The Nintendo 3DS has been highly successful in relation to the release of Pokémon games. With a slew of Pokémon games available to play on the console from Virtual Console games to the latest entries in the series like Pokémon Ultra Sun/Moon. The 3DS has proved itself as the ultimate console for Pokémon fans. Pokémon is not unfamiliar to having spin-off games, ranging from dungeon crawlers like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon to brawler games like Pokkén Tournament DX. Detective Pikachu is Creatures most ambitious spin-off Pokémon game to date. A point and click styled story driven game featuring a talking Pikachu protagonist.
The story of Detective Pikachu revolves around Tim, someone who as travelled to Ryme City in an attempt to find the reasoning behind the disappearance of his father which happens to be a detective. Tim along with other characters in the game have their own personalities which contributed to creating an interesting story. Shortly into the story Tim is introduced to Detective Pikachu, which as the name suggests is a detective. This Pikachu is no ordinary Pokémon though, he is able to talk, however only Tim is able to understand him. Detective Pikachu adds a comical charm to the game and really drives the story.
The voice provided to the Pikachu is unexpected in comparison to the characteristics we have grown accustomed to with Pikachu. It can clearly be seen the direction Creatures wanted to go with Detective Pikachu, and the results have paid off. They have created a memorable character, one that stands out as a different variation of Pikachu. Shortly in the first Act, Tim discovers that Detective Pikachu is suffering from Amnesia due to an incident. Though this story of Amnesia doesn’t seem to last that long after discovering Tim’s name. The story is relatively simple but it was certainly not predictable or boring in any way. It is an interesting take on the Pokémon universe. After playing the game, I am certainly more optimistic about the film that has been announced.
Upon starting the game you have the option of selecting Easy Mode, this mode provides hints which you can view from an icon on the touchscreen. This icon will only appear on the easy mode, however I did find this fairly pointless as the icon could have easily just been included in the normal difficulty, as there were no other changes to the game’s difficulty. The game plays similarly to Telltale’s games whereby you will need to walk around contained environments and exhaust conversions with Pokémon and humans. Furthermore, you will need to examine items etc. that you find which will help you solve mystery’s throughout each level. In addition, although there aren’t many moments, you will be required to complete quick time events like mashing a button or timing a button press. Overall, the gameplay is fairly limited, however good story development made it interesting to see how the mysteries would unfold.
Detective Pikachu is never left out, during the adventure you can touch Detective Pikachu on the touchscreen and you will see a small cutscenes with the star of the show. Moments range from giving you subtle hints, failing over on an icy river, to acting like Sherlock Holmes with a magnifying glass. These little moments are called Pika Prompts, and they capture the quirkiness of Detective Pikachu very well. Additionally, they act as progression for completionists whereby you can view those Pika Prompts that you have already viewed from the main menu. There are a lot of these Pika Prompts, and they add to the interactions between Tim and Detective Pikachu. In relation to interactions with Pokémon, there is a very large returning cast of cameo Pokémon. Fans will love to see their favourite Pokémon involved in the game’s mysteries. Furthermore, it allowed me to get to know the Pokémon in more detail outside of the usual tradition of battling. However, unlike the Pokémon, I did find some human characters to be fairly bland and forgettable.
The touchscreen is used frequently in this game, from talking to Detective Pikachu, to looking at clues and evidence. I found the constant switching from physical controls, to interactions with the touchscreen fairly cumbersome. Though it certainly did not negatively affect my experience, playing the game.
The game as you would expect from a Pokémon game is very polished, the graphics and its presentation are well done. The graphics themselves are slightly rough around the edges due to a lack of antialiasing. However, it’s very clean appearance makes it perhaps one of the best looking games on the 3DS. Environments are varied, colourful and visually impressive for the 3DS and the items in the scenes are highly detailed. Environments are bustling with activity which helped create a lively atmosphere. Furthermore, Pokémon are full 3D models and have excellent attention to detail. However, human characters looked similar to those found in a Disney film. Whilst this certainly is not a bad thing, I didn’t think it fit the style of the Pokémon universe as well as I would have liked, though characters did look good graphically.
The game features some CGI animated cutscenes and just like the regular cutscenes they certainly fit the visuals of the game and are well done. Artwork which is most often seen when looking at the case files are gorgeous hand drawn Pokémon styled artwork. The game holds up well visually despite the ageing 3DS hardware, though it is disappointing that this is another game that lacks a 3D effect. I believed that the 3DS effect would have worked well for this game, noticeably during quick time events or when interacting with Detective Pikachu.
Unlike many other Pokémon games, Detective Pikachu features voice acting. Voice acting is varied and all key character speak at one point or another. Pokémon excluding Detective Pikachu, make their crying noises like you hear on the Pokémon Anime series. Detective Pikachu’s voice is very good and fits the obscure role that Pikachu brings to the game. The other main protagonist, Tim also has a voice that fits the role well, creating a likeable character. Other characters with smaller roles also have good voice acting. All contributing to the overall production values brought from the audio aspects of the game. Music is atypical to that you would hear in detective shows, it certainly captured the mystery aspect that the game promises to deliver, it was often fairly forgettable though.
Point and click games tend to lack any real replay value, unfortunately Detective Pikachu also follows this pattern. Whilst the game’s length is decent for this type of game, the game content in general is lacking. Players could go back and attempt to obtain any Pika Prompts which they may have missed on their first play through. Completionists will most likely want to obtain all the Pika Prompts that you can view from the Pika Prompts menu. I liked that you could view the Pika Prompts that you have already viewed from this menu, so that you can view your favourites at any time. In addition, you can select your favourite moments with Detective Pikachu and save them in a favourites tab so that you can view them at any time without having to search for them again.
Detective Pikachu is The Pokémon Company’s most ambitious spin-off Pokémon game that I have ever played. The story, although fairly basic is very memorable and that comes most noticeably from Detective Pikachu, the star of the show. From its fantastic visuals to excellent voice acting, Creatures was serious about making this project work. Detective Pikachu’s bizarre concept has been brilliantly executed, this game is essential for not only Pokémon fans but for those that like Point and Click games similar to those made by Telltale. Detective Pikachu is not a great detective, he is so much more, thus the potential to extend this spin-off into a series of games is very strong.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo 3DS code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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