The one thing Sun and Moon’s Z-Moves have on most other gimmicks is that they’re applicable to all Pokémon. These super-powered attacks are only usable once per battle, but they give any Pokémon, from the smallest Pikachu to the biggest Lunala, a chance to turn the tide of a fight with an exceptional attack. Some Pokémon have unique abilities that help them stand out, but on the whole, a Z-Move is a universal piece of any Pokémon’s arsenal if you’re carrying a specific Z-Crystal.
But Z-Moves left less of an impact on our relationships to certain Pokémon, the series’ world, and the imagery we associate with specific series games. Most Pokémon gimmicks are somehow transformative, whereas Z-Moves feel like a one-time glass cannon that we don’t really talk about in the same breath as Mega Evolutions or Dynamax. It was a neat, equalizing mechanic, but just not quite as memorable.