Game Review: Detective Pikachu
Publisher: Nintendo/The Pokémon Company
Developer: Creatures, Inc.
ESRB Rating: E
My Rating: ****/5
“Detective Pikachu” is the latest spinoff in the long-running “Pokémon” video game series. Originally released in Japan in 2016, this unique take on the world of Pokémon is a worthwhile addition to the 3DS’ library and a fun introduction to the genre of detective video games.
The premise of the game is as follows: you play as a young man named Tim Goodman, who has come to Ryme City to search for his father, who disappeared two months prior to the events of the game. He must then partner with the titular Detective Pikachu in order to find him, as well as unravel a series of mysteries that all build up to part of a greater conspiracy.
While the Pikachu in this game may not actively battle other Pokémon, his deductive skills come in handy over the course of the game’s story. The plot is contained in nine chapters that make up three episodes of content. Rather than traveling the globe and engaging Pokémon trainers in battle, the game focuses on puzzle solving and trying to uncover culprits in cases ranging from stolen jewelry to corporate cover ups. In many ways, the game’s combination of humor and strategy recalls many classic adventure games such as “Maniac Mansion” and “Day of the Tentacle.”
The game’s graphics also have a unique art style that makes good use of the 3DS’ hardware. While the Pokémon are rendered their usual Japanese style, the environments and human characters have a more Western style that would not be out place in an animated film from Disney or Pixar (a live-action adaptation of the game is set for release in May 2019).
Even though the game may not be as complex as similar titles such as “Professor Layton” and the “Ace Attorney” franchise, don’t be fooled: Game Freak’s longtime partners of Creatures, Inc. have crafted another worthy spinoff that can be enjoyed by “Pokémon” newcomers and true believers alike. Although it may seem simple on the surface, the later cases will keep you guessing, even when playing on easy difficulty mode. There’s also plenty of humor to be had from the title character. Rather than the usual cute personality people normally associate with Pikachu, the character is a much different breed in more ways than one. The way this snarky, deep-voiced electric mouse wears a hunting cap and guzzles coffee in his favorite café is one of the many reasons the game is a worthy addition to the world of “Pokémon.”
Overall, “Detective Pikachu” is another strong spinoff for the “Pokémon” franchise and well worth playing for fans and 3DS. While it remains to be seen what the main series will do when the highly-anticipated Nintendo Switch entry launches, the decision to localize this game after its successful release in Japan was definitely “a bolt of brilliance!”