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Since its first appearance in 1996's Pokemon Red and Blue, the yellow fuzzball known as Pikachu has been at the forefront of pop culture, and has grown to become one of the most recognizable and beloved mascots in the world. Over the years, Pikachu has worn many hats (literally, in some cases) and has enjoyed starring in other video games, animated shows, and even a comic or two. Let's take a look at some of the electric cutie's history, and see how 'Chu's changed over the years.
Most Pokemon fans probably remember their first introduction to the character, as Ash's partner-in-crime in the Pokemon animated series. Based on the game, the animated series followed Ash and company as they explored the world, made friends with a variety of different Pokemon and their trainers, and battled in gyms to become the very best … like no one ever was. Ash's Pikachu stuck by his side no matter what, and was one the most loyal Pokemon around. After about two decades of wandering around with the eternally youthful Ash, you'd expect this Pikachu to be at Level 1,000 or something, or at least evolve into a Raichu. However, it has retained its original form and continues to fight alongside Ash to this day, and probably forevermore.
The protagonist's partner in Pokemon Yellow
Taking a cue from the animated series, the third iteration of the Pokemon games was Pokemon Yellow, and gave players a Pikachu as their starter Pokemon. And like Ash's Pikachu, the protagonist's Pikcahu in Pokemon Yellow refused to go inside a Pokeball, and would walk around with its trainer. This constant companion followed you everywhere and even refused to evolve into a Raichu, giving it a more important, permanent feel. If having its own-colored Pokemon game isn't a testament to the character's incredible popularity, then we don't know what would be.
The target of your orders in "Hey You, Pikachu!"
In November 2000, Nintendo unleashed Hey You, Pikachu! for the Nintendo 64. In this game, players would help Professor Oak test out a new device that allowed people to talk to Pokemon. If it wasn't already clear by the title, players would meet and become buddies with a Pikachu, using the Voice Recognition Unit packaged with each game to speak to it. For many fans, this was a dream come true, even if the game itself isn't exactly considered one of the best ever. Being able to talk to, and order around, a Pikachu was a fantastic novelty, and the game even spawned some spiritual sequels in the form of Pokemon Channel, Pokepark Wii: Pikachu's Adventure, and PokePark 2: Wonders Beyond. Here's to hoping that Pokemon GO spawns another game where you can talk to, and hang out with, an augmented reality Pikachu!
Your possible Pokemon form in the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series
In a bit of a twist, the dungeon-crawling series Pokemon Mystery Dungeon gave players the chance to step into the shoes (paws? claws? feet?) of a Pokemon, and go on adventures with other pocket monsters. At the start of the game, players are given personality quizzes that decide which Pokemon they'll transform into — one of which is a Pikachu. We don't know how many people out there have dreamed of becoming a Pikachu, but the little guy's popular enough that we're sure some people were thrilled about the chance to crawl through dungeons as the red-cheeked wonder.
As a Pokemon, you could recruit other Pokemon to explore procedurally-generated dungeons, meaning that the dungeons changed each time you played and no adventure was the same twice. If you're going to face unknown danger like that, you might as well do it as a Pikachu.
A combatant in Super Smash Bros.
As one of Nintendo's most famous characters, it only made sense that Pikachu showed up as a fighter in Super Smash Bros. Pikachu has appeared in every game in the series, so it's clear that it has staying power, and continues to be a popular choice for players. While it's smaller than a lot of the other fighters in the series, it's lightning fast and can pack a punch with its electric attacks. There are few greater feelings than watching your Pikachu charge up its Skull Bash move and send a character flying off into the distance, much like Team Rocket.
A luchador in Pokken Tournament
Pikachu continued to prove it's a capable brawler, by appearing in the fighting game Pokken Tournament , as both its normal form and as Pikachu Libre, a Mexican luchador. This character is based on the Cosplay Pikachu from Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, who would dress up in five different costumes (Rock Star, Belle, Pop Star, Ph. D, and Lucha Libre). On top of the normal Pikachu moveset, this special luchador version could pull off some sick wrestling moves. If you've ever wanted to see a Pikachu vault off the top rope or deliver a Stone Cold Stunner to a Charizard, take heart: that stuff totally happens in Pokken Tournament. Sorry, Dwayne Johnson — Pikachu Libre is the real People's Champion in our eyes.
As a detective in Great Detective Pikachu
Over the past 20 years, we've been able to train Pikachu, talk to Pikachu, become Pikachu, and even deliver nasty wrestling moves as Pikachu. But did you know that, in the 3DS's Great Detective Pikachu, you can also solve mysteries with Pikachu too? And this one talks? As a young boy named Tim Goodman, you become partners with an intelligent Pikachu who speaks with a shockingly deep voice and wears a deer hunter cap, much like Sherlock Holmes. This is probably a dream come true for most of you, so we'll understand if you have to take a moment to catch your breath.
If the prospect of solving mysteries with a Pikachu wasn't enough, Legendary Pictures announced in July 2016 that they have the rights to make a live-action film based on the character! Production is currently set to begin sometime in 2017, so we could very well see a gruff-voiced Pikachu on the silver screen in the near future. Also if the Internet gets its way, Danny DeVito will voice Detective Pikachu. After all, it's always sunny in Pokemonland.
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