Pikachu was a rather troubled character in Super Smash Bros. 4. Its base moveset wasn’t enough to secure its viability and its AI was plagued with many flaws that held it back from greatness. Fortunately, Pikachu has been significantly buffed for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and it doesn’t even need Thunder Burst (its former signature custom move) to succeed!
Changes from Super Smash Bros. 4
Pikachu has been notably buffed from the previous title; for one, its neutral attacks, tilts, and forward smash attacks deal more damage and have increased range, which vastly improves its ground game. Its aerials have less ending lag and its new neutral aerial serves as an excellent interrupter. It specials are also stronger and fast. Pikachu benefits most, however, from Ultimate’s revamped AI; compared to Smash 4, it uses a wider variety of moves and seldom uses Thunder. That being said, Pikachu has received a few nerfs as well: its forward smash is slightly slower while its up smash is slightly weaker. In other words, two of its strongest moves are less reliable than before.
Stats & Spirit Effects
In terms of stats, Pikachu is fairly versatile; using a balanced setup (2100 / 2100) or a fully defensive one (0 / 4200) are both fine options that work well on the character.
As with most fighters, Pikachu is effective when equipped with Armor Knight and Move Speed ↑. Its recovery is already fantastic, so the small drop in movement speed barely affects its gameplay.
Other options include Electric Attack ↑, Air Attack ↑, Physical Attack ↑, and Instadrop. The current competitive environment is defense-focused (in terms of setup, not playstyle), so running any of these over Armor Knight and Move Speed ↑ is not recommended.
An amiibo becomes strongest if it is mirror matched all the way to Level 50 with its Learn button switched on. Playing a best-of-five match (configurable via the rules menu) will cause it to level up much faster.
Pikachu benefits from an aggressive playstyle. Its fast attacks help overwhelm its opponents with blinding speed and can rack up damage for an early kill. A balance of grabs, aerials, and grounded moves is key to this character’s success. Here is a complete breakdown of Pikachu’s moveset and which attacks to focus on during training.
- Neutral attack (Headbutt): A fast headbutt with terrible range. Its range is so bad, in fact, that the move should never be used in any capacity.
- Forward tilt: A moderately-ranged double kick. It can be used as a get-off-me move at close range, but isn’t very effective against aerial opponents. Use it infrequently.
- Up tilt: A fast tail swipe. Most effective against falling opponents, so use it wisely to rack up damage fast. Don’t use it against a grounded enemy.
- Down tilt: Another fast tail swipe, except right above the ground. Nothing special, but it can start simple combos.
- Dash attack: Has a respectable damage output. Use it infrequently, as its ending lag leaves the character vulnerable afterwards.
- Forward smash: A slow but powerful attack. It’s best not to use this one raw due to its startup and ending lag.
- Up smash: Weaker than in Smash 4, but still worth using. Most effective against an aerial enemy. Don’t go spamming it, and make sure to time it well because it has a late sourspot.
- Down smash (Electric Flower): A rapid electrical spin. It can be used to catch rolls or cover grounded ledge options. It’s also quite fast, so it’s a good idea to use this one every once in a while.
- Neutral aerial: Excellent move. Hits multiple times and chains into itself. Try to set up simple combos with neutral aerial.
- Forward aerial: An electrical corkscrew attack that can be used to gimp opponents. Pikachu’s got a great recovery, so it can afford to go off-stage and intercept its enemies.
- Back aerial (Glider): Also known as “the flying pizza”, Pikachu’s back aerial is a solid gimping tool that can drag opponents to the bottom blast zone. Use it fairly often.
- Down aerial (Electric Screw): It can now meteor smash, making it an excellent edgeguard with little risk. Use it whenever possible to gimp opponents, but don’t use it as an on-stage attack.
- Forward throw: Deals weak knockback and doesn’t combo into anything, but inflicts decent damage. Nothing special.
- Back throw: Has high base knockback and rolls backwards before executing. One of Pikachu’s more useful throws.
- Up throw: Pikachu’s strongest throw in terms of knockback and can combo into aerials at very low percentages.
- Down throw: It can lead into any aerial at low percentages to start combos. A good throw to use every once in a while to rack up damage.
- Neutral special (Thunder Jolt): Can be used as an edgeguard against airborne opponents. It can also link into a neutral aerial. Use it somewhat frequently from afar.
- Side special (Skull Bash): Pikachu’s go-to recover if it gets launched near the left or right blast zone. Has no use as an actual attack, as it leaves the character horribly vulnerable.
- Up special (Quick Attack): An excellent recovery move that almost never disappoints. Don’t use it as an attack: the AI was prone to spamming it in the previous title.
- Down special (Thunder): It can be used as a situational gimp, but don’t go using it off-stage; Pikachu gets wild and self-destructs with it occasionally. Definitely not a move to prioritize too much.
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