Pikachu (ピカチュウ, Pikachu) is a starter character in Super Smash Bros. It originates from the Pokémon series, being its recognizable mascot. Pikachu is generally a light, quick character, which would serve as the archtype for some other lightweight characters in the series. Pikachu is voiced by Ikue Ōtani, who has voiced it in the anime and would keep doing so to these days.
Pikachu ranks 1st on the tier list due to having many overwhelming advantages: its mobility is among the best, with fast walking, dashing, and air speeds, though its falling speed is slightly below average. Pikachu is notable for its amazing offstage and edgeguarding game, with fast and powerful aerials that can also combo well with or without certain other moves, along with a recovery on Quick Attack that covers a long distance while also being unpredictable, as well as having some invincibility frames and the ability to easily sweetspot the edge. While its attacks are generally fast, it has a few rather powerful moves, though its moveset is overall more combo-oriented. This is evident in his solid ground game, with an up tilt that can rack up large damage by chaining into itself and can easily combo into virtually any other move as well, along with powerful smash attacks and an exceedingly powerful back throw. It also has a projectile in its Thunder Jolt, as well as Thunder, which is notable for being able to KO near the upper blast line very early; the Thunderspike technique can easily set this up.
Pikachu, however, is not perfect. It is a lightweight character, allowing for it to be KOed earlier than most other characters, and can also be easily comboed by others. Pikachu also has limited options out of a tech.
Despite this, Pikachu's strengths exceed its weaknesses, and it has held the best tournament results in competitive play, alongside good representation. Pikachu's prowess in Smash 64 is considered undisputed, and it is also considered to have the best matchup spread in the game, and one of only four characters in the series (the other three being Fox in Melee, Falco in Melee, and Meta Knight in Brawl) to have no disadvantageous matchups.
Pikachu is a small, very quick character with fast moves, a great recovery, great finishers, a projectile, disjointed hitboxes, great comboing and edgeguarding abilities, and an exceedingly powerful back throw. Often cited as the main reason Pikachu is first on the tier list is its recovery: it is considered the best, and in many ways the only hard to edgeguard recovery in Smash 64. Its aerial game is very potent; all of its aerials inflict high damage and have good KO potential, and its back and up aerials have large disjoints making them good edgeguarding moves. Going too far offstage while edgeguarding is also not too risky for Pikachu due to its very long recovery. However, Pikachu lacks a meteor smash, unlike most other characters.
Pikachu has a variety of specials. Its Thunder Jolt is a relatively underused attack, but it can be useful potentially for edge guarding and camping. Quick Attack is by far the best recovery move in Smash 64 - as well as traveling a huge distance, it can also allow Pikachu to escape certain situations, and it can be extended so Pikachu does not lose its momentum after the second warp. If used perfectly, Pikachu has the ability to stall on the ledge infinitely, and it will be invulnerable due Quick Attack's invincibility frames. Pikachu's down special, Thunder, is a very powerful move that can be used as a finisher, but it is most notable for the Thunderspiking technique - which involves using it when the opponent is near the upper blast line for a Star KO. This is performed easiest with an up smash.
Pikachu has among the best and most versatile combo ability in the game. It has four great combo starters: up tilt, up aerial, neutral aerial, and down aerial. It also has the second fastest air speed in the game to compliment its combo ability. Its up tilt can be used to combo into itself from low to mid/mid-high percentages, or just about any other move (including a grab). It can start a combo, and can even lead into a KO move such as an up smash followed by Thunder, a grab then a back throw, or a back aerial to set up an edgeguard. The up tilt can also be followed by another up tilt for shield pressure. Its attacks, most notably its forward smash and back aerial, have strange hitboxes, with the forward smash being an excellent finisher, but being very slow compared to Pikachu's other moves. Its combo ability is accentuated by its Thunderspiking ability, as explained above. Due to quick, strong aerials, Pikachu's shield pressure is commonly considered to be the third or fourth best in the game, behind Fox, Kirby, and possibly Captain Falcon.
A well known Pikachu combo is the Greenhouse combo, created by Isai. It can only be performed in the "Tent" section of Hyrule Castle. This example shows Pikachu using multiple up tilts, then a back throw to knock the opponent into the wall, then a back aerial so they bounce off the green wall towards Pikachu, then an up smash followed by a Thunderspike. Pikachu can also use multiple forward and back throws at the wall before using the up tilt.
Overall, Pikachu has excellent matchups and beats the majority of the characters in the game, with only a few even or close to even matchups. The main ones are Fox on Hyrule Castle and Captain Falcon on Dream Land. Every other matchup is at least 60-40 in Pikachu's favour.
The problems Pikachu faces are small, but still noticeable. It is moderately easy to combo, along with the fact it is light weight, despite usually being able to get out of bad situations with Quick Attack. Its up special, despite its invincibility frames and wonderful range, leaves Pikachu vulnerable if it simply warps onto the stage from above the edge due to its ending lag. Even if it is used to escape from situations, it can also leave Pikachu vulnerable if the opponent has a fast enough dashing speed so that they can reach Pikachu before it can act. If one can get over these small issues, Pikachu will be a huge asset.
Differences between game versions
Pikachu was noticeably buffed in the transition to NTSC. His dash attack is stronger, providing him with another KO option, and forward smash has more range, making it easier to hit with. Thunder Jolt, however, covers less distance, slightly worsening its projectile game. Pikachu also benefits from the changes to gameplay mechanics more than any other character, due to the higher presence of SDI allowing it to escape combos easier (despite its forward aerial being slightly less reliable for combos), whereas the removal of momentum sliding makes hits mobility one of the best. As a result, despite its worse matchup spread, Pikachu is considered to fare better than in the Japanese version.
For a gallery of Pikachu's hitboxes, see here.
In Competitive play
Pikachu has incredibly favorable matchups, and has by far the best matchup average in the game in the current matchup chart with an average of 65:35. For comparison, the four characters below it on the tier list have a matchup average of 55:45. It does not have any negative nor even matchups, making Pikachu have only positive matchups on the rest of the cast (with the exception of Captain Falcon in the Japanese version). Other than that, the only two matchups that Pikachu can consider even are stage-dependent, with Fox on Hyrule Castle (who dominates the stage with his Blaster's ability to projectile camp) and Captain Falcon on Dream Land. Even then, these matchups are described as 55-45 in Pikachu's favour.
Tier placement and history
Since the beginning of the metagame of Smash 64, Pikachu has always been the character at the top of the tier list. In the third tier list, Pikachu even had its own tier at the top of the list, similarly to Meta Knight in Brawl and Fox in Melee ; this is no longer the case as of the fourth tier list, but Pikachu is still considered the best character by a significant margin.
Main article: Thunderspiking
This technique involves launching the opponent to the top of the screen and using Thunder for a Star KO. The easiest way to perform this is to use an up smash. At percentages around (possibly a bit below) 100%, up smash combos into Thunder effectively, and at percentages around 140%, an up tilt can combo into Thunder. The technique can be used as a combo finisher (notably at the end of Isai's Greenhouse combo) or just for raw KOing.
Extended Quick Attack
By allowing the control stick to snap back to its neutral position before the animation of one of the warps in Quick Attack ends, Pikachu's aerial momentum will not be cancelled, allowing it to cover more horizontal distance. This can be used on either warps, and it is even possible to extend both warps, though this runs a high risk of missing the second warp. Extending the move is essential for recovering from a large distance, though the player may choose not to in certain situations, such as landing on a platform onstage on Dream Land to evade the opponent.
Main article: Jab grab
A technique that enables Pikachu to instantly use a grab while abusing the shield stun of its jab. This can be performed by Mario and Fox to a lesser extent. A highly useful technique in competitive play, due to allowing Pikachu to shield pressure the opponent.
Pikachu can stall on the edge by abusing the invincibility frames of Quick Attack. This is performed by simply edge dropping, jumping, then aiming Quick Attack straight down to regrab the edge. The process can be repeated for as long as one's reflexes allow.
In the game's Single-player mode, Pikachu is fought on the Saffron City stage.
From the Game
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