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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Rondina

Detective Pikachu Returns Review

Detective Pikachu Returns! Dive into a charming adventure filled with mystery, colourful graphics, and plenty of Pokémon, my full review.

Detective Pikachu has returned on the Nintendo Switch to crack more cases! The quirky spin-off of the Pokémon franchise that focuses on the mystery-solving adventures with a talking Pikachu and his human partner, Tim Goodman. The first game, simply titled "Detective Pikachu," was released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2016 in Japan and 2018 worldwide. It was followed by a live-action movie adaptation in 2019, and went on to become huge success, becoming the second-highest-grossing video game film of all time.

Fans of the Detective Pikachu franchise been waiting to see "what's next", and Nintendo has finally delivered a follow-up with Detective Pikachu Returns, a new entry in the series for the Nintendo Switch. The sequel to the original continues the story of the witty and lovable Pikachu and Tim. In this review, I'll explore the game’s story, gameplay, performance and give my final thoughts on whether it's worth dawning your detective hat once more.

Detective Pikachu Returns Details

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch Developer(s): Creatures Publisher(s): Nintendo, The Pokémon Company Genre: Adventure Modes: Single Player ESRB Rating: E for Everyone

A Pokémon "Whodunnit?"

Detective Pikachu Returns picks up where the first game left off, with Pikachu and his human partner Tim Goodman searching for Tim’s missing father, Harry, who was involved in a mysterious accident involving a powerful Pokémon called Mewtwo. Along the way, they encounter new and old friends, such as Emilia, a reporter for the GNN network, and Meiko, a researcher at the PCL laboratory. They also face new challenges and mysteries, such as a mysterious organization that is behind a series of Pokémon-related crimes, and a mysterious voice that seems to be connected to Pikachu’s past. The story of Detective Pikachu Returns is little predictable, but does have its share of twists and turns. In the later half of the game, it does take a surprisingly dark turn in a title meant for kids, I was a little shocked. Outside of that, the game does a good job of expanding the lore and the world of Detective Pikachu, introducing new locations, characters, and Pokémon.

Detective Pikachu Returns' Gameplay

When it comes to gameplay, the sleuthing adventure game combines elements of point-and-click, puzzle, and visual novel genres. The experience consists of exploring different locations, interacting with objects and characters, collecting clues, and solving puzzles. The series now has had quick-time events added, where you have to press the right buttons at the right time to perform actions or avoid danger.

The game also has a lot of interactivity but not as much variety as I'd like. You can use different items and abilities to interact with the environment and the Pokémon.

"You can use different items and abilities to interact with the environment and the Pokémon."

For example, you can use a magnifying glass to examine objects, a fishing rod to catch water Pokémon, or a camera to take photos. You can also use Pikachu’s electric powers to activate machines, stun enemies, or communicate with other electric Pokémon. Unfortunately the process to solve cases moves a little too slow and can be cumbersome at times. You'll also be asked to backtrack quite a bit during investigations which really hurts the pacing of the game. Outside of that there is still fun and enjoyment to be had on Pikachu's adventure.

Graphics and Performance

Detective Pikachu Returns looks like a Saturday morning cartoon with colourful graphics that bring the world to life. The game features a variety of locations, each with its own style and atmosphere, such as a bustling city, a serene park, spooky forest and more. The game also features a lot of new Pokémon, each with their own animations and expressions. One of the standouts in the experience is the impressive cutscenes, which are rendered in a style that looks like a Saturday morning cartoon.

"One of the standouts in the experience is the impressive cutscenes, which are rendered in a style that looks like a Saturday morning cartoon."

The game runs well on the Nintendo Switch, but there are glitches you will experience on your journey. Some of the character models tend to "pass through" each other during gameplay. The characters also have stiff movement at times and the facial animations leave something to be desired. I did enjoy the voice acting for Pikachu, who sounds just like Ryan Reynolds. The cute look of Pikachu with the rough voice is quite funny at times.

Final Thoughts on Detective Pikachu Returns

Detective Pikachu Returns is a charming and engaging adventure that is a welcome departure from the usual games in the Pokémon franchise. I enjoyed the change in direction and I hope Nintendo continues to take the Pocket Monster universe in different directions. The sleuthing adventure has an interesting story (albeit dark for a younger audience), neat gameplay twists, a fun cartoon aesthetic, and, of course, plenty of Pokémon. Detective Pikachu's return offers an engaging mystery to unravel, and if you are a fan of Pokémon I recommend checking out this "whodunnit?" adventure.

Detective Pikachu Returns PROS

+Colourful graphics that bring the world to life

+Impressive cutscenes that are rendered in a style that looks like a Saturday morning cartoon.

+New elements such as quick-time events, items, and abilities.

Detective Pikachu Returns CONS

-Story is predictable and takes a surprisingly dark turn in a title meant for kids.

-Gameplay is slow and cumbersome, with a lot of backtracking and repetitive puzzles.

-Glitches affect the performance and immersion

Gameplay: 7/10

Graphics: 6/10

Sound: 7/10

Replayability: 7/10 Overall Rating: 27/40 (70%)

A copy of the game was provided by Nintendo for the purpose of this review.


About the Author - Matthew "Dapper Tux" Rondina

Matthew has been involved in all things gaming since the 8-bit era. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry who has been passionate about technology and gaming for over 20 years. Along with being the Managing Editor of, he has bylines with Best Buy, Cineplex Entertainment, Mobile Syrup and Walmart. Follow Matthew’s gaming + tech adventures on multiple social platforms with the handle @dapper_tux via "X", Instagram, Threads, TikTok and join in on the fun!


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