Pikachu (ピカチュウ, Pikachu) is a fictional creature from the Pokémon series. It debuted in the series' first generation, and represents that generation as a member of the "perfect-attendance crew" throughout the Super Smash Bros. series. Similarly to Mario and Link, Pikachu is one of the most well-known video game characters in the world, to the point of being the de facto mascot of the Pokémon series.
Pikachu is a small, rodent-like Pokémon characterized by its yellow fur, long, conical ears with black tips, thunder bolt-shaped tail, and round, red cheeks. A pure Electric-type Pokémon, it is categorized within the Pokédex at #025 as the "Mouse Pokémon". The extensive variety of Pokédex entries available for Pikachu throughout the Pokémon series provide plenty of biological information about the species: it stores electric energy within its cheeks, and releases this energy when startled or angered. Groups of Pikachu typically live in secluded forests, and can occasionally cause thunderstorms when gathered together. It is the evolved form of Pichu, and evolves into Raichu when exposed to a Thunder Stone.
Pikachu was designed by graphic designer Atsuko Nishida on the impetus of creating more "cute" Pokémon during development; the earliest Pokémon designed were fearsome beasts, such as Rhydon. With this in mind, she originally based the design on daifuku, a Japanese sweet that is often crafted to resemble a rabbit (the basis of its long, rabbit-like ears). The creature's final design, including its ability to store electricity in its cheeks, is largely based upon squirrels, which Nishida had been obsessed with at the time. She coined the name "Pikachu" after the onomatopoeia "pika pika" (the sound of sparking electricity) and "chu chu" (the sound of a mouse's squeak). Lastly, lead artist Ken Sugimori drew the final character artwork based on Nishida's dot sprite.
In the core series, Pikachu is a relatively weak yet somewhat rare 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 simply a Pokémon that could be readily caught, evolved into a stronger form, and had no bearing on the story. According to programmer Kōji Nishino, its unusual rarity was because he was personally fond of the design and wanted it to be difficult to find; however, this resulted in Pikachu becoming popular among players precisely due to its rarity.
Soon afterwards, Pikachu's popularity led to its prominent appearance in the Pokémon anime, where a member of its species became the first Pokémon acquired by Ash Ketchum, the anime's main character. This, in turn, resulted in Pikachu becoming the main mascot of the series. To capitalize on its fame, it became a major focus of many Pokémon spin-offs, such as Pokémon Yellow Version, a remake of 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 from the previous versions is replaced with voiced soundbites provided by Ikue Ōtani, Pikachu's voice actress from the anime.
Pikachu's role in Yellow Version was greatly elaborated upon, as several events in the game depend on how Pikachu feels 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. As such, Yellow Version became the first game in the series to implement a happiness mechanic, which has since become a series standard. Pikachu's temperament toward the player would also become a prerequisite for certain rewards in the game, most notably the acquisition of all three of the starter Pokémon from Red, Green and Blue Versions: Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle.
Following Yellow Version, Pikachu has since been featured in every core series game, and is usually associated with some new gameplay mechanic with each successive installment. It is also readily available to catch in all games within the core series, with the exception of those in the fifth generation (Pokémon Black and White Versions and Pokémon Black and White Versions 2). In Pokémon Gold and Silver Versions, released for the Game Boy Color, Pikachu gained a pre-evolutionary form called Pichu and the Light Ball item, the latter of which doubled Pikachu's Special Attack statistic when held. However, the Light Ball 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, 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, females have a dent at the tip of their tails that makes it look like a heart. The Light Ball was also improved, as it now doubles both Pikachu's Attack and Special Attack stats.
Pokémon X and Y featured Ikue Ōtani voicing Pikachu in the core series for the first time since Yellow Version, a change which has been retained moving forward. 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 and grant her a respective move that her species cannot normally learn.
Pokémon Sun and Moon introduced Z-Crystals, two of which (Pikanium Z and Pikashunium Z) are exclusive to Pikachu, alongside a Pikachu based on Ash's that can wear one of his numerous hats. Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!, remakes of Yellow Version, feature a Pikachu as the player's partner Pokémon in Let's Go, Pikachu!. In contrast to previous starter Pokémon, the partner Pikachu has various traits that notably distinguish it from other members of its species, such as exclusive moves and customization through various outfits and hairstyles.
Most recently, Pokémon Sword and Shield introduced the Dynamax and Gigantamax features, the latter of which is exclusive to specific members of certain species. By registering Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! with the games, the player will receive a special Pikachu with the ability turn into Gigantamax Pikachu. While Gigantamaxed, it is able to use G-Max Volt Crash, which paralyzes all opponents on the field.
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.
A more anthropomorphic male Pikachu, capable of speaking human language, appears as the main character in the Detective Pikachu sub-franchise. In the Detective Pikachu film, Ryan Reynolds provides his spoken English dialogue, and Ōtani reprises her role to provide his traditional vocalizations.
Pikachu has also appeared in the Tamagotchi-style virtual pet simulator 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 and its enhanced version. While the initial arcade release features a presumably male Pikachu, the female Cosplay Pikachu (in her Pikachu Libre outfit) was later introduced as an additional character with a different moveset.
As a playable character
Main article: Pikachu (SSB)
Pikachu's debut in the Super Smash Bros. series is as one of the eight 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's neutral special move, Thunder Jolt, emits a bolt of electricity that bounces along the stage. Quick Attack is Pikachu's up special move and while it's not capable of dealing damage, it has fantastic recovery distance. Lastly, its down special move, Thunder, involves Pikachu striking itself with a thunderbolt that blasts anyone else standing in the way.
Pikachu is considered the best character among the SSB competitive community and 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 was nerfed in Melee. Despite this, Pikachu still holds up at 9th out of 26 on the tier list, ranking at C tier. It has gained Skull Bash as a side special move, and possesses a respectable mix of speed and power. Pikachu is the only Pokémon which is available from the start of the game. On the character selection screen, it appears initially after Mario on the top row, but when Luigi is unlocked, it moves to the bottom row.
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. While its position on the tier list isn't much of an improvement from Melee, Pikachu is considered to have been buffed in Brawl, becoming more powerful and gaining many new techniques such as Quick Attack canceling and two chain grabs in exchange for mainly weaker knockback in its attacks. 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 its signature move in the Pokémon series, 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 shock the opponent.
As a playable character
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 in the Pokémon series, namely being slimmed down somewhat.
Pikachu is ranked 15th 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 prior 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 their KO potential were also improved. However, Pikachu suffers from poor endurance, and has a general lack of reliable KO options. Despite having a small playerbase in the competitive scene, Pikachu still gained a bit of success in the Smash 4 metagame from a few players.
As a playable character
Main article: Pikachu (SSBU)
Pikachu returns as a starter character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. For the first time in the series, Pikachu now has female variants to choose from via alternate costumes, one of which is Cosplay Pikachu wearing the Pikachu Libre attire. Pikachu received several changes and buffs in the transition to Ultimate, including a new neutral aerial that acts similarly to Mewtwo's. It is considered to be one of the best characters in the game.