Does the Pikachu have large talons? No, it does not, but it apparently almost had them. According to original character illustrator Atsuko Nishida, there was originally a third planned evolution for the electric critter, and it would have been truly terrifying.
Speaking to the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri (via Siliconera, currently offline) Nishida revealed that Pikachu’s Raichu evolution was originally going to have another evolution, called Gorochu, which had “bared fangs” and “a pair of horns.”
Raichu is a little less adorable than Pikachu — and much less dumb than Pichu — but the Pokémon isn’t exactly scary. A version of everyone’s favorite little electric mouse with bared fangs may have been too much to bear.
The reason behind the character’s omission from the games, however, has to deal with game balance. No one mouse should have all that power.
But is Pikachu even an electric mouse? According to Nishida, the Pokémon’s design was actually based on a squirrel, particularly its longer tail, which was then turned into a thunderbolt shape to make its electric abilities more apparent.
It certainly does seem to resemble a squirrel in some respects, though Pikachu’s round body and squeaky voice do seem to be closer to a mouse or a hamster than an acorn-loving rodent.
Though Gorochu never made it into any games, a terrifying imposter Pokémon did, which might even be worse. Mimikyu is a disguised creature who resembles a three-year-old’s drawing of Pikachu with crayon, and its disheveled appearance and creepy smile make it truly unsettling to encounter. Mimikyu made its first game appearance in Pokémon Sun and Moon, and also appeared in the updated Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon.
A full-fledged Pokémon role-playing game is currently in development for Nintendo Switch, which will be the first time a main entry in the series has come to a home console. If you want to play with Pikachu on your Switch right now, you can do so in Pokkén Tournament DX, a fighting game that is an enhanced port of the Wii U original. In addition to Pikachu, the game includes such popular characters as Charizard, Mewtwo, and Machamp.