Video Gamer Play // Detective Pikachu sees Pokémon fully embrace its anime ...
Detective Pikachu sees Pokémon fully embrace its anime heritage
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.
You can see the TV show’s influence on the main Pokémon games growing over time, the more recent entries in particular adopting cues from the anime’s visual identity and storytelling. But the main series of games still offer fairly simple narratives – and mainly, the story of your rise to become a Pokémon master trainer, over and over again. Detective Pikachu is not one of these games – it’s a story-led spin-off for 3DS which features smaller, more human tales stitched together over a wider storyline – again, something similar to the cartoon I have such fond memories of.
Each game chapter feels like an extended scene from the TV show, set in environments where humans and Pokémon live together and mingle. You play as a plucky young Ash-like character, Tim, who is new to the game’s main city and looking for his missing father – but it is Detective Pikachu himself who is the star. This is the Will Arnett Batman version of Pokémon’s mascot – a bit of sass, a slight suspicion of sauce and enough humour to charm even the older fans. He’s a straight-talking, wise-cracking hardboiled detective, but also a tiny yellow rat. He’s brilliant.
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