Old Gen learnsets are terrible. Very, very bad.

Detailed examination of the shortcomings and inconsistencies in the learnsets of Pokemons from the initial generations, and the effect they have on gameplay strategy.

The Pokemon fan base is familiar with the variations in learnsets - the list of moves that a Pokemon can learn, that exist from one generation of games to the next. The early generations in particular seem to exhibit a rather frustrating trend with limited and often nonsensical learnsets.

This issue is most noticeable when it comes to starter Pokemon, the mascots of each game. For example, take the Water-type starter of the first generation - Squirtle. Squirtle's progression of moves is somewhat perplexing, with it learning Bite, a Dark type move, at level 15.

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Why is this move of concern? In the first generation, Dark types didn't even exist. This is an excellent instance of the inconsistencies present in the learnsets of earlier generation Pokemon. Similarly, Bulbasaur learns PoisonPowder, a Poison type move, despite being a Grass/Poison type subject to Psychic moves, a noticeable disadvantage.

Old Gen learnsets are terrible. Very, very bad. ImageAlt

This peeks into the incongruities and limitations that plagues the Pokemon learnsets during its initial years of inception, which detracts from the fun, strategy, and overall gameplay. Early generation Pokemon seem to learn moves that lack strategic viability, thereby reducing their effectiveness in battle.

The same displays itself in Charmander’s learnset. Despite being a Fire type starter with a fairly straightforward move progression, things take a weird turn. Charmander learns Rage, a Normal type move, at level 22. It makes no sense for a Fire type Pokemon to be learning such a move at such an early level.

These examples demonstrate how the early gens’ learnsets were quite deficient and unbalanced in many senses. These nonsensical combinations of moves have potential to put players at a disadvantage; they could end up sticking through with a move that, in reality, would not be beneficial for a particular Pokemon.

For instance, another glaring problem in the first generation was the lack of good Ghost type moves. Despite Ghost being introduced as a new type, options were minimal and the low-powered Lick was the only move of substantial use.

Even when it came to type effectiveness, the original games were filled with bizarre and confusing implementations. Bugs were considered super effective against Poison, and Bug-type moves were the only effective critical hits against Psychic Pokemon. However, there were hardly any powerful Bug-type moves in the game.

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Things were not rosy for the Psychic type either. Many believe Psychics were overpowered in these games due to the lack of good counters. But on closer inspection, you’ll see that wasn’t necessarily the case. Extend your allies to Ghosts or Bugs, and you’ll soon find that they have very few functional moves at their disposal.

Gengar, a Ghost type Pokemon, had a learnset that rendered it ineffective against Psychic types. Although Ghosts were considered super effective against them, all of Gengar's Ghost type moves were classified as Physical. Since Psychic types were known for their high Special, not Defense stats, Gengar's Ghost moves proved mostly fruitless against Psychic opponents.

Further adding to the confusion, the Fighting type move Karate Chop was considered a Normal type move rather than a Fighting type during Generation I. This decision baffled players since it is clearly a move associated with Fighting type Pokemon.

Pikachu, the famous face of the franchise, also had a peculiar learnset in Generation I. The Electric type move Light Screen was absent from its learnset, something that would have bolstered Pikachu’s low Defense stats. This was rectified eventually in later generations, but original players couldn’t take advantage of it.

Contrary to the widespread belief that Ice types were powerful, they were actually at a significant disadvantage in the first generation due to a limited move pool. Ice Beam, Blizzard, and Aurora Beam were the only known moves, and they were unique to a very select number of Pokemon.

Generation I also lacked any good Dragon moves. This resulted in Dragonite, the only fully-evolved Dragon type in that generation, grappling with its limited learnset. This further imposed constraints on players when it came to effective strategies for using Dragonite in battles.

Even in subsequent generations, there were still inexplicable learnset decisions. Generation III's torchic learned Sand-Attack at level 10. Sand-Attack is a Ground move, and hence, it would not make sense for a Fire/Fighting Pokemon to learn this so early.

These examples illustrate how flaws and inconsistencies in early generation learnsets impacted gameplay and strategy. It started leaving a mark on the gaming experience, forcing players to develop tactics around these apparent limitations.

Thankfully, these issues have been ironed out in recent Pokemon games, with more logical move progressions and a diverse move pool for each type. It brings us a clear departure from the strange learnset decisions of the yesteryears, significantly enhancing the overall gameplay experience.

It also demonstrates the growth and evolving sophistication of the franchise over the years, carving out a far more strategic game-play with intriguing and competitive battle scenarios.

Ultimately, the improvements in learnsets borne out of these early missteps are notable developments in enriching the gameplay experience, painting a vibrant evolution of one of the most enduring franchises in the gaming world.