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This Is What Pikachu Almost Looked Like

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Every Nintendo franchise has its mascot. Super Mario has, well, Mario, The Legend of Zelda has Link, and no one can forget gaming's most iconic mouse, Pikachu. As the face of Pokémon, Pikachu has managed to make its way onto a variety of merchandise, ranging from an assortment of seasonal plushies to its own spin-off games. The electric mouse is here to stay, and quite honestly, it's hard to imagine any other Pokémon taking over Pikachu's spot.


Since its debut in generation one, Pikachu hasn't really undergone any major changes. Sure, we briefly lost chonky Pikachu when it made its gen two transition, but since then, the big boi returned to us in the form of a Dynamax evolution in Pokémon Sword and Shield. While Pikachu's icon status remains unchallenged, not a lot of people realize that the yellow mascot was originally supposed to look entirely different. And by "different," we mean that Pikachu wasn't even going to be a mouse at all.

Pikachu was going to be a literal snack

During early development of the first generation of Pokémon, Game Freak tasked artist Atsuko Nishida with designing an electric Pokémon. According to an interview with Siliconera, Nishida explained that, at the time, many people on the art team, including herself, had started to push for cuter-looking Pokémon designs. So when she was given her assignment, she created a character that resembled daifuku, a sweet Japanese rice cake. This little daifuku Pokémon had tiny ears that were the only indication this creature actually had a head. When Nishida was coming up with the name of her new creature, she thought of "Pikachu" since pika-pika in Japanese refers to glittering or sparkling, and chu is used to describe a squeak noise, like from a mouse.


The game's designer, Koji Nishino, enjoyed the name and pushed Nishida to redesign the creature to have more resemblance to a mouse instead of a dessert. Of course, the result was the Pikachu we all know and love. Sadly, Nishida's original design was made inside the game, so there are actually no records or early sketches of the little rice dessert that was almost Pikachu.