REVIEW: Detective Pikachu (Nintendo 3DS)
- New spin on the Pokémon franchise
- Interesting story with twists and turns
- Beautiful graphics
- Pikachu’s hilarious detective voice
- The game is pretty short and fairly easy
- The story is only partially resolved
Everyone knows Pikachu as the “face” of the Pokémon franchise. In fact, for some people, Pikachu may be the ONLY Pokémon they’ve ever seen or heard of. Thanks to the animated series, Pikachu has become the most developed of the characters. He is a true friend, always looking for the best in everyone and ready to do what’s right and help Ash whenever and however he can. But, did you know he had dreams of being a detective?
OK, that may not be true of THE Pikachu, but it is true of the Pikachu that headlines this game. In fact, the Pikachu that headline this game IS a detective, making him the titular Detective Pikachu. Of course, like all Pokémon, he has a human companion, in this case a Detective named Harry Goodman. However, Harry is missing as the game begins and Pikachu has lost his memory due to a mysterious accident.
As the game begins, you play as Harry’s son, Tim, who arrives in Ryme City to investigate his father’s disappearance. Tim runs into Pikachu at the beginning of the game, and it is revealed that Tim can understand what Pikachu says when he talks. Together, the begin to investigate strange events involving unusually aggressive Pokémon. Of course, it turns out that these events are connected to Harry’s disappearance and Pikachu’s accident and memory loss. Through the course of the game, a sinister plot is revealed, one that involves one of the most iconic Pokémon. By the end, the full story of what happened to Harry and events from the past is revealed.
Gameplay is fairly intuitive, and is somewhat reminiscent of the Professor Layton series. The game is ostensibly a “side scroller”, it does not allow you to go outside the boundaries it sets. The “detective” part of the game consists of you solving “mini mysteries” to gather all the clues necessary to solve the “larger mystery” of each chapter, which provides a clue to the “Overall mystery” of Harry’s disappearance and the Pokémon incidents. As you solve each mystery, you are asked to take the clues you have gathered and answer questions to get to the solution. These little sequences are fun, despite their ease, and there is actually no penalty for a wrong answer. I will say however, that there is a significant sense of accomplishment when you get it right. Likewise, scattered throughout the game are “quick time events”, which involve you pushing a specific button when a shrinking ring flashes at a specific point. Again, there is no real penalty for failing these, and they will usually keep repeating it till you get it right.
The graphics are lush and beautiful. Locations and characters look great, and the cutscenes featuring Pikachu are beautiful. Sound is also good, with all of characters having distinct voices, and all of the Pokémon sounding like they came from the celebrated TV show. All of them, that is, except Pikachu. This special Pikachu sounds more like a character from a hard boiled noir detective novel. It is hilarious to hear this voice come out of a cute little Pikachu.
There are a TON of NPC’s in the game, and although you don’t have to talk to them all, more often than not, it is the one you don’t talk to that will have the vital clue you need. Although the game is not hard, there are some spots where it is slightly confusing what exactly you’re supposed to do next. There is a picture of Pikachu on your touch screen the entire time you are playing. This is the game’s built in hint system. Touching it will either show you a text box with a hint on the bottom, or you will be treated to a short cutscene hunt. When Pikachu wants you to notice something, the screen will flash and you will hear him calling your name (“Tim? Hey Tim?”) This audio “ tugging of your pant leg” is effective for keeping you focused, but can get excessive.
There are really only two drawbacks to this game. You can’t really “explore” much in this fairly linear game, which seemed designed to get you to then end no matter what you do. And, it’s very short. You’ll finish pretty simply and not everything is wrapped up, meaning, since no sequel has been announced yet, you are left wonder when, or even if, this story will be wrapped up.
Still, if nothing else, you should try this one out due to it’s unique use of a popular character. It’s short, but it’s fun.