Joe Serebii Merrick goes hands on with the intriguing eShop release that recently arrived in Japan.
Back in October 2013, when the NHK television show The Professionals focused on The Pokémon Company President, Tsunekazu Ishihara, it showed him going through the early work for two titles. One title became Pokémon Link! Battle on the 3DS just months later, but the other just disappeared. We knew very little about this game from the TV show, just that it starred a talking Pikachu that was a detective and that they used facial recognition in order to help make the Pikachu talk. This image of the Pikachu has caused over half the Pokémon community to end up waking up screaming from nightmare ever since, but to me it stirred my curiosity. With so long having passed, I feared this game had been cancelled, until it was confirmed to be released for the 3DS as a download title.
Detective Pikachu is much what you would expect. You play as a human character called Tim Goodman who has gone to Rhyme City in order to investigate the disappearance of his father, Harry Goodman. As soon as he arrives, he is pulled into an investigation when a group of Aipom steal some items from him and nearby humans. Instantly, he encounters a Pikachu and discovers that he can understand what the Pikachu is saying. Teaming up with Pikachu, he joins the Baker Detective Agency to try and uncover the mystery behind his father's disappearance.
The game is listed as a Cinematic Adventure Game in the official listings and, after playing it through to the end, it's clear as to why. It's incredibly story focused to the point that I'm reluctant to put too much of the plot here. The game is best experienced without knowing too much of the plot and you'd really need a grasp of Japanese if you wish to play the Japanese version. The plot itself is smartly written and is quite mature; it's also a departure from what you typically know of Pokémon. Aside from a couple of Pokémon using attacks, and Tim commanding Pikachu to use Thunderbolt once, there are very few references to battles, moves and types in the game; that's a good thing as we get to see more about the overall world of Pokémon.
The gameplay is as you'd expect with a detective game. You explore areas and have to talk to people and Pokémon in order to get items and clues to solve puzzles and cases. Often, you then have to put these clues together in order to get to the overall deduction. Unfortunately, this does mean the game can sometimes feel like a bit of a fetch quest and there is a desire for more puzzles, but helping make the story unfold is a very satisfying thing. There are also regular quick-time events in order to continue the story, too - failing these won't change the story, but will just change the progress of that little scene; so it's the difference from catching Pikachu from falling out of a tree, or having Pikachu crash into you.
The presentation of the game is absolute solid. The graphics are amongst the best that I have seen on the Nintendo 3DS, and rarely have any issues except for a minor frame-rate issue in a small part of the game. The facial recognition for Pikachu is also done really well. The mouth movements are perfect with the dialogue and you can often just turn to Pikachu for small little silly animations of it trying to use attacks, using a magnifying glass on a Shuckle and so forth, adding a further level of humour to the game. The human movement is also very fluid. It's the best that characters and Pokémon have looked in a Pokémon game to date, at least until Pokkén Tournament comes out.
Due to the fact it's a Cinematic Adventure game this is what you'd expect, but it is done particularly well.
There is a notable issue with the game, however. It's unfortunately a bit short. As it's a download title, going in expecting a 20 hour adventure was of course a ridiculous idea, but if you know what you're doing you can probably beat the story in a few hours. Doing so however may make you realise why it's so short, but of course, no spoilers.
Detective Pikachu: Birth of a New Duo is a solid title. While it could use a few more gameplay aspects to break up the monotony of going back and forth between characters in an area, it has the foundations for something that can be absolutely masterful, and as a sequel is likely based on how the story plays out, the prospect of future instalments of the game is very exciting. It's definitely a series to watch.
Is the thing that makes you realise why it's short a cliffhanger? Meaning it makes you realise there are gonna be more episodes?
That's basically the impression I got from the trailer.
there's something adorable and charming about mature pikachu. And I'm glad to hear that that feeling conveyed in the trailer wasn't a chance accident but the actual feeling of the game.
I'll pick this up. If it comes over to the US. Being short is unfortunate maybe, but if price reflects that no complaints.
I heard a lot about this game, and it's more mature darker themes that are explored e.g Pikachu's tragic backstory.
Can't wait for the English version to come out, and well done to the Pokemon company for exploring more mature, darker themes, maybe it could be implemented in the main series games.
I... I want to like this, I really do. But every time I see the trailer footage I feel like The Pokemon Company has jumped the shark completely and lost their minds.
Perhaps it's just a culture thing I'm not getting. Or perhaps it just feels too alien. I almost feel like this was going to be a detective game on its own right but they forced Pokemon into it to sell more copies. Of course that isn't giving it a fair chance, so I'd like to believe that is not so.
I honestly can't wait for this now. Being a $10 game that looks THIS good, I fully expected it to be short, so no surprise there.
I'm happy that this game dares to explore more mature themes. Perhaps this is because GameFreak knows that a huge chunk of their fanbase are people who have been around from the start who have now grown into adults.
I'd play it. The shortness is pretty unfortunate though... paid DLC/Pikachu Amiibo DLC could probably help this game by having additional episodes...
I'm also intrigued by this game. The article mentions that the syncing of audio and mouth/face movements is good. It would be nice if they re-do those elements for a localisation because English certainly wouldn't sync with Japanese facial movements. I could live with a dubbing though. Sure that speakers of other languages are well used to dubs and it's better to have the game at all than worry about syncing.
I've read that it's rumoured to be episodic. Wouldn't surprise me that further episodes are released if this does well. A departure for the series that could be very popular. The little I've understood of gameplay I've watched was laced with humour. Nice when things make you smile.
@EmmatheBest Seeing the subtitle, "Birth of a new duo", they might have had episodes/sequels in mind while developing it.
Not much difference, to be honest. Hehe.
Looks interesting to be sure. Hope for EU release
So is Detective Pikachu going to be like Telltale Games games where it releases in chapters and will be finished in about 6 months?
I'm looking forward to this
No Danny Devito no buy Nintendo.
Downloaded it on my Japanese 3DS today. Just need to figure out how to save...
Looks really cool. Shame about it being so short, but maybe if this one is a success they'll get the go ahead for a longer sequel.
@Peterjr1 Pretty much, yeah
@Tobias95 It's autosave whenever you complete a cinematic or move to another area
@Serebii awesome thanks
Trust me, it will be 4 cases.
Maybe it'll have courtroom sequences in later episodes? I hope.
Meanwhile, Gyakuten Kenji 2 won't be localized yet... I can't really complain though, haven't even played Miles Edgeworth Investigations yet
@Dizzard It'll probably be split up into 4 episodes (including this one) that get longer and longer. Think like Ace Attorney. Or Justice for All, anyways.
I wasn't expecting too much from this game, but after reading this, I kinda have a new outlook on it
Now I'm interested to try it out. A little bit short but if the reviews will be favourable I will download it. I enjoy the fact the characters seen on the official art looks so... "Westernised", hehe. It's adding a twist here ^_^
@ZAZX For some reason, I find the idea of a game built by a Pokemon Company gone completely insane to be oddly appealing. I wasn't expecting to at first, but I've become more intrigued by this Pokemon spin-off than any other in a long time. It looks more unique and original and... bizarre than the action, dungeon or puzzle games with Pokemon faces thrown in.
@Serebii thank you
Looks interesting! Might give it a try when it comes out.
I'm actually very excited to play this game. It's one of those ideas that seem just crazy enough to work. Hope it has a quick localization period.
@Braok At least there's the amazing fan translation for that one. The second Edgeworth game is one of the best in the whole franchise, by the way. The first one is really good but not nearly as much.
@LinkSword I know.
But Note 5 speaker sucks :[
And no way am I using a flashcard.
This game looks really cute, actually. Definitely would buy this on release if it ever came to the West.
@ZAZX but that's exactly why I do like it.
@ZAZX This. It looks really weird and uninteresting. I'm surprised so many people are interested.
Call me intrigued...I think I'll end up buying it.. It seems strangely fun...
Detective Pikachu sounds like a video game that would be advertised on ADHD or Robot Chicken.
Surprisingly I'm pretty excited for this... As long as it's worth the money, and the English dubs won't be too bad, I'll definitely have to get this.
Does anybody feel that Nintendo or Game Freak got inspired from Professor Layton? I'm actually interested in it because it sounds like its a point and click adventure game and Nintendo doing one is really interesting.
Also, just how much did the game sell?
Make Danny DeVito the English voice of Pikachu, please! LOL
Almost 45,000 signatures on the petition and counting, and various online publications have written about it. Make it happen, Nintendo, Pokemon Company, etc!
The youtube trailers with Danny Devito thrown in have convinced me!
I really hope this comes to Europe. And that they keep the hilarious original Japanese voices. So cool to hear Pikachu curse in the trailer and talk with a deep voice of an old man.
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