Detective Pikachu’s Interactions Are Something Special

By Jenni . April 3, 2018 . 12:00pm

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Detective Pikachu is a character driven piece. After all, it is right there in the game’s title. We are here for the Pikachu who just so happens to be a coffee-drinking, dapper detective. This puts a certain expectation in place. While we certainly expect mysterious ahead that offer a different look at the Pokemon world, we also want it to give this character his due. We want to like him and see him bust out as a star. Fortunately, I feel like the game does deliver.

 

What is great about Detective Pikachu is how quickly the game sets him up as something of a mentor to Tim. Immediately after meeting, an Aipom takes a little girl’s necklace. This leaves Tim and Pikachu to save the day. This tutorial shows that Pikachu knows what he’s doing. He directs Tim to investigate the crime scene, speak to witnesses, learn about the area from regular residents and visitors and make deductions based on evidence. He knows what he is doing, so it is not like we have to infer he knows what he is doing because he has the hat and the voice of authority. He is always there to help us organize, and we often have to wait for his prompts for the next phase of the case to begin.

 

3DS_DetectivePikachu_screen_01 His constant commentary goes a long way toward ingratiating himself with the player. It was to the point where I appreciated the flavor text more than the actual “hints.” Sure, I understood why the bolts of brilliance would be there, and I could see why Nintendo might have required people to get a prompt from Pikachu to pull together evidence to help younger players. But the real defining moments are when he is interacting with other Pokemon during these segments or goofing off with Tim. Watching him try to lure out Accelgor with its love of donuts is endearing, as is trying to bribe Fennekin with a twig for information. Seeing him attempt to charge up for a Thunderbolt, run a few steps for a Quick Attack or spin for an Iron Tail are just delightful. It makes you realize that while he may be an “authority” and helpful partner, he can still be a goofy little Pikachu.

 

But I think my favorite parts are when Detective Pikachu gives us a look at the situation through the eyes of someone who is not Pikachu or Tim. Whenever we get this other point of view, Pikachu sounds like an ordinary Pikachu. He is a bit gruffer than usual, as he retains his gravely voice, but all he is doing is saying his name. Even still, we have an idea of what he is “saying” through inflection and his facial expressions. When Amanda is grabbing his ears or driving fast, we can see his discontent and get an idea of what he wants.

 

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Which helps maintain the illusion in Detective Pikachu. It makes the situation seem more plausible. Of course Tim is being followed by a Pikachu. It seems almost everyone has a Pokemon partner. Him talking to it and Pikachu carrying on a constant running commentary? Well, we see plenty of other folks talking to the Pokemon they meet and other Pokemon asserting themselves throughout the game. We see a Ludicolo who loves being a waitress, so why wouldn’t Tim have a little Pikachu by his side?

 

Detective Pikachu succeeds in making Pikachu lovable, memorable and plausible. It sets him up as someone we can trust and look to as a mentor figure, as he definitely knows what he is doing when it comes to investigations. He is a personable pal, since he get to see him in more lighthearted moments when interacting with other Pokemon. Plus, we get to see that the idea of having a Pokemon who can only talk to Tim works in-world, due to glimpses that show what other people see when Pikachu is doing his detective thing. The game does a good job of portraying its hero.

 

Detective Pikachu is available for the Nintendo 3DS.


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