam as a common move in the competitive scene of the main series games for years.
The reason for that is its rare ability, Drought, which allows it to summon sunlight upon entering battle. Ordinarily, Solar Beam isn’t used too often in the main series games because Pokémon have to waste a turn ‘charging’ it up before they can use it, but when sunny weather is active in battle this charging turn is skipped. This means Ninetales, thanks to its Drought ability, can fire off powerful Solar Beams from the moment it enters battle. Strategically, this allows it to do super-effective damage to the Water, Rock, and Ground-types that normally cause problems for Fire-types. Since Ninetales currently has pretty poor CP in Pokémon Go and sees almost no serious use, giving it Solar Beam was probably Niantic’s way of trying to give it something unique to help it distinguish itself from other, better Fire-types.
Typhlosion doesn’t normally run Solar Beam in the main series games, although it does learn it, because it doesn’t have that sun-summoning ability and so would have to waste a turn charging it up. However, it’s very similar to the Slowbro vs. Slowking case in its comparison with Charizard. Charizard and Typhlosion have the exact same stat distribution (even in the main series) and both share the Fire-type, and even their status as ‘starter Pokémon’. So giving Typhlosion Solar Beam is probably Niantic’s way of trying to give it a unique power in Pokémon Go that Charizard doesn’t get.