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Gastly learns the elemental punches. That would be fine by me, if Gastly actually had hands. Is there some connection between Gastly and the elemental punches? Or is Game freak just being Game Freak, giving Rhydon, a Pokemon quad weak to water, Surf?

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No reason. This was game freak being game freaking illogical. The only possible reasons I could see are:

  • Haunter and Gengar have hands so they gave the move to Gastly. That wouldn’t make much sense though, since they could’ve just made it exclusive to Haunter and Gengar
  • Gastly somehow creates a hand. This would be weird though...
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it would be hard to make an egg move exclusively to the whole evolution line except the baby though. like it's the first evolution that you get from the egg and if you want the elemental punches on Gengar/Haunter you will have to breed a Gastly.
Whoops. Didn’t realize they were egg moves. Still, if Game Freak was logical, they would’ve not made them egg moves and gave them to Haunter and Gengar movepools OR just not give them the moves.
maybe it creates a fist out of the smog it was borne from?
yeah i agree with you eXcess
somebody, PLEASE, make a comic where Gastly uses fire punch by ramming into his opponent.
YES that is a beautiful idea