Super Smash Bros. Then and Now: Pikachu - Prima Games

Super Smash Bros. Then and Now: Pikachu

by Bryan Dawson

At first glance, many Smash players wrote off Pikachu because it’s small and doesn’t have many traditional attacks, so it obviously couldn’t be good. Of course, they were all wrong… at least when it came to the original Smash Bros. 64. Pikachu went from being the number one character in the original Smash to a more grounded mid-tier character in Melee, and then got a slight bump in Brawl. There have been some changes in the upcoming Smash Bros. title, but overall Pikachu looks to be on par with where it was during the Brawl era. Let’s take a look at its evolution throughout the series.

Super Smash Bros. 64

Hands down Pikachu is the best character in Super Smash Bros. 64. He has quite a few advantages and very few weaknesses, but he can be more difficult to use compared to some of the other characters. Its Quick Attack recovery move is the single best recovery in the game. It has a ton of invincibility frames, covers great distance and can even be used to evade attacks or for edgeguarding purposes. Meanwhile, its Thunder attack has infinite vertical reach, which makes it amazingly useful and powerful during combos.

The only real weaknesses Pikachu has are that it’s fairly easy to land big damage combos on it, and if you’re not careful, using Quick Attack can get you into trouble. While it’s one of the best moves in the game, it does have a fair amount of recovery. When used incorrectly, Pikachu is extremely vulnerable to a counter attack. As long as you know when and how to use Quick Attack, and you have solid defense to avoid combos from other characters, Pikachu is unmatched.

Super Smash Bros. Melee

While Pikachu was the number one character in Smash 64, he received a few nerfs in Melee that dropped him considerably on the tier list. Thunder no longer has infinite height, which reduces Pikachu’s KO ability from its Up Smash and Up Aerial combos. Pikachu’s Down Aerial is also a bit slower in Melee, and Back Aerial, Neutral Aerial and Down Smash were all replaced with new attacks.

On the plus side, Quick Attack now inflicts damage, which makes it more versatile than it already was. Forward Aerial was also improved to inflict damage faster. Unfortunately, Pikachu’s short range becomes even more of a problem against the characters in Melee, so the slight buffs weren’t enough to prevent it from losing the number one spot. Still, Pikachu is a formidable opponent in the right hands, even if it’s not as dominant as before.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Pikachu took a big hit in the jump from Smash 64 to Smash Melee. When it came time to play Brawl, Pikachu received a few noticeable buffs that brought him up on the tier list. Pikachu isn’t quite the powerhouse it was in Smash 64, but is significantly improved over the Melee iteration. In addition to a much stronger aerial game, the biggest buff to Pikachu was the addition of multiple chain throws that make it far easier for Pikachu to score KOs from low percentages.

The general system changes from Melee to Brawl also had a beneficial impact on Pikachu. The slower fall speeds buffed Thunder so that it’s easier to KO with the special move despite the fact that it no longer has infinite vertical range (a change made in Melee). It’s also much more difficult to combo Pikachu due to the general gravity changes from Melee to Brawl. This was Pikachu’s biggest weakness, which was a welcome change for Pikachu players. Overall, Pikachu is very similar from Melee to Brawl, but with a few general buffs and big system changes, Pikachu was much improved.

Super Smash Bros. Wii U / 3DS

From our play time with Pikachu in the new Smash Bros. game, it hasn’t seen much change from Brawl. Quick Attack has a bit more recovery when you land on the ground of a platform. That could impact its ability to punish players and potentially make it more difficult to get back to the platform after being knocked. It may have lost of bit of its combo potential due to the fact that Pikachu’s Up Aerial has more knockback, making it harder to follow.

At this point, it seems as though Pikachu will be fairly similar to how it was in Brawl. If anything, there are some minor buffs, which could be big in the long run, but it’s a bit too early to tell. At the very least it doesn’t seem as though Pikachu will move down on the tier list. It should remain about mid-tier, or possibly move up depending how things play out in the competitive scene once we’ve had more time with Pikachu.

We’ll have more Super Smash Bros. articles soon!

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