After recently noting that Pikachu’s original design was based on a squirrel, former Pokemon illustrator Atsuko Nishida has now revealed that Pikachu almost had a third evolution that would have turned the cuddly Pokemon into something much more demonic.
“It was Pika(chu), Rai(chu), and Goro(chu),” said Nishida to Japanese publication, Yomiuri. “The Pokémon known as Gorochu bared fangs and even had a pair of horns.”
So far as the language goes, that final form does make sense. Pika, Rai, and Goro can all be used to refer to some kind of noise (with Rai most commonly referring to thunder). Goro – as in gorogoro – can also be used to describe lightning and thunder, but comes with the association of a deep rumbling noise. So, it would seem that Pikachu’s original final form would have represented a particularly vicious storm of thunder and lightning. Suddenly, the horns and fangs make a lot more sense.
Sadly, there is no official artwork available that showcases what Pikachu’s final form would have looked like. It seems that it was just something that was being tossed around during the early days of development. However, Ken Sugimori, the artist who approved the final design of all 151 original Pokemon, states that the reason the final form was scrapped has nothing to do with how demonic it looked but rather about how that evolution created a gameplay complication.
“There wasn’t any problem with its appearances,” said Sugimori. “[Gorochu] was omitted due to matters surrounding game balance.”
Yes, it seems that Pikachu’s creepy final evolution might have been too powerful or too useful to make it into the final game. In any case, we’d actually love to see the design revisited at some point in a future Pokemon game. After all, it’s not often you hear that the super innocent icon from your childhood once harbored a dark and demonic side…
Err…never mind. Let’s just forget about that last part.