Smarter than your average wabbit.
- Dec 9, 2008
- Philadelphia, PA
- 3DS FC
Generating A Win: An Electrifying Guide to Pikachu
Note: This guide is VERY outdated. The basics are still useful, but the metagame has changed, and new techniques have been discovered since this was created.
Welcome, fellow Pikas, to Generating A Win, the new SWF character guide for Pikachu. Written and edited by members of the PBR as a collaborative effort, this guide will cover the basic and advanced aspects of playing Pikachu at a competitive level in Brawl. Whether you're new to Pika or fairly experienced, there's guaranteed to be something here for everyone!
04.11.09 - Minor wording & formatting changes; added Fino to Credits section; removed boost grabbing; added Z drop > aerial pickup to Minor Techs; added that Skull Bash & tjolt may trip; added when to use fsmash for spacing vs. killing, courtesy of Gallax; added new CG information
03.12.09 - Guide posted! Hooray! Working on getting more pictures; clarified behavior of pikmin vs. tjolt
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
*To skip to a section, Ctrl + F and search for its 4-letter code. For sections mentioned multiple times, you may need to skip forward a little bit.
I. I Choose You, Pikachu! [ARAT]
A Little Background Info [BGNF]
Pikachu in Super Smash Bros. Brawl [BPKA]
Why Choose Pikachu? [WHAI]
Strengths & Weaknesses [PRCN]II. Move Analysis [MVAN]
III. Offensive Maneuvers [OFSV]
Combos & Pseudo-Combos [CMBO]
Getting the Kill [GTKO]
Tech Chasing [TCCH]IV. Defensive Maneuvers [DFSV]
Spacing & Stage Control [STCN]
It's Not Camping, It's "Projectile Spacing" [CMPG]
Baiting & Punishing [BTPN]
Evasion Tactics [EVSN]V. You Must Recover! [RCVR]
DI & Momentum Canceling [DIMC]
Returning to the Stage [RTRN]VI. Past the Basics: Advanced Techniques for Pika [ADVT]
Quick Attack Techs [QATC]
Advanced Grab Game [GRBG]
Jab Lock & the 0-Death Combo [JBLK]
Glide Tossing [GLDT]
Minor Techniques [MNTC]VII. Stage-Specific Shenanigans [STGE]
VIII. Pikachu's Got Mindgamez [MNDG]
General Mindgames [GENM]
Advanced Movement Techniques [ADVM]
Playing with Thunder [THND]
Annoying Your Opponent [ANNY]
Pika Pikaa~aa! (a.k.a. Taunting) [PKAA]IX. Frequently Asked Questions [PFQS]
X. Navigating the Pikachu Boards [NAVG]
XI. Credits [CRDT]
I Choose You, Pikachu! [ARAT]A Little Background Info [BGNF]
Known worldwide as the popular mascot of the Pokémon franchise, Pikachu has been a starter character in the Super Smash Bros. series since the original 64 version. He made his 1996 video game debut in Japan in Pocket Monsters Red and Pocket Monsters Green, but his rise to fame really began when he starred as the protagonist's very first pokémon in Pokémon Yellow Version (or, in Japan, Pocket Monsters Pikachu) for the Game Boy handheld console. Since then Pikachu has been featured heavily in various anime, manga, advertisements, and video game spin-offs of the main Pokémon series, solidifying his place as the most easily recognizable pokémon of all 493.
Pikachu holds the 25th spot in the National Pokédex, classified as the Mouse Pokémon and having purely electric typing. As a species, Pikachu are characterized by their rodent-like appearance, large black-tipped ears, and lightning-bolt shaped tails (in which females have a small dent). On both cheeks they have red sacs that can discharge electricity at their will, a talent used mainly for battle but that has also been observed in more domestic uses such as roasting berries. They live in the forest and travel in packs, occasionally roaming into areas populated by humans due to their attraction to electrical structures and appliances. When many Pikachu gather, they have the ability to create brief, localized thunderstorms.
Pikachu in Super Smash Bros. Brawl [BPKA]
Pika is one of the few characters in Brawl who has true combos on almost the entire cast as well as chaingrabs on heavies and fastfallers. His range is generally pretty short, but many of his moves come out with little startup lag and have deceptively good priority. For long-range combat, he's covered by two excellent projectiles: thunderjolt and his trademark move thunder. His light weight and small shield mean that staying alive can often be a problem against heavy hitters, but reasonably good aerial movement and fast running speed mean that with proper DI and momentum canceling, Pikachu can usually avoid taking damage and survive until at least the mid-100's.
Edgeguarding has become much easier for Pikachu on the journey from Melee to Brawl. His unique recovery and huge sweetspot on the ledge from Quick Attack allow him to get back to the stage from virtually anywhere, and wavebounced thunders can create an impenetrable wall from the top of the stage screen to the bottom. Super sexy.
Although Pikachu has a few bad matchups, for the most part he goes neutral with the majority of the cast. That being said, he has the tools to defeat any other character (i.e., he has no matchups where he gets completely ***** beyond hope), so with enough skill, creativity, and experience, your Pikachu will rarely have anything to fear.
Why Choose Pikachu? [WHAI]
Besides the fact that he's much cuter than every other character on the roster, there are many reasons to choose Pikachu as your main in Brawl. He's a well-rounded character that has very few major flaws in his game, and any weak points he does have can usually be worked around with enough ingenuity on the part of the player. Even in his worst matchups, he has the potential to win if played correctly.
Pikachu has a moderately high learning curve due to his many combos and pseudo-advanced techniques (wavebounced thunder, QAC, jab locking, etc.), which may discourage players who prefer characters they can pick up and use successfully with little practice. However, for the price you pay in taking the time to learn him, in return you will find that Pika is a dynamic character whose versatile movement options and unique projectiles allow you to really get creative on the playing field. There are so many ways to play him: defensively, aggressively, hit-and-run, campy.... the list goes on, but the moral of the story is that Pikachu is just plain fun to play. If you aren't having fun, there is always something new to try.
Strengths & Weaknesses [PRCN]
Like any character, as much as we love him, Pikachu isn't perfect. He has his pros and cons, and in order to play him well, the player must be aware of them so that they can emphasize his strengths and minimize his weaknesses.
- Good running speed
- Small size = small target
- Can combo well
- Good grab game
- Good aerials
- Excellent recovery
- Has two great projectiles
- Can effectively edgeguard and/or gimp most characters
- Diverse movement options
- Duck/crawl are somewhat useful
- Very good at annoying the opponent
- Most attacks have little lag
- Has an adorable facePika's Weaknesses:
- Light weight
- Small size = small shield
- Short range on most attacks (and short-range sweetspots on longer-ranged attacks)
- Kill moves are somewhat predictable
- Has one of the longest trip animations in the game
Move Analysis [MVAN]Before getting into anything else, let's cover each of Pikachu's moves. Knowing Pika's moveset is the first step in understanding his metagame, as the usefulness of each move and the various ways they can all work together are the basis of how Pikachu performs against other characters.
Generally, Pikachu has fast, mid-to-high priority attacks with relatively short range. His ground, aerial, and grab game are all considered to be above average, and although his kill moves are sometimes hard to land against a careful opponent, he has a respectable number to choose from.
Each move will appear in the guide like this:
Name of Move
Short Description of Move
Max (Fresh) Damage / Min (Stale) Damage
Frame Data: Startup frames / active hitbox frames / IF frames (if applicable) / cooldown frames
Aerial Frames (if applicable): Autocancel frames / landing lag frames
Range (Short, Mid, Long, Projectile)
*Note: Frame data is only included for the moves in this guide. For more complete frame data (item throwing, rolling, spotdodging, etc.), visit K Prime's Frame Data thread.
Jab | Advanced Tech Move!
Pikachu leans forward and jabs at the opponent with his head.
Max Damage: 2% / Min Damage: 1%
Startup: 1 / Active: 2-3 (hits every 5 frames starting from frame 2) / Cooldown: 4-21
Range: ShortJab isn't a move you'll be using often with Pikachu, but it's not completely useless. It's his fastest attack and will often cause the opponent to trip, which sets them up to be punished by dtilt (preferred) or fsmash. The greatest thing about jab is its super-hax range, pictured above. Most players will expect the move to end at Pikachu's forehead, but in reality it extends pretty far past his hurtbox, making it somewhat disjointed.
One of the benefits of this disjointedness is being able to use jab for guarding the ledge. Though it shouldn't be your go-to for edgeguards and will rarely work on a good opponent, jabbing at the ledge can surprise-gimp some characters with bad recoveries or make them use their second jump. At the least, it will be very annoying, and being annoying is one of Pika's specialties. (Embrace it: it is, in fact, one of his pros!)
Pikachu also has a jab lock. For more details, see section: JBLK.
Forward Tilt | GTFO Move! | KO Move!
Pikachu kicks out with his legs. Can be angled upward (U), straight forward (F), or downward (D).
Max Damage: 10% (U), 9% (F), 8% (D) / Min Damage: 4% (all angles)
Startup: 1-4 / Active: 5-10 / Cooldown: 11-29
Range: ShortFtilt is the faster, short-ranged, non-disjointed brother to fsmash. It can be angled in three directions, gaining greater damage and knockback the higher Pikachu kicks. (Keep in mind, however, that shorter characters can duck underneath the highest kick.) More experienced Pikas tend to use ftilt instead of dsmash as their GTFO move; although it doesn't provide the same tech-chasing excitement as dsmash, it will reliably knock the opponent far away at mid-high percentages, giving you time to reset your spacing. It also comes out slightly faster.
Additionally, this attack is one of Pikachu's "hidden" kill moves. At around 150%, when fresh, the upward kick will KO most opponents, and its speed and unpredictability as a kill move means that many players will fail to DI it properly.
Down Tilt | Advanced Tech Move! | Combo Starter!
Pikachu sweeps his tail out in front of him.
Max Damage: 7% / Min Damage: 3%
Startup: 1-6 / Active: 7-9 / Cooldown: 10-19
Range: MidDtilt's usefulness is debatable: some players love it, while others rarely use it. It's one of Pika's best options at mid-range, coming out faster than fsmash and having only a little less range (but suffering from much less disjointedness and priority). Much like jab, dtilt will often trip the opponent, which is one of its greatest benefits. At low percentages, it combos into ftilt/fsmash.
Pikasliding [see: MNTC] uses the backward momentum boost you get from using dtilt. Essentially, if you hold back on your control stick after the tail sweep, Pikachu will slide backward, which can lead into some very mindgame-y attacks.
On stages with permanent walls (ex: Corneria, the roof on Delfino, Pokémon Stadium 1, Rainbow Cruise), opponents can be wall-locked with dtilt until 60-70%, assuming relatively good DI on their part. Depending on the height of the wall, if they're forced to come back toward you, you can often finish the lock with a thunder -- if you're lucky, it can even sweetspot for the kill.
Up Tilt | Combo Starter!
Pikachu jumps and swings his tail up above him.
Max Damage: 7%-5% (stronger at beginning) / Min Damage: 4%-2%
Startup: 1-6 / Active: 7-13 / Cooldown: 14-23
Range: Short-MidUtilt is without a doubt one of Pikachu's bread-and-butter moves, so it is absolutely essential for new squirrelrats to learn it well! Its range/damage/knockback and speed are better on the side the move starts on (behind Pika), and because Pika hops up during the middle of the attack, it extends pretty far above him.
The place where utilt really shines is in starting/continuing combos. One of Pikachu's most common approaches is a fast-falled (FF) fair, after which you can go into utilt with very little lag if you space correctly. At low-mid percentages, utilt can be followed with uair (or another utilt on heavies/fastfallers), which can then lead into another uair or nair. [For more detail, see section: CMBO.] Apart from fair-ing into utilt, you can also short hop > airdodge (SHAD) through the opponent into it or, less preferably, spotdodge an attack and utilt afterwards. Fun tip from Muhznit: it has more range than dsmash.... on both sides.
Utilt has one other use that makes it one of Pika's favored moves: it sets up for the almighty thunder. Faster and harder to DI than usmash at high percentages, this move was practically tailor-made for thunder setups. Even if you miss the thunder, the opponent will be too high to punish you, making it one of the safest kill setups Pikachu has. [See section: THND for more details.]
Utilt. Learn it. Love it.
Forward Smash | Advanced Tech Move! | KO Move!
Pikachu leans forward and shoots electricity from his cheeks.
Max Damage: 21%-14% (stronger closer to Pika) / Min Damage: 9%-6%
Startup: 1-14 / Active: 15-22 / Cooldown: 23-49
Range: LongAnother of Pikachu's much-debated moves. Some players like to save fsmash for killing, while others prefer to use it for spacing and punishment throughout a match. Some compromise and use it a lot in the beginning of a match, then refresh its knockback later and save it for a KO. It's completely up to you how you use fsmash.... all methods have their pros and cons.
The Spacing Fsmash: As Pikachu's most effective long-range attack, equipped with insane disjointedness and priority, fsmash is a very alluring move. Its only con (and the reason some prefer not to use it for killing) is that it has pretty bad startup lag and is easily predicted by a good opponent. Never fear, though: fsmash is still perfect for punishing whiffed attacks or your opponent's landing lag, and its range and priority mean that if you don't mind staling it, you can outrange some opponents that Pikachu would otherwise have a hard time hitting.
Remember that the sweetspot for fsmash is at Pika's cheeks. Despite its range, the tip is weak in both damage and knockback, although the very tip sends opponents straight upward and can lead into some funky thunder kills at high percentages.... if you're fast enough to chase them.
The Killing Fsmash: Despite the drawbacks mentioned above, some players save fsmash for the KO. In this case, it is very important to remember where the sweetspot is -- you will not kill with the tip of fsmash and probably won't with any part of the move but the sweetspot. This turns fsmash from a long-ranged move into a short-ranged one; however, when sweetspotted, its knockback is excellent. Stutter-stepping [see: MNTC] or punishing landing lag/whiffed attacks are your most reliable options for getting a kill with fsmash.
Up Smash | KO Move!
Pikachu does a flip and swings his tail out in front of him.
Max Damage: 15%-13% (front, stronger closer to Pika), 7% (back of tail) / Min Damage: 6% (front), 3% (back)
Startup: 1-8 / Active: 9-16 / Cooldown: 17-43
Range: ShortPika's best vertical KO move comes in the form of usmash. The sweetspot is in front and close to Pikachu; although the back of his tail does damage, it has nearly zero knockback, and you can be punished even if it hits. At low percentages, a dash-cancelled ("hyphen smash") usmash can be combo'd into from fthrow. (Put simply, after the fthrow, you cancel your initial dash animation into an up smash.) On heavies and fastfallers, usmash > usmash is a viable combo at very low damage. At high percentages, it can lead into thunder, though it is easily DI'd and therefore requires a bit of chasing.
Usmash is the only attack other than dash attacking that you can do straight out of a run, which is both a gift and a curse. The gift is that it's nice to have the ability to do it; the curse is that if your opponent is within kill range and you're running towards them, it's so so easy for them to predict usmash and shield it. The most effective way to hit with usmash is to hyphen smash into it as punishment or when you think your opponent will least expect it. It's much more surprising and gains more range this way.
Down Smash | GTFO Move!
Pikachu spins in place, surrounded by waves of electricity.
Max Damage: 15% (all hits connect) / Min Damage: 7%
Startup: 1-5 / Active: 6-7, 9-10, 12-13, 15-16, 18-19, 21-22, 24 / Cooldown: 25-54
Range: MidDsmash, unfortunately, is one of the reasons why Pikachu is often considered a spammy character. At first glance, it seems like a godsend: fairly good range, disjointed, crazy priority, sucks the opponent in for multiple hits, eats shields for breakfast, respectable knockback, can be combo'd into..... but there's one thing missing from this equation: DI, or more specifically, SDI. Listen, new Pikas, and listen well: Dsmash is easily DI'd out of. It will never kill a good opponent. The true knockback of this move is in its last hitbox frame, and with proper DI, your opponent will escape before then. Not only that, but the damage you'll deal from the first few hits of dsmash will be very small.
So is dsmash useless? No, but it's really only good for three things: 1) getting the opponent out of your space when you're feeling overwhelmed, 2) annoying the hell out of them, and 3) setting up for a tech chase, further explored in section: TCCH. If someone is hanging onto the ledge past their invincibility frames, dsmash can sometimes stage spike (a weak one), but Pika generally has better edgeguarding options.
Against players who don't DI out of dsmash: It should be noted that because Pikachu is not a widely-used character, you will more than likely find yourself facing players, even good ones, who do not know how to DI out of dsmash. Test their ability to do so, and if it looks like they don't know how to get out of it, you now have yourself a highly effective move to use against them. When all hits connect, dsmash deals considerable damage and will KO, fresh, in the low-mid 100's. It may also send the opponent straight upward, setting up for a thunder kill.
Pikachu propels himself forward and slams into the opponent.
Max Damage: 7% / Min Damage: 3%
Startup: 1-4 / Active: 5-16 / Cooldown: 17-49
Range: MidThis is one of Pikachu's least useful moves. At lower percentages, dash attack's pitiful knockback doesn't make up for its massive cooldown lag, leaving you open for punishment. It's very easily shieldgrabbed, doesn't combo into anything, and in any situation where you might find it useful (ex: tech chasing, following up an fthrow), there's probably a better option. Use sparingly.
One interesting thing about dash attack is that if you hit with the middle of Pikachu's back rather than his head, the opponent will be sent backwards instead of forward [see last picture]. Useless but.... interesting?
Neutral Air | C-C-C-Combo Breaker! | KO Move!
Pikachu curls into a ball and spins.
Max Damage: 12%-6% (stronger at beginning) / Min Damage: 6%-2%
Startup: 1-2 / Active: 3-25 / Cooldown: 26-39
Autocancels: 35-39 / Landing Lag: 25 frames
Range: ShortNair, despite its short range, is an excellent aerial for Pikachu. It's fast, and its knockback is strong, making it a great combo ender in the air and one of Pikachu's most reliable KO moves at higher percentages. It can be lead into by fair, uair, utilt, or dthrow depending on your opponent's damage, or if you're hanging off the ledge with an opponent waiting close by to attack you, you can drop, jump, and nair them in the face. Nair is also a certified combo breaker because of its speed, meaning that if you DI away while being combo'd, nair will sometimes come out before your opponent's next move and hit them away.
Always make sure to do a rising nair if you're short-hopping it (inputting it as you jump, no later than the peak of the short hop); like all of Pika's aerials -- minus fair -- its landing lag is pretty bad.
Killing with Nair: Nair's usefulness is a double-edged sword. You'll find yourself using it often during a match, as its speed beats what most other characters have against us in the air, and short hopping it means we can even outpace a considerable number of ground moves. However, if it's stale, good luck getting a KO with it unless you're pursuing your opponent off-stage. Fresh, it will start to kill at around 140% -- even sooner if you're closer to the edge of the stage.
Positioning yourself for an nair kill can be tricky, but its speed works to your benefit. If your opponent attacks your shield and you're not pushed too far back, you can jump and nair out of shield (OOS). If they're a short distance away and expecting a usmash, you can try running up and short hopping an nair instead, which comes out much faster than usmash and leaves you somewhat less open if you miss. QAC > nair can be predictable and easily shielded, but it's a viable surprise option.
Because this move's hitbox is on either side of it, it's especially useful against moves that turn around melee attacks, i.e., Mario's cape and Pit's Mirror Shield.
Forward Air | Combo Starter!
Pikachu surrounds himself with electricity and spins forward.
Max Damage: 12% (all hits connect) / Min Damage: 5%
Startup: 1-9 / Active: 10-12, 14-16, 18-20, 22-24, 26 / Cooldown: 27-39
Autocancel: 1-9 / Landing Lag: 15 frames
Range: ShortFair is another move you'll find yourself using often. Not only does it have shield-munching properties similar to dsmash (mmm, yummy), but it also has decent priority and when fast-falled starts many, many combos whether you land it in front of your opponent or cross it through their body to land behind them. Note that fast-falling fair is absolutely necessary to start a combo. You ideally only want 2-3 hits to connect, because this is what will give you the frame advantage on which to follow up.
If you land fair in front of the other player, you can follow up with a grab, dsmash, nair, or a reverse utilt; if you land behind them, you give up being able to grab, but it eliminates the threat of getting shieldgrabbed. A slightly more advanced option is to run up and RAR [see: MNTC] an fair so that you can land behind your opponent and still have the option to grab. Refer to CMBO for more details on fair's combo ability.
Outside of starting combos, this move is still pretty useful. It shield-pokes very well, especially if you use it to harass a shielding opponent on a platform above you. If you're on the ledge, drop > jump > fair is an effective way to make them back off the edge of the stage. The fact that it has the least amount of landing lag out of Pikachu's aerials makes it one of the safest to use out of a short hop.
Pikachu spreads out his body and rotates through the air.
Max Damage: 12% (all hits connect) / Min Damage: 5%
Startup: 1-3 / Active: 4-5, 8-9, 12-13, 16-17, 20-21, 24-25, 28-29, 32-37 / Cooldown: 38-59
*Landing Hitbox Frames: 3-42 (2-frame hitbox)
Autocancel: 50-59 / Landing Lag: 30 frames
Range: MidPika-copter!!! Bair is hella fun to use, but it suffers the curse of horrendous landing lag unless you immediately input it during a full hop. It goes in somewhat wonky directions even without control stick input, but if you move your control stick back and forth, you can make Pikachu move in a similar back-and-forth fashion -- the benefit of this, you ask? Since bair sucks the opponent in, you can drag them in a certain direction before the last hit, the one with all the knockback, sends them away. They will fly in the direction opposite of the side you started on. (That is, if you want the opponent to go to the left, start on their right side.)
Pika-copter can be RAR'd for an unconventional approach, but he has much better options. Bair can also be combo'd into from dthrow or utilt, but in most cases, continuing the combo with uair/nair is preferable. Exceptions may be when you want to pull them off of a platform or when the opponent DI's too far to one side and you need bair to suck them back in. It also has better priority than uair/nair and deceptively good range that actually extends a bit past Pikachu's limbs [see last picture].
Off stage, if you're both very brave and very talented, bair can drag the opponent underneath the stage and stage-spike them.
Up Air | Combo Starter!
Pikachu flicks his tail above himself in midair.
Max Damage: 6%-4% (stronger at beginning) / Min Damage: 3%-2%
Startup: 1-2 / Active: 3-8 / Cooldown: 9-27
Autocancel: 18-27 / Landing Lag: 24 frames
Range: ShortUair is a combo move for Pikachu, first and foremost. Its consistently low knockback, speed, and short but still reasonable range make it a very useful "in-between" move in the air -- as in, to be used in-between dthrow/utilt and nair/fair/another uair. (Yes, it combos into itself. How sweet is that?) It can be a combo starter if used out of QAC, but this is somewhat difficult to pull off if you don't have tap jump on.
Uair is a beast against opponents on platforms above you, especially on stages like Norfair, Battlefield, and Lylat that have limited space for the other player to escape without being predictable. It's a win-win situation: if you hit their shield through the platform, you can't get punished; if you hit them, it's a guaranteed combo at lower percentages.
Anytime you're underneath the opponent in the air, uair is probably a good option. It doesn't have the greatest priority, but because it's so fast, it will usually come out before anything the other player has.
Pikachu surrounds himself with electricity and spins downward.
Max Damage: 12% (Pikachu), 4% (ground shock wave) / Min Damage: 5%, 4%
Startup: 1-13 / Active: 14-26 / Cooldown: 27-47
Autocancel: 39-47 / Landing Lag: 40 frames (hitbox on frames 1-4)
Range: ShortDair is one of the few moves whose usefulness may be slightly dependent on your controls: to use this move with no lag from a short hop, you must immediately input it as you jump. Because it has startup lag and auto-fastfalls, your window of opportunity for doing this is very small, and without tap jump on, it is difficult -- not impossible, but difficult -- to do. (To do it with tap jump on, just hit up on the control stick and down on the c-stick at the same time.) Stealing the name "Thunderstorming" from the Ganons, who use their dair in a similar manner, this technique is called Pikastorming. Pikastorming is useful OOS for punishing whiffed attacks. With good aerial movement, you can pseudo-approach with Pikastorming as well, moving backwards as the move comes out so that if it whiffs, you won't get shieldgrabbed.
Outside of this particular manner of using dair, it has limited uses. Coming down from the air with dair is risky because it doesn't outprioritize many utilts/usmashes, so you have a high chance of getting knocked out of it. However, the hitbox extends pretty far up both sides of Pikachu, and its knockback is considerable; at higher percentages, you can jump out after opponents off-stage and dair them to their deaths -- or at least make it more difficult for them to get back. It can also be used from the ledge to push an edgeguarding opponent away, giving you clear space to return safely.
Neutral B: Thunder Jolt
Pikachu shoots a ball of electricity that travels along surfaces.
Max Damage: 9%, 6% (stronger in the air) / Min Damage: 4%, 3%
Startup: 1-18 / Active: 19 (ground jolt lasts 100 frames; air jolt lasts 99 frames) / Cooldown: 20-58
Range: ProjectileTjolt is unique from other characters' projectiles in ways that can give Pikachu the advantage at times, and in most matchups it will become one of your best friends. The important thing to know is that tjolt should not be mindlessly spammed. Like most other projectiles, it can be easily powershielded (or in some cases, reflected or absorbed) when predictably used, and it has a lot of cooldown lag.
Now that that's out of the way, how is tjolt generally used? Well, first of all, never use tjolt from the ground unless you're far out of the opponent's range or protected by a solid object. The lag will immobilize you, whereas if you're in the air, you can at least still control your aerial movement. Second of all, when you're close to the opponent, nearly always full hop your jolts so that by the time you return to the ground, you'll be free of lag. Thirdly, the last cardinal rule of tjolting is that you must vary your jolt timing. This cannot be stressed enough. If you're tjolting multiple times and they all come from a full hop in the same place, it will be even easier for the opponent to time their powershields and advance on you. Full hop some, short hop some, double jump a couple, move forward for a few and backwards for others -- mix it up! Being unpredictable is one of Pikachu's strong points.
The thing that separates tjolt from other projectiles is that it travels along surfaces, moving around corners and obstacles in the process. This comes in handy on stages like Pokémon Stadium 1 where solid objects will stop other projectiles but not hinder Pikachu's the slightest bit. Tjolt's surface-clinging property is also helpful against opponents who like to abuse ledge-camping; although they can time their invincibility, if you switch up the timing of your jolts, chances are you'll hit them eventually. On short platforms (such as the side platforms on Jungle Japes), Pikachu can tjolt on either side of himself and be completely surrounded by tjolts as they travel around and around the platform's surface.
Tjolt stuns the opponent for a fairly long time, allowing you to follow up with an attack in some cases if you land near them. A popular choice is tjolt > fsmash. Other uses for tjolt include edgeguarding/gimping [see: EDGP], canceling other projectiles, and baiting reflectors/absorbers to punish their lag. With good timing and QA control, you can also tjolt, then QAC in front of the jolt and abuse the hitstun. Tjolt can sometimes trip the opponent as well.
Tjolt's Behavior vs. Other Projectiles:
Bowser - Fire Breath: Goes through tjolt[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Diddy Kong - Peanut Popgun: Tjolt goes through peanuts[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Diddy Kong - Banana Peel: Neither cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Falco - Blaster: Neither cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Fox - Blaster: Neither cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Game & Watch - Chef: Both cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Ice Climbers - Ice Shot: One block cancelled per tjolt[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]King Dedede - Waddle Dee Throw (Waddles): Tjolt pushes Waddles back, but they still live; Gordo goes through tjolt[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Kirby - Final Cutter: Neither cancelled (at close range, the actual sword goes through tjolt)[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Link - Hero's Bow: Both cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Link - Gale Boomerang: Both cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Link - Bomb: Goes through tjolt[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Lucario - Aura Sphere: Both cancelled if AS is weak; strong AS goes through tjolt[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Lucas - PK Fire: Fire stopped, but its hitbox still comes out[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Lucas - PK Freeze: Neither cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Lucas - PKT1: Both cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Luigi - Fireball: Both cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Mario - Fireball: Both cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Ness - PK Fire: Fire stopped, but its hitbox still comes out[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Ness - PKT1: Both cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Olimar - Pikmin Throw: Red/Blue/Purple go back to Olimar; White killed by tjolt; Yellow goes through tjolt[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Peach - Turnip: Both cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Pit - Palutena's Arrow: Both cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Charizard - Flamethrower: Goes through tjolt[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Ivysaur - Razor Leaf: Both cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Squirtle - Water Gun: No-damage projectile version goes through tjolt[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]ROB - Robo Beam: Neither cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]ROB - Gyro: If uncharged, gyro stopped but *may* remain on the field (whether it does or not seems to be random); if fully charged, goes through tjolt[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Samus - Charge Shot: If uncharged, both cancelled; if fully charged, Charge Shot goes through tjolt[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Samus - Missle: Both cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Samus - Super Missle: Both cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Samus - Bomb: Bomb stopped, but its hitbox still comes out[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Sheik - Needle Storm: Neither cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Snake - Hand Grenade: Grenade's momentum is stopped, but it still functions normally[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Snake - Remote Controlled Missile: Goes through tjolt[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Toon Link - Hero's Bow: Both cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Toon Link - Boomerang: Both cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Toon Link - Bomb: Goes through tjolt[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Wolf - Blaster: Neither cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Yoshi - Egg Throw: Egg stopped, but its hitbox still comes out[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Zelda - Din's Fire: Goes through tjolt if Din's explodes; otherwise, neither cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Zero Suit Samus - Paralyzer: Both cancelled[/COLOR][/COLOR] [COLOR=#ffffcc][COLOR=#ffffcc]Zero Suit Samus - Suit pieces: Piece's momentum is cancelled, but it remains on the field
Pikachu charges up, then blasts forward as a full-body projectile.
Max Damage: 26%-7% (stronger when charged) / Min Damage: 12%-3%
Startup: 1-17 (no charge) / Active: 18 / Cooldown: 19-90
Range: LongSkull Bash is an interesting move, one that has massive power and knockback but is almost useless offensively. Fully charged, it has the most killing potential of all of Pikachu's moves (even his charged smashes), but its auto-release, predictable trajectory, and bad startup and cooldown lag make it hard to use without getting avoided and/or punished. When it's released, at the point when Pika says "KA!", it momentarily stops all horizontal momentum.
Sadly, this move is really only used for recovery and momentum canceling. [See: RCVR for more details.] Even then, it must be used with caution.... Skull Bash too low and too close to the opponent, and you're asking to get spiked or otherwise punished. However, it's good for giving Pikachu a horizontal boost when you're recovering up high where only fellow Pikas can reach you, and with it you can do some nifty quick ledge regrab tricks [see: MNTC].
A fully charged Skull Bash is your best option for punishing a shield break. Additionally, this move may cause tripping.
Down B: Thunder | Advanced Tech Move! | KO Move!
Pikachu calls down a bolt of lightning from the skies.
Max Damage: 17%, 11% (shock wave is stronger) / Min Damage: 7%, 4%
Startup: 1-42 / Active: ?-? (T1), 43-74 (T2) / Invincibility: 43-51 / Cooldown: 75-78 (with T2), 75-87 (without T2)
Yes, it's the move that's been a trademark for Pika since 64: Thunder. Since there's a whole section devoted to it in this guide [see: THND], we'll just go over the basics here.
Thunder is Pikachu's second projectile, reaching from the top of most stages all the way down to Pikachu, the stage itself, or the bottom of the screen (unless you thunder from very high) if there are no obstacles in its way. "T1" is the thunderbolt itself, and "T2" refers to the massive shock wave that occurs when the bolt hits Pikachu. Pikachu has invincibility frames during part of the shock wave, during which he will receive zero knockback and damage from attacks. Thunder also happens to be crazy laggy, often hitting opponents even when it looks as though the move has ended. T2 has much greater knockback than T1, but T1 easily KOs off the top of the screen.
It's interesting to note that you get more lag when the bolt does not hit Pikachu; however, you have a wall of thunder protecting your back, and characters with reflectors cannot reflect thunder back onto you if you're not directly underneath it. In either situation, thunder has a lot of startup and cooldown lag, so choose your timing and spacing wisely. It's safest to use thunder when the opponent is high above you; in such cases, it's impossible for them to punish you except by reflecting it (the only exception being Lucario's counter). Utilt and usmash are good setups for thunder, as well as uthrow, the last hit of dsmash, and the very tip of fsmash if you're lucky. It's also Pika's main tool for edgeguarding [see: EDGP].
Thunder beats almost every other move in the game once the hitbox is out, but it can be reflected, absorbed, super armored, airdodged, shielded, or countered (in particular, Lucario's counter will teleport him next to you). An opponent can also grab you and absorb T2 with grab amor, but very, very rarely will they risk it. T2 can stage spike or set up for thunair [see: MNTC] but both require a fair amount of skill and perfect timing.
Remember that the bolt travels from cloud to Pika, so the higher the opponent is, the less time they have to react. At higher percentages, being hit into the air will leave your opponent in hitstun long enough that thunder is inescapable.
Up B: Quick Attack | Advanced Tech Move!
Pikachu zips from one place to another at high speed.
Max Damage: 5% (both hits connect) / Min Damage: 2%
Startup: 1-14 / Active: 15-19, 30-34 / Cooldown: 35-44
Landing Lag: 24 frames (normal), 30 frames (close to ground), 15 frames (from QAC)
Range: LongQuick Attack is Pikachu's recovery move, and it's one of the best -- if not the best -- recoveries in the game. With the nearly unlimited control you have over his "teleportation" and the HUGE sweetspot he has on the ledge, it's possible to return to safety from practically anywhere, even the very, very bottom of Final Destination. After you input up + B, you can direct Pika in any two directions as long as the second direction is at least 38 degrees from the first. In-between these two paths is when Pikachu is completely vulnerable; otherwise, QA has fluctuating, mid-high priority and will pass through most attacks if you really must attempt it. (It's usually safer to just go around if, say, you're being pursued off-stage.)
If you Quick Attack into the ground, the move will cancel itself and grant you a short amount of time during which you can jump or perform an aerial, even if you've already used your second jump. This is called the Quick Attack Cancel technique (QAC for short) and is one of Pikachu's most important character-specific ATs. Opponents can be locked with QAC as well. More information can be found in QATC.
Pikachu shocks the opponent with a zap of electricity.
Max Damage: 2% / Min Damage: 1%
Startup: 1-2 / Active: 3 / Cooldown: 4-18
Range: N/AJust a pummel. Pikachu has one of the better pummels in the game, as it comes out faster than most, allowing you to build damage quickly and, more importantly, refresh other moves that have staled. In general, the rule is to pummel once per 25% damage on your opponent to guarantee that they won't break out before you throw.
Forward Throw | Combo Starter!
Pikachu tosses the opponent onto his back, shocks them, then throws them off.
Max Damage: 11% / Min Damage: 4%
Startup: 1-10 / Active: 11, 22, 33, 44, 58 / Cooldown: 59-71
Range: N/APikachu's fthrow is one of his two most often used throws. It launches the opponent up and in front of you, and at lower percentages it can combo into a dash-cancelled usmash. It also allows you to chaingrab the following heavies and fastfallers if you buffer dashes in-between grabs:
*Original testing by Ruuku
Captain Falcon: 0%-60%
King DDD: 0%-60%
Donkey Kong: 0%-60%
Pikachu rolls backward and throws the enemy behind him.
Max Damage: 10% / Min Damage: 4%
Startup: 1-36 / Active: 37 / Cooldown: 38-59
Range: N/ABthrow is a very unique throw. Pikachu rolls backward before tossing the opponent, but if he hits the edge of a platform or the ledge, the roll will be finished in place. This makes bthrow a good setup for edgeguarding if you happen to grab someone with your back to the ledge. At very high percentages, it can kill, especially on stages with close side blastlines (ex: Corneria) or on the few legal stages with walk-offs.
Down Throw | Combo Starter!
Pikachu throws the opponent onto the floor and slams down on top of them.
Max Damage: 10% / Min Damage: 4%
Startup: 1-12 / Active: 13, 26 / Cooldown: 27-48
Range: N/AThis is the second of Pika's two most frequently used throws. Dthrow can start combos at low percentages, sending the opponent more or less directly above you (and slightly to the side depending on their DI), which allows you to utilt or uair them.
Dthrow is also imperative to Pika's grab game because it can chaingrab a large number of the cast. There are two types of CGs you can do with dthrow: buffered and unbuffered. For more information on buffering and the difference between these two types of CGing, see GRBG.
Buffered Dthrow CG Combos (Original Testing by Michael Hey, K Prime, The Truth!, RPK, & ESAM)
Diddy Kong: 0%-21% + regrab (fthrow > dthrow > grab)
Donkey Kong: 7%-26% + regrab (dthrow x2 > grab)
Falco: 0%-100% + regrab (fthrow x2 > dthrow x13 > grab)
Fox: 0%~100% + regrab (dthrow x14+ > grab)
Ike: 0%-62% + regrab (dthrow x9 > grab)
King Dedede: 0%-77% + regrab (fthrow x2 > pummel > dthrow x3 > pummel > dthrow x4 > grab)
Link: 0%-41% + regrab (dthrow x5 > grab)
Lucas: 5%-33% + regrab (dthrow x3 > grab)
Meta Knight: 0%-52% + regrab (dthrow x7 > grab)
Sheik: 0%-105% + regrab (fthrow x2 > dthrow x14 > grab)
Snake (ver. 1): 0%-83% + regrab (fthrow x2 > pummel > dthrow x3 > pummel > dthrow x5 > grab)
Snake (ver. 2): 10%-90% + regrab (fthrow > pummel > dthrow x10 > grab)
Snake (ver. 3): 0%-90% + regrab (fthrow to ledge > dthrow to 90% or below (must begin dthrow by 30%))
Squirtle: 3%-22% + regrab (dthrow x2 > grab)
Wolf (ver. 1): 0%-115% + regrab (dthrow x3 > pummel > dthrow x14 > grab)
Wolf (ver. 2): 0%-115% + regrab (dthrow x3 > fthrow > dthrowx13 > grab)
*Note: Not all of these CGs start with dthrow; however, they all center around buffering dthrow at some point.
Unbuffered Dthrow CG (Original Testing by Ruuku)
Captain Falcon: 0%-80%
*Note: Sheik and Captain Falcon can DI towards you and footstool out of the unbuffered CG on the first throw, so this is not a true chaingrab on them. However, many opponents don't know this, so it's worth trying if you can get the grab. Otherwise, use the fthrow or buffered dthrow CG.
Pikachu headbutts the opponent into the air.
Max Damage: 10% / Min Damage: 4%
Startup: 1-13 / Active: 14, 21 / Cooldown: 22-40
Range: N/AUthrow isn't very useful, as utilt and usmash leave the opponent in hitstun for a longer period of time and are therefore more effective thunder setups. Nearly every opponent will DI uthrow, and unless they're at a low percentage, they'll be sent too high to be combo'd without using your second jump. There are nearly always better options out of one of Pikachu's other throws.
Get-Up Attack (From Back)
Pikachu swings his foot out on either side of himself.
Max Damage: 5%
Startup: 1-12 / Active: 13-? (back), 18-? (front) / Cooldown: ?-49
Range: ShortThere's pretty good range on this attack since Pika's foot grows slightly larger. As far as get-up attacks go, it's fast, but if your opponent is shielding, roll away instead.
Get-Up Attack (From Belly)
Pikachu swings his head out on either side of himself.
Max Damage: ?
Startup: 1-16 / Active: 17-? (front), 23-? (back) / Cooldown: ?-50
Range: ShortThis version of Pika's get-up attack is a little bit slower, but it has about the same range. Rolling is probably better, but if you can intercept your opponent's attack, it has enough knockback to get them out of your space.
Get-Up Attack (Trip)
Pikachu swings his tail out on either side of himself.
Max Damage: 5%
Startup: 1-18 / Active: 19-? (back), 31-? (front) / Cooldown: ?-49
Trip Length: 29 frames (regular), 44 frames (banana)
Range: ShortThis attack is slower and has slightly less range than the normal get-up attacks.... Pika's entire tail doesn't seem to be included in the hitbox. Not your best option, especially against Diddy.
Ledge Attack (<100)
Pikachu quickly pulls himself onto the stage, hitting forward with his tail.
Max Damage: 8%
Startup: 1-21 / Active: 22-? / Invincibility: 1-20 / Cooldown: ?-53
Range: MidThis attack has pretty good range, and it's very fast, but it has a lot of cooldown lag. If it's shielded or whiffed, it's easily punished, and you'll get sent right back off the stage. It can be used to interrupt laggy attacks if you've used up your ledge invincibility frames or to punish those who tried to attack from the edge while you still had them.
Ledge Attack (>100)
Pikachu slowly climbs onto the stage and sweeps his tail forward.
Max Damage: 10%
Startup: 1-54 / Active: 55-? / Invincibility: 1-59 / Cooldown: ?-69
Range: ShortSlow, easy to see coming, and very short-ranged. Don't use it.
Offensive Maneuvers [OFSV]Don't let the cute face fool you: it's the adorable ones you gotta watch out for, and Pikachu is no exception. Beneath his cuddly exterior lie some powerful moves, and when they're combined with his speed and ability to combo most characters, Pikachu becomes a force to be reckoned with on the Smash field.
Some characters have trouble approaching the opponent; however, Pikachu is not one of those characters, as he has approach options both on the ground and in the air. The key to success in this area, as with most others in Brawl, is to keep yourself as unpredictable as possible. Never advance with the same thing over and over; although some are safer than others, every approach can be countered in some way.
On the Ground
Because Pikachu has good running speed, he can quickly approach by dashing toward the opponent and perfect shielding any projectiles. Unlike slower characters, Pika will rarely have to suffer an overwhelming number of projectiles before he gets to his target, making it extremely hard for most opponents to stall his approach by camping (especially since Pika has an excellent projectile of his own that cancels many others).
Once you get to your opponent, you have two options based on what you predict they'll do.
If you think they'll attack, you can shield or powershield their move and grab them. From there, Pika has several combos out of fthrow and dthrow at low-mid percentages [see: CMBO], or at higher percentages, you can get in a few pummels before throwing them in any direction. Another option is to attack them out of shield (OOS), especially if their attack pushes you back a little bit. Nair and dair are Pika's best options OOS -- nair is for close range and high knockback, while dair can be aimed a bit farther and deals greater damage.
If you think they'll shield, Pikachu, like any other character, can short hop > airdodge (SHAD) behind the opponent from a run.... and with moderately good air speed, SHAD'ing is a breeze for Pika. When they put up their shield, expecting an attack, reverse grab them; if they end up attacking anyway, you can still grab, or you can punish with any number of Pika's moves.From the Air
In the air, Pikachu's fairly high jumps and reasonable air speed allow him to jump into the air a great distance from his opponent and come down nearby, often with an fair. Or, when you want to mindgame your opponent into doing something punishable, you can mix up your approach by short hop > fast-falling -- without attacking -- just outside of your opponent's range to trick them into thinking you'll attack. Then, punish their reaction.
When the time comes to truly strike, Pika has many options from the air:
Fair is Pikachu's main approach and can set the opponent up for heavy damage, especially if they're in the low-mid percentages. Fair is a multi-hit attack, every hit but the last leaving Pikachu with a 2-frame advantage due to the opponent being left in hitstun. The key to fair approaches is to make sure to fast-fall your fair -- 2-3 hits connecting is ideal, as you will land and be ready to attack before the opponent can get out of hitstun, land, and put up their shield. (Keep in mind that it is possible for the opponent to DI up and jump out of fair; however, they have less of an opportunity to do so with fewer hits of fair connecting.)
Once you've landed your fair, quickly follow up with a grab, utilt, dsmash, nair, or usmash depending on whether you're going for a combo (low percentages) [see: CMBO], damage (mid percentages), or the kill (higher percentages). It is recommended that you try to land behind the opponent with your fair to eliminate the chance of getting shieldgrabbed, though you sacrifice being able to go into a grab with this method.
If you want to land behind the opponent and still have the option to grab, you can a) jump backwards toward the opponent and hit the c-stick forward (not recommended, as it makes it obvious what you're doing), or b) RAR [see: MNTC] an fair to land behind them.
Thunder Jolt approaches should also be implemented often. This is performed by full hopping or double jumping thunder jolts as you approach the opponent. If you time it well, tjolts can serve as a distraction so you can get into your ideal position near the opponent or catch them off-guard with an attack or grab as they shield/spotdodge your projectile. Even against opponents with reflectors, this approach can still be effective due to its mindgaming properties; most reflectors have a lot of cooldown lag, so bait one with a tjolt while approaching (making sure to jump over the reflected jolt), then punish. Against Ness or Lucas, you can begin each of their stocks with this approach since you don't need to worry about them recovering health while they're at 0%. Against Mr. Game & Watch, however, it is advised that you use this approach very infrequently or not at all. The exception, of course, is if his bucket is already full (which it should never be ).
Quick Attack Cancel (QAC) approaches are less frequently used than tjolt approaches, as they can be easily shielded and punished if the opponent expects one. Do not abuse QAC offensively.
First, make sure you are familiar with QAC. [See: QATC] This means understanding the timing for QAC, whether you're advancing across the stage or spacing so that you QA through your opponent. When you're ready to go in, QAC into or past the enemy and pop up with a rising nair/uair, or jump and come down with an fair.
You can even try combining two or three different approaches with this tech. For instance, QAC around the opponent and end the approach with a tjolt, firing it off first, then following up with another QAC, coming down on them with an fair out of that one. QAC's success as an approach lies in its surprise factor, so use your imagination and be as unpredictable as possible.
Another viable approach is Pikastorming. Pikastorming is easy to perform for those with tap jump on (hit up on the control stick and down on the c-stick at the same time), but for those with it off, it may be slightly more difficult. Dair must be performed as you short hop, but timing it so that it doesn't fast-fall takes a lot of practice. Once you get it down, however, Pikastorming is a great approach, allowing you to move toward the opponent, dair, then move back out of shieldgrab range and land without lag. It works best against characters without disjointed hitboxes or a lot of range.
The Reverse Aerial Rush (RAR) technique [see: MNTC] isn't a trick that Pikas use frequently, but it does have a few applications for approach. Bair is a high-priority move that multi-hits for moderately high damage, and when it's input on a full hop, you eliminate its landing lag. Though you normally have better options, RAR'ing one of these can be an unconventional approach. Uair is another good choice for this particular tech, though you must be careful to land it behind your opponent, as it's fairly easy to shieldgrab. If it hits, you can string it into a second uair or nair.Combos & Pseudo-Combos [CMBO]
Now that we're familiar with Pikachu's moveset and how to approah, it's time to learn the basics of his combo game. Blessed with a large number of flashy attack strings that can make the opponent look out of his league, Pika is one of the few characters in the game who has true combos on a majority of the cast. Let's not get hasty, though -- this is still Brawl, so apart from a few real combos, Pika mostly has potential "pseudo-combos," a.k.a. strings of attacks that will probably connect but can be fairly easily DI'd out of.
The Basics of Combo'ing
Pikachu's combos can begin with his fair, grabs, QAC, and more, but there are a few general points to keep in mind.
- When executing a combo off the ground, know that any aerial except dair can follow a utilt at low percentages (and mid percentages on heavies). Once the opponent's gotten some damage on them, uair and bair become your only true follow-ups. Some options (uair, uair, uair!) are better than others, but it's good to know that you do, in fact, have options.
- Heavy characters and fastfallers can be juggled more easily than lighter/floatier characters, and they'll find it far more difficult to DI out of any of your combos. (This is part of the reason why Pikachu is notorious for ****** the heavies!) However, it is also important to note that, against all characters, many combos will only work or simply work more reliably at a certain range of percents.
For example, at the very beginning of your opponent's stocks, fthrow > usmash and dthrow > utilt/usmash work every time against the majority of the cast, but once they've accumulated some damage, it becomes very easy to DI out of these combos.
- Some combos require a little bit of maneuvering and aren't quite as simple as they seem. Though they're usually listed as just a string of moves, sometimes there's a run or a jump or turning around involved -- for the sake of new Pikas, we'll try to note any especially tricky moments, but practice really is the best teacher.
It's recommended that you try everything in Training Mode before bringing it to a real match so that performing the moves together fluidly and effortlessly becomes second nature. When you hesitate or have to think about what you'll do next, it gives the opponent time to escape, and many combos have strict timing that don't allow for this.
Pikachu's range of combos can be split into three categories: low-percentage, mid-percentage, and KO setups.
Low combos generally work on all characters at minimal damage (up to ~30%) and on heavier characters until slightly higher percentages. Their purpose is to quickly build initial damage on the opponent with attack strings that are nearly inescapable. Mid combos are self-explanatory and serve to rack up extra damage, often including a lot of grabs so that Pika can utilize his pummel. At this range, combos become “pseudo-combos,” as the opponent suffers little enough hitstun that they can usually DI away between attacks. Likewise, KO setups are rarely guaranteed, but they make landing Pikachu's fairly predictable kill moves a little bit easier.
Pikachu's most common low-percentage combos are:
Dtilt > Ftilt/Fsmash
Fthrow > Dash-Cancelled Usmash
Dthrow > Usmash
Dthrow > Utilt (x2 on heavies/fastfallers) > Rising Uair (x2 if possible) > Nair
Usmash x2 (heavies/fastfallers only)
Dthrow > Utilt > Uair/Nair > FF Fair > Grab/Utilt/Dsmash
Pikachu's most common mid-percentage combos are:
FF Fair > Grab > Pummel x2 (or x3) > Throw
FF Fair > Reverse Utilt > Uair (optional) > Uair/Bair/Fair
Fthrow > Running Usmash (for missed techs)
Utilt > Jump > Uair > FF > Jump > Uair > Double Jump > Nair
QAC > Jump > FF Fair > Grab/Utilt/Dsmash
Pikachu's most common kill setups are:
FF Fair > Usmash
FF Fair > Rising Nair
Utilt > Thunder
Usmash > Thunder
Uair > Nair
QAC > Uair (optional) > Nair
At nearly any percentage, FF fair can lead into a grab, utilt, dsmash, nair, or sometimes dtilt or usmash.
These are not, of course, the only combos Pikachu can pull off. If you would like to try more, visit SilverSpark's combo thread.
Don't be afraid to make up your own, either! Pikachu is extremely versatile, so there may be even more combos out there yet to be discovered.
Juggling isn't one of Pikachu's offensive strengths, but he can still do it to some degree depending on the character he's facing. To clarify, juggling is exactly what it sounds like: it's the act of keeping your opponent in the air above you, making it impossible or at least very, very difficult for them to land. Once the other player uses their second jump, they're especially susceptible to juggling, because their only means of getting to the ground become a) attacking on their way down, b) drifting back and forth and hoping to outmaneuver you (very unlikely with Pika's running speed), or c) using some sort of teleportation move (ex: MK's cape, Zelda's up-b). This whole process is easier when they're at a moderately high percentage.
Pikachu's main juggling moves are uair, thunder, uthrow, and utilt. Usmash is a semi-option, but it's really too slow for juggling, and you'll want to keep it fresh for the kill anyway. Utilt is your setup for juggling. Heavies/fastfallers can be hit with it twice (a mini-juggle) at low percentages, and at mid-high damage, it will begin to send them high enough to attempt a true juggle.
Once they're in the air, uair is going to be your main tool because of its speed; even if the opponent decides to try to dair their way through you, uair's hitbox will often come out before theirs, sending them back up again. Its only problem for juggling is that it has fairly low knockback, so at lower percentages, it won't effectively juggle heavies/fastfallers. If it looks as thought the opponent is going to land back on the stage before you can use another uair (if, say, you had to return to the ground to get your second jump back), run up and grab them out of their landing lag, then uthrow them back up. If they come down with an attack, attempt a shieldgrab.
People hate being above Pikachu, and the reason for this is one of your best juggling assets if you use it accurately: thunder! T1's mostly vertical knockback will keep opponents in the air, and if you can keep hitting them with it, they'll eat a lot of damage in the process and possibly die if they're caught too close to the top of the screen. Smart opponents will be able to get by without much trouble, but if you vary your timing, utilize QAC > thunder, and predict airdodges well, you just might pull off an epic juggle.
One stage where juggling is easy is the air stage on PS2. With QAC, Pikachu can get to the ground whenever he needs to in spite of the low gravity, but other characters will usually end up stuck in the air and fairly vulnerable. Thunder and uair to your heart's content.
When juggling, it's important to know your opponent's moveset. If they have a strong dair, especially one with a pushback effect on the ground (ex: Toon Link, G&W's key), juggling may not be advisable. If you want to attempt it, bait their dair, then punish the landing lag with a uthrow. For characters with teleportation moves or dairs that get them to the ground quickly at an odd angle (ex: ZSS's dair, Zelda's up-b), predict where they will land and similarly punish them with a grab.
Overall, juggling shouldn't be one of your main priorities, but if you think you can pull it off, go for it!
Getting the Kill [GTKO]
Even though Pikachu has a lot of killing power, getting that kill can be hard sometimes. He has a bunch of kill moves: Skull Bash, fsmash, dsmash, usmash, utilt, up-angled ftilt, nair, dair, and thunder. Some, like thunder and Skull Bash, are ridiculously overpowered but slow at the same time. Others, like dair and ftilt, can kill at high percentages, but they can only do so near the edge.
- Starting at around 40%-50%, you can get kills with T2 and fully charged Skull Bashes. With proper prediction you can land a thunder on the edge over someone, easily killing them around 40%. A fully charged Skull Bash will KO as well, but it will rarely hit unless you first break the opponent's shield. These kills are highly situational and require a bit of a mistake on the part of your opponent.
- At 70%, dsmash comes into play. If they don't DI out of it before the last hit and are sent straight up, their hitstun will last long enough that thunder will kill. This is rare at high-level play, though, since most people can easily DI out of dsmash.
- At 90%, one of Pikachu's most reliable kill moves come into play: utilt/usmash > thunder. Usmash is easy to DI; you'll rarely get thunder off of it. Utilt, however, seems to catch people off-guard. Note that the different sides of utilt have their own unique knockback patterns, but if you take the time to learn them, you can pull off some impressive thunder kills. If they go off to a side, you can jump, drift, and thunder, or you can dash, jump really fast, then thunder. Even if the opponent goes pretty far to one side, you can catch people at a surprising distance from the utilt.
At lower percentages, people can avoid the thunder, but once you reach about 110%-120%, the hitstun becomes so great that they can't do anything about it. Even better: thanks to hitstun preventing B moves until you regain control, it hinders reflectors and absorbers depending on how much damage the opponent has taken (higher damage = longer hitstun).
- Once the opponent reaches 100%, a fresh dsmash alone will kill most characters if all hits connect.
- At ~100%-120%, fsmash and usmash become kill moves, the former a little before the latter. Usmash is ideal for quick punishment, as there are many attacks that Pika can shield, then counter with a hyphen smash. (If they're sent straight up, throw in a thunder just in case.) Fsmash has considerable startup lag and a short-ranged sweetspot, but if you hit with it, fresh, its knockback is enormous. Its slow startup means that it too is best reserved for punishment, either out of a powershield or after an opponent's whiffed attack. It can also punish landing lag if the other player lands near you.
- One thing to note is that around 130%, a tipped fsmash, which sends people straight up, can have enough hitstun that you can run > jump > thunder for the KO.
- Nair and utilt are kill moves starting around 140%. Nair is highly effective when done OOS. It's incredibly fast and can punish most moves since it comes out after only 2 frames. You can also run up and SH > nair into someone, or, if your opponent likes to ledge hop, you can run and SH > nair right as they come up and hit them with it. Being close to the edge has the added benefit of reducing the percentage at which nair kills.
Keep in mind that although nair can kill early, most opponents will DI it pretty well, somewhat limiting its potential.
- At 150% comes ftilt. While ftilt normally has low knockback, if angled upward it becomes a surprising killer. It can kill DDD (with no DI) at about 150% on Final Destination. This move has very short range, so you have to get in their face or punish a close-range attack with it. Lucky for us, people tend to miss the DI on ftilt because of its speed and unpredictability as a KO move. If by chance your opponent lasts this long, never forget about ftilt.
- Last but not least, at around 160%, dair kills when you're close to the ledge. Hopefully you can get a KO by this point, but if not, dair is a new option. Autocanceled dair OOS (inputting it as you SH for no landing lag, similar to Pikastorming) works really well.
Pikachu is a fantastic edgeguarder, possessing an arsenal of techniques you can employ to keep the opponent from returning to the stage. Since the combination of Skull Bash and Quick Attack allows him to return from nearly anywhere, there will rarely be a character you won't feel comfortable pursuing off the stage in order to abuse their inferior recovery. (Exceptions to this rule are G&W, MK, and ROB.) Even if you can't necessarily chase someone off the ledge, thunder is a powerful edgeguarding move that you can use to defend the edge from the safety of the stage.
The simplest attack Pika can use against opponents recovering from down low is thunder jolt. In the air, it carries greater knockback, and it's especially useful against characters with multiple jumps; though it won't gimp them, it can make them use up their jumps so that they're forced to up b or otherwise rush to the ledge to avoid taking more damage. (It also has that annoyance factor that we love.)
Characters with ballsy recoveries (i.e., Link, Ganondorf, and sometimes Lucario and Ike depending on their distance from the stage) can be gimped by a mere tjolt. Kinda lame but oh-so-satisfying.
If your opponent has a predictable recovery, you may be able to drop or jump off the ledge and nail them with a dair or nair for the kill, depending on their damage. Even if they aren't KO'd, the high knockback of these moves may push them far enough away that they can no longer recover.
If the opponent is recovering fairly low, you can also drop off the ledge with a bair. This is a little risky, but since bair allows you to drag the opponent in a certain direction, there is almost no chance of them making it back after they're caught in this move. Pikachu, however, can safely return without worrying about being edgeguarded himself.
Undoubtedly, as you've probably guessed, Pikachu's greatest edgeguarding attack is his infamous thunder. This massive beam of pure energy is one of the best edgeguarding tools in the game. Smart opponents will not attempt to recover high due to Pika's thunder; therefore, you can wait at the edge and watch how they return, planning your thunder method accordingly.
One option is ledge hopping a thunder. To perform this, simply tap your jump button as you're hanging onto the edge and use thunder immediately. If you don't use up all of your invincibility frames while you're on the actual ledge, they will carry over into the ledge hop, which means you will have a few frames before thunder where you're invulnerable. Nice, but hitting with it requires your opponent to practically run straight into the thunder, which probably won't happen unless you're really quick to snap onto the ledge.
Most of the time, you'll want to thunder a bit more aggressively. After sending the opponent flying off-stage, jump out, wait for the opportune moment, then use your double jump. Now immediately thunder as you rise. If you timed it right, your opponent may fly right into it, but if not, you can usually pull off a second or even a third thunder. Since T2 stops vertical momentum as it hits you, you should still be able to QA to safety.
Visuals are always better than reading a description, so watch the thunder sections in 5ive's Video Guide [see: PFQS] to get a better idea of how double and triple thunders work.
When Not to Use Thunder......
The bane of thunder edgeguarding is a reflector or absorbing move. For characters who have reflectors, you can create a thunder wall without T2 using two different methods: 1) wavebounce thunder so that you end up back on the stage, or 2) jump off-stage, then jump back and thunder on your way in. Wavebouncing is faster and less predictable but slightly harder to pull off. In either case, if thunder is reflected, it won't hit you. Using thunder on Ness, Lucas, or G&W (unless his bucket is full) is not recommended.Tech Chasing [TCCH]
Pikachu doesn't have any guaranteed tech chase setups like Ganondorf and Snake do, but if by chance your opponent misses a tech and ends up on their back, Pika is speedy enough to move in and punish. This will happen less and less at higher levels of play, but there are instances where even the best players will occasionally miss their tech, especially on stages with lots of solid walls, à la the windmill on PS1.
Setting Up a Tech Chase
Pikachu's setups for tech chasing are limited, and most require a ceiling or wall of some sort. Lacking either of the latter, dsmash is a great way to set up tech chases against opponents who tend to miss techs more often. Since the direction you're sent when you DI out of dsmash is hard to predict, if it flings the other player out at a low angle, there's a good chance that they'll miss their tech and end up on the ground. If you really want to annoy them, you can chase them and punish with another dsmash, which can start the whole process all over again.
If you have walls to work with, moves with high knockback are more likely to result in a missed tech, because the other person will have less time to react. PS1's windmill is a good place to abuse, as are the wall on Corneria and the right side of the ship on Rainbow Cruise.
The ceilings on Luigi's Mansion are tailor-made for setting up a tech chase, because you can utilt/usmash/uthrow your opponent against them multiple times, and they're almost guaranteed to end up on the ground at some point. Added bonus: they'll be right near you, so it's easy to go into a QAL or, if they have enough damage, a jab lock.
These are your best bets, but there are many situations in which your opponent may hit the ground. At high percentages, most moves will end with the opponent on the ground if they allow themselves to land that way, but good opponents almost never will.
How to Punish a Missed Tech
When your opponent lands on the ground, they have three options: they can get up without attacking, get-up attack, or tech roll. The first and last choices have a few invincibility frames, and get-up attacks have a hitbox whose size and duration depend on the character. Regardless, all are punishable, and they'll always be vulnerable for at least a short period of time. On top of that, less experienced opponents tend to repeat the same thing (always get-up attacking, always rolling in a certain direction, etc.), so if you can predict them, capitalize on that.
- If your opponent just gets up (which they will usually only do if you're far away), you can attack or grab them right after their invincibility frames. Pretty simple.
- If they get-up attack, depending on its range, you can do a few things. Short-ranged get-up attacks can be waited out and punished with an fsmash/dtilt, while longer-ranged ones might require that you run in and grab instead. If it has weak knockback, you can just shieldgrab, but some get-up attacks -- Ike's, for example -- will push you back out of reach. Ike is also a good example of a character whose get-up attack has a sizeable pause in-between each side that it hits on. If you're standing on the "second" end, you can grab while their hitbox is on the opposite side.
- Tech rolling is a 50/50 thing, as you can guess.... they can roll forward or backward. Many people will always roll in a certain direction, be it always rolling to the left, always rolling away from you, always rolling to the ledge, etc. and so forth. Observe what they do the first time they have to get off the ground and use it to your advantage as much as you can. If they switch it up, though, you'll just have to guess.
An exception is when they're near the ledge, since their options become severely limited. They can't roll off the edge, so they'll either have to roll in place or roll into you, minimizing the distance to which they can escape. Grab or attack when the roll ends.
Defensive Maneuvers [DFSV]Being aggressive during an entire match is the best way to get punished, so it's good to know and learn Pikachu's defensive options. You must know how to best avoid taking damage and how to react when the flow of a match is against you, because Pika is super light and can't take many strong hits -- and hey, sometimes it's nice to just sit back and let the opponent fall into your furry little t-rex arms.
Spacing & Stage Control [STCN]
Spacing and stage control are somewhat of an issue with Pika. Spacing heavily relies on tjolt and fsmash, while stage control can depend on your usage of QAC and thunder. Some moves are worthless for spacing but great for stage control -- and vice versa -- but overall Pikachu can space and control the stage pretty well if you know what you're doing.
Spacing with Pikachu
When spacing with Pikachu, you must first know which moves are great for spacing and which ones are not. If you know which ones are good, you will automatically know that the others are not. Simple, yes? The moves that are ideal for spacing are:
The thing to remember about spacing with fsmash is that using it to space means that you will most likely not be using it as a kill move; it will be too stale. Therefore, you must know before you even start a match whether you're going to use your fsmash to space or to kill.
For example: a match vs. Mr. Game and Watch. G&W does not have great range, and getting close to him is a good thing for Pika. Because you won't need to particularly outrange him, saving fsmash for the KO would be a better choice in this match. Ftilt would be better for spacing here. A character who you should use fsmash as a spacing tool against is ROB. His ground and aerial game both outrange Pikachu, and it's hard to get in close to him, so fsmash is perfect for spacing in this matchup.Characters against whom you should use fsmash for killing are: G&W, DDD, Falco, Fox, Yoshi, Sonic, Olimar, & Diddy
Characters against whom you should use fsmash for spacing are: ROB, Marth, MK, Zelda, Snake, Charizard, DK, Bowser, Ike, Link, TL, Peach, Wario, Luigi, Lucas, Ness, Wolf, ZSS, & ICs
Characters against whom either option works are: Samus, Captain Falcon, Sheik, Squirtle, Ivysaur, Jigglypuff, Ganon, & Pit
*Note: Keep in mind that these are just suggestions. Always adapt your fsmash usage to fit your playstyle and that of your opponent.
Spacing with ftilt and dtilt is elementary. If the enemy is close enough to use them and you want to knock them back, use your ftilt or dtilt. The only thing that really needs to be mentioned is that ftilt has greater knockback than dtilt and is almost impossible to follow up on. Dtilt has less knockback, but it still sends the opponent a fair distance back and may also trip them.
Tjolt's spacing benefits should be obvious. Though it has a lot of cooldown lag, if you full hop or double jump your jolts, you can still control your aerial momentum and have only regular landing lag when you hit the ground. If you need to jump away from your opponent to reset your spacing, tjolting as you retreat can make sure they won't follow -- they'll either get hit or have to shield/jump/spotdodge.
Stage Control with Pikachu
This section could be 15 pages long if it analyzed each stage, but there is already a stage-by-stage discussion in this forum, which can be found here: http://www.smashboards.com/showthread.php?t=211090.
If you want to learn how to control the stage with Pikachu, then you must learn which parts of the stage are susceptible to being controlled and which moves are great for controlling them. The other thing about stage control is that it also depends on which character your opponent's playing. If you're playing against someone without a projectile, you have a better chance at controlling the bottom part of the stage. If your opponent has awesome aerials (ex: Marth's fair or Zelda's uair), they will be able to control platforms better than you. Perhaps the best example of stage control is Snake. He can plant his C4 and/or dsmash anywhere and effectively control those parts of the stage.
We'll describe how to control the stage on a move-by-move basis.
Using thunder to control the stage is a key part of Pika's game and very, very important in general. Thunder allows you to control the air directly above you. It's super effective against characters who have a high recovery (such as Snake, ROB, or Sonic), because you can control the edge of the stage with thunder if they try to recover from above. In some cases, they have no choice but to pass above you and put themselves at risk.
Thunder is also great if the character you're fighting against loves to attack you from high above -- for example, Toon Link or Sonic. Being able to condition them to not attack you from above takes away some of their best aerial options and forces their playstyle to be more one-dimensional. One-dimensional = more predictable = bad for them, good for you.
Thunder also shines in stage control on stages in which there are high platforms above Pika: stages like Rainbow Cruise, Pokémon Stadium 1, and Pokémon Stadium 2. Frigate Orpheon doesn't have high platforms, but it is another thunder-friendly stage. On RC, you can control the movement of the opponent above you while the stage is changing. A thunder from that close to the top of the stage will most likely kill them, but even if it misses, they'll be unable to reach you in time to punish. On PS1 and PS2, you can control the stage with thunder when you're hiding next to the rock wall on the earth stage (PS1), when they're on top of the windmill on the water stage (PS1), or when the air stage (PS2) decreases gravity and your opponent is stuck above you. One last thing worth mentioning is that on one of the transformations on Delfino Plaza, you have three columns and water below you. During this part of the stage, you can ledge hop thunders like crazy there, and those are great for controlling the stage.
Quick Attack Cancel:
You may ask yourself, "How could I possibly control the stage with QAC?" This is a very simple question to answer, actually, if you stop for a moment and think about it. Out of QAC, you can thunder or jump and go into any aerial. This means that if you opponent is in the air somewhere and you want to surprise thunder them, you can QAC underneath them and immediately thunder. Condition your opponent to fear this, and you have successfully been able to control the air. If they're on a platform somewhere, you can QAC below the platform and jump > attack from below. This is really effective since it happens almost instantaneously, allowing you to control their use of platforms.
Simply put, QAC allows you to quickly teleport to any part of the stage whenever you want. Granted, it is punishable, but the point is to make your opponent hesitate before going somewhere, not necessarily to hit them. If that's not stage control, nothing is.
Those are the main stage-controlling moves other than tjolt and uair. Tjolt has already been somewhat explained, but it's pretty self-explanatory. If your opponent doesn't have a projectile to counter your jolts, you can somewhat control their movement along the bottom of a stage; they will always have to shield, spotdodge, attack, or jump over your tjolts unless they want to get hit. Uair can make your opponents cautious around platforms, because it's a quick move that can harass platform campers from below and cannot be punished while they continue to stay on the platform.
Truthfully, stage control is not one of Pikachu's main priorities in a match (better left to characters like ROB, Samus, and Snake), but when you can take over a part of the stage, that's just one more advantage for you. Do it when you can, but never sacrifice a more important part of your game for it.
It's Not Camping, It's "Projectile Spacing" [CMPG]
When many people think of Pikachu, they immediately think of camping or spamming, which is very unfortunate. Pika actually has very good close-range game, but it's true that there will be times when you need to back off and slow the pace of a match, or you may just want to deal some damage without the risk of being punished, especially against characters with long range and disjointed hitboxes. (Martha! )
The first thing that must be understood about Projectile Spacing (we Pikas don't like the term "camping") is that it depends on your tjolt usage. You have multiple options when using tjolt: you can SH it, full hop it, double jump it, or use it from the ground. Each way has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it is imperative that you know the pros and cons of each method. The good thing about the tjolt overall is that it will travel the length of the stage you are on. It can even wrap around the stage's edge, which comes in handy in various situations.
The Grounded Tjolt:
1) Tjolt comes out faster than the time it takes to SH, then tjolt
2) Sends out more jolts in a shorter amount of time than SH'ing them
1) Cannot tjolt enemies who are pressuring you from the air
2) Usage on platforms is limited
3) Does not allow you to space yourself more appropriately if you enemy is advancing and avoiding your tjolts well
The SH'd Tjolt:
1) Allows you to defend against opponents who like to combat you in the air
2) Can mix up the timing of the tjolts
3) Platform usage is not as limited
4) Spacing your approaching opponents is possible
5) Options out of the SH tjolt are less limited
1) Leaves you open to attack from below
2) Sends out less tjolts per amount of time than a standing tjolt spammer
3) Still suffers from lag once you hit the ground
The FH'd Tjolt:
1) Free from lag once you hit the ground
2) Can easily hit most aerial opponents
3) Maximum platform usage
4) More time in the air allows you the most opportunity to space during cooldown lag
5) Options out of the FH tjolt are much less limited
1) Sends out the least amount of jolts per amount of time
2) Although the best option, repeated use becomes predictable
Tjolt is a great projectile, but Pikachu must endure a lot of cooldown lag after using it, so it's important to time and space your jolts well. The strategies of when to use each are very easy to understand.
The Grounded Tjolt
As you can probably guess from reading the advantages for using each type of spacing technique, the grounded tjolt is ideal when you want to send a lot of tjolts in your enemy's direction -- in other words, when you want to slow down their approach or keep the pressure on them. This is useful for when…
… you want to really slow down your opponent and/or hopefully get a few free hits in on them.
…the time of the match is drawing to a close and you want to keep them at bay for as long as possible.
… they're hanging on the ledge and you're afraid of getting close. For example, MK is very hard to edgeguard, so you can back off and keep sending tjolts so that MK will have to come up and off the ledge and attempt an approach.
… you're at a higher percentage and do not want to be killed. When fighting a character who has a terrific KO game on the ground (ex: Snake), you can assault them with jolts from a standing position if you're far away.
Now, you would not want to use this when…
… you are on a platform. It leaves you open from underneath and the tjolt will travel only around the platform you are on. The one exception is that if you go to the edge of the platform and use it, you may be able to send a tjolt off that does not follow the platform and does hit the ground beneath you.
… the enemy is attacking you from above.
… the opponent has a long-range projectile as well, ex: Pit, ROB.
The SH Tjolt
When you switch to SH'ing your tjolts, your options become a little more open. Basically you use it when…
… you want to change the timing of the tjolt.
… your opponent is attacking you constantly from the air, and a standing tjolt won't work. For example, Kirby likes to travel in the air. Most of the time, a tjolt will not hit Kirby unless you jump up and over them so that the jolt will hit them before it hits the ground.
… you want to follow up the tjolt with some form of attack or defensive maneuver like QAC.
You would not want to use the SH tjolt when…
… you are fighting a character who can punish you while you are in the air but still low to the ground (ex: Snake's mortar slide).
… your opponent is close to you. You'll still have landing lag when you hit the ground, which they can punish if they're within a short enough distance.
… your opponent has a reflector. You'll more than likely get hit by the reflected jolt.
The FH & Double Jump Tjolt
These two types of tjolt go hand-in-hand since they both put you high above the ground while the jolt comes out, and you have the benefit of being free of lag once you hit the ground. Use them when…
… your opponent has a reflector. At close range, even if they reflect it, your jump will go over the reflected tjolt, and you can punish the cooldown lag that most reflectors have.
… you want to perform an action as soon as you hit the ground. From a full hop, tjolt's cooldown lag will have ended by the time you land.
… you want to further vary your timing from grounded and SH'd tjolts.
… your opponent is high in the air.
… you need to shoot a tjolt onto a platform that's far away or some height above you.
… you're retreating. Being in the air for the duration of cooldown lag allows you to be in control of your momentum the entire time.
Do not use them when…
… your opponent is close to approaching you. They'll be able to powershield the jolt and punish your landing.
... you're fighting Diddy Kong. He'll throw a banana peel underneath you, and you'll trip when you land.
Baiting & Punishing [BTPN]
Baiting and punishing with Pikachu is all about mindgames. It's making your opponent think you'll do something, waiting for them to react accordingly, then punishing their reaction based on what they've done. There are several ways to achieve this.
Tjolt spamming is an excellent baiter. Many players expect Pikachus to spam tjolt, so when they see you doing so, they'll get comfortable and probably fall into a pattern in order to avoid them. They may spotdodge them all, they might stand still and shield, or they may try to advance while powershielding -- whatever their reaction, watch what they do. Plan which tjolt will be your last, then quickly follow it up with the punishment of your choice: if they shield, grab them. If they spotdodge, wait for the spotdodge to end and attack them as they come out of it, preferably with a combo-starting move. If they jump, grab them as they land.
This can even work on characters with reflectors. Many reflectors have a considerable amount of cooldown lag, so if you tjolt from a full hop a short distance away, you'll be in the perfect position to grab or cross-over fair your opponent after they reflect. The reflected jolt will travel underneath you since you'll still be in the air.
Believe it or not, something as simple as running straight at your opponent is another good baiter. Instinct says that when someone is running toward you, they're going to attack, so most opponents will either try to counterattack or throw up their shield. The catch is that you don't attack. Shield instead (slightly out of shieldgrab range unless you want to grab them), and watch what they do.
Repeat this later in this match (doing it twice in a row would be too predictable), and based on what they did before, react accordingly. If they attacked, shield the attack and punish with nair or dair OOS; if they shielded, grab them from the front or pivot boost grab them from behind. Chances are that their instincts will take over now that time has passed, and they'll very likely repeat whatever they did the first time you pulled this trick on them.
You can bait whiffed attacks and shields with empty short hops. When Pika jumps, it's usually to approach with an attack or tjolt, so the opponent will be conditioned to that and 80% of the time will put up their shield. Tjolt your way into close-mid range, then SH > FF without attacking. Watch them put up their shield, expecting an attack, then boost grab or run > grab depending on how far away you are.
SHAD'ing was covered in the section on approaching [see: APRH], but baiting and punishing are the roots from which it came. The reason why it works so well is that it baits the opponent into reacting to what they think will be an attack -- or, after your numerous tricks so far, possibly a shield. You capitalize on this by doing neither on top of landing behind them, which is a vulnerable place for many characters.
A really fun way to bait an opponent with Pikachu is to make it look like Pika is susceptible to attack when you really know that he's not. For example, when you're falling towards the stage and the opponent thinks they have you trapped, just wait until they are about to attack, then jump out of your freefall. If you are close enough to the stage, you can QAC to the ground and enjoy your free meal.
There are so many different methods of baiting. Some were mentioned above, but there's plenty of room to come up with your own. Brawl is a very defense-oriented game, so baiting is essential at times when you can't rely on a combo or tech to win a particular matchup. Never feel guilty about baiting. If you have to do it, do it, and reap the benefits with pleasure.
Evasion Tactics [EVSN]
Pikachu is probably one of the easiest characters with whom you can evade attacks. In addition to the normal methods of evasion (shielding, spotdodging, rolling, and airdodging) and Pika's great running speed, we have the oh-so-popular QAC to make us even faster. When it comes to simply not getting hit, Pika can be an expert in this field.
First of all, we have Quick Attack Cancel. This is hands-down our best tool for evading. We can effectively get around an opponent without getting touched, and besides that, QAC comes out almost instantaneously. When platforms are thrown into the mix, we can vary our movement to a greater degree and become even more unpredictable. QAC'ing away and tjolting covers your butt and gets you out of most opponents' range at the same time; in fact, unless they have a projectile that eats jolts, it's a fail-safe retreat once the QAC starts.Regardless, we must consider Pikachu's options outside of QAC, because like any technique, it can be countered even as an evasion tactic. (Pikachu, say hello to Toon Link.) What would we do if we didn't have QAC? How do you evade an enemy without the use of QAC?
The definition of evasion is avoiding getting hit by your opponent. The basic tools of evasion for every character are rolling, spotdodging, shielding, and airdodging.
Rolling grants you invulnerability and moves you from one place to another at the same time, but Pikachu's roll isn't that great. It's short and easily punished. Use sparingly, and definitely do not use it when you could easily walk or dash out of range.
Spotdodging is useful if you want to evade a grab, but it has a set length, and multihit attacks can still catch you as you come out of it.
From shielding you have more options (you can spotdodge and grab from your shield), and it takes only 1 frame to put it up. The downside is that Pikachu has a small shield to match his small size, so if you keep it up for too long, attacks will begin to hit through it….. and in the worst-case scenario, your shield will get broken, leaving you completely helpless for a long time. Another small annoyance with shielding is that if a strong attack hits your shield, you'll get pushed back, which can eliminate your chance to punish at times. Note that if you powershield an attack or projectile (shielding right as the attack/projectile hits you), you suffer no lag and can do whatever you want out of it.
Airdodging is basically the aerial version of spotdodging. You're completely invulnerable while in the airdodge, but you can be grabbed or attacked as you come out of it. If you airdodge into the ground, you'll still have landing lag, but it'll be proceeded by a few frames of invulnerability, and you can input any move to be performed on the first available frame. This is one version of buffering, explained in more detail in MNTC.Ducking and crawling are very situational, but Pika's body is small enough that he can duck/crawl underneath some attacks, including Fox & Falco's lasers, Pit's unaimed arrows, and Zelda's usmash, just to name a few.
Evading with Pika also means learning how to save your second jump. Jumping can save you from getting hit from an attack, but using your double jump too soon can lead to your being vulnerable from below. Save your second jump if at all possible. Doing this will enable you to avoid projectiles and attacks from uairs or utilts/usmashes. As mentioned before, it can also help you bait an enemy into thinking that you're vulnerable.
You Must Recover! [RCVR]Wise words from Sakurai, right? Even the noobiest Brawler knows that you lose a stock when you cross over any of the four blastlines (top, bottom, both sides) of a stage's screen, so when you're sent off stage, it's imperative that you get back to the ledge or onto the stage itself. For Pikachu, this is absolute cake.... he beasts pretty much every other character in terms of recovery.
DI & Momentum Canceling [DIMC]
Pikachu is a very light character, and as such, he tends to get sent flying easily. Luckily for us, that doesn't mean he dies easily, because his recovery is one of the best in the game. The different parts of recovery that will be covered are Directional Influence (DI) and momentum canceling.
Cross-Section of a Hit
Before we talk about DI, let's first take a look at what happens when you're hit. When you get hit in Brawl, you go through a few phases. First, the hitbox of the attack makes contact with your hurtbox, and you enter a stage called hitlag. During this stage, you and the character who hit you are locked in place and don't move, though you may jiggle a bit. While you're in hitlag, the hitbox of the attack stays out; after hitlag ends, you're sent flying and enter hitstun. During this time, you cannot change your momentum, but you can input certain moves to break out of hitstun (covered in more detail in the Momentum Canceling section). After hitstun is broken, you can start controlling your momentum as you normally would.
Directional Influence, or DI, is a property in Brawl that allows you to control the direction you are sent flying after a hit. DI is input during the hitlag phase of the attack, and there are multiple ways to properly do it.
First, there's regular DI. This is where you hold a direction with the control stick as you are getting hit, and it will affect your momentum. This is the simplest way to DI.
The second way is called Smash DI. This is where you tap the c-stick in a direction when you are hit.
The third way is called Tap DI, which is tapping the control stick a direction when you are hit.
Any of these methods will work for single hit moves. For multi-hit moves, however, rapidly tapping the control and c-sticks will force you in a direction. A prime example is Pikachu's dsmash. This move grabs you and knocks you back and forth before the final hit sends you straight up. It is, however, possible to break out of it early. You can a) simply hold up (regular DI), and you will get out of it near the end, or b) rapidly tap both sticks straight up, which will cause to pop out in 1-3 hits.
Note that you can DI out of every multi-hit move in the game. The really hard ones, especially for Pikachu (since he falls faster than the average character), are Zelda's usmash and MK's Mach Tornado. For both, you need to get the initial hit DI'd straight up, after which you have a good chance of escaping out the top of either move. Once you are stuck, though, it is VERY hard to get out of them.
So now that we know how to DI, let's talk about where to DI. The ideal way to DI is perpendicular to the base path of travel. Your overall goal when getting hit is to angle your path into the upper corners so that you'll increase the path length and time you have for momentum canceling or just plain surviving. The basic rule is that if you're going to get hit horizontally, DI up; if you're going to get hit up, DI towards the side.
Momentum Canceling is when you use a move to regain control when you are sent flying, then use another to slow/halt momentum. First off, when you're sent flying, you can use an A attack or airdodge during the time after hitstun but before you can control your momentum. B moves won't register, and no control stick inputs will affect your momentum. After you finish your airdodge or A move, you will regain the use of your B moves, and you can start to change your momentum.
Obviously, your priority is to get the first part done as fast as possible. For all characters in the game, even though you can airdodge earlier then you can do an attack, there is an attack that will end sooner. There is also the side benefit of being able to fast-fall an aerial (which slightly slows horizontal and really slows vertical momentum), which you cannot do with an air dodge. For Pikachu, the best thing to do at this point is to fast-fall a uair, because that is Pika's fastest aerial in terms of duration.
Once you've done your A move, you can then slow your momentum, jump, or use a B move. Jumping or using a momentum-changing B move has a penalty in Brawl's programming that pushes you away, often referred to as an "unfriendly momentum" penalty. (Some characters have a B move which breaks this rule, ex: G&W's bucket.)
Pikachu doesn't have a perfect momentum-stopper, but we have one that is a lot better than any other option: uncharged Skull Bash, which will stop all horizontal momentum after it is fired, i.e., when he says "KA!" The unfriendly momentum penalty for Skull Bash has a vertical component and a horizontal component, but it is unlikely that it will ever kill you. In any case, it's the best option Pikachu has and will save you when doing nothing would have led to death.
After you come out of Skull Bash, you can come down to the ground however you like. Keep in mind that you should only fully momentum cancel if you're close to dying off the sides of the screen. If the attack that hit you was of only moderate knockback or if you were sent vertically, you should perform the uair to get out of hitstun, but you should not use Skull Bash. In the first case, you will end up too close to the stage, and the opponent will be able to punish Skull Bash's massive cooldown lag; in the second, Skull Bashing after a vertical hit is unnecessary and may kill you.
As a quick overview, this is what you should do when you get hit with a possible KO move:
1) DI upward
2) FF uair as soon as you can
3) Skull Bash (uncharged) towards the stage*
*Skip step #3 if you are nowhere near the side blastlines
1) DI sideways
2) FF uair as soon as you can
Returning to the Stage [RTRN]
Once you've done your super-fancy momentum canceling, it's time to get back to stage! There are two basic ways to do this: you can recover to the ledge, or you can recover directly back onto the stage. Pikachu is very adept at recovering both ways. Let's start up high.
Recovering from Up High
When recovering from up high, you have the most options. There are a few things people will do: use a vertical projectile; stay on the ground and wait; come up with an attack; or come up with no attack and wait for your airdodge.
[*]For a vertical projectile, depending on how much lag time there is, you can either drop real fast and attack, or you can airdodge through it.
[*]If they stay on the ground, they're either a noob, and you can attack at will, or they're waiting for you to land. A lot of faster characters will try to grab/attack your landing animation, as no matter how you land, you will always be vulnerable for at least 2 frames.
If you see the opponent waiting for you, drift around a little as you fall, then QAC away. You can mindgame them into thinking you'll land on one side, then land on the other and punish any whiffed attacks or grab attempts.
[*]If your opponent comes up with an attack, either outprioritize it, hit first, or just airdodge through with a fast-fall, then punish as they land.
[*]If they try to bait an airdodge, you can attack them.
Recovering from the Middle
If you're around the middle area, you have to be careful. While your options aren't limited, you're in a good position for people to come out and get you. As you come in, watch what they do. They will either wait for you on the stage, wait and then ledgeguard as soon as you QA, or come out to get you.
- If they do happen to come out after you, QA through them if they don't have good timing, or you can go around them if they do. A good Pikachu will rarely be gimped, especially since we can QA through most attacks before the hitbox comes out.
[*]If they ledgeguard, you have a couple of options. Firstly, you can Skull Bash into the ledge for a potential stage spike. This is very risky if they have a spike, because they can ledge hop and spike you with relative ease. The better option when you think they're going to ledge-guard is to QAC onto stage, then reverse tjolt behind you so they can't follow you.
Another good thing you can do is to drop down so that you can angle your QA to skim the ledge. If they don't ledge grab, hooray! -- you get to grab the ledge. If they do grab the ledge, you will go right by it; in that case, just input the second part of QA into the ground, and you're set.
[*]If they stay on the stage, just go for the ledge. If you're feeling confident, you can always QAC through them, but if they throw out an attack, you could run right into its hitbox.
If you DI badly and are sent really low, you can still make it! Skull Bash to try to position yourself underneath the ledge, then QA up at a slight angle away from the stage, then up at a slight angle towards the stage. Even at the bottom of the blast zone, you can still grab the ledge, partly due to Pikachu's huge sweetspot on the ledge. Go a little above it, and you can land on stage. Most people won't expect you to recover from down low and won't attempt a ledge-guard. Silly people.
As a last-ditch attempt, if they keep pushing you off, fully charge a Skull Bash and go under the stage if you can, then QA up to the other side. This is really helpful if your opponent is reading your recovery well.
This isn't a complete list of what you can do. Experiment and figure out what works for you, as there are many different levels of comfort off the stage. On a final note, when recovering, ALWAYS input the second part of QAC. So many Pikachus (both good and bad) fail to do this and end up getting ledgehogged. Even if you go for the ledge and they grab it, you can go straight up past them and use your aerial momentum to land safely on the stage.
Getting onto the Stage from the Ledge
One awesome thing about Pikachu is that his sweetspot for the ledge is huge, so it will beat out most attempts to ledgehog unless they go early. Once you get onto the ledge, Pikachu is not short of options. He can do what all characters in the game can do from the ledge: get up, ledge attack, roll, jump, ledge hop, or drop.
The first four are the basic things you can do.
- Get-up attack is nothing special, though the normal version (less than 100% damage) is fast and has decent horizontal coverage. Use sparingly, as it is easily shieldgrabbed, and the lag afterwards is more then enough for people to come in and punish.
- Pikachu has a bunch of good ledge hop options. He can use fair to push them away or use nair for strong knockback. You can also drop a dair on the opposite side of your opponent and knock them off the ledge depending on how far they're standing from you. Uair will also suck them off the ledge sometimes.
If they're hanging near the edge and just waiting, you can ledge hop thunder. This can really push them away and possibly kill at high percents, but don't do this too often, because it's very punishable. If you miss, always nair right as thunder ends. It will sometimes hit them as they try to punish you.
Yet another option you have is ledge hopping a tjolt and either landing on the stage or staying off and tjolting some more. This can be very effective at pushing them back enough to let you on safely. Lastly, you can just ledge hop QAC back onto stage. This is another very effective choice, as you can easily vary the timing, height, and angle of getting back on.
- Quick Attack allows you to pull mindgames from the ledge in the form of dropping down and QA'ing back to the ledge. This is very safe, especially if you always input the second QA to prevent yourself from getting ledgehogged.
One little trick to know is that while you have invincibility frames, you cannot grab the ledge, so you can quickly drop down, QA up, then use the second part to QA down onto the stage. This can put you in position to attack someone semi-close to the ledge, and it's hard to see coming, especially if you do a bunch of normal drop-down QA's first. Get a rhythm going, let the opponent get used to your pattern, then QA onto stage. Surprise! If there are any platforms, you can also QAC onto the platforms and then go wherever you want from there. Just remember to watch where you QAC, as you will always experience more landing lag than usual coming out of it.