Great Detective Pikachu is full of can’t-lose situations

Great Detective Pikachu is here! Well, he’s on the case in Japan. The small sleuth is out to solve crimes, but the question is, how? All of the preliminary footage revelled in the conversations characters would have with humans and Pokemon as Great Detective Pikachu and Tim Goodman tried to solve various cases. I’ve been messing around with the game as best I can, given my limited Japanese language skills, and am happy to report it’s a fairly typical and extraordinarily forgiving adventure game.

Honestly, it’s best to think of Great Detective Pikachu as a Telltale Games-style release. There’s a lot of talking, quite a few quick-time-events and searching areas. It’s a modern point-and-click adventure that’s very obviously catering to a younger crowd.

How obvious is it? Glad you asked! Let’s set the stage by going over the very first crime Great Detective Pikachu and Tim investigate. They meet because Tim’s map and a little girl’s necklace were stolen by a pair of Aipoms. Great Detective Pikachu is pleased to find Tim can actually understand him, and the two head off to catch the thieves.


This launches the duo into a series of QTEs. The Aipoms are accosting a food cart and begin throwing food at their pursuers. Pressing A at the right time makes Tim dodge, so the hotdog flies into Pikachu’s mouth. (Great Detective Pikachu eats it, naturally. Don’t waste food!) The two use construction equipment to reach the Aipoms, who have fled to a building canopy. Pikachu falls, resulting in a QTE where A is frantically pressed to help him. Missing any of the QTEs in this sequence causes it to replay. There’s no penalty; you just get a second chance to make things right. Which is very easy to do, since you have plenty of time to press “A” for timed attacks and to button-mash “A” at more frantic moments.

The Aipoms run and quickly outpace the two. Since the street splits, Great Detective Pikachu and Tim have to investigate the scene to determine where to go. Here’s where the point-and-click roots shine. Each individual around, be they human or Pokemon, needs to be interrogated. Environments can be searched for clues. Multiple topic options will appear on the touch screen and up to four can be collected by chatting with folks or investigating the scene. In the introductory segment, players need to focus on two paw prints and speak to a nearby Diggersby helping with the construction, a man further down one path, and a woman along the other path. Pikachu’s icon will occasionally flash on the touch screen if he has a hint to provide, but much of the investigation period is spent talking to everyone repeatedly and checking surroundings. As long as you check in with everyone at least twice, you’ll be fine. You can’t miss dialogue or important items.

IMG_0538You’ll know when you’re done. How? Great Detective Pikachu will force you to enter the summation stage once you’ve found everything of interest. He’ll go over the case with you, with a map of the scene or informative grid appearing on the touch screen. In this first case, the most relevant evidence and testimony will appear as icons; the player must place them in the correct spots. From there, you use locations and information to draw conclusions. In this case, the Aipom had red on one of its hands, due to ketchup from the food cart. The Diggersby had white paint on his. This means Great Detective Pikachu and Tim need to head past the red pawprint, toward the park. Don’t worry if you make a mistake while coming to this conclusion, though, as Great Detective Pikachu is exceedingly patient.

The continuing cases all follow the same formula. Great Detective Pikachu and Tim will have access to explorable areas. In the introductory case, this spot is the city street and park. They’ll see something is amiss and need to find clues to discover which culprit is behind the incident. In the second part of the first case the two have to collect feathers from flying-types in the park to discover which bird attacked and stole the necklace the Aipom had taken from the little girl. Great Detective Pikachu is always ready to provide insights and advice, talking to everyone and investigating anything possible is key, and Tim will go over all of the details with his partner on the touch screen to analyze every detail, rule out suspects and find an answer. Making mistakes is okay, because you can’t fail. You’ll always get a second chance.

As easy as the game is, I wouldn’t recommend importing Great Detective Pikachu unless you have more than a passing knowledge of Japanese or are crazy like me. On the plus side, you don’t have to be 100% fluent, thanks to an option to see hiragana text instead of kanji and its incredibly forgiving nature. Wait for a localization, which will probably absolutely happen, given this is a Pokemon game and almost all of the major, human characters have names like Tim Goodman, Mike Baker, and Amanda Blackstone. When that happens, grab it immediately, because Great Detective Pikachu is, well, great!

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