Detective Pikachu Returns Has A Great Joke About The 2019 Movie

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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Sophia says "Yeah, I thought that movie was pretty good, but how come Mom and me didn't even show up in it?"

Screenshot: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

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.

Spider-Man 2 Devs Wanted To Make A Marvel Movie For Your PS5

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 released October 20 with fanfare worthy of the vibrant New York City where it’s set, becoming the fastest-selling PlayStation exclusive and igniting pertinent conversations about its protagonists’ asses. Below the surface, the direct sequel to developer Insomniac Games’ 2018 game is even more impressive, with missable, but immersive, environmental design and, as Kotaku senior writer Ethan Gach puts it in his review, an “unexpectedly impactful” approach to the love and friendship central to its plot. Spider-Man 2’s release week interviews can provide you a more detailed look under the hood, so I rounded up some of them.

Order Marvel’s Spider-Man 2: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

A bright orange bar indicates a spoiler warning.

Senior creative director Bryan Intihar recently spoke to PlayStation mostly about Spider-Man 2’s accessibility features and tutorial, but also noted that the game’s take on friendship meant a lot to him and the Marvel franchise at large.

“It’s like the least Spider-Man thing,” he said, “but… the thing I always said early on was like, ‘Hey, we want to deliver the fantasy of being these heroes, whether it’s the web-swinging, the suits, the combat. We wanted to live the superhero fantasy, but I think the thing that can really help our game stand out is how we show their lives outside the mask. If we show their journeys, their needs, their wants, their problems? How do we show them outside the mask?’”

Narrative director Ben Arfmann and advanced writer Brittney Morris shared similar behind-the-scenes observations with Gizmodo.“Whenever we tell a Spider-Man story, we always come back to, ‘The man underneath the mask is just as, if not more important, than the mask,’” Arfmann said.

This ethos was particularly important in constructing gooey alien symbiote Venom, who drives much of Spider-Man 2’s blockbuster drama. “I think we collectively understood that if we have a Venom game, we need to be able to play as him,” Morris said. “It’d be such a missed opportunity otherwise. We’re game developers, but we’re also fans, and so we knew what we wanted, and that players would probably agree that’d be the right move.”

Making that happen required attentive design. “When we’re doing animations, things have to look snappy,” senior art director Jacinda Chew told Marvel’s official news site. “The tentacles have to look like they’re almost sentient and they have a purpose. But then, when they snap back, there’s a little liquidy, kind of semi-liquid feel to them as well. So, a huge component of nailing Venom was not just the visuals, but also how we animated him.”

Keep reading for more details about the art and story behind Spider-Man 2.


Senior Creative Director Bryan Intihar, on the game’s opening section:

We knew very early on [Spider-Man 2] was going to be on the PS5 console. We knew enough about the console, its capabilities and how we wanted to push it. And we obviously knew it was going to be two Spider-Men. So, you say: new console. Big sequel. Two heroes. What is deserving of an opening for that? I think Sandman was our thing.

We worked on that mission for a long time. A long, long, long time. Here’s the thing: it’s not just like, obviously, he’s a big character in the opening. But technically it’s a challenge, whether it’s moving in and out of buildings and seamlessly switching heroes, just the amount of tech and art that goes into making Sandman look good. We wanted to go big. We wanted people to understand right away—and I always joke it’s called Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 for a reason, because there’s two of them—but for us, it was like, how within that first 20, 30 minutes, can we show people that everything is being leveled up.


Director of core technology, Mike Fitzgerald, on ray-tracing and performance:

It has always pained me, whenever I see a screenshot of the first couple of Spider-Man games, or if I see [Ratchet & Clank] with ray tracing turned off. And I always know immediately, when I see that screenshot and it always bums me out. And so it was always an aspiration for this one: wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to have that real big compromise in there, if we got back to a pure performance and resolution trade-off. And I don’t think we committed to it until earlier this year, but I think basically, we saw the way performance was trending and we said, ‘you know, it’ll be work, but let’s go for it’. I feel like we got there with the last games, but we always got there, like, a week after launch. Or, right at the deadline, and we’re never quite confident enough. And so this time, it just took a bit of ‘No, we’re gonna do it and we can get to where it needs to be.’

Read More: Spider-Man 2: The Kotaku Review


Design director Josue Benavidez, on gameplay

That’s one of the things we love to do as much as we can—let players control, and actually use the Spider-powers themselves, and figure out interesting ways they can combine things. As much as we can, we’d like to let players have fun. [We] create games that are a toolbox of toys to play with.


Venom actor Tony Todd, on the character:

I think, when people play this game, there’s going to be different sides—of course people are rooting for Spider-Man and Miles, but I think there’s going to be a whole section of people that are saying, ‘Well, what can Venom do, and why do I like him?’ Because he’s just doing it with abandon!


Advanced writer Brittney Morris, on second Spider-Man Miles Morales:

At the beginning of the game, we see [Miles] struggling to figure out what he wants to do with his life. By the end, we had Miles carrying the burden of saving the city, and also carrying Pete when Pete wasn’t strong enough to carry himself at various points.

That’s what’s been so cool about writing a story about two Spider-Men: they’re both strong, and one of them can be strong when the other is not. By the end, Miles is more confident and he’s like, “Yeah, I got this. How much worse can things get after what we just went through?”


Mr. Negative actor Stephen Oyoung, on film and video games

There’s greater freedom of movement with video games. There are less intricate props and sets of course, so it’s all in your imagination, but I really enjoy that process. It’s very intimate, with much smaller crews, but there’s also very little downtime since you’re not waiting for camera or lighting setups. And as far as your performance, what you do in the moment is what they’re going to use. It’s immediate. There are no cutaways, no reverse shots. So when you’re having a conversation, that’s what it is. It’s like real life. After a fashion.

Experience Spider-Man 2‘s own brand of movie magic now, on PS5.

Order Marvel’s Spider-Man 2: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

Airbnb Horror Movie Barbarian Will Soon Be A Video Game

A woman is shown crawling up a staircase in distress.

Image: 20th Century Fox

The 2022 horror movie Barbarian wasn’t on my short list of recent films I thought might get a video game adaptation. But it sounds like one is coming from the company behind the Friday the 13th and Evil Dead games.

Diversion3 Entertainment, who is behind the aforementioned horror adaptations, announced it has entered an agreement with New Regency, the production company behind last year’s horror hit. There’s currently no word on a publisher or developer, but it sounds like the game won’t be a direct adaptation of the movie.

“We’re very excited to work with the team at New Regency to expand on the settings, characters, and creatures of Barbarian,” said Tim Hesse, Executive Producer of Diversion3 Entertainment in a statement to Bloody Disgusting. “The film did a magnificent job of not only scaring audiences with its unexpected and horrifying twists and turns, but also in establishing strong characters thrown into terrifying situations.

“We look forward to exploring these themes further in the game.”

20th Century Fox

The 2022 film stars Georgina Campbell (Murdered by my Boyfriend), Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers), and Bill Skarsgård (the It remakes) and focuses on an Airbnb stay gone terribly wrong after the guests discover the home they’re staying in is inhabited by a monstrous woman in the basement. Things escalate from there, but even so, I’m curious how the premise gets made into a video game. But given that Friday the 13th and Evil Dead were asymmetrical multiplayer games instead of direct adaptations, it’s likely Barbarian is due for a shake-up in its movie-to-game translation.

Barbarian was well-received last year, and was directed by Zach Cregger, who also plays Everett in the film. Cregger has gone on to do a lot as a writer, director, and actor over the years, but he will always be Zach from The Whitest Kids U’ Know, to me.

Alan Wake 2 Fans Need To Watch This Free Movie ASAP

Sam Neill glares at the camera in John Carpenter's "In the Mouth of Madness."

Image: New Line Cinema (Getty Images)

Psychedelic Alan Wake 2 is just as brooding as the white-sheet Halloween sky. It’s the ideal time of year to play the survival-horror sequel to 2010’s Alan Wake, in which the titular novelist and protagonist seals himself away in a dark purgatory. Now, in Alan Wake 2, Alan can warp reality with his words, which recalls John Carpenter’s 1995 weirdo classic In the Mouth of Madness. I’d say there are few better movies to pair your AW2 playthrough with—especially because Madness is now streaming for free.

The theme here is Writers Gone Wild. Both AW2 and Madness feature a grossly successful male horror writer (Alan Wake and villain Sutter Cane (Jürgen Prochnow), respectively) who is just as sullen as he is proud. These men are saturated with genius, their fans and inner monologue inform them, and the earth becomes so heavy with it that reality starts bending to their will. People, innocent and mean ones alike, start falling into Alan’s and Sutter’s hands. And sometimes they die.

The tragedies Alan writes fill him with anguish and a sort of auto cannibalistic introspection. But for Sutter in Carpenter’s batshit movie, death is fucking awesome.

Read More: Alan Wake Creator Says Sequel Is ‘More Intense, More Brutal’

He loves shoveling it onto Madness’ main character, the insurance investigator John (Possession’s Sam Neill, his eyes as wide as ever), who’s tasked with pinpointing his whereabouts and retrieving his manuscript for most of Madness’ runtime. It’s a routine investigation, but it quickly becomes dense with death—that’s what you get from a writer like Alan who enjoys manufacturing fear more than mystery; fear cuts to the chase.

For all its self-serious mania, though, Madness is solidly ridiculous. At least Carpenter—who facilitated legendary, sweaty special effects for The Thing (1982)—does his best to tinge all the movie’s gore with yellowish nausea, but you might find some of it more bizarre than bone-shaking scary. But In the Mouth of Madness’ uniquely nasty silliness will make a lasting impression on you. And you’ll get an even more multidimensional look at Alan Wake 2 than the fourth-wall-axing game gives willingly.

In the Mouth of Madness is streaming for free on YouTube Movies and Tubi.