Pichu is voiced by Satomi Koorogi, who also voiced one of the Pichu Brothers in the Pokémon anime.
Pichu is currently ranked 22nd in the D tier, and is the lowest ranked clone and unlockable character in the game. Pichu has solid overall movement, complemented with some very quick attacks. It also possesses a surprising amount of power for its weight class, with good chaingrabbing ability and a handful of strong finishers, some even more powerful than those of its counterpart, Pikachu. However, all of Pichu's strengths are severely outweighed by its weaknesses. It has abysmal range and very poor endurance due to its light weight, and is unusually prone to chaingrabs itself despite its small size, due to the unusually high amounts of hitstun it sustains as a result of being the game's lightest character. It also takes recoil damage from its electric-based moves, including its own recovery move Agility, further hampering its defensive game. As a result, Pichu suffers from abysmal matchups; it was historically considered to have the worst matchup spread in the game with no winning matchups at all, with this perception only marginally improving after recent metagame developments.
Although it is not considered a contender for the worst character competitively, it appears that Pichu was intended to be a sub-par character in general, since its trophy descriptions mention that it is "top of the class in weakness" and it is "best suited for handicapped matches." Indeed, this was confirmed in a development news update, shortly after the game's release.
How to unlock
To unlock Pichu, players have to complete Event 37: Legendary Pokémon or play 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 fragile. 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, making it surprisingly difficult to hit in the hands of a capable player. However, its poor endurance due to its very light weight ensures that opponents will not have to find too many openings against it to secure KOs.
One of Pichu's main advantages is its perhaps surprising power. While its moveset generally consists of attacks that deal much lower damage and knockback than its clone Pikachu or most other characters in the cast, the few strong moves it possesses can be deadly if utilized properly. Pichu's smashes are all of short range, but all are unusually powerful; 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 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 chain throw fastfallers and tech chase characters respectively.
Pichu's best tool, however, is not its powerful set of smash attacks, but rather its neutral aerial, which is considered the central attack to its metagame. Pichu's neutral aerial comes out very quickly and has very low ending and landing lag, especially when L-canceled. This move serves as a viable approach option, can rack up respectable damage with long strings of just itself, and can create a pseudo-wall of pain if the player is allowed to continue the strings off-stage. Pichu's up aerial complements neutral aerial's utility, allowing 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 boasts an excellent recovery. Its up special, Agility, can travel in many different directions and cover very large distances; while Pikachu's Quick Attack is superior in speed and distance, Agility is still a solid recovery tool in its own right. Pichu's Skull Bash also further aids its horizontal recovery, with surprising power and distance when charged; at full power, it deals a massive 39% damage and guarantees KOs at very low percentages. With Agility being able to seamlessly mix up edgeguarders, and Skull Bash's potential strength serving as a direct deterrent to attempted edgeguards, Pichu has one of the best recoveries in the game.
Pichu's greatest flaw, however, is its very poor range. All of its best and most powerful attacks are very close to its body, and it lacks a full set of tools to consistently approach enemies to make use of these moves, making it very difficult for Pichu to KO or even find any openings against its opponents (especially against characters with disjointed hitboxes). Its neutral aerial and Thunder Jolt projectile are among its only reliable options, making Pichu's overall neutral game play very predictable; the latter also inflicts recoil damage to it, making it unreliable long-term. 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.
Pichu's defensive game is also notoriously poor. Although it has a rather large shield for its size, it is saddled with short tech rolls and a slow, short ledge roll, making it very easy for enemies to extend punishes on Pichu with little that the Pichu player can do to escape. 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 and average falling speed. These traits exacerbate Pichu's range issues; its problems in the neutral game are very reminiscent of Pikachu's, but Pichu is punished harder for losing exchanges by several orders of magnitude, making the risk-reward of its approaching heavily skewed against it in the vast majority of situations.
Finally, 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. While most of Pichu's best moves do not use electricity, making this a lesser problem at higher levels of play, the threat of recoil damage further limits the small amount of utility its electric-based attacks have, and there is no way at all for Pichu to avoid recoil when recovering. If players are not careful with balancing Pichu's electrical and non-electrical attacks, the recoil damage can add up quickly, which can be especially crippling to Pichu. With the lowest weight in the game (being lighter than Jigglypuff) and average falling speed, Pichu's survivability is already among the worst in the game, meaning that this extra damage makes it even more trivial for opponents to put Pichu in KO range. Outside of making Pichu even easier to KO, the extra damage taken through recoil also reduces how long it can utilize crouch cancelling.
Overall, Pichu is a very poor character at all levels of play, with its few advantages being thoroughly outweighed by its numerous deficiencies. While Pichu has the potential to pose a threat to the opponent with its speed and power, it simply lacks the tools to put those positive traits to consistent use against competent opponents. The vast majority of the Melee cast can easily outrange and out-punish Pichu in nearly every instance, regardless of whatever trickery the Pichu player may attempt. As such, Pichu is almost never seen at any level of play.
Pichu not only performs significantly worse than Pikachu, but is considered a low-tiered character and sometimes even referred to as a joke character. Pichu inherits Pikachu's range issues, but has very few positive traits to compensate for such problems, and it is generally outclassed in most areas by Pikachu otherwise. The raw power increase on a few of its finishers is not enough to outweigh not only the overall power and utility loss across its entire moveset, but also the added recoil damage on several of its moves that automatically make such moves riskier than Pikachu's. Perhaps the single most negatively impactful change is Pichu's lack of a semi-spike hitbox on its up aerial, which makes it vastly inferior to Pikachu in terms of edgeguarding. Pichu's loss of such an integral edgeguarding tool harms its viability significantly, as edgeguarding is considered one of Pikachu's biggest strengths, and one of the main reasons that it can stand up to the top Melee characters at the highest levels of play.
As a result of its major flaws, it is arguably the worst clone in the game, and overall one of the worst clones in the series.
Grabs and throws
For a gallery of Pichu's hitboxes, see here.
Note: Just like Captain Falcon, Pichu's taunt will be different depending on which side it is facing, but both taunts finish at the same time and have the same IASA frames, like Captain Falcon (as both of his taunts have 60 frames apiece).
In Competitive play
Tier placement and history
Pichu was always seen as a joke character by the Melee community; from the start, 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 doubted that Pichu could ever develop a deep metagame or gain any notable professional players.
Pichu was 25th on first tier list, and has since consistently shifted from 25th to 26th and back, competing with Bowser, Kirby, and Mewtwo for the lowest placement on the tier list. Despite these placements, there still exists debate over Pichu's tier standing; some players believe that Pichu should be ranked last due to its extreme frailty and few ways to break through opponents. This is exhibited by Pichu players unable to make an impact on any significant tournaments for several years, with none of the top 96 placers of any major Melee tournament being dedicated Pichu players, and its only players being either inactive or have better characters to choose from. Conversely, many smashers attest that Pichu is not the worst character in the game, due to its surprisingly powerful neutral air combos and good speed for a low-tier. Mew2King, arguably the world's best Pichu player, notably believes that Pichu is far from the worst character in the game, ranking it 19th on his personal tier list. Additionally, Armada placed it at 22nd on his own tier list., citing its agility and notable set ups over opponents. Due to Pichu’s slightly improved matchups against fast-fallers such as Fox and Captain Falcon being recognized, it has risen to 22nd on the current tier list.
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; when fought with Kirby it will appear on Fountain of Dreams instead.
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: