Pokémon Sun/Moon: Why Are G7 Pokémon So Slow?

(Shout-out to Robert Ian Shepard for the post idea!)

While working on my Pokémon Face-Off series, I noticed a strange pattern among the Alolan Pokémon I was researching: For the most part, they seemed to have sub-par Speed stats (and some were downright awful).

Pokémon Speed
Toucannon 60
Alolan Ninetales 109
Togedemaru 96
Mimikyu 96
Mudsdale 35 (!)
Incineroar 60
Primarina 60
Decidueye 70
Vikavolt 43 (!)

Did I just happen to pick slower Pokémon, or was this indicative of a larger trend in Pokémon Sun/Moon? As it turns out, I’m not the first one to notice this trend and ask this questionRobert Ian Shepard provided a good summary of the community’s current thinking in a comment of my Vikavolt post:

So I haven’t seen an actual source for the rumor I am about to share and have no idea if it’s true (but spreading misinformation is cool, right?): apparently 7th gen as a whole is slow because 6th gen as a whole was very fast. So they wanted to counterbalance that somewhat and not have speed stats just keep creeping higher and higher throughout the generations. Like I said, I’m not sure how true that is, but it would explain why all of your Alolan Face-Off competitors seem really slow.

A theory in need of some evidence for proper confirmation? I think I can help with this. 🙂

Bulbapedia keeps a handy list of Pokémon base stats on its website, so I grabbed its Pokémon Speed data, stuffed it into a spreadsheet, and tried to determine the average speed of Pokémon introduced in each generation. With this data, I tried to answer two questions:

  • Are G7 (Sun/Moon) Pokémon noticeably slower (on average) than Pokémon from other generations? This will tell us whether or not our face-off observations are part of a larger slowdown.
  • Are G6 (X/Y) Pokémon noticeably faster (on average) than Pokémon from other generations? If so (and the answer to the first question is “yes”), this lends credibility to the theory that G7 Pokémon were intentionally designed to be slower to counter the excessive speed in G6.

Some comments on the methodology:

  • I only included final-form Pokémon (i.e., ones that had no further evolutionary forms) in this analysis. Pre-final forms generally have weaker stats and aren’t usually used competitively, so I decided that having only final evolutionary forms would be a fairer, more useful comparision.
  • If a Pokémon has more than one final evolutionary form (the Eeveelutions, for example), each form is counted as a separate Pokémon. However, Pokémon that can change their form dynamically (Deoxys, Shaymin, etc.) only have their default form included in the analysis.
  • Pokémon were included in the generation is which their current final evolutionary form was introduced. For example, the Rhyhorn evolutionary line is labeled as G4 thanks to Rhyperior, even though Rhydon was a final-form evolution in G1.

With all this is mind, let’s get to the numbers!

Pokémon Generation Average Speed Stat
G1 (Red/Blue) 82.377
G5 (Black/White) 81.045
G4 (Diamond/Pearl) 80.254
G6 (X/Y) 79.838
…and then a gap…
G3 (Ruby/Sapphire) 73.806
G7 (Sun/Moon) 73.576
…and finally, two laps down…
G2 (Gold/Silver) 68.057

It looks like our face-off observations were not a fluke: Pokémon Sun and Moon clock in as the second-slowest generation thus far (although that label is a bit unfair, given how close G7 is to G3). The answer to our first question is a definite YES.

However, while Pokémon X and Y are among the “fast” group of generations, they’re the slowest gen in the cluster (the worst of the best, you might say), indicating that the answer to our second question is NO. If G7’s lack of speed was an intentional choice, it wasn’t because G6 monsters were exceptionally fast.

So was the decision to hit the brakes in Pokémon Sun and Moon made independent of what had transpired in the past? I don’t believe this was the case either. Instead, the data suggests that brinetold ‘s comment on the above linked forum post comes the closest to the truth:

they figured we got…like how many gens again….of speedy mons

so they decided to give us a gen of trick room partners

More specifically, “how many” appears to be three, as G4, G5, and G6 are all among the fastest generations (and all of them are within a few points of G1’s lead). This suggests that the decision to slow down G7 was made due to a larger “speed creep” trend, and that G6 was just a continuation of this trend rather than a speedy outlier. (You could actually take this argument a step farther, and say that G4 was a response to the “Slow-kémon” of G2 and G3.)

One last interesting note: If we dig a little deeper, we find that G7 actually has the highest standard deviation of its Speed values among the generations.

Pokémon Generation Standard Deviation of Speeds
G1 (Red/Blue) 25.347
G2 (Gold/Silver) 27.616
G3 (Ruby/Sapphire) 23.616
G4 (Diamond/Pearl) 25.196
G5 (Black/White) 28.484
G6 (X/Y) 25.266
G7 (Sun/Moon) 31.139

This means that Pokémon speed values are more spread out in G7 than in any other generation, which likely increases our chances of seeing an outlier that differs wildly from the average (*cough* Mudsdale *cough*) when we select a monster randomly from the Alolan Pokédex.

In summary:

  • Yes, G7 Pokémon are slow.
  • No, it’s not just because G6 Pokémon are fast.
  • The three generations prior to G7 were all at the faster end of the spectrum, suggesting that G7 may have been a “market correction” in the face of a larger trend of speedy Pokémon.

Of course, this also leads to more questions about stat trends over time: Have Attack stats gone up over time? Which generation is the weakest defensively? Are G2 Pokémon good at anything? It’s a rich area of exploration, and one I expect to dig deeper in to in the future.