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 starter character in all four Super Smash Bros. games.
Pikachu is a small, rodent-like Pokémon with short, yellow fur and brown markings on its 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 Pokémon series provide plenty of biological information, such as how it lives in forests in groups away from people, and how it keeps its tail raised as it monitors its surroundings.
In the core series, Pikachu is a relatively weak Electric-type Pokémon that can be found early in the series' first generation of games: Pokémon Red, Green and Blue Versions. Unlike certain Pokémon that had plot elements wrapped around them, such as Mewtwo, Pikachu was just another Pokémon that could be caught, evolved into a stronger 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 Pokémon Yellow Version, a specialized remake of the Red, Green and Blue Versions that is largely based on the anime. In keeping with the anime, a Pikachu is the first Pokémon that the player obtains, and its digitized cry in the Yellow Version is replaced with voiced soundbites of it saying its name, which are provided by Ikue Ōtani. 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, it will exhibit a variety of emotions when spoken to, varying from frustration, to amusement, to complete adoration. Pikachu's happiness is sometimes a prerequisite for certain rewards in the game, most notably the acquisition of all three of the starter Pokémon from the Red, Green and Blue Versions: Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle.
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 core series game since then and is usually associated with some new gameplay mechanic with each successive installment. It is also readily available to catch in all but four installments within the core series. In Pokémon Gold and Silver Versions, released for the Game Boy Color, 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 statistic when held. However the item was only obtainable when trading a Pikachu over from the Yellow Version. Pokémon Emerald Version, the solitary follow-up to Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire Versions granted Pikachu and its evolutionary relatives a signature move called Volt Tackle, which is an exceptionally powerful Electric-type attack that deals recoil damage and can only be attained by breeding a female Pikachu that holds a Light Ball. Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Versions for the Nintendo DS introduced cosmetic differences between genders for certain species of Pokémon, with Pikachu being among of them; in Pikachu's case, a female has a dent at the end of her tail. The Light Ball was also improved, as it now doubles both Pikachu's attack and special attack stats. Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, the remakes of the Ruby and Sapphire Versions, introduced Cosplay Pikachu, a female Pikachu that can wear costumes that correspond to the five contest conditions. The core series' latest installments, Pokémon Sun and Moon, introduced Z-Crystals, two of which are exclusive to Pikachu.
Pikachu has also been featured in virtually every Pokémon-related spin-off game ever released, sometimes as a main character or merely being featured among the hundreds of other Pokémon species. Notable Pikachu-centric games include Hey You, Pikachu!, where the player can talk to Pikachu using the Voice Recognition Unit, Pokémon Channel, which is usually regarded as a spiritual sequel to Hey You, Pikachu!, and the PokéPark series, which features a Pikachu as the main character. The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series has also consistently featured Pikachu as 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 is a small LCD device that owners can clip onto their belt. Whenever the user takes a step, it will register on the system, which will give Pikachu points in the form of "watts". Much like its fighting game appearances in the Super Smash Bros. series, Pikachu is one of the playable Pokémon in Pokkén Tournament; while the initial arcade release features a male Pikachu, Cosplay Pikachu (wearing its Pikachu Libre costume) was later introduced as an additional character with a different moveset.
As a playable character
Main article: Pikachu (SSB)starter characters. Just like in its home series, Pikachu is a small, fast character whose playstyle is prominently dependent on its speed and powerful electrical attacks. Pikachu is notable for having several advantages: it has amazing edgeguarding capabilities that allow it to go far off-stage, it has fantastic recovery thanks to its up special move, Quick Attack granting outstanding distance, its smash attacks and back throw are powerful, and its aerial attacks are fast, powerful and can combo very well. Pikachu's neutral special move, Thunder Jolt, emits a bolt of electricity that bounces along the stage. Lastly, its down special move, Thunder, involves Pikachu striking itself with a thunderbolt that blasts anyone else standing in the way. Thunder also boasts an effective combo named Thunderspiking, where Pikachu uses its up smash to launch an opponent upward to the upper blast line and follows up with Thunder to KO them. As a result of these outstanding traits granting it an incredibly favorable matchup spread, Pikachu is ranked 1st on the tier list, placing it in the S tier.
As a playable character
Main article: Pikachu (SSBM)
Pikachu returns as a starter character. While its playstyle is still incredibly similar to its first appearance, Pikachu is not quite as deadly as it used to be. However, it has gained Skull Bash as a side special move, and possesses a respectable mix of speed and power. Due to remaining a force to be reckoned with, it is ranked 9th on the tier list, placing it in the C tier.
Main article: List of SSBM trophies (Pokémon series)
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:
As a playable character
Main article: Pikachu (SSBB)
Pikachu returns 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, placing it in the B tier. Like the rest of Brawl's cast, Pikachu possesses a Final Smash, a new kind of special attack that debuted in Brawl. In Pikachu's case, its Final Smash is called Volt Tackle, which involves it generating a giant ball of electricity around itself that can be controlled by the player in order to slam into and/or electrocute the opponent.
Main article: Pikachu (SSB4)
Pikachu returns as a starter character, with its design having been updated to appear in line with its more recent appearances.
Pikachu is ranked 12th out of 58 on the SSB4 tier list. Pikachu received some nerfs in the transition from Brawl, such as its powerful down throw and forward throw chain grabs (which were a large part of Pikachu's previous success in Brawl) being removed, and lower damage outputs on some moves. In return, Pikachu benefits from the changes to hitstun canceling, which improve its combo game by enabling its attacks to chain together easier. Some of its attacks' ranges and KO potentials were also improved. However, Pikachu's placement is highly contested among the playerbase: some consider it to be even better than it was in Brawl, while others view its placement as being too high. Despite having a small playerbase in competitive play, Pikachu is still considered a dominant force in the metagame thanks to players such as ESAM.