Detective Pikachu

An entertaining slice of Pokémon sleuthing set within a vibrant version of the series' world.

Detective Pikachu review - a stranger kind of Pokémon story

Pokémon isn't usually about stories. Well, it is - but it's usually the stories you create which take centre stage. The main Pokémon games hold just the loosest framework of a hero journey for you to play out, and fill in the blanks. They're about your own chosen team of monsters, your successes and losses in battles, your path of discoveries. To find a Pokémon game with its own, fixed narrative - and a surprisingly enjoyable one, at that - is a welcome surprise.

I've written already about how Detective Pikachu reminds me of Pokémon's anime series - and it certainly draws from the TV show in how it represents the Pokémon world. The places and people within it are what bring Detective Pikachu to life - they are the kinds of settings and characters which fans have spent hundreds of hours getting a glimpse of on Game Boy or 3DS screens, or imagining in their heads, now slotted into what is essentially an interactive movie with light puzzle elements.

The star, of course, is Detective Pikachu himself - both your sarcastic sidekick and the subject of the game's central mystery, whose mix of gruff backchat and slapstick antics somehow shrug off the scepticism of giving the typically-mute Pikachu a voice. There are Reasons why Detective Pikachu can speak and why only main character Tim Goodman can understand him, but the game will keep you guessing for a good while as to what they might be. In its opening scenes, though, you will find out that Detective Pikachu was the crime-solving partner of Tim's father - a detective who himself vanished while investigating the case Tim is now keen to pick up.

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I used to set my alarm on Saturday mornings so I could get up early, sit in front of the TV with my sister and watch the latest episode of Pokémon. We'd eat breakfast while glued to the adventures of Ash and his pals, and meet whichever new creature was introduced in that episode. The Pokémon TV series was amazing to me back then, because it pulled back the curtain on a world I'd stared at for so long on my black and white Game Boy screen. In the games, all the monochrome pixelated houses and Pokécentres looked alike. People talked in short, repetitive phrases. Interacting with Pokémon was limited to static sprites and menus. But on TV, the world of Pokémon was allowed to sprawl, hand drawn, into huge, lifelike cities and neverending countrysides populated with characters and plotlines developed over countless episodes. How did humans and Pokémon live together? What did battles really look like? Where did humans get all their meat from? I scoured each episode for clues.

Looks like the Detective Pikachu game will finally launch outside Japan

Detective Pikachu, a 3DS game where you solve mysteries with a talking Pikachu sidekick, launched more than 10 months ago in Japan. Until now, there's been no word of it launching anywhere else.

But, over the weekend, the game popped up on the PEGI ratings board (thanks, Serebii).

"Detective Pikachu is on the case! Investigate evidence, question possible witnesses and solve a curious mystery," the game's PEGI 3+ description reads.

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