"Hey You, Pikachu!" is an interactive adventure video game. It was first released for the Nintendo 64 in 2000 by Nintendo. In the United States, the game received a guidance rating of "E" which deemed it appropriate for all ages. This game requires a NTSC console which must be imported from North America as the included audio equipment is not compatible with European PAL circuitry.
Hey You, Pikachu! bridges a great divide between video games and voice recognition software. While there are a few examples of the two intricate technologies merging, there are none which immediately spring to mind as being refined and well polished. That is not to say the title is without fault, as there is certainly a lot of room for error within the very technology which the video game is built on, but in practice I found the experience to be satisfactory yet very frustrating.
This video game is clearly intended for a younger child. Each in-game day begins with the player softly dictating "good morning" or "wake" into the included microphone. From there, players may converse with the yellow creature using simple commands such as "dance" which is rewarded with a brief jive; or other words which yield cheerful "Pika" replies. Also included in this title are 20 mini games which make use of the voice recognition technology. All of the included games could be described as minimalistic, and only require basic single or two word commands from the player. Of course the player may hurl any word, phrase, or lengthy missive at Pikachu, but the limited voice recognition technology only seeks out key words within the player's statements which trigger the game's functions.
In my experience with the video game, I found the voice recognition to be acceptable. I did, however, note several frustrating moments when my dictations were not recognized which inevitably led to several mini game failures. This was most obvious during the "Pokemon quiz" minigame. Here, players are shown photos of popular Pokemon creatures and must state their names. Unfortunately, the sensitivity of this minigame is very high and was not able to accurately pick up on what I was saying for several examples; "Kadabra" became "Abra", "Ivysaur" became "Vensaur", and "Sandshrew" became "Sandslash". For the most part, Pikachu is responsive to my commands and flawlessly picks up on the basic foundations of the game but even this requires clear pronunciation and generally articulate speech.
The video game is presented from a first person perspective which follows Pikachu during his day to day activities and games. The implemented visuals are not the best. "Distant" objects such as book cases and furniture within Pikachu's dwelling, which are no more than a few virtual paces away, appear blurry and pixelated. It is only when the player approaches these objects that the fog corrects itself and images become clear. Otherwise, the imagery used is passable and suitably depicts the Pokemon world. The soundtrack is likewise limited. There is little by the way of background music as the player will spend most of his or her time dictating words into the microphone. The only audible effects heard were Pikachu's gleeful outbursts which serve as a reaction to the player's voice after a statement has successfully been recorded.
This is a video game which I would be hesitant about recommending to prospective buyers. Some areas are very frustrating which undoubtedly impacts on the pleasure received from the title. It is possible that more involved fans of the Pokemon franchise would find joy in this game, but those seeking to test the waters of voice recognition technology may want to avoid this title.
Nintendo was resting on a huge gold mine after those original twin Pokemon games on the old Black and White Gameboy made a gigantic splash in the North American market in the late 90's. Nintendo even scored big with their innovative (yet still very limited) franchise spin-off called Pokemon Snap plus who could forget the two Pokemon Stadium games as well, all for the Nintendo 64. It was clear if Nintendo was going release any game for their N64 system that it would have to be something unique and special. Here we have 'Hey You Pikachu', a game that is so innovative that the game even gives you a free microphone kit packed in the box. How cool is that? With this new microphone you have the ability to really talk and interact with the popular Pokemon character, Pikachu. Sounds good so far doesn't it?
You play the role of a 10 year old boy who has just been summoned by none other than Pokemon expert, Professor Oak for training. The Professor gives you the chance to find your own very own Pikachu creature. If you don't know what a Pikachu is then it's a cute little yellow mouse type animal with the ability to use electricity as a defensive attack. To get the Pikachu's attention you must actually talk to the little yellow guy and hopefully the two of you will become friends. The main problem here is that the Pikachu creature you have to talk to here is very stubborn and you won't have very much control over him (or is it her? I don't know) either. If you don't say the right thing or you don't do it loud enough or the Pikachu just doesn't understand you then he will ignore you altogether and do his own thing. This happens all too often and way more than what I would have liked.
If you're a fan of the original Pokemon Role Playing Games then this title is going to bore you to death. For all the hours that I played this I never got into a battle with rival trainers and their Pokemon, I can't collect them all so there are no bagging rights if you find 151 Pokemon, and my Pikachu here can't gain any levels either. It's like a Pokemon game with the life sucked out of it!
Although this Pokemon game was released late in 2000, this game doesn't look too hot any more. The colours are very bland for one thing and the textures are at least a couple years behind what we have usually seen that year anyway. The characters are cute and easily recognizable but I was just expecting more from this title because the game play was a little linear and that usually means that the designers would have more time to create a better looking game.
For a game that requires you to talk your way through the game, the actual game itself has a lot of text oppose to digital voices here. Sure you can hear the Pokemon talk in the game but they just mostly say they're own name over and over again. Did Nintendo and Gamefreak run into some memory problems or are they just getting lazy? C'mon, other N64 games like Conker's Bad Fur Day and Star Fox 64 have tons of voices so you can't blame it on the hardware. Either way the game suffers for it.
"Bbboorring! BBbrorringg!" What sounds like an innovative idea for a game turns into an exercise of tedious teaching of a cute yellow rat. I feel so stupid talking into the mic that comes with this so called game and if that wasn't bad enough the Pikachu creature doesn't respond 60 to 80 percent of the time it seems. Add to the fact that the game is really slow paced and doesn't even look that great (come on, the N64 can do better than this). I let some other little StarSoldiers play this and they didn't like it either even though this game is clearly targeted for younger children. Maybe other kids will like this but I doubt it. Hey You Pikachu feels too much more like work and less like a challenging and engaging video game. The microphone accessory was a original concept and all but Nintendo waited far too long to bring this over to the North American audience because Seaman for the Dreamcast was actually released over here before this game was and there was far more that a player could do in Seaman than in Hey You Pikachu. This was the first and last N64 microphone on the Nintendo 64 and with good reason. Definitely a weak attempt to milk a popular franchise for all it's worth and because of that this game should be called F U Pikachu!
Hey You Pikachu overall rating: 14/100
For 1 player only
Rated (E) for Everyone
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(Ryan Genno) 2007