Pikachu has a long history in the Super Smash Bros. series. In Super Smash 64 Pikachu was the number one character in most competitive circles. You would be hard-pressed to find a seasoned competitive player who believed Pikachu was anything but number one in that game. However, since that time, Pikachu fell from grace in Melee and Brawl. After getting our hands on the Super Smash Bros. 3DS demo, we put in some time with Pikachu to see how he fares in the new game. We'll have more in-depth information over the coming weeks, but for now, here are our initial impressions of the character.

What may be the biggest and best change for Pikachu is the fact that his Thunder special move (Down Special) can no longer be interrupted. What this means is that as long as Pikachu starts the attack before getting hit, the attack will execute no matter what. To put this in perspective, it serves as a pseudo-combo breaker.

Any time Pikachu is in a combo that has a 1-frame gap, you can mash out Thunder to escape the combo. It even works as a shield of sorts. If you see an opponent about to hit you, mash out Thunder and they'll be interrupted as they begin the combo. Obviously this can't be used to escape any and all combos, but it's a huge buff to Pikachu and will save many a stock when used correctly. The special move doesn't last as long as it did in Brawl and it's not quite as powerful, but the new interruption abilities more than make up for that.

Most of Pikachu's kill moves remain unchanged, but they can get stale a bit fast it seems. For those unfamiliar with the term stale, it refers to the damage and knockback reduction of moves used repeatedly over the course of a match. Essentially if you use an attack too many times it becomes less powerful. This doesn't impact all moves, but it's something that should be kept in mind for a vast majority of the attacks in Super Smash Bros. 3DS.

You’ll still use Neutral Air to score kills after knocking a player off the stage, and Down Air is also effective in this situation. The main issue Pikachu seems to have at the moment is finishing off characters on the stage. In general, characters seem to last a bit longer in Smash 3DS compared to previous games in the series. It's going to take a bit more to KO an opponent in most circumstances. This is why you want to focus on chasing opponents off the stage and finishing them there.

Aside from Pikachu's difficulty scoring grounded kills, he seems to be improved all around. It's a bit early to discuss tiers, but right now Pikachu seems to be at least mid-tier. Depending on what kind of shenanigans are found over the coming weeks and months, it's entirely possible that Pikachu could end up close to his dominating Smash 64 counterpart. We'll have a more detailed look at him as the retail release draws near.