The Pokémon franchise has dabbled out of its element more times than most franchises and some of these experimental titles have been extremely successful and others less so. Creatures Inc. looks to take the franchise in a new direction and try something completely different. Let us take a look and see if this should be a one-time experiment or the start of another branch the franchise can expand in.
Release date: February 3rd, 2016 (Japan); March 23rd & 24th (US, EU, AU)
Approximate Size: 1.72 GB
Genre: Adventure Game
Developed by Creatures Inc.
Published by Nintendo, The Pokémon Company
Reviewed on New Nintendo 3DS XL; Console Exclusive
The story of the game is primarily centered around the missing father of secondary protagonist Tim Goodman. Very quickly is Tim thrown together with the Detective Pikachu, who also happened to have once been the partner of Tim’s father, and with one another’s help they solve mysteries. To make the dynamic more interesting, only Tim can understand the amnesia Pokémon Yellow cover star and with opposite personalities, the two learn to work with one another and they balance one another out. The story unfolds as you progress through the chapters, interview people and Pokémon alike, and by watching some of Pikachu’s interactions with items.
All stories eventually blend into the main plot line in some way and the ending is a nice payoff. The story isn’t overly complex or deep, hell it’s a story and premise that probably shouldn’t work on paper, but it does. That’s one of the biggest elements of shock this game provides, it works. I’m hopeful this is a start of a new franchise. It was nice to see more of the world than what we’ve seen and known of Pokémon and it shows that the franchise has range on where they can go with it. Detective Pikachu is a great showcase that taking a chance with an established franchise can lead to unique and fun things. I enjoyed the story and hope for a follow up.
Detective Pikachu is a throwback game that plays more like classic point and click adventures than I could have ever imagined. I’ve recently found a new fondness for that genre. The bulk of your gameplay is simple, there is a case that needs solving and you have to speak to humans and Pokémon alike, as well as search for clues, to grind everything necessary to solve the case. Like real life, you can’t just accuse someone and must have the evidence to back up your claims. That may become an issue for some because over the course of the game, regardless of how more complex cases become, you’ll more than likely know the answers before your in-game avatars.
The game does have other elements to switch up the gameplay, like the dreaded quick time events. They aren’t evasive in this game or thrown at you so that you’ll purposely fail and be prepared on your second go around like other games are known to do, they have a purpose and it does add variety to the monotony of searching for clues and interviewing NPCs might bring for some. Should you fail any of them, you simply watch the failure take place and then you go right back into playing again. Though failure is an option, it’s only really possible if your trying to purposely fail. Yes, they are that easy.
Over the course of the game, on the touch screen, you can tap on the Pikachu icon which has the titular character share his thoughts, interact with an item, or play out a cutscene. These are nice because it helps give you more perspective on the character, the other characters, and the world they inhabit. There is no doubt that children are the target audience of this game, it’s evident in the design and lack of a challenging difficulty. However, those who are looking for something different in the Pokémon universe will have a good time learning about the world and playing through a different take on the franchise. I had fun with the game, simply playing through to enjoy the ride, and it quickly became apparent that the world needs more Detective Pikachu. Nintendo has a nice potential sub-series on their hands and I hope to see more in the future.
To no one’s surprise, the 3DS is beginning to show its age. Despite this, Detective Pikachu is a great looking game. You see, this game does what many games do that are released towards the end of a consoles life cycle, it focuses on strong art direction and design. The game is very reminiscent of cartoons one would watch on early Saturday mornings and, yet, it also has a design that is similar to Disney animated films. It all ties together and creates a great looking game despite having the lower resolution the 3DS is capable of. All of the Pokémon are designed just like prior entries and films and this aids the art style making sure nothing seems out of place. You’ll walk away believing that this is a real world and these creatures and people can coexist together naturally.
The world itself is nicely designed as well and I didn’t find any area or item that seemed out of place. There was no popup or texture load ins. Locations are varied, as are the Pokémon and NPCs, and each one was crafted with the care and high-quality standard the Pokémon series is known to have. Menus and navigation are slick and easy to go through. In the end, the game looks and runs great. The only issues this game has graphically is the resolution and that doesn’t bother me, but I’ll mention it for those who prefer higher resolutions. The art style helps the game, the sleek designs tie it all together nicely, and the CGI cutscenes are wonderful.
The music in the game is a light melody throughout the background that encompasses what a mystery fueled plot would have. It’s very well done and never overwhelms the player or world. They utilize tones to entice suspense and when items or progression has been made. It’s not an overly impressive soundtrack but it does fit the genuine feel of the game, it’s simple and serves a purpose.
Voice acting in this game is actually pretty good. All the voice fit the characters, even Pikachu. Now, I’ll admit that at first it was jarring, and it took some getting used to but now I can’t imagine another voice. Unless it’s Danny DeVito, how that’s not a thing I’ll never understand. The voice actor deserves a lot of praise for embodying this character and making it his own. For years, Pikachu has been showcased with a high-pitched voice and with cuteness but in this version, he’s a gruff coffee drinking Pokémon. It’s a different take and it works. The game does offer the Japanese voice cast, and usually that’s where I head, but for this one I played in English and it was fantastic. Oh, and the Pokémon themselves all sound like they have in prior entries, none of them are changed and I’m happy about that.
In terms of sound design and direction, the game nails it while being respectful to the source material but it also fails to add anything of significant value. The only exception being voice acting, primarily with Detective Pikachu. Fans and newcomers alike will enjoy what the team has crafted and may even find themselves eager for more.
Detective Pikachu is a fun new take on the Pokémon franchise and something I personally hope to see more of. The game offers more insight to the world Pokémon and Detective Pikachu was the perfect character to center around because he is unlike any other interpretation of the Pokémon and the voice actor does well to make him likeable and to carry the game. Visually the game looks great, despite 3DS hardware showing its signs, and the story was enjoyable overall. The game is too easy, it lacks challenge or any real sense of danger but that could be because, perhaps, a much younger audience was in mind for the title. For those new to gaming, new to adventure point and click type games, or those looking for an easy and new take on the franchise will find a lot to look forward to in here.