ESPORTS DISCOVERY

Detective Pikachu Returns Interview: How the Pokémon Spin-Off Is a Mystery Novel in Video Game Form

Have you ever flipped to the very last chapter of a mystery novel because you couldn’t wait a second longer to find out whodunit? In Detective Pikachu Returns, impatient mystery-solvers will be able to do exactly that.

“There might be someone who watches movies at two or three times the speed. There might be people who just jump to the very end and figure out how the story ends and then go back to beginning to kind of follow how that conclusion came to be,” explains Creatures’ Senior Creative Director Yasunori Yanagisawa.

Players can hop around anywhere they’d like in Detective Pikachu Returns through the mystery game’s Story Jump Mode, which is just one way the upcoming Pokémon spin-off replicates a mystery novel. Other examples include a play on the classic “the butler did it” trope, or Detective Pikachu exhibiting the mannerisms of a grumpy middle-aged man.

At a preview event for Detective Pikachu Returns, IGN spoke with Yanagisawa through an interpreter. For this game, Yanagisawa was mostly involved with reviewing the setting and the production, animation, and lines in the cutscenes. Read on for IGN’s full interview with Yanagisawa, and be sure to check out our gameplay preview of Detective Pikachu Returns, which is coming to Nintendo Switch on October 6.

IGN: When you start up [Detective Pikachu Returns], you kind of get a recap of what happened in the first game. It’s been a long wait for fans for a sequel to Detective Pikachu. Can you share any info about why there was such a long gap between the reveal in 2019 and now?

Yasunori Yanagisawa: Yeah. As you mentioned, there was quite a bit of a wait. The overall development and production was about five years for this game.

One of the main reasons behind this is mostly the change in hardware, and that with the more specs available hardware-wise there are just a lot more things that were possible to do. It was hard to narrow down and figure out exactly what sort of things the developers wanted to do with this game.

IGN: What were some of the things you did with the new hardware in that development time?

Yasunori Yanagisawa: One of the obvious main differences between the hardware is that the 3DS was two screens, and now with the Switch we have one screen. There was kind of this overhaul in the UI and the interface. The appearance of that has really changed a lot.

As for hardware specs, since it is… There’s more things we can do with it. We can show a lot more Pokémon appearing on the screen at the same time. We’re hoping that is making the world of Ryme City a lot more lively and also really expanding on the world where humans and Pokémon co-exist.

IGN: I think that one of the best things about the original Detective Pikachu was how Pokémon live alongside humans beyond that trainer/partner relationship we see in the main games. How does your development team choose which Pokémon make the cut to go to Ryme City and then how they’ll interact with the world in unique ways?

Yasunori Yanagisawa: Yes. There’s a lot of flavor text when it comes to the conversations with Pokémon in this game. An example is with Machop. He’s very strong. Something like a very strong Pokémon would be seen maybe moving things or working for a moving company to really utilize the Pokémon, different Pokémon’s characteristics and their strengths.

There’s also the aspect of the different developers’ preferences on Pokémon, so that was also a factor in choosing which Pokémon would appear.

IGN: Who’s your favorite Pokémon that’s in the game?

Yasunori Yanagisawa: That would be Detective Pikachu. The reason is that obviously there’s … Pokémon’s been around, Pikachu’s been around, but Detective Pikachu himself, he’s a very unique character.

With him being this original character that Creatures created, we had a lot of opportunities to really play around with this character and just, yeah, develop his own personality.

IGN: Pikachu’s already so well-defined from the show. I think people have an idea of what Pikachu’s personality is like. Was it fun to totally make a different spin on Detective Pikachu and this totally different character than what fans are used to?

Yasunori Yanagisawa: Yeah. As you said, the Pikachu that’s known from the show with Ash and Pikachu and Detective Pikachu are almost like complete opposites. Even though Pikachu is kind of seen as this more cute, adorable character, there is that aspect of him kind of being this more middle-aged man character.

Seeing detective stories that have characters that are more hard-boiled and a little bit more serious in other detective works, we wanted to kind of find a good balance between this cute Pikachu and this kind of more middle-aged, serious kind of character, and kind of have a good blend of those two.

IGN: What target audience do you have in mind when developing the Detective Pikachu games? Because the mysteries are a little bit simple to solve, but there is a lot of reading. Is it kind of intended for kids to play with their parents or a family game, or all ages?

Yasunori Yanagisawa: Yeah. A big kind of foundation is that this is a Pokémon game. The intent would be to target all ages from young children to older generations as well.

Just as we see parents and kids playing the Pokémon Trading Card game together, ideally it would be great if parents and kids could also play Detective Pikachu together.

IGN: I want to ask about Story Jump Mode, which is interesting in a story-based game, where players can skip around the main story. How are players still going to be able to make sense of everything that’s happening when they’re skipping around? What led to the implementation of this feature?

Yasunori Yanagisawa: To the first part of your question about fans who kind of jump through the story and being able to follow the main story, there is a text that kind of explains what is going on, so the players will be able to keep track of the story.

As for why the Story Jump Mode was added, it really is to kind of cater to all different sorts of playing styles that people have. For example, there might be someone who watches movies at two or three times the speed. There might be people who just jump to the very end and figure out how the story ends and then go back to beginning to kind of follow how that conclusion came to be.

It really is to try and be flexible to all sorts of play styles that people might have.

IGN: Is it like if you were reading a detective novel and flipped to the last chapter?

Yasunori Yanagisawa: (Laughs), Yes, it’s kind of similar to that.

IGN: How many Pokémon can we expect to see in Ryme City this time? Are there any Paldean Pokémon from Scarlet and Violet?

Yasunori Yanagisawa: It is difficult to say exactly how many Pokémon are appearing, so it’d be great if you could play the game and find out for yourself, but a lot of exciting things are happening in this game. Yeah, we hope that you can look forward to it.

IGN: The first game kind of left off on a bit of a cliffhanger story-wise. Does this one kind of wrap things up or does it leave it open for more adventures with Detective Pikachu and Tim?

Yasunori Yanagisawa: For this game, there is some sort of a good cut off point with Tim and Detective Pikachu’s story.

IGN: Can you tell me anything about amiibo support or the potential of a reprint of the Detective Pikachu amiibo?

Yasunori Yanagisawa: Nothing planned.

IGN: Did reception to the Detective Pikachu movie impact the sequel in any way at all?

Yasunori Yanagisawa: I had the opportunity to kind of observe some of the filming of the film in London. I was able to look at various sketches and kind of miniature models for the movie, and there was definitely some impact from that.

On the way home at Heathrow Airport, I was talking to the producers and started to come up with a scenario for this game. There was definitely some inspiration from the film, the story, and the desire to come up with something at a similar level story-wise.

IGN: We’ve seen Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright team up to solve mysteries. How do you think Detective Pikachu would get along with those two?

Yasunori Yanagisawa: (Laughs), No plans at the moment.

IGN: I think that’s all I have. Thanks so much.

Yasunori Yanagisawa: Thank you.

Editor’s note: This interview was edited for clarity.

Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN covering video game and entertainment news. He has over seven years of experience in the gaming industry with bylines at IGN, Nintendo Wire, Switch Player Magazine, and Lifewire. Find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.

Go to Source
Author: Logan Plant