Detective Pikachu Is The Best Film Adaptation Of A Video Game

Disclaimer: Please be aware, this article has spoilers about the film and game, read at your own risk, but I do recommend watching the film and or playing the game!

Let me be frank with you dear reader, outside of a few film series that came to mind mainly Resident Evil, Lara Croft with Angelina Jolie and whatever trash that Uwe Boll makes. The title, while clickbait, is also very true. I assumed, I was going to be wrong and that a google search was going to correct me and show me a good film that I liked, but had forgotten about. However, I was correct, while some lists did make a case for a few of the Final Fantasy films for me, they ended up being just a compilation of cut scenes.


Detective Pikachu, the game was a game that I was very excited about. Since I saw the trailer it made me eager to play a Pokémon game and the first one for quite a while. I didn’t play it on release but left it for several months. When I eventually got around to playing it the game itself was not amazing but it was a solid experience. It took me about ten to twelve hours to complete with me mostly enjoying myself. The voice acting of Pikachu, while not being Danny DeVito was still very funny, I would have liked the game to have been paced better and watching a walkthrough for this to compare the game to the film does bring fond memories and moments.

What I liked more than anything about the film to the game is that the film takes inspiration and uses the game as source material but doesn’t use every moment and each plot point. You get the feeling that the creative team knew what made the game special and wanting to take that core plot and make itself into a film.

It’s this idea which I think has been a problem for a lot of other games to films. Detective Pikachu uses only a few of the core points from the game but alters other points:

What’s the same

·         Tim Goodman is still the son of a detective that has gone missing or is dead.

·         That the drug “R” makes Pokémon go on rampages.

·         Pikachu and Mewtwo have a deal.

·         The Clifford name is still one of the largest companies.

What’s similar

·         Once arriving at the city, he goes to the detective agency, while in the film he goes to the police for details about his father.

·         He meets Pikachu on the street rather than his father’s apartment. However, Pikachu is still his father’s partner.

·         Female reporter, while in the game it’s two characters the film rolls it into one but still gives important information.  

These are just main points; I could go into more depth but what amazes me is how little the film takes from the game and makes it it's own. It feels very authentic, friends of mine and people on the internet seem to be surprised by how good Detective Pikachu was, which got me thinking, did people not play the game?

Source: VGChartz

Source: VGChartz

Now part of the problem is the numbers I must go off of are from VGChartz, which while useful to get an idea, that’s all it is, an idea of what the sales numbers are. These numbers also don’t track sales of people that digitally downloaded the game, so I’m taking it with a pinch of salt. VGChartz claims that just 0.47 Million copies were sold. Looking at Pokémon games that have been sold on the 3DS, these sales numbers are disappointing even for a spin-off game on the 3DS. Pokémon X/Y and Sun/Moon both sold over 16 Million copies. The Mystery Dungeon series which has been around for over ten years is still selling well over 1 million copies. This shows that the creative team that adapted the game, saw potential. So no, relatively speaking I was one of the few that played the game and then went to watch the film. Do I think I got anything more out of it as I had played the game? No, I watched the film with one of my best friends who also loved Pokémon as a kid and he also thought it was an entertaining film. What it did, is give me is hope that perhaps other Pokémon films might be able to come out in the future.

Having developed the technology to have realistic Pokémon that’s not in the uncanny valley it would be rather disappointing if we were not to get another Pokémon live-action film in the next five years. However, I feel it's important that we also don’t get the reverse and are overwhelmed with live action Pokémon films or a Netflix series or two.


Now that I think about it, I don’t hate the idea of a Netflix series, Detective Pikachu proved that the Pokémon universe can hold stories that are not the conventional Pokémon story that we have seen most of the games follow. The Pokémon universe could very much hold several stories and Detective Pikachu showed this, we have an idea of what Ryme City is like, that Pokémon and humans work together, but what about outside of the city, what about other stories within the city? These could all be explored in one-episode ideas or full series.

I would like to assume that part of the reason for Detective Pikachu’s success was that adults and children alike wanted to watch it. Sharing this experience with your own child or reminiscing about the first Pokémon film that came out almost 20 years ago.

Was the game amazing? No, it was an average game around a 7/10 and the film was about the same, however, what it proved was that video games can be used as source material but trying to cram all the content and story of a game is impossible. Use it as inspiration, adapt it and take one or two key elements and evolve it into its own thing. Detective Pikachu is a glimpse at what the future of film and games coming together has to offer and as someone that loves both mediums, I can't wait to see what's next!