Pikachu (ピカチュウ, Pikachu) is a fictional creature in the Pokémon franchise of media. It is one of the most popular and well known Pokémon in the world, and is the main representative or mascot of the franchise and its anime. It appears as a playable fighter and starter in all four Super Smash Bros. games.
Pikachu is a small, rodent-like Pokémon with short, yellow fur and brown markings on the back, pointy, black-tipped ears, red circles on its cheeks, and a tail in the shape of a lightning bolt. The extensive variety of Pokédex entries available for Pikachu throughout the RPG series provides plenty of biological information: It lives in forests in groups away from people, and it keeps its tail raised as it monitors its surroundings. The tail is sometimes struck by lightning in this pose, and it will try to bite whatever yanks its tail. Its red cheeks are electricity-storing pouches which appear to become electrically charged overnight while Pikachu sleeps. It occasionally discharges electricity when it is dozy after waking up. Shooting out stored-up electricity from its cheeks is its primary offensive measure; if threatened, angered, or attacked, it discharges the electricity from its cheeks at the offender. When it releases pent-up energy in a full-on burst, the electric power unleashed is equal to a bona fide lightning bolt. When several Pikachu gather together, the collective electricity among them may build and cause a lightning storm. It occasionally uses an electric shock to recharge a fellow Pikachu that is in a weakened state. An intelligent species, it jolts any new thing it comes across as a way of inspecting it. Whenever it comes across a hard berry, it uses its electricity to roast the berry to make it tender enough to eat. If one was to come across a blackened berry, it is evidence that a Pikachu mistook the intensity of its charge.
In the main series of video games, Pikachu is a relatively weak Electric-type Pokémon that can be found early in the original games. Unlike certain special monsters that had plot elements wrapped around them, such as Mewtwo, Pikachu was just another Pokémon that could be caught, evolved into its higher form, Raichu, and had no bearing on the story. However, Pikachu's popularity in the anime, where it was the first and primary Pokémon of the main character, Ash Ketchum, eventually led to it starring in its own specialized version of the Game Boy game (the Yellow version, which was largely based off the anime), as the first Pokémon that the player obtained. In keeping with the anime, Pikachu's digitized cry in Yellow was replaced with voiced soundbites of it saying its name, provided by Ikue Ohtani. Pikachu's role in the game was intensely elaborated on, as several events on the game depended on how Pikachu felt towards the player. Depending on the player's actions towards Pikachu, the electric mouse Pokémon would exhibit a variety of emotions when spoken to, varying from frustration, to amusement, to complete adoration. Pikachu's happiness was sometimes a prerequisite for certain rewards in the game, such as attaining the three Pokémon that could be chosen as starters from the Red and Green versions.
Pikachu has not had a starring role in any of the main games in the series since then, but it has been featured in every prominent handheld RPG since the franchise, usually bringing something new with it each time. In Pokémon Gold and Silver, released for the Game Boy Color in 2000, Pikachu gained a new evolutionary phase in the form of Pichu. It also gained an item called the Light Ball, which doubled Pikachu's Special Attack when held. However the item was only obtainable when trading a Pikachu over from the Yellow version. The Emerald version of the Game Boy Advance games gave Pikachu an Egg Move exclusive to it and its family, called Volt Tackle, which was an exceptionally powerful Electric-attack with a large recoil. The Diamond and Pearl versions of the DS title introduced cosmetic differences between genders for certain species of Pokémon, and Pikachu was one of them, with the females having a dent at the end of their tail. The Light Ball also gained a new feature in this game - allowing both Pikachu's Attack and Special Attack stats to be doubled. Oddly, Pikachu became unobtainable via normal gameplay in the Black, White, Black 2 and White 2 versions. However, it returned in Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, where, like in Yellow, its digitized cry was replaced with full voice acting by Ikue Ohtani. The Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire versions introduced a special female Pikachu by the name of "Cosplay Pikachu", which could don various costumes to use unique moves in battle.
Pikachu has also been in virtually every Pokémon-related spin-off game ever released, sometimes as the star or a main character, and other times just featured among the hundreds of other Pokémon in the series. Notable Pikachu-centric games include Hey You, Pikachu! for the Nintendo 64, where the player could talk to Pikachu using the microphone, Pokémon Channel, which is usually regarded as a spiritual sequel to the previous title, PokéPark Wii: Pikachu's Adventure that has Pikachu as the main character and the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games, where Pikachu is one of the Pokémon that the player can start out as. Pikachu has also been made into a Tamagotchi-style virtual pet called the Pocket Pikachu, which was a little LCD device that owners can clip onto their belt. Whenever the user took a step, it would register on the system, which would give Pikachu points in the form of "watts". It is described as quadrupedal. Much like its fighting game appearances in the Super Smash Bros. series, Pikachu is one of the lead playable Pokémon in Pokkén Tournament alongside Lucario; while the initial arcade release features a main presumably male Pikachu, Cosplay Pikachu (as "Pikachu Libre") was later introduced as an additional character with a different moveset.
In Super Smash Bros.
As a playable character
In Super Smash Bros. Melee
As a playable character
Pikachu returns to Melee, once again as a starter character. While its play style is still incredibly similar to its first appearance in the Smash series, Pikachu is not quite as deadly as it used to be. However, it is still a powerful, agile character and a force to be reckoned with, ranking it 9th on the tier list in C tier. Pikachu gains Skull Bash as its new side special move.
In line with the other playable characters, there are three Pikachu trophies obtained by defeating the single-player modes - a normal trophy from Classic Mode, and "Smash Red" and "Smash Blue" trophies from the Adventure and All-Star modes, respectively. The Classic mode trophy reads:
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl
As a playable character
Pikachu returns once again as a starter character in Brawl. Visually, Pikachu has barely changed at all from its Melee design, only being touched up slightly. However, Pikachu was improved from Melee, becoming more powerful and gaining many new techniques such as Quick Attack canceling and two chain grabs. As a result, Pikachu is ranked 8th on the tier list in B tier. It has all of its moves from the first two games. Like the rest of Brawl's cast, Pikachu also has a Final Smash, a new kind of special attack that was added for Brawl. Pikachu's Final Smash is called Volt Tackle, which involves it turning into a giant ball of light that can be controlled by the player. One downside of Volt Tackle is that it can be considered hard to maneuver. This move operates absolutely nothing like Volt Tackle in the original Pokémon games, and is speculated to be based on a special ability in the Genesis/Mega Drive game Pulseman, Volteccer, which Volt Tackle was apparently based on and named after (in the Japanese versions of the Pokémon series).
Pikachu returns as a playable starter character. Pikachu's design has been updated to look like its more recent appearances, being less chubby and having a brighter color than previous games.
Pikachu was notably buffed overall in the transition from Brawl to SSB4, although it received nerfs to some of its attacks and abilities. Its powerful down throw and forward throw chain grabs, (which were a large part of Pikachu's previous success in Brawl) were removed. In return, however, Pikachu's combo ability has been improved, its attacks can chain easier, some of its attacks have better range, and some of its attacks can KO more efficiently. Although Pikachu was a high tier character in Brawl, many consider it to be even better in SSB4. Despite having a rather small playerbase in competitive play, Pikachu is still considered a dominant force in the metagame thanks to players such as ESAM.