In between "Pokémon" journeys, Jeremy enjoys working as a pharmaceutical chemist and campus manager.
What Are the Best Moves for Pikachu?
Pokémon's cuddly yellow mascot has long served as one of the most prominent Nintendo characters, appearing in nearly every main Pokemon game. While Pikachu's stats aren't the greatest, his potential to evolve into either regular or Alolan Raichu grant some nice versatility, he received a stat boost in generation 6, and his exclusive Light Ball held item can double his Attack and Special Attack!
Plus, some tournaments restrict you to Pokémon of a certain weight or stat total, meaning Pikachu and Raichu see more official use than you might think. But with dozens of attacks learned through leveling, breeding, tutoring, and TMs, which movesets reign supreme? These are the ten best attacks (remember, you can only equip four at once) for your Pikachu!
10. Brick Break
Fighting is arguably the game's best offensive type, dealing double pain to Normal, Steel, Rock, Ice, and Dark types. It also hits Ground and Grass for regular damage, useful as they both resist Pikachu's default Electric arsenal.
Thus, Brick Break is mostly a coverage took, further empowered by its respectable damage and reliable accuracy. Pikachu's Attack and Special Attack are almost equal, but Attack slightly wins out, granting Brick Break's physical nature an extra edge. It also shatters Light Screen and Reflect, adeptly smashing through your foe's barriers.
9. Signal Beam
Signal Beam is another coverage tool, this time an indirect move. Bug moves are useful against Grass (which resists Electric) as well as Dark and Psychic, and Signal replicates Brick Break's dependable stats.
As a bonus, it has a 10% chance to confuse its target, a small but appreciated effect that further rewards lucky players.
8. Magnet Rise
Learned only through tutoring, Magnet Rise makes its user immune to Ground attacks for five turns, a solid defense that negates Pikachu's only weakness. It also protects your static-infused rodent against Spikes, Toxic Spikes, and Arena Trap, sharing the same guards that Flying Pokémon naturally enjoy.
Since Pikachu's stats heavily lean towards Speed, Attack, and Special Attack, it should definitely focus on damaging its foes, but Magnet Rise can really save its bacon, especially in multibattles if your other combatants utilize Ground moves that can hit allies (like Earthquake).
7. Knock Off
Knock Off makes a nice substitute for Signal Beam, as its Dark element can punish Psychic types as well as Ghosts, and it bears a useful secondary effect, removing its target's held item for the rest of the battle. Plus, when successfully disarming an enemy, Knock Off deals an extra 50% damage!
Since it's physical, Knock Off utilizes Pikachu's Attack, scoring respectable damage while providing handy coverage and a great secondary effect.
Yep, through special events, Pikachu can learn Fly (some wacky Pikachu trading cards are even based around this). Fly deals powerful damage with impressive accuracy after putting you in a semi-invulnerable state (you're still prone to certain moves like Twister and Thunder) for a turn.
While it sadly doesn't carry any secondary effects, Fly's type-trumping coverage on Fighting, Bug, and especially Grass Pokémon make it a tempting option for Pikachu, especially in the absence of Signal Beam or as another way to avoid ally-caused Earthquakes.
Of course, Pikachu should have at least one Electric attack to make use of the 50% STAB (same-type attack bonus), and Thunderbolt's one of your best options. It deals a heavy 90 damage (95 in earlier games), has full accuracy, and grants a 10% chance to paralyze your target.
Like many of today's techniques, Thunderbolt damages all adjacent creatures (including your own) in multibattles, so place immune Ground-types next to Pikachu or use moves like Protect and Detect to defend against your chaotic blasts.
Like Thunderbolt, Thunder is an Electric move that suffered a nerf (having previously born 120 power), but it's still an amazing technique despite its inaccuracy. Thunder lands a fierce 110 damage, has a 30% paralyze chance, and in the rain weather condition (activated with the Rain Dance move or Drizzle ability), its accuracy is raised to 100, mitigating its biggest weakness.
While Pikachu's focus should be offense, Nuzzle is too tempting a support move to ignore. It only deals 20 damage, but has perfect accuracy and automatically paralyzes its target, making it a superior version of Thunder Wave. Paralyzing foes not only reduces their Speed but gives their attacks a chance to fail, making it a troublesome and permanent status effect you'll want to inflict as soon as possible.
Like Fly, Surf is an HM move available on Pikachu through special events. And like Thunderbolt, it had its once-95 power cut to 90, but it remains a powerful technique. Surf bears no added effects, but its high stats are dependable, and its Water element offers great coverage against Rock, Fire, and especially Ground Pokémon (who are immune to Electric).
1. Volt Tackle
The signature technique of its evolutionary line and Pikachu's strongest attack, Volt Tackle wields a fierce 120 power, full accuracy, utilizes Pikachu's slightly-higher Attack, and triggers STAB, resulting in huge damage. Sadly, it inflicts 1/3 recoil on Pikachu, but that's the price you pay for its power and accuracy. As a bonus, it also has a 10% paralyze chance, occasionally landing a debuff status on your foe.
If you have Pikachu hold Pikanium Z, you upgrade Volt Tackle into Catastropika, a daunting technique that deals 210 damage with perfect accuracy (and no recoil)! Remember, Electric attacks are useful for Pikachu's STAB, but make sure you include other elements for type coverage.
How Good Is Pikachu?
While Pikachu's mediocre attributes won't enter any mainstream tournaments, he's a fair contender for ones that restrict base stat totals or weight levels. His potential Static and Lightning Rod abilities are both decent, his branching Raichu evolutionary paths grant versatility, and the special Light Ball item turns Pikachu into a competent sweeper. Plus, as Pokémon's mascot, you can bet your badges he'll continue to see new attacks, upgrades, and other tricks in future releases (he's already gaining new move "Pika Papow" in Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu!
But for now, as we eagerly await Nintendo's continued support for everyone's favorite Electric mouse, vote for your favorite attack and I'll see you at our next Pokémon countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on November 17, 2018:
Awesome! Pikachu's surprisingly strong in the anime, being one of very few non-mythics to take down two different legendaries (Regice and Latios, although in the latter case, Pikachu knocked himself out doing it).
Not quite, breeding accesses some neat moves, but Fly and Surf are found on special event Pikachu, like the ones distributed at the Pokemon World Festival (which ran from April-May 2018).
Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on November 15, 2018:
Pikachu is adorable! My mum used to collect Pikachu cuddly toys and accessories because she watched the anime with my brother and I when we were little.
I never had Pikachu as one of my main Pokemon because, as you said in the article, it doesn't have the best stats. Thunder was always one of my favourite moves since back when I was destroying the Elite Four's Dewgong with it on Fire Red. Volt tackle looks great, too.
How would Pikachu learn Fly and Surf? From eggs?