The original Pokemon Snap was a divisive game when it first came out in 1999, but it has since become a bit of a cult favorite. Its art style and goofy sense of humor can’t be beat. With that in mind, I thought I’d give it another go recently and see if it still holds up.

When the newly released Pokemon Snap was announced for the Nintendo 64, few individuals could have predicted that it would be one of the most critically acclaimed games of its time. People at the time were still reeling from the success of the N64’s larger-than-life hit, Ocarina of Time, and the idea of another Pokemon game was not exactly a welcome one.

Two decades after Pokemon Snap redefined the Pokemon experience, Nintendo is releasing New Pokemon Snapon Nintendo Switch. It’s a Draconite-sized leap forward, but also a familiar experience that’s less about advancing the spin-off series and more about improving what came before it. This familiar limitation and a bit of overkill in the middle of the game hold the new Pokemon Snap back a bit, but it’s still a charming and engaging game full of fun.

Review of the new Pokemon Snap: I won my heart

word-image-15223 As always with Pokemon, the plot of Pokemon New Pokemon Snap lacks depth, but it is interesting. You go to the Lenthal region to help Professor Mirr with his environmental research. Todd from the first game makes an appearance, as do the Mirror’s henchmen and a guy who thinks he’s your enemy, but they don’t have much of an impact on the overall course of events. The fascinating thing about New Snap is that you will unravel the mystery of Illumina, follow in the ancient footsteps of the region’s greatest environmental explorers, and enrich the history of the island at the same time. To be fair, it’s mostly about taking pictures of fierce Pokémon and traveling to new places. However, it’s a nice extra context that creates a connection between you, the environment, and the Pokémon you catch (photographically) along the way. At last! At last! – New Pokemon Snap allows us to enter the world of Pokemon and do more than just make them fight and make the best of it. It’s odd that there have been so few opportunities to play outside of battles in Pokemon’s 25-year history, and that’s one reason why New Pokemon Snap is so refreshing to play in a series that emphasizes choices and multiple paths in life. The game has a certain difficulty level (more on that later), but jumping into the cockpit of the NEO-ONE and slowly driving through the Snap environment is a unique experience. word-image-15224 In the fairly short story mode, your goal is to earn points at each location to increase your research, discover new areas and, as mentioned earlier, figure out the cause of the Illumina phenomenon. Each photo you take gets a certain number of points based on different criteria, and the level of location search is increased when you reach a certain score. This is exactly where the difficulty lies. When you upgrade the terrain the first time you get night expeditions, but after the first level you will have to play the terrain multiple times in both day and night mode to get another upgrade. And again. And then again. Although I’ve spent almost a week with the new Pokemon Snap, I still don’t know what I think of it. On the one hand, because Snap requires you to rinse every layer for every possible photo. On the other hand, there isn’t a single moment when Snap doesn’t exude something absolutely mesmerizing, and I admit that if I weren’t surrounded by other people, sounds of wonder and delight would escape my lips as I played. As you might guess from looking at the game, New Pokemon Snap is essentially a Pokemon photo safari we’re doing. You’ll see Pokémon in their natural habitat (without having to attack them), and you’ll almost always discover something new. Pokémon’s behavior and interactions change as you level up, and even before that, it’s nearly impossible to see everything in a few plays. word-image-15225 I’m not the first to say this, but when you don’t have to judge and fight Pokémon, you can appreciate them for what they are. For example, I categorically reject Bidoof in the main games, but I have about 30 Bidoof images stored in my Snap gallery. Bidoof the dump truck, cheeky bidoof, sleepy bidoof, house builder bidoof, hey what’s up, I’m bidoof – the variety of poses and possibilities is endless. A surprising amount of nuance for an on-rails game with such short levels. Throwing a fruit in the right spot, scanning it, or using an Illumina Sphere often has unexpected consequences for areas and Pokémon you thought you already knew all about. Even National Geographic is integrated into the game from time to time, because yes, Pokemon eat each other. It’s not descriptive (thankfully), but it happens. All this, plus the simply delightful sight of Pokémon frolicking, laughing, dancing, eating, fighting and glowing, makes working with the point requirements less tedious. You might think differently if you don’t like the idea of happy digital creatures who are really, well, happy, but you probably wouldn’t be reading a Pokemon Snap review if you thought that. But there is one thing that will probably wipe the smile off your face: Professor Mirror. New Pokemon Snap’s point system is impractical at best, and at worst violates the most basic photographic practices. word-image-15226 For the best rated photos, the Pokémon should be looking at you, be perfectly in the frame, have a great background, and ideally have other Pokémon in the frame. The other shots still earn you good points, but you need the best of them to effortlessly advance in your exploration. Of course, the game must have some measure of judgment, otherwise it would have no structure and be a confusing way to progress. The mirror and its inflexibility will be less of an issue when you open the free-play mode, but until then, be prepared for a lot of mildly condescending comments about which moves you think deserve more (he’s a professor, after all). I ended up skipping his review and moving on. The dozens of requests you’ll receive point to unique photo opportunities, whether it’s catching a glimpse of Dodrio flying at just the right moment or seeing Tucanon and his Pikipe children sharing the moment. The number of requests is a bit overwhelming, but preparing and creating the perfect shot never gets boring. The online rankings and voting system more than reward your creativity, no matter what the teacher says. After you save your photos in your personal album, you can add all kinds of effects, stickers and enhancements to make them even more beautiful. word-image-15227 That’s something I haven’t done yet. Pokemon’s simple models and environments are great in their own right, and while I’d love to see the same level of detail in the main games, I also know that’s probably not possible. These areas and the behavior of Pokémon are much more limited than in the main games, and I suppose that’s why they can be so detailed. While I love New Pokemon Snap and will probably play it in a few months, this limitation is hard to ignore. New Pokemon Snap is largely the spiritual successor to the original – and perhaps, hopefully, the test case for future spin-offs of Snap . While the Pokémon’s behavior is admirable, it’s clearly scripted. You can’t quite see the strings, but there’s an extra layer of detached credibility that’s needed to fully appreciate the play, especially in the middle, where the drag is at its most intense. Make no mistake, it is always a pleasure to play. However, I can’t imagine what the new Pokemon Snap + will be like without an NEO mode, with open exploration and an even greater variety of Pokémon to discover. Nevertheless, one can only imagine what a free-to-play open-world video game could be by what New Pokemon Snap and its predecessor have accomplished. Despite its limitations, New Pokemon Snap remains an important and innovative game.

Review of the new Pokemon Snap: Baseline

Professional

  • So Many Adorable Pokémon
  • A wide range of behaviors
  • Extensive playback possibilities
  • Pokémon is the greatest of all time

Cons

  • A little smudged.
  • This cut makes the scene fragments more visible.
  • Professor Mirror

No bullying or condescending comments from Professor Mirror can dull the charm of New Pokemon Snap . It’s quiet, colorful, comfortable, and rewards you for catching free Pokémon that live their lives in the wild. Aside from the fact that the game offers an alternative view of the Pokémon world, there is nothing comparable in video games right now. Note: Nintendo of America provided a copy of New Pokemon Snap used for this review]

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