The Detective Pikachu movie had a lot to live up to. Not only is this a situation where people worldwide are being exposed to the first live-action movie, but it is a movie connected to a game with the same name. Except, it isn’t exactly the same as the game. There are more than a few things in common, but a lot diverges. Is someone who played the game coming into a movie where there’ll see everything coming? Would someone who just saw the movie enjoy the game? It’s a lot to think about. So, let’s go over it without any spoilers.
First, the setting and many of the main characters are the same or similar in both the Detective Pikachu movie and game. Each takes place in Ryme City, where people and pokemon live largely in harmony. Harry Goodman was a detective who worked alongside a Pikachu and solved cases. His son is Tim Goodman. Tim ends up often meeting and working alongside a young journalist (Emilia in the game, Lucy in the movie.) There is also an authority figure present in each game that has experience with Harry Goodman. In the game, it is Mike Baker of the Baker Detective Agency, where Harry worked. In the movie, it is Lieutenant Hideo Yoshida, a police officer. We also have a lab that is being investigated in each story and a doctor tied to a chemical.
The general premise is similar in both games. Harry is investigating a shady and dangerous case. He is involved in a car accident during it. He’s missing afterward, but his Pikachu remains. Tim joins up with Pikachu to investigate the case, which will help explain Harry’s disappearance. This means going through some more minor situations as build up to learn about the creation of a certain chemical, which is tied to a legendary pokemon. For the sake of avoiding spoilers, plot beats during the course of the investigation change, but there are the same sorts of twists. This means if someone beat the Detective Pikachu Nintendo 3DS game, they will still be surprised during the course of the movie, and vice versa.
As for the pokemon themselves, a lot of the same creatures feature prominently in both storylines. Detective Pikachu is the star in both the game and movie, as you may imagine. The first “antagonists” encountered in both are Aipoms. However, the ones encountered in the Nintendo 3DS game are less malicious than the ones in the movie. A hostile Charizard was involved in incidents in both. Ludicolo works in a coffee shop in each entry. The legendary pokemon also features very prominently in both games, filling pretty much the exact same role in both.
There are two big differences. First, is that the Detective Pikachu game does a much better job of explaining itself. Plotholes are practically nonexistent, probably because there is the luxury of more time for Tim and Pikachu to spend investigating the case. Second is that the Detective Pikachu movie doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, but the Nintendo 3DS game does. It feels like the game could be working toward a similar sort of conclusion, but does not quite get there yet. Again, this could be to create an opportunity for more games.
Both the Detective Pikachu movie and game do things that help them feel special. You can see how one affects the other. Each one can be a lot of fun. But, while there are these connections, they both can feel unique. Attitudes may be different, roles could be changed, and the story is different enough that going through both feels worthwhile.
Detective Pikachu is now playing in theaters. You can also play Detective Pikachu immediately on the Nintendo 3DS.