Pikachu is a fan favorite for many Pokemon fans. It is the mascot of the entire franchise and is the beloved companion of the anime’s eternally 10-year-old protagonist. The Pokemon Company puts this mouse’s head on merchandise in all stores and on the hearts of everyone’s childhood. However, this Pokemon Pikachu analytic look spanning multiple generations of Pokemon games will show that the love Pikachu gets from the fans does not transfer over to the competitive meta.
Pikachu is one of the original 151 Pokemon from the Kanto region. It is number 25 in Kanto’s Pokedex and has the same number in the national dex. Pikachu is now the middle evolution with Pichu coming before it and Raichu serving as its final evolutionary form. It is also one of the most famous electric-type Pokemon.
Despite its current status, Pikachu wasn’t always going to be the mascot. In fact, Pikachu’s global celebrity status didn’t exist at all in early development. And with an encounter rate of 5%, it was an incredibly uncommon Pokemon to find. During these days, the company was going to choose Clefairy to be their mascot.
However, there were difficulties present with this decision. Clefairy’s pink design appealed to their female demographic but struck out with the male demographic. This difference inverted itself with other choices such as Charmander and Squirtle. Specifically, the Kanto starters struck a chord with the male demographic but appealed less to females.
Pikachu appealed to both gender demographics. Executives surprised themselves with the knowledge that Pikachu appealed more to females than Clefairy did. According to Masuda, a developer came across Pikachu and thought that they were so cool that they wanted to keep the encounter low so gamers wouldn’t get it before them. The anime sealed Pikachu’s popularity on a global level. The yellow electric mouse’s role as the main character’s partner guaranteed it becoming a pop culture icon and series mascot.
Pikachu and its evolutionary line are found in every gen, except five, and can be caught at these locations:
Viridian Forest, Power Plant
Kanto Route 2
Santalune Forest, Route 3, Friend Safari (Electric)
Route 1, Hau’oli City, Heahea City (Surfing Pikachu, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon only), Pikachu Valley (QR scanner event)
Route 4, Stony Wilderness, Rolling Fields, Giant’s Cap, Giant’s Mirror, Hammerlocke Hills, Lake of Outrage, Motostoke Riverbank (Max Raid Battle), Meetup Spot (Only one)
Pikachu is the mascot in both Pokemon Yellow and Let’s GO Pikachu, where it is also the only starter. Players can also get a special Cosplay Pikachu from the Contest Hall in Slateport City in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, and finally, players can get numerous Cap Pikachu and a Gigantamax one in Sword and Shield. With that said, it’s time for the most important part of this Pokemon Pikachu analytic look.
Uncommon in The Meta…For Good Reason
One would think that Pikachu would have the power to back up its mascot status, right? Alas, that is simply not the case. Outside of the worship for its design, Pikachu is treated as a typical middle-stage evolution. In fact, its stats might class it worse than most middle evolutions. Our beloved mascot’s power is as shown below.
Sp. Atk: 50
Sp. Def: 40
Sp. Atk: 50
Sp. Def: 50
Bare minimum much?… Pikachu’s stats all ring up to be pretty measly, with its subpar defense stats leaving our mouse with the endurance of soft egg yolk. It’s clearly meant for speed and attack, but without an item like Light Ball, Pikachu will not muster up the damage necessary for half damage or 1HKOs. On top of that, Pikachu is severely outclassed by Pokemon such as Regieleki, Galarian Darmanitan, and other fellow middle stage Pokemon like Electabuzz.
Pikachu’s two abilities are fairly decent, being Static and Lightning Rod, but they do not do enough to make Pikachu viable for the meta. Static only has a 30 percent chance to paralyze the opponent after using a contact move. And while Lightning Rod draws opposing electric attacks towards Pikachu, raising its Special Attack, its defenses will not allow it to stay in long enough to use it. Regieleki is a big enough threat for ground-type Pokemon like Landorus to become common and thrive. Alongside that, Earthquake is a common move that will hurt Pikachu more than San Francisco.
That is not to say that all hope is lost, however, and good builds do show up for Pika. One YouTuber by the name Shiwonkhan had this particular set to suggest:
Special Set Pika
For this set, players will want Pikachu to have a Timid nature, which will boost Pikachu’s speed but lower its attack. They will also want the Light Ball, Pikachu’s signature item that will double its attack and special attack. Lightning Rod is the ability of choice for Pikachu. Lastly, make sure this Pikachu has the Gigantamax Factor. The moves consist of:
Thunder: Gives Pikachu access to G-Max Volt Crash and will paralyze all opponents on the field.
Nuzzle: Gives Pikachu another way to guarantee a paralysis
Surf: AOE coverage for Pikachu’s ground weakness and can hit both opponents in a doubles fight.
Fake Out: While it is another physical move on this set, this is always a good move to have on Pikachu and can buy the player a turn to scout out the opponent.
Other sets can capitalize on Pikachu’s physical attack as well. For this set, you want a Jolly natured Pikachu which will boost speed and lower Sp. Atk. The same ability and held item apply, as well as Pikachu having the Gigantamax Factor. The moves for this set are:
Volt Tackle: Pikachu’s strongest move to use with Light Ball.
Fake Out: A priority move to make the opponent flinch and buys the player a turn to scout the enemy out.
Grass Knot: This coverage move increases it’s damage output the heavier the opponent, good for ground types when Pika doesn’t have Surf.
Brick Break: A good physical move for Pikachu to have and one that helps break enemy screens that they have set up.
Ideal teammates for Pikachu are Pokemon like Togekiss, pivots that can switch out easily after baiting electric types that are stronger against them into attacking. Pikachu will switch in and Lightning Rod will eat the attack, boosting it. Follow me users such as Indeedee and Clefable are also good choices in doubles as they will redirect the enemy’s attention to themselves, compensating for Pikachu’s squishiness. If a player is wondering about using Pikachu in singles, however, it might be good to use Raichu or forego the idea as there are better electric types out there and Pikachu is too squishy without the support. And with Dynamax and GIgantamax banned in Series 10, Pikachu becomes even less viable.
However, just because Pikachu’s skills are less than desirable in the main series, doesn’t mean it has nothing to offer in the side games. The next part of this Pokemon Pikachu analytic look will look at where the yellow mouse actually shines.
Godly Outside the Main Series
While Pikachu is not known to be spectacular in the main series meta, the mouse is considered in other Pokemon side games, notably Pokken Tournament, Pokemon Unite, and Smash.
When it comes to Pokken Tournament, Pikachu is God tier at its best and B Tier at its worst. It has fast attacks that can combo easily, which can help players get off maximum damage. Just like in the main series, Pikachu’s attacks on their own don’t do a lot of damage, but its fast rate and ease of combo chaining help to stun opponents and with its ult–forget about it. Pikachu’s speed and ease of play make it one of the number one picks for this title.
Already 3 days out and Pika has shown to be one of the best Pokemon to use in the Pokemon Company’s brand new MOBA. Pikachu has these ratings in UNITE:
Offense: 4 1/2 star
Endurance: 1 1/2 star
Mobility: 2 1/2 star
Scoring: 2 star
Support: 1 1/2 star
With its offensive capabilities, Pikachu has great makings of an Automatic Damamge Carry and with the right items upgraded, can take out some of the more powerful picks in two hits. For a guide on what’s the best build to set on Pikachu, check out the build guide we made here.
Super Smash Bros
Pikachu is one of the deadlier picks in Smash Ultimate. Pikachu consistently has made B tier or higher in Smash titles such as Melee and Ultimate. Its neutral B can help with ledge control and its speed, in general, can help with combos. Using its up + B, Pikachu also has good recovery and players can use it to get to places above them at fast speeds. With good timing, players can amass enough damage on their opponents to knock them out with a final smash after.
Let’s GO Pikachu
Though not mentioned in the intro of this section, the Partner Pikachu from the Let’s GO games also got significant buffs from Gamefreak. Here are this particular Pikachu’s stats.
Special Attack: 75
Special Defense: 60
Pikachu now has adequate speed to outspeed other Pokemon and enough base attack to do real damage. Pikachu’s moveset is updated in this game as well, giving it access to moves like Double Kick. This makes it able to take on Brock’s gym easily (to the dismay of some fans) and makes it a much more viable starter in the game. So, if Pikachu fans want a game to that they can see their favorite mon at its absolute best, pick up a copy of Yellow version or Let’s GO Pikachu.
Flaws and All, Pika Can be King
With this Pokemon Pikachu analytic look in mind, it’s astounding that Pikachu can be this good in side games and unrelated games such as Smash, but perform so poorly in the main series. While this is normal of a middle stage evolution Pokemon, it is important to realize that Ash’s Pikachu is what the anime said, special. Therefore, it does not represent the greater majority and even then, the anime has said that Pikachu as a species is not the strongest mons.
However, when it comes time to represent its franchise, Pikachu has done not only a great job in fighting games and other Pokemon-centric adventures, but it’s done a spectacular job bringing magic to the Pokemon world. If anything can be said about this yellow fiend, it’s that its definitely responsible for a great chunk of Pokemon’s success as a world and media franchise. So, thank you Pikachu, for making a big part of every gamer’s childhood absolutely electric.