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Pokemon Sun & Moon: starter evolutions guide: stats & move lists

Which starter is the coolest once evolved? Here's all you need to know.

If you're struggling to pick a Starter Pokemon in Pokemon Sun & Moon, we don't blame you: These are always the hard choices.

We've actually covered the starter Pokemon in general over on another page, but some of you are concerned with not what the Pokemon you pick is like but more with what they'll finally look like and how they'll finally perform.

Pokemon Sun & Moon's starter Pokemon do change a fair amount. Rowlet begins as a Grass-type and flying-type hybrid, but after it's evolved twice it drops its flying-type in favour of being a ghost-type Pokemon (rest in peace, Rowlet). Litten the cute little fiery kitten has a high special attack rating early on and looks like it'll specialize in fire-based special moves, but after evolving it looks like a buff anthropomorphic wrestler and gains Dark as a second type. At this point it focuses on physical moves, as you'd expect for a wrestler.

These are just some of the changes -- so, what can you expect for the trio once you've evolved them twice? All three starter Pokemon will reach their final form at Level 36 as long as you don't interrupt their evolution. Here's what they become.


Decidueye (Rowlet starter evolution stage 3)

While its first two evolutionary stages are grass-type and flying-type, Rowlet's final form Decidueye drops the flying-type classification in favour of ghost-type. This of course has a significant impact on how Rowlet trainers will play with their starter in the late game.

Decidueye is a fairly interesting choice for ghost-type purely because its stats are fairly evenly distributed in all areas, and in particular because its highest single stat is for physical attack - ghost Pokemon are usually focused on special attacks instead. Decidueye even has access to some fighting-type moves, making it a strange mix indeed.

Decidueye comes with an ability to match this focus on physical attacks in the form of Long Reach. This move means that when you use physical attacks they won't actually count as having touched the enemy, avoiding any negative status effects that might come with touching them. The move that'll probably see the most use for Decidueye is actually a support move, Spirit Shackle. This is an all-new move for Sun & Moon for Rowlet's line and not only deals damage but also 'shackles' the target to battle with ghostly power - meaning they can't escape. In team battles this could prove a very powerful move indeed.

Decidueye Base Stats & Move Set

  • Grass-type / Ghost-type
  • Ability: Overgrow (Powers up grass-type moves when HP is low), Long Reach (Moves used by this Pokemon never make physical contact with the target)
  • HP: 78
  • Attack: 107
  • Defense: 75
  • Special Attack: 100
  • Special Defense: 100
  • Speed: 70
  • Base Stats Ranking: 530

Decidueye Move List

    From Level Up:
  • Level 1: Spirit Shackle, U-Turn, Tackle, Leafage
  • Level 4: Growl
  • Level 8: Peck
  • Level 11: Astonish
  • Level 15: Razor Leaf
  • Level 19: Foresight
  • Level 24: Pluck
  • Level 28: Synthesis
  • Level 33: Fury Attack
  • Level 38: Sucker Punch
  • Level 44: Leaf Blade
  • Level 49: Feather Dance
  • Level 55: Brave Bird
  • Level 60: Nasty Plot
    Additional moves:
  • Via TMs: Smack Down, Giga Impact, Low Sweep, Roost, Steel Wing, False Swipe, Shadow Claw, Grass Knot, Solar Beam, Work Up, Toxic, Hidden Power, Sunny Day, Light Screen, Protect, Safeguard, Frustration, Return, Double Team, Facade, Rest, Attract, Round, Echoes Voice, Energy Ball, Swords Dance, Sleep Talk, Nature Power, Substitute, Confide
  • Via Egg: Baton Pass, Curse, Confuse Ray, Defog, Haze, Ominous Wind
  • Move Tutor: Frenzy Plant, Grass Pledge


Primarina (Popplio starter evolution stage 3)

Primarina's second type gained once it evolves from Popplio and Brionne is Fairy. Primarina really seems designed around the Popplio line's all-new and unique ability, Liquid Voice. Liquid Voice makes all sound-based moves become water-type moves, significantly changing their utility in the process.

Several of the Popplio line's moves are impacted by this ability, and even more moves that are affected can be learned via TM or via breeding and eggs. The star of the show is the Sparkling Aria move, however, an all-new move for Primarina and Sun & Moon. Sparkling Aria sees Primarina burst into song and emit bubbles. This move will heal burns but also do significant water-based damage.

In proper competitive play it's sounding like Primarina won't be an overpowered option but could still have a role as a hard-hitter thanks to its excellent Special Attack ability.

Primarina Base Stats & Move Set

  • Water-type / Fairy-type
  • Ability: Torrent (Powers up water-type moves when HP is low), Liquid Voice (Turns all sound-based moves into water-type moves)
  • HP: 80
  • Attack: 74
  • Defense: 74
  • Special Attack: 126
  • Special Defense: 116
  • Speed: 60
  • Base Stats Ranking: 530

Primarina - Move List

    From Level Up:
  • Level 1: Pound, Water Gun, Sparkling Aria
  • Level 4: Growl
  • Level 9: Disarming Voice
  • Level 11: Baby-Doll Eyes
  • Level 15: Aqua Jet
  • Level 19: Encore
  • Level 24: Bubble Beam
  • Level 28: Sing
  • Level 33: Double Slap
  • Level 38: Hyper Voice
  • Level 44: Moonblast
  • Level 49: Captivate
  • Level 55: Hydro Pump
  • Level 60: Misty Terrain
    Additional moves:
  • Via TMs: Blizzard, Ice Beam, Psychic, Shadow Ball, Energy Ball, Giga Impact, Psych Up, Dazzling Gleam, Rain Dance, Work Up, Toxic, Hail, Hidden Power, Protect, Light Screen, Frustration, Return, Double Team, Facade, Rest, Attract, Round, Echoed Voice, Scald, Acrobatics, Swagger, Sleep Talk, Substitute, Surf, Waterfall, Confide
  • Via Egg: Charm, Amnesia, Aqua Ring, Aromatic Mist, Perish Song, Wonder Room
  • Move Tutor: Hydro Cannon, Water Pledge


Incineroar (Litten starter evolution stage 3)

Litten's evolutionary line changes quite a lot over the course of the game. It gets faster and has a big jump in special attack from Litten to Torracat, but when it evolves to Incineroar it becomes even slower than in its first form and instead gains a dark-type as its second type and a huge boost to physical attack to match its wrestler physique.

Incineroar is the only of the three starter lines to not get an all-new ability to itself, instead carrying two tried and tested older ones. In exchange it gains a plethora of powerful dark-type moves when fully evolved including Darkest Lariat, which ignores enemy stat changes and Throat Chop, which puts a stop to sound-based moves for two turns - handy for battling Popplio's line.

Incineroar looks like a professional wrestler, and while some might be disappointed with the shift in focus from what Litten at first looks like it'll be, this Pokemon is a bulky tank of a battler, thus the slow speed. It has the sheer power to annihilate anything if you're careful, though it will need to be properly supported.

Incineroar Base Stats & Move Set

  • Fire-type / Dark-type
  • Ability: Blaze (Powers up fire-type moves when HP is low), Intimidate (Intimidates opposing Pokemon in battle, lowering their attack)
  • HP: 95
  • Attack: 115
  • Defense: 90
  • Special Attack: 80
  • Special Defense: 90
  • Speed: 60
  • Base Stats Ranking: 530

Incineroar Move List

    From Level Up:
  • Level 1: Darkest Lariat, Bulk Up, Throat Chop, Scratch, Ember
  • Level 4: Growl
  • Level 8: Lick
  • Level 11: Leer
  • Level 15: Fire Fang
  • Level 19: Roar
  • Level 24: Bite
  • Level 28: Swagger
  • Level 33: Fury Swipes
  • Level 38: Thrash
  • Level 44: Flamethrower
  • Level 49: Scary Face
  • Level 55: Flare Blitz
  • Level 60: Outrage
  • Level 66: Cross Chop
    Additional moves:
  • Via TMs: Flamethrower, Fire Blast, Flame Charge, Brutal Swing, Quash, Focus Blast, Fling, Hyper Beam, Embargo, Bulldoze, Dark Pulse, Snarl, Overheat, Shadow Claw, Sunny Day, Leech Life, Work Up, Roar, Toxic, Bulk Up, Hidden Power, Taunt, Protect, Frustration, Return, Double Team, Torment, Facade, Confide, Substitute, U-Turn, Rest, Attract, Round, Will-O-Wisp, Acrobatics, Swords Dance, Swagger, Sleep Talk
  • Via Egg: Body Slam, Crunch, Fake Out, Heat Wave, Nasty Plot, Revenge
  • Move Tutor: Blast Burn, Fire Pledge

Starter Pokemon Evolution Z-Moves

As briefly touched upon in the stats below, each of the starter Pokemon in Sun and Moon also have their own unique Z-Moves once they reach their final form.

Z-Moves are powerful new moves where your trainer does a little dance and your Pokemon follows suit with an incredibly powerful move - the catch being that in order to use them your Pokemon needs to be holding a specific item. On top of that you can only use these mega-moves once per battle. They're last-resort stuff, but they can make or break a battle.

    For the starters, they're as follows:
  • Decidueye's Z-Move is called Sinister Arrow Road and involves the giant owl flying high before letting loose an absolute barrage of arrows that appear to be imbued with ghostly energy on the enemy.
  • Incineroar's Z-Move is the Malicious Moonsault. A wrestling ring of fire is created around Incineroar's opponent and then with a flourish the wrester-looking Pokemon drops a hell of a fiery power-bomb.
  • Primarina's Z-Move is known as the Oceanic Operetta, and combines this Pokemon's penchant for singing with a deadly water-based attack. A gigantic bubble of water is raised up over the opponent and then exploded above their head, drenching and doing serious damage to them. It also looks really cool.

About the Author

Alex Donaldson avatar

Alex Donaldson

Assistant Editor

Alex started out his career in the games media as an over-eager kid working on fan sites, and now has decades of experience. He's the resident expert on esoteric matters such as Pokemon Go, gaming hardware, and genres like RPGs, fighters, and strategy games. Outside of VG247 he's the co-founder of genre-dedicated website RPG Site. He also collects original arcade machines, Lego, and considers himself a whisky buff.

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