Great Detective Pikachu: The Birth of a New Duo is the latest entry in the Pokémon franchise, but so far, it seems to be exclusively available in Japan on the Nintendo 3DS eShop — a release date for the West has yet to be announced.
Much like Pokémon Snap, which graced the Earth with its wacky presence in 1999 on the Nintendo 64, this bizarre spin-off seems to be playing with the iconography of the Pokémon universe, taking it in a Sherlock-inspired and wonderfully weird direction.
Along with his sidekick Tim, Detective Pikachu will solve mysteries throughout Rhyme City, relying on his wits rather than his electricity powers, which Detective Pikachu is tragically (and adorably) unable to wield.
As a reaction to the startlingly soulful voice Detective Pikachu has in the Japanese trailer, some truly wonderful human beings have started a Change.org petition to get Danny DeVito to voice Pikachu in the American version — that is, if the game ever makes its way here. You can get an idea of what a DeVito-voiced Pikachu would sound like, thanks to a YouTube from Tealhollow1 that dubs his dialogue over the game’s trailer. (Spoiler alert: It’s great. And as of this writing, the Change.org petition has 39,471 signatures.)
As Game Informer’s Javy Gwaltney argued in his article “More Spin-Offs, Please,” these kinds of weird offshoots of massive franchises “demonstrate [that] developers and publishers are looking for ways to move their long-running series in unexpected and exciting directions…that give me a reason to give a franchise I’ve already checked out on another chance.” Though in his article he was talking about Telltale’s Tales From the Borderlands, the same sentiment is applicable to Detective Pikachu.
Pokémon is one of gaming’s most ubiquitous and longest-running franchises, so seeing its creators have a bit of fun with its arguably well-worn setting is encouraging. What’s next? A Lickitung/Cooking Mama crossover? A Bulbasaur-based garden management game? That large-scale console Pokémon RPG literally everyone has been asking for since the dawn of time? If Detective Pikachu — sorry, that’s Great Detective Pikachu: The Birth of a New Duo — is any indication, we probably won’t know we need it until it already exists.
Tim Mulkerin is a freelance writer from Tucson, AZ who has been sorted into Hufflepuff in every online Harry Potter quiz he’s ever taken. He’s okay with that. Follow him on Twitter.