PokéBase - Pokémon Q&A
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I've been playing Soul Silver and I have a Bellsprout with both of these moves. Several times it has just said the move failed and I'm not sure why.

Or Overcoat.
A least in gen 1 and 2, it "fails" if it misses. not too sure about others
Sleep Powder doesn't effect Grass-types

2 Answers

1 vote
Best answer

Because a Pokemon can only have 1 status condition

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I don't know why I didn't think of that
1 vote

Poisonpowder will fail if the opponent is a Steel Type
Both fail if the opponent already has a Status Condition

There are a lot of reasons the move might not work, but the message that shows up should be a clue why it didn't work.

"But it failed" means that the opposing Pokemon already suffers from a status condition.*

In the case of trying to poison a Steel or Poison type Pokemon, it will say "It doesn't affect <Pokemon name>."  This is also what happens when you try to put a Pokemon with Vital Spirit (eg: Primeape) to sleep.

The attack can also miss, in which case it will say "Bellsprout's attack missed."  Both those moves hit 75% of the time under normal conditions (and are further reduced when opposing Pokemon's evasion rises or Bellsprout's accuracy lowers).

There are also moves like Safeguard that protect Pokemon from being afflicted by these status conditions.  In that case I think it straight up says "Foe <Pokemon name> was protected by safeguard."  I don't remember though, this could be another reason why you might get the "But it failed" message.

Hope that helps!

*That is, the five "non-volatile status conditions" that show up under the opposing Pokemon's name / next to their health bar: Burnt, Paralyzed, Frozen, Asleep, and Poisoned.  If they're merely confused, infatuated, seeded, etc the "But it failed" message won't be a problem.