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Red's Pikachu is the sole starter Pokémon in Pokémon Yellow for Red; it is based on Ash's Pikachu from the Pokémon anime, which Yellow Version is loosely based on.
In the games
In Generation I
This Pikachu first appears along the outskirts of Route 1, where Professor Oak will encounter and catch it. The player receives this Pikachu after they go into Professor Oak's laboratory and attempt to take the starter Eevee, which Blue will take instead.
Pikachu replaces all of the other usual starter Pokémon, Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle. However, these three other Pokémon can be received during in-game events over the course of the game, which reflects how Ash Ketchum eventually obtained all three of Kanto's starters in the anime. This Pikachu is also the only Pikachu found in Yellow; other Pikachu must be traded in from compatible games.
After battling against Blue for the first time, the Pikachu will choose to stay out of its Poké Ball and follow the player around everywhere, unless it faints, if it is put into storage, or traded. If the player decides to speak to Pikachu, a small image of Pikachu's current emotion will pop up. The image also shows how much the Pikachu likes the player. This makes Pokémon Yellow the first game to show Pokémon happiness, which would become more prominent in Generation II. Pikachu's happiness does not have many uses in the game, however it is vital if the player wishes to receive a Bulbasaur in Cerulean City. Besides showing Pikachu's emotions and happiness, the image can also show several other events, such as when Pikachu learns Thunderbolt.
Notably, like Ash's Pikachu did twice, this Pikachu will refuse a Thunderstone given to it in Yellow, and not evolve into Raichu unless it is traded out of Yellow to do so. Raichu must be otherwise obtained by either trading in an already evolved one or trading in a Pikachu from another game.
Pikachu is also able to learn Surf if transferred into Pokémon Stadium, and will be able to participate in the Surf Minigame if it knows the move. In battle, its animations are different than other Pikachu, and its voice is provided by Ikue Ohtani, rather than being a souped-up version of its in-game cry.
Since the release of the Generation II games, if the starter Pikachu from Yellow is traded over, it will be holding a Light Ball, which doubles the attack Thunderbolt for a Pikachu of the Generation II and onward games while holding it.
In Generation II
In Mt. Silver, Red can be battled. On his team is a level 81 Pikachu. As such, Pikachu was the highest leveled Pokémon that could be battled in the main series. This Pikachu is likely to have been based on Red's Pikachu from Pokémon Yellow.
In Generation IV
Red's challenge at Mt. Silver returns in Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver. He still uses Pikachu in these games; it is now level 88. This again makes it the highest level Trainer-owned Pokémon in the series, a title it lost to Barry's starter Pokémon on the release of Pokémon Platinum only a year before.
In the final battle, it is holding a Light Ball, while it knows the four moves used by Ash's Pikachu the most often prior to the release of the games.
In the manga
- Main article: Pika
In Pokémon Adventures, a character named Red owns a Pikachu named Pika. While Pika is not technically Red's actual starter Pokémon, he is still one of Red's closest companions.
- Pikachu has several in-game events where it can show an emotion other than how happy it is. They include:
- If Pikachu is affected by a status condition, it will appear weak or in pain. If it is asleep, it will appear asleep when talked to.
- Playing the Poké Flute outside of battle will wake up Pikachu if it is asleep.
- If Pikachu knows Thunder or Thunderbolt, it may occasionally shock the player if talked to.
- In Pewter City's Pokémon Center, there is a Jigglypuff that will Sing a lullaby if talked to, Pikachu will fall asleep and not move unless awakened by the player. The center's nurse will also comment on Pikachu's sleeping if talked instead of healing the party nor can it be deposted in the PC.
- When the player goes to Bill's home and discovers that he has turned into a Pokémon, Pikachu will approach him and look confused. When he reappears in human form, Pikachu will appear to be shocked.
- If the player walks into the Pokémon Fan Club in Vermilion City, Pikachu will approach a Clefairy and fall in love.
- If the player uses a fishing rod, then checks Pikachu, it will appear to have a bucket over its head.
- If taken inside Pokémon Tower, Pikachu will appear to be scared.
- In Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, there is a park called Amity Square where players may walk around with a Pokémon following them. However only certain kinds can follow the player, Pikachu is one of the few and may reference Red's Pikachu in Pokémon Yellow. Unlike in HeartGold and SoulSilver, Pokémon do not show their emotions in Amity Square, but do give the player items they find.
- Red's Pikachu likely inspired, at least partly, the concept of any Pokémon following the player outside its Poké Ball in Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver.
For more information on this Pokémon's species, see Pikachu.