Detective Pikachu Returns is out on Switch today, October 6, and as someone who considers the original 2016 3DS game to be one of my favorite things Pokémon has ever done, I’m stoked. But Nintendo’s adventure game sequel exists in a weird place, because the 2019 live-action Detective Pikachu movie may have already wrapped up its story.
While the circumstances are a bit different, the Detective Pikachu movie does the whole “Game of Thrones” thing of ending a story that wasn’t quite complete in the source material. Did its ending end up spoiling the video game sequel that wouldn’t launch for another four years? As I play Detective Pikachu Returns, I assume I probably know what’s going to happen at the end. However, I’m not totally sure, because the game has a cute scene that references the movie and affirms that the game is doing its “own thing.”
The scene in question takes place maybe 30 minutes in. Protagonist Tim Goodman is speaking with his mother Irene and sister Sophia about his detective adventures alongside the titular Detective Pikachu. Apparently, the mystery-solving duo has become so well-renowned for their work that they’ve made a movie about the first game’s case. Sophia says she thought the movie was “pretty good,” but laments that she and her mom don’t show up in it at all. Tim says he has “no idea, but movies usually do their own thing, don’t they?”
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2019’s Detective Pikachu movie follows a lot of the same plot beats as the 3DS game it was based on, such as Tim and Pikachu being able to talk to each other while they search for Tim’s dad Harry. But Irene and Sophia don’t appear in the movie at all; Sophia doesn’t even seem to exist in the film’s continuity. Her now being upset about that in Detective Pikachu Returns, and Tim’s nonchalant response, is a cute meta reference to the real movie and the liberties it took with the source material.
Tim’s mother, specifically, is very different in this new game, because she was long dead in the film’s chronology. Harry grew distant after Tim’s mother’s death, leading to tension between the two. But she is alive and well in Detective Pikachu Returns. Does that mean she gets a happy ending now? To be determined.
Whatever happens, the most comforting thing I’ve experienced playing Detective Pikachu Returns is its repeated insistence that your mystery-solving electric mouse isn’t a cop in the games; in fact, they’re actually pretty at odds with Ryme City law enforcement so far. We stan a private investigator vigilante king.