In Super Smash Bros. 4
Pikachu is currently ranked as a B-tier fighter in Super Smash Bros. 4. Combo-oriented fighters generally do not translate into strong amiibo, and unfortunately, Pikachu is no exception to this rule; fortunately, Pikachu has access to Thunder Burst, the strongest custom move in the game. It is powerful, strikes multiple times, and hits through shields. Pikachu relies so heavily on Thunder Burst that its gameplay revolves around spamming it. Thunder Burst is also the only reason Pikachu is considered mid-tier rather than low-tier; a strong Pikachu amiibo will only use Thunder Burst and no other moves.
Removing Thunder Burst from Pikachu’s kit, however, results in an entirely unimpressive fighter. Smash 4’s AI is heavily defensive, which does not fit Pikachu’s character archetype. Its smash attacks, while powerful, are slow and easily whiffed, and its light weight means its defenses are lacking. The AI also tends to use Quick Attack to traverse the stage and occasionally self-destructs with it.
Despite Pikachu’s heavily flawed AI, the character received above average tournament results and representation in the late metagame thanks to MegaVGmaster (whose Pikachu amiibo, Gold, is considered the strongest Pikachu in Smash 4).
If you would like to read the Super Smash Bros. 4 Pikachu amiibo training guide, please refer to this post.
In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Pikachu was exponentially buffed for its appearance in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and is considered one of the most improved fighters. Its speed has been further enhanced from the previous title, which helps strengthen its recovery and combo game; it has also received a new neutral aerial and its down aerial now meteor smashes opponents. Most importantly, however, are the changes to Ultimate’s AI: it is no longer overly defensive, and will now aggressively perform combos. This serves as an immense benefit to Pikachu, as it can now fully utilize its kit and no longer relies on Thunder Burst (as custom moves have been removed from Ultimate).
However, Pikachu continues to struggle with its light weight; its matchups against heavyweight fighters are still fairly poor as it can be KOed early. Though its kill options have been vastly improved, its smash attacks are still somewhat slow and have had their knockback reduced.
Despite its few nerfs, Pikachu has improved from its Smash 4 iteration. Its tournament representation (outside of Gold) is still somewhat lacking, however; its true capabilities have yet to be seen.
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