Detective Pikachu Is A Swell Pokémon Spinoff: Case Closed
I haven’t said this in a while, but it’s time to put down that Switch and pick up that 3DS—you may need to dust it off first. While Nintendo’s newest console/handheld hybrid has been keeping us very busy for over a year now, the 3DS has life in it yet, with a slew of fresh titles on the horizon, starting with this weird and wonderful Pokémon spinoff featuring a crime-solving, coffee-craving, gravelly-voiced Pikachu.
Originally released over two years ago in Japan, Detective Pikachu has been on many a Pokémon lover’s wish list for far too long. With a live-action film adaptation in the works (no, seriously), now seems like pretty good timing to introduce what appears to be the beginning of a new franchise to North American gamers. Also a big plus is the new version contains nine hefty chapters, as opposed to the original Japanese version’s measly three. On average, each chapter takes just under an hour to get through, depending how clever you are. So there’s lots of crime-solving to be had.
While Detective Pikachu isn’t lacking in familiar faces, it doesn’t play like your typical Pokémon game—like, at all. The gameplay sees you, a young whippersnapper named Tim Goodman, and Pikachu taking on a variety of cases across Rhyme City with the goal of figuring out what exactly happened to Tim’s missing father. Along the way you’ll find yourself involved in numerous mysteries in need of solving, usually having to do with different forms of Pokémon.
Another twist is that only Tim can understand what Pikachu is saying—everyone else just thinks he’s nuts. Naturally, this leads to more than a few comical situations. In order to help solve cases, Tim must gain information by questioning human witnesses, while Pikachu can converse with other Pokémon. Additionally, Tim and Pikachu must scour their surrounding for clues that’ll lead them on the right path. And lastly, as the game shows during the first cut-scene, certain sections will require you to press the correct button on time or repeatedly in order to get a more favourable cut-scene. If you’re not one who’s quick with the fingers, screwing up actually won’t stop your progress in its tracks, it’ll just give you a slightly different outcome.
One of the nifty advantages the 3DS has over its peers is dual screens, so all the details pertaining to each mystery are conveniently displayed on the bottom screen for handy fact-checking and cross-referencing.
What’s critical to Detective Pikachu’s success is its storyline, which is surprisingly engrossing. For better or worse, the game doesn’t force you to replay the entire campaign in order to see a different ending; the plot unfolds in pretty much the same fashion no matter how you play.
While the 3DS clearly can’t compete with the Switch on a graphical scale, Detective Pikachu is certainly one of the most visually appealing game’s the handheld has ever seen. Interestingly, there’s no option to enjoy the sights in 3D, which is honestly a feature I’ve almost entirely abandoned even on my updated New Nintendo 3DS. Still makes me go a bit cross-eyed and drains the battery big time—who needs that.
Detective Pikachu is out now exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS. Grab a hot cup of joe and check out the Launch Trailer below. That was not intended to rhyme!