May 07 2018

Late Detective Pikachu Review

Who’s that Pokemon? No, it’s not a naked streaker, it’s a Pikachu wearing a trench coat. It’s the most cutest thing ever! But is it the best game ever? Well no, but definitely best 3DS game ever… Nope. It’s not even a good detective game, but atleast it’s insightful into the Pokemon world.

The game begins with us taking control of Tim Goodman (sounds like they put a lot of thought into that), new in town after running away from an abusive household and looking to shack up with his responsibility-shirking father, who’d abandoned his family when Tim was just a baby for a 2 week fling with his bat-shit secretary. Now it may not have been explained in as much detail in the game, but it makes much more sense to the plot than a family not bothering to raise a search party for their missing dad until 2 months after his sudden disappearance, with mum claiming she’s too busy to look due to work commitments, leaving him to rot at the bottom of a lake and not waiting for the life insurance to cash out.

Tim steps out of the subway, having kicked aside some trash which sure enough turns out to be a Pokemon (surprise), only to come across some mischievous Aipoms pissing about, which then go on to commit armed robbery, involving a little girl having her necklace stolen. As Tim gives chase, he encounters a Pikachu coming down the other way. Though the title of the game is anything but a huge spoiler, sure enough, this Pikachu turns out to be special, in that not only can the little fella speak and be understood by Tim, he’s also linked to the disappearance of Tim’s father. Pikachu joins Tim in tracking down the monkey-resembling shit stains.

The first case is just a tutorial of how to explore and investigate the world, approaching both people and Pokemon to interrogate over local gang shootings and taking hush money from back-street brothels. A lot of the game even early on, is just running back and forward within the area, picking up either a single object or line of conversation that allows you to unlock the next part. There’s not a lot to gain in regards to exploring, with no side quests and lack of collectables. Whether this game could actually be classed as a game or just a walking simulator, essentially it’s just a visual novel, with very little engaging input from ourselves. Even puzzles are lacking in interaction, being very simple for the child audience essentially this game is aimed towards on the back of the 20 years of funding from us true fans. I was expecting something more similiar to a Professor Layton game, solving mini-games and puzzles as we try to crack the main cases, but we’re barely allowed to even come to a deduction, with everything done for us; even if you accuse the wrong person at the end of a case, you’re just made to keep picking until you get the correct person with no repercussions.

As we uncover the story behind why Tim’s father went missing, and suspect everyone we meet of having some hand in it… I’m looking at you, father’s ex-detective partner who hasn’t been able to crack this case yet for no reason other than already knowing where the body is buried and hindering Tim’s investigation every step of the way, Tim finds himself deeper in a plot involving mad scientists and chemical weapon terrorists. It’s weird as though there are people that wish death upon the entire world, there’s the innocence of a Jessica Fletcher Murder She Wrote vibe throughout the game, having to cater to murder mystery pre-watershed.

Pikachu provides somewhat the internal monologue during events alongside raining in the humour. From time to time, he will interject into the monotony, allowing you to click on the Pika Prompt on the lower screen to then play a cutscene, in which he will either make some remark or play out a joke with a prop. Throughout the story, we do find that though Pikachu was involved in the same accident that Tim’s dad was victim to, Pikachu went unscathed from the incident other than losing his memory and having the ability to speak to Tim. Pikachu is shady at times though, keeping a secret of events that occured during the car crash as well as having a deal with a mysterious character.

In most other reviews that were released at the time, they were quick to remark on the mystery of why the protagonist is the only one who can understand his Father’s Pikachu. I’m more concerned about why a Pikachu has constant infatuations with human women, poor Tim never gets a look in.

The ending isn’t fulfilling, essentially the developers hoping for a sequel by coming up with on-the-spot plot teasers and holding back on Pikachu’s gravest secret with a cutscene we shouldn’t have been able to watch considering Tim not being present, though he’s the protagonist we’ve been playing with, now knowing something he doesn’t, which always pisses me off as a story mechanic as it means we now have to keep track of what they know. Considering this game overall took 4 years to develop, with only half the game released 2 years into development in Japan only, surely they could have produced a much more in-depth, resounding, memorable campaign.

What I did like about the game in some way was seeing how some Pokemon interacted with the world and their place in society. I was quite surprised by the lack of Pokemon and even any reference to battling and Pokemon lore. In this spin-off, Pokemon feel more like companions similiar to the familiars from His Dark Materials, with humans not appearing to have any more than one partner, and even then, they never seem to rule over the Pokemon with the chains of a ball. The game felt it more reflected the anime tropes closer than any other game has been able to manage, though having said that, how on earth is there a professor of ghost types in the game, who doesn’t know how to catch a troublesome Gengar, leaving it down to the protagonist to suss out.

I’m sure there are some Pokemon in this world that just want to end it all, with the most weakest excuses for existing, such as a Hoot Hoot, that performs as a clock for a TV broadcasting station, though it’s sat right next to an expensive control console. There are some Machokes shifting boxes on a dock, saying that they don’t mind working as it feels rewarding – I’m sure that’s what any slave would say if you conditioned them hard enough. We came across Pokemon in the game such as the keys, the trash bag one as well as others that were only worthy of shaking my head at. I will never see the need of 850+ Pokemon and will always argue they should have stuck with the original 150 and increased very slowly by 10 kinds or so at a time.

It’s a shame we’re witnessing the death of the 3DS console whilst it’s still present in the room, unaware anything fucky is even going on. The trend now for the past few years are that games released on the 3DS, no longer support the 3DS monitor, as evident with the launch of 2DS consoles. How I love regression. Overall, the graphics are OK, plenty of detail and everything is distinguishable on the small screen. It is a shame there’s no in-built tool to take screenshots, especially during the times Pikachu was legit dead cute, though having a 40 year old man living a nightmare inside him. I’ve still not found a way to capture screenshots on my 3DS.

Don’t have any amiibos to use with the game, and never will, so unable to review that feature of the game, but essentially I think it just unlocked certain cutscenes with Pikachu earlier in the game, big whoop for splashing out big dollars for little return. But to be even further honest, this game should really have been released on the original DS, considering it makes no use of any of the additional controls on the new 3DS console (Nintendo Naming Department need shooting for sabotaging the past 10 years of sales with the most confusing of names), so it’s only the built-in NFC feature that can be considered to get any use, and considering the game isn’t even in 3D, I’m sure the DS could have handled this game.

With the hype that this game has drummed up, there’s already a film adaptation in the works, with the biggest headline being that Ryan Reynolds will voice Detective Pikachu. It’s Nolan North’s Deadpool all over again! Can we not give credit to essentially the original voice actor, who for Pikachu, I think was fine. I don’t want to watch a smart-mouthed Deadpool Pikachu saying each line as though it’s supposed to be funny/witty. All credit due to the original voice actor who brought Pikachu to life for the past 8 hours, though I can’t be bothered to look up their name to give credit, but credit to you good sir out there someplace. And to be honest, much like Reynolds barely appearing in Deadpool, being hidden by a mask and dubbing a voice over a nodding head, it’s not like we need anyone to act in the role of the CGI Pikachu other than just do voice work.

It was cool seeing Detective Pikachu bump into Ash’s Pikachu, quoting to be the very best, like no one ever was. Even the developers know exactly who that joke is directed to, as none of us older players would have gotten any of the more recent references.

Overall, as a visual novel, it’s alright. It’s not really engaging and it’s not really full of solving cases and puzzles as the name would suggest, it’s just shouting at the screen for 8 hours throughout the gameplay that the ghost of Tim’s dead father now inhabits within Pikachu, whose own soul is being torn in half due to having to share its body. Whether Tim’s Mum shacks up with Pikachu remains to be seen, but I think it’s a shame this series didn’t release earlier, being what the Pokemon Ranger spin-off games became which I’ve never been able to get into. If another Detective Pikachu was to come out, I’d give it a go, as I’m certainly intrigued to see how it all finishes, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

Unable to save any screenshots – so here is the greatest picture I have ever drawn in my life.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.thelategamer.com/video-game-review/3ds/late-pikachu-detective-review/

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