Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Character Profiles: Pikachu

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate set to release in December. And since 'everybody is here,' Shacknews is taking some time to break down each of the game's characters individually, continuing with the face of the Pokemon franchise.

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the latest entry in Nintendo's ongoing premier platform fighter series. It's also slated to be the company's biggest release of the holiday season. After almost 20 years of battle between top characters of some of gaming's biggest franchises, Ultimate will bring together every single fighter from every Smash Bros. game to date (along with a few more) in one single game.

With so many characters to choose from, Shacknews is taking a look at each and every one of the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate characters individually, leading up to the game's big release on December 7. Because many aspects of the game are subject to change, including character damage and special move properties, these profiles should not be considered final and can be updated at any time. Any guide that has been updated will be clearly marked.

Here's what we have up so far:
#01 - Mario
#02 - Donkey Kong
#06 - Kirby (Updated 9/8/18)
#07 - Fox
#15 - Ice Climbers
#21 - Marth
#23 - Ganondorf
#31 - Snake
#33, #34, #35 - Pokemon Trainer
#38 - Sonic (Updated 9/3/18)
#46 - Mega Man
#61 - Cloud
#62 - Corrin
#64 - Inkling
#65 - Ridley

Today, we take a look at another of the original members of the Super Smash Bros. roster, one who might be hitting his peak.

Who is Pikachu?

Hit the music!

When Pokemon fever first hit over 20 years ago, the face of the Pokemon franchise was undoubtedly Pikachu. An adorable electric mouse who broke out more than any of the original three starters, Pikachu quickly became the focus of the Pokemon anime and manga. While he shared the spotlight with trainer Ash Ketchum there, Pikachu quickly became the bigger star of the two.

The Pokemon franchise was born just a few years before Super Smash Bros., which made Pikachu the freshest face on the original roster. (As an aside, if you weren't around when Pokemon Red/Blue first released, there's a faithful homage set to hit later this week on Nintendo Switch.) In a world filled with hundreds of Pokemon, Pikachu stands out as one of the most special. It's why Team Rocket has spent decades of their pitiful lives focused on catching him instead of moving on to one of the world's giant dragons or psychics or whatever. Pikachu is a one-of-a-kind and immensely powerful... as the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate roster is about to find out.

Pikachu's Moves and Fighter Overview

Pikachu has largely been consistent across the Smash Bros. series. He's small, he's among the quickest fighters in the game, and he's able to jolt from place to place in the blink of an eye. The latter gives him some of the best recovery options in the game. His electric attacks also hit incredibly hard, particularly his Thunder attack. But something's changed with Pikachu, because he looks to be a step faster for Ultimate.

Here are Pikachu's special moves:

  • Thunder Jolt (Neutral B): Pikachu says his name and shoots out an arcing piece of electricity. It's a slow-moving projectile, but one that works well for maintaining distance with opponents and also for threatening recovering fighters. It does less damage the more distance it travels.
  • Quick Attack (Up B): This is one of the best recovery moves in the game, but takes a bit of work to master. Pikachu performs a quick dash in two different directions, with the second hit offering significant knockback.
  • Skull Bash (Side B): Pikachu can charge up and perform a powerful headbutt missile. At full charge, it can deal heavy damage and has KO potential. It's also a good recovery move, though its distance has been reduced from Smash 4. There's also a good deal of landing lag.
  • Thunder (Down B): One of Pikachu's trademarks, this is a high-risk, high-reward move. Players must watch where they deploy this, because it will strike any platforms above Pikachu. If this move whiffs, there's a lot of room for punishment, so be careful about where you're aiming this. But if you can combo this and hit flying enemies, there's heavy KO potential.
  • Volt Tackle (Final Smash): A lot of Final Smashes have been made more "automatic," requiring less player input. Pikachu's Volt Tackle is among those moves, requiring only the first hit connect before Pikachu automatically flies around the stage shocking anything in his way. Just be forewarned that if the initial hit whiffs, Pikachu may launch himself right off the edge of the stage. Be careful!

Pikachu is going from an above-average character in Smash 4 to potentially the best single character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Pikachu is helped immensely by Ultimate's new mechanics, like short hops and air dodges. On top of that, Pikachu's base speed has been increased, making him a total aerial nightmare for opponents.

Most of Pikachu's ground moves have more end lag, making them a little more punishable if they miss. However, they also have greatly improved range, can deal heavier damage, and offer additoinal electric effects. Pikachu's dash attack and forward smash attacks are now some of his best moves, with improved range, damage, and knockback.

Pikachu's aerials are also greatly improved. His forward-air deals more damage and should be at the forefront of any Pikachu player's arsenal. But more importantly than that, Pikachu now has a SPIKE! Pikachu's down aerial has gained a meteor smash property and can now spike opponents if it connects in the right spot.

Then there are his specials, all of which are greatly improved. Thunder Jolt, Skull Bash, and Thunder all deal more damage. Skull Bash's new downside is that it doesn't go as far, but now it'll also bounce off an opponent (whether they're blocking or not), which gives him combo potential or escape options.

Pikachu is looking more top-tier by the day, but don't take my word for it...

Esports Observations

Many of the Smash pros have weighed in on Pikachu and their consensus is, indeed, that he is one of the best characters, if not the best character, in the game. First off, let's check in with Gonzalo "ZeRo" Barrios, who didn't hesitate to put Pikachu at the top of his early tier list.

Prior to uploading his tier list, ZeRo went into more detail on just what makes Pikachu so great and so dangerous.

James "VoiD" Makekau-Tyson threw his two cents in on Pikachu, noting that his smaller hurtbox makes him a tougher character to hit. VoiD also goes into his adjusted neutral air and its combo potential. He discusses Pikachu's new down-air spike and goes further into the ramifications of what this means for recovering opponents.

Nobody's been more excited the new and improved Pikachu than Smash 4 Pikachu main Eric "ESAM" Lew. ESAM needed some time to gather his thoughts together, but he recently put together his standalone thoughts video. The gist of it is that Pikachu is greatly improved, with him citing that many of Pikachu's best Smash 4 options are either the same or better. Pikachu's aerials are a particular focus, with ESAM expressing appreciation for the down-air spike.

Here's ESAM taking Pikachu out into the field at the recent DreamHack Montreal.

Is there anyone who doesn't think Pikachu is the top character in the game? Samuel "Dabuz" Buzby is taking the Devil's Advocate stance, stating that Pikachu's nerfs actually outweigh any benefits he's received. In particular, he doubts whether Pikachu's neutral air will combo into his down-air spike.


Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is set to arrive in December on Nintendo Switch. Shacknews will continue looking into each of the game's characters from now through the big day, so be sure to come back for more breakdowns over the coming weeks. And if you need an idea of what to expect before the big day, check out everything we know about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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