When Pikachu spoke honest-to-goodness English in the latest Pokémon movie, it blew the minds of children across the world. Imagine, then, how people will react to Detective Pikachu, a game that not only sees a Pikachu talk, but talk in a noir, 1930s detective voice that hints at a life of rough living and multiple packs of cigarettes per day. That’s the reality of Nintendo’s newest – and weirdest – Pokémon game (out March 23 for the Nintendo 3DS), which features the aforementioned gruff-voiced Pikachu teaming up with a human child named Tim to solve mysteries around Ryme City.
Along the way, the duo will question various Pokémon, solve puzzles, and generally put in the legwork to figure out what ails their city. While there are a variety of smaller mysteries in the game’s nine chapters, two big ones will occupy the players’ time: Why are the Pokémon of Ryme City rampaging around and what happened to Tim’s dad?
While the game was warmly received after its release in Japan, it’s unlike any Pokémon game that US audiences have had a chance to play; the closest analog is probably Pokémon Snap, which broke the mold by letting players photograph a variety of Pokémon in remote locales. Whether Detective Pikachu mirrors Snap‘s unlikely success is uncertain, but one thing is for sure: it’s the only game in the franchise where you can hear the most famous Pokémon talk like he’s been pounding whiskey for thirty years.
Is this new Pikachu adventure something that parents should want their kids to play? Is it a game parents might want to play? Absolutely. Here are 5 reasons why parents should be excited to take the trip to gritty Ryme City.
1) It’s Basically L.A. Noire for Kids
Rockstar Games’ L.A. Noire was a bizarre masterpiece that was decidedly for adults. Letting you step into the shoes of a 1947 Los Angeles detective, the game was brutal, with murder cases, shootouts, and lots of gory blood. Underneath all that trademark Rockstar violence, however, rested a brilliant game, one that challenged gamers to forgot a lot of what they knew about the genre in order to solve new kinds of puzzles. While markedly easier than L.A. Noire, Detective Pikachu has that same feeling of discovery and counter-intuitive logic, only it is made child-appropriate in both skill level and content.
2) Pikachu Talks and Seems Like a Cool Dude
Before going any further, it’s important to discuss the game’s biggest selling point: Pikachu. While the initial shock of hearing the meek-voiced “pika pika” mouse rocking a gruff, adult man’s voice may wear off quickly, the game isn’t a one-trick pony. Beyond the voice, Pikachu uses his newfound ability to talk to crack wise, rib on Tim, and generally cause mayhem throughout the game. It’s a nice change of pace from normal Pokémon games, where the most you’ll hear from the titular monsters are their own names repeated ad nauseum.
Plus, how great does Detective Pikachu look in his little hat? Nintendo really gave this version of their mascot a lot of character and personality, without compromising what makes the series so appealing for children.
3) The Puzzles Are the Right Amount of Hard
Not only will kids be able to collect clues throughout Ryme City, they will also have to solve puzzles that range from simplistic to moderately challenging. From simple puzzles that harken back to the series’ “Who’s That Pokémon?!” roots, to quick-time events and memorization challenges, Detective Pikachu will put your child’s logic and smarts to the test. Additionally, putting together testimonials from both people and Pokémon in the game feels like its own puzzle; finding the right witnesses and asking the right questions will help your child get closer to solving all of Detective Pikachu’s mysteries.
4) There’s Actually a Mystery
While Pikachu is definitely the star of the show, players will actually control Tim, the human child who teams up with everyone’s favorite electric mouse to solve crimes. Tim’s story is surprisingly intriguing, as he searches for his missing father, who has been gone for two months at the start of the game. Without giving away too much, the story gives an emotional weight to the crime-solving by the game’s two main characters, and gives the player a reason to be invested beyond “the game is telling me to solve this.” It’s a storyline meant to tug at the heartstrings, and it’s a simple, family-oriented mystery that shouldn’t rattle younger kids. Like most Nintendo games, it will likely have a happy ending, so there’s no need to worry that it’ll turn dark.
5) It’s Going To Be a Movie
If all that’s not enough, you might as well play Detective Pikachu to get ready for the movie. Yes, the intrepid geniuses at the Pokémon Company are making a live-action movie based on the game – the first non-animated film in the Pokémon franchise. While that might be enough to pique the interest of anyone interested in the series, it’s the cast and crew behind the movie that might pull in even non-believers.
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) December 6, 2017
Director Rob Letterman (Shark Tale and Monsters vs. Aliens) will sit behind the camera and the script is being co-written by Alex Hirsch (creator of Disney XD’s Gravity Falls) and Nicole Perlman (who co-wrote the first Guardians of the Galaxy). And that’s just the behind-the-scenes talent. The voice of everyone’s soon-to-be favorite Pokémon? None other than Ryan Reynolds. If you think Detective Pikachu is funny enough in his own titular game, just wait until Deadpool gets his turn on the mic.