Pichu was first introduced as something of a “joke character” in Super Smash Bros. Melee. For its appearance in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Pichu received a large buff to its moveset and attributes; in other words, it’s not a joke character anymore! Pichu has sent sparks flying in Ultimate’s competitive scene, but does its newfound strength carry over to our metagame? The short answer: no. Unfortunately, Pichu is perhaps the weakest Pokémon in amiibo tournaments, though Jigglypuff and Squirtle are in contention for this title as well.
Pichu is rather unique case among Figure Players. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s developers added functionality for the Pichu amiibo in May – two months before it was due to release in Japan – so trainers were able to access it early. Pichu was considered a low-tier fighter from the very beginning; though its AI is solid and a few of its moves pack a punch, it struggles with several crippling flaws.
All you Pichu mains probably saw this coming: its greatest flaw is its weight or, in this case, lack thereof. If you aren’t aware of this already, Figure Players deal more damage than a regular CPU fighter; this means Pichu’s amiibo is even more susceptible to strong hits. Its electric attacks inflict recoil damage, too, which further hinders its longevity.
You might think, then, that Pichu needs to play carefully to avoid taking damage. This isn’t necessarily true, though; no matter how well Pichu plays, it is going to be KOed early. With this in mind, most trainers take the opposite approach: throw caution to the wind, get the opponent off-stage as soon as possible, and go for a gimp. Pichu’s only saving grace is its off-stage game, allowing it to take advantage of enemies with poor recoveries. In fact, Pichu’s tournament performance is often decided by how many down aerials it can land (off-stage, that is). For more information on Pichu’s place in the Exion amiibo metagame, take a look at its wiki page.
Do you plan on equipping your Figure Player with Spirits? If so, I’d recommend doing so before you start training it. If your Pichu is already Level 50 and you want to give it a Spirit team, that’s fine too. Just be prepared to play a few matches against it to refine its training.
Despite everything mentioned previously, Pichu is a rather strong choice against human opponents. Maximizing its game time should be your top priority, and Great Autoheal can help accomplish this. Every few seconds, Pichu will recover health, and this can partially offset its self-inflicted recoil damage. That being said, though, Great Autoheal is generally banned from Spirits tournaments, so don’t pick it if you’d like to participate in one.
Other options include Electric Attack ↑, Air Attack ↑, Physical Attack ↑, and Toss & Meteor. Each of these effects increase the strength of Pichu’s moves, though they also increase its recoil damage. Given that so many Spirits are banned from tournaments, though, there aren’t many alternatives.
Once again, Pichu is the lightest character in Ultimate, so its durability is seriously lacking. A stat spread of 0 / 4200 maximizes its Defense while keeping its Attack at a normal level. Pichu’s AI can utilize simple combos, and having an untouched Attack stat may help it to execute them more consistently.
As with all Figure Players, Pichu is best trained via mirror matches. That means you’ll have to play as Pichu (regardless of your skill level). Do note that Pichu’s AI occasionally recovers high; this isn’t anything you can change, so don’t worry about it. Speaking of not worrying, if your FP starts showing a bad habit, don’t reset it. It can always be changed later.
Let’s start with Pichu’s combos. Ultimate’s AI is somewhat finicky when it comes to them, as each character has a set of combos hard-coded. It will use the hard-coded strings, but won’t (or will rarely) use ones that haven’t been ingrained in its coding. Luckily, Pichu’s AI has been blessed with a wide variety of them. First is Pichu’s “bread and butter”, if you will: if it lands an up aerial, it will follow up with a forward or back aerial depending on the trajectory the opponent was launched at. This means Pichu can learn to use down throw (or up tilt) to up air to either forward or back air. It might sound simple, but as far as AI goes, this is a lot. Pichu also likes to combo its down tilt into a forward aerial. It can learn other basic strings as well, but don’t get too ambitious. Pichu’s AI cannot learn to use lightning loops or anything involving Thunder. In fact, the AI almost never uses Thunder; it’s been hard-coded to avoid it. There have been reports of an occasional thunderstorm, but it’s rare and can’t be relied on.
Combos aside, Pichu can use its forward tilt to rack up damage. It’s got a deceptively high amount of range, too, making it a solid option. The AI can also use its up and down throws and tilts to follow up with strings mentioned previously. Its forward and back throws can toss enemies off-stage; Pichu can then (and should) pursue them with a down aerial. Its other aerial moves can simply send them farther away from the stage, making recovery more difficult. I can’t stress this enough: use as many down aerials off-stage as possible. Pichu’s FP almost never has the lead in tournament matches, but a successful meteor smash can give it a slight advantage. This goes a long way in such a harsh and competitive environment.
Though down air is Pichu’s best kill move, it has a few other attacks it can try on-stage. Up smash is perhaps Pichu’s strongest grounded finisher; it doesn’t inflict any recoil damage and has a decent amount of power. Forward smash does inflict recoil damage, but is even stronger. Down smash gets the job done, too, but Ultimate’s AI likes to spam down smashes, so don’t use it too often.
Overall, Pichu should utilize its combos and throws to get opponents off-stage as soon as possible. It should then fish for a down air whenever the opportunity presents itself; otherwise, it can use its grounded KO moves in a pinch. Pichu should keep its usage of specials to a minimum; the AI can’t combo off Thunder Jolt like humans can, it rarely uses Thunder, and it will automatically use Skull Bash and Quick Attack to recover. Don’t go punishing a shield break with Skull Bash, because you’ll find the FP will start using it out of nowhere.
Pichu might be the most aggressive character in Ultimate’s amiibo metagame. It has to be, because the AI’s defense isn’t perfect. If it’s going to get hit anyway, why hold back? This philosophy makes Pichu fun to train. If you’re looking for an active amiibo to use against your friends, you’ve found the perfect character. If you’re looking for a tournament contender that’ll win championship titles… well, you might want to look elsewhere. Once again, Pichu’s wiki page includes even more information, so give it a look if you’re interested. If you’ve got any other questions that weren’t answered here, feel free to join our Discord server and ask. We’ll be happy to help! At any rate, thanks so much for reading! Happy training, and until next time!
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