Pichu (ピチュー, Pichu) is a Pokémon character in Super Smash Bros. Melee. It is unlocked by completing Event 37: Legendary Pokémon or by playing 200 vs. matches. Pichu is the "baby" pre-evolution of Pikachu, and in Melee, Pichu has a nearly identical moveset, making it a clone.
Pichu is currently ranked 25th in the F tier due to its terrible range and that most characters can easily chain throw it, despite its small size and its status as the lightest character in the game, which are also its flaws. It also takes damage from its own electric attacks, hindering its KOing ability, as most of its finishing attacks involve electricity. Pichu does have strengths, such as having a surprisingly good grab game, and Pichu is very quick and most of its attacks have little to no start-up lag. Pichu also has a decent air game and a slew of powerful attacks, some even more powerful than those of its counterpart. Regardless, Pichu suffers from abysmal matchups, and it has the highest amount of very unfavorable matchups of any character in any Smash game, having a total of twelve. By comparison, Kirby, the lowest on the tier list, has seven, and Bowser, the third lowest on the tier list, has six. Furthermore, Pichu has no advantageous matchups, with three being even (against Yoshi, Kirby and Bowser). It appears that Pichu is intended to be a sub-par character since its trophy descriptions mention that it is "top of the class in weakness" and it is "best suited for handicapped matches."
To unlock Pichu, players have to complete Event 37: Legendary Pokémon or take part in 200 VS. matches. Upon completing either criterion, the player will fight against Pichu on Pokémon Stadium, with "Battle Theme" playing.
Pichu, as a character, falls under the archetype of being nimble, yet relatively weak; while faster and slightly stronger than Pikachu in some cases, its moveset generally consists of attacks that deal much lower damage and knockback than Pikachu or most other characters in the cast. Due to its high traction and average falling speed, Pichu has a rather short wavedash; additionally, its quick and low-lag aerials also give Pichu a good SHFFL, much like Pikachu's. As such, Pichu can easily maneuver around stages, with very low landing lag, a small frame and a rather fast dash, as well as decent jumping power.
One of Pichu's main advantages is its perhaps surprising power. While its smashes are all of short range, all are unusually powerful considering Pichu's small frame. Its up smash and forward smash contain incredible power, being able to KO characters reliably at as little as 70 to 80 percent, while its down smash semi-spikes opponents and has invincibility frames. Pichu's Skull Bash also has surprising power and distance when charged; at full power, it deals a massive 39% damage and guarantees KOs at very low percentages, and the long distance traveled greatly aids in Pichu's recovery.
Professionals consider Pichu's neutral aerial to be the best tool in its arsenal, as it comes out very quickly and has very low ending and landing lag, especially when L-canceled. Pichu can approach enemies with neutral aerial, rack up respectable damage with long strings of it, and create psuedo-walls of pain if the player chooses to continue the strings off-stage. Aside from this, Pichu's up aerial allows it to juggle enemies into the air. Its other aerials are lackluster, but these two moves alone give Pichu quite a force in the air. Pichu also has decent throws; its forward and back throws can knock opponents off stage or set up combos, while its up and down throws can potentially start chain throws.
Pichu's greatest flaw, however, is its significant range problems. All of its best and most powerful attacks are very close to its body, making it tough for Pichu to KO or inflict damage easily (especially against characters with disjointed hitboxes), having only a handful of options for approaching enemies. Although Pichu does have access to two projectiles (Thunder Jolt and Thunder), both cause recoil damage and are easily telegraphed, making them unreliable and punishable if used excessively. Pichu's grab game is also heavily hampered by its short range, at the third shortest in the game, making it difficult for players to consistently take advantage of Pichu's decent throws. Many of Pichu's poorest matchups stem from it being unable to deal with individual moves of characters (such as Sheik's forward tilt or a large portion of Marth's moveset) because it lacks tools that have enough range to counter the attacks.
Additionally, Pichu suffers from the infamous recoil damage it receives from using almost any of its attacks involving electrical hitboxes. In several of Pichu's attacks, especially those that involve electricity, at least one percent of damage is directly inflicted onto it; using Agility to recover alone adds four percent to Pichu each time it is used. This recoil damage is especially crippling to Pichu; with the lowest weight in the game (being lighter than Jigglypuff) and average falling speed, Pichu's survivability is among the worst in the game, meaning that this recoil damage, coupled with damage inflicted by the opponents, can cause Pichu to be more easily KOed than any other character in the game. Outside of making Pichu even easier to KO, the extra damage taken through recoil also reduces how long it can utilize crouch cancelling. In order for Pichu to avoid the significant drawbacks of recoil damage, players need to strike a proper balance between Pichu's electrical and non-electrical moves; as a benefit to Pichu, arguably Pichu's best KOing and comboing moves, such as its neutral air and up smash, do not use electricity, making recoil damage less of a problem if the player is careful enough not to use electrical moves, such as its forward smash and forward throw, too often.
Pichu's defensive game is also poor, with short tech rolls, rolling dodges, and a slow, short ledge roll, making it far easier for enemies to punish Pichu for attempting to dodge. Its shield is rather large for its size, however, making shield stabbing less of a problem for it. Furthermore, despite being a lightweight, Pichu is also quite vulnerable to combos (some of which are either infinite or zero-death, such as Ganondorf's chain throw) due to its abnormally high hitstun.
For a gallery of Pichu's hitboxes, see here.
In Competitive play
Pichu has, by far, the worst matchup spread in Melee. It is hard countered by a whopping twelve characters (the most out of any character in-game and nearly twice as much as Kirby, the character with the second-highest amount), countered by six, soft countered by four, and has only three matchups that are considered even. Even in the early metagame, Pichu was severely crippled by its light weight, a surprising vulnerability to combos (including chain throws), its overall terrible reach, and above all, moves that inflict recoil damage. This has resulted in Pichu being very easy to KO, especially against characters with powerful attacks like Fox and Captain Falcon. Several characters, like Marth and Samus, can easily outreach it (thus making it easy to space), while others can exploit its vulnerability to chain throws and combos (with Sheik and Ganondorf being notorious examples of the former category). In addition, all of its counters can take advantage of its recoil damage to bring it up to KO percentages very quickly. As such, in spite of its advantages (such as good mobility), Pichu suffers from terrible matchups overall. It is one of only two characters in-game to have no advantageous matchups (the other being Bowser) and its even matchups can be potentially seen in its opponents' favors (if by a slight margin).
Tier placement and history
Pichu was always seen as a joke character by the Melee community; from the very beginning, many noted that it was completely outclassed by Pikachu, who was already considered a below-average character at the time. With its poor approach coupled with many attacks that damaged itself, including its own recovery, as well as its terrible overall reach, extremely light weight, and difficulty in putting pressure on the opponent, many professionals laughed at the prospect of a serious Pichu player. It started out on the first tier list as 25th place, and has since consistently shifted from 25th to 26th and back, competing with Bowser, Kirby, and (to a lesser extent) Mewtwo for the spot of the worst character in the game. It currently ranks 25th on the tier list in F tier, one spot above Kirby, the current considered "worst character," with many still firmly believing that Pichu is the worst character in the game due to its overall worse matchup spread than either one of its "competitors" for the position. It has made no impact on any significant tournaments for several years, as none of the top 96 placers of any major Melee tournament are dedicated Pichu players, and its only players are currently either inactive or have better characters to choose from. Pichu remains one of the most unpopular and worst characters in Melee to this very day, and it's not likely that Pichu's tournament results will improve.
In Single Player Modes
In Classic Mode
In Classic Mode, Pichu can appear as an ordinary fighter in one on one battles, as an ally or as an opponent alongside Kirby or Pikachu, as the sole opponent in a multi-character battle or as a metal opponent in the second to last stage. Barring the metal fight, Pichu always appears on Pokémon Stadium, with its alternate music Battle Theme playing.
In Adventure Mode
In Adventure Mode, Pichu can appear in Stage 7 on Pokémon Stadium, appearing alongside a team consisting of Pikachu and, if unlocked, Jigglypuff. Pichu's theme, Battle Theme can also play on the stage.
In All-Star Mode
In All-Star Mode, Pichu and its allies are fought on Fourside. Unlike normal gameplay, however, Battle Theme plays here.
In Event Matches
Pichu appears in the following Event Matches:
In addition to the normal trophy about Pichu as a character, there are two trophies about it as a fighter, unlocked by completing the Adventure and All-Star Modes respectively with Pichu on any difficulty: