Monday, March 9, 2015

Third Rate Game Play: Hey You, Pikachu!

Game: Hey You, Pikachu!

System: Nintendo 64

Developer: Ambrella

Publisher: Nintendo

Player: Brian

Experience: Blind

 (Check after the jump for the full article)

The year is 1996, and Game Freak would have just completed and released a pair of RPG adventures, Pokemon Red and Pokemon Green, to the general population of Japan.  It would rapidly become a phenomenon in Japan and, a few years later, around the rest of the world.  Among the popular characters in the series was the little electric mouse Pikachu, and Nintendo was quick to make sure he became as popular as possible.  This meant making as many games and collectables with him as possible.

During the same year, Nintendo started an initiative to help bring third-party games to the Nintendo 64.  Nintendo and Recruit would create Marigul, a joint venture to help fund independent developers in their projects, as long as they produced the game within five years (Marigul comes from Mario and Seegul, the companies' corporate mascots).  The game developers involved within this would be Clever Trick (developer of the never-released Echo Delta), Noise (developer of the Custom Robo series), Param (which made Doshin the Giant), Saru Brunei (developer of Atlus-published Cubivore), and most imporantly, Ambrella, the developer of Hey You, Pikachu!

Official Word
For the first time ever you can actually talk to your favorite Pokémon. Tag along with Pikachu as it goes through its daily routines, taking field trips, going fishing and having picnics, becoming better friends with each passing day. The more you speak, the closer friends you'll be!
-Official Blurb

Game Overview

Hey You, Pikachu! is a simulation adventure in which you play a child who is given the chance to speak with a wild pokemon thanks to an invention made by Professor Oak.  The player character encounters and quickly befriends a wild Pikachu, and by using the device, the two become best friends.  Every day thereafter, the Pikachu visits the player, and the two go off on playful adventures. Eventually, the Pikachu stays with the child overnight, and as the game progresses, more items and areas open up, allowing player and Pikachu to come closer together than ever.

The most unique element to this game is its Voice Recognition Unit, a microphone which, traditionally attached to the Nintendo 64 controller, could be used to communicate with Pikachu directly.  This is how most activity within the game is handled; without the VRU, the game does not operate.

The playful activities differ from three days: Daring Days, Discovering Days, and Play Days.  The tasks in these days vary from finding recipe ingredients, baby-sitting little pokemon, and playing around in the wilderness.  Initially, the player has no true method of interaction other than speaking directly to Pikachu when prompted, but as the game progresses, the player is given the ability to store items and even travel around Pikachu without being locked to it at all times.

The game features a wide assortment of other pokemon, and the complexity of the tasks grow with each iteration.  Outside of these adventures, Pikachu can fish with the player and pick up the biggest pokemon they can find within each location in the game.


Hey You, Pikachu! was a success for Nintendo, and of all the developers from Marigul, Ambrella became the most successful.  Clever Trick never released a game.  Param made a N64DD-exclusive add-on to Doshin the Giant, translated as Doshin the Giant: Tinkling Toddler Liberation Front! Assemble!, and its founder later created Unigame Bunko, developer of the Japanese-only WiiWare title Discipline for Marvelous Entertainment.  Saru Brunei would only release Cubivore for Nintendo.  Meanwhile, Noise is still somewhat in existence, having released Gyrozetter: Wings Of The Albatross for Square-Enix in 2013.

Ambrella, meanwhile, has remained a developer of Pokemon games.  For Nintendo GameCube, they produced the similar-style game Pokemon Channel, focusing more on interacting with a television than a microphone.  Ambrella also developed the DS launch title Pokemon Dash, also starring Pikachu.  My Pokemon Ranch would be the company's last title developed before Ambrella created the beat-em-up WiiWare game Pokemon Rumble in 2009.  Since then, two sequels have been developed: Pokemon Rumble Blast for Nintendo 3DS and Pokemon Rumble U for Wii U.  The latter would be the first Wii U game to make use of Near-Field Communication figures that would later evolve into amiibo.

I won't emphasize this too much, but Pokemon has been a juggernaut of a franchise, having gone through a vast amount of Generations since.  At this point in time, Pokemon Shuffle was the most recent release; Shuffle is a free-to-play puzzle game similar to Pokemon Battle Trozei, both developed by Genius Sonority.  The Pokemon Company is now working with Bandai Namco to create Pokken Tournament, a Pokemon fighting game, and there has been word of a Pikachu detective game coming to Nintendo 3DS sometime in the future.

Game Play

A few years ago, we were in the midst of finishing our Ocarina of Time playthrough, which can be rather draining at times, especially given how long it took to set it up and actually record.  In a particular session, we decided to take a look at a quick silly game to finish off one set of recordings from a previously almost-disc-filling episode.

Brian and us decide to try Hey You, Pikachu! because we are stupid like that.  We go through the opening activities up until the first fishing experience in Ochre Woods.  Mark could barely handle us playing it that long.  Perhaps another episode is needed?  Bwahahaa!


So, this happened.  It is a silly game to experience, especially with how well voice-recognition software has improved in the last decade and a half.  However, this episode is certainly a sign that we were tired as all get out.  Some conversations were not exactly pride-inducing, so there are a few cuts here and there.  It should also be noted that Tony had a previous injury making it hard to sit still on camera.  Why did we put him on camera again?  I don't know.  I was barely conscious at that point in time.

This is the first Brian-played game that did not require other people playing alongside him, and I don't know about you, but I liked his style.  We should have him do more! (this is when you all nod and say, 'we agree')

Maybe if we are able to get episodes out more frequently, we will get to see just that!


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