New Pokemon Snap has landed on Nintendo Switch. And, it’s hard to believe that it has been over two decades since the original Pokemon Snap first released. Without a doubt, the original burrowed its way into the hearts of Pokemon fans. And, it was the first Pokemon adventure in North America on a home console in full 3D.
Now, over 20 years later, there are many amazing Pokemon titles on the market including Pokemon Sword & Shield, the Let’s Go franchise and Pokken Tournament. Will New Pokemon Snap be able to recapture the brilliance and magnitude of the original? Let’s grab our cameras and hop into the NEO-ONE as we explore the Lental Region.
New Pokemon Snap Details
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Developer(s): Bandai Namco Studios
Publisher(s):Nintendo, The Pokémon Company
Genre: First-person rail shooter simulation
Modes: Single player
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Light on story, heavy on gameplay
It’s pretty safe to say that you won’t be buying New Pokemon Snap for the story. While not mind boggling, our hero has been sent to the Lental Research Camp to help Professor Mirror and his assistant, Rita. The Professor is here to continue and/or debunk the myths and research of a previous explorer to the region. All the while hoping to learn more information on the Illumina Phenomenon that is happening across Lental. Using your photos and his research, the team slowly pieces together what exactly happened within Lental to create this phenomenon.
You begin your time at the local Nature Park in Florio and branch out to new and exciting areas of Lental from there. Each trip through a course nets you experience points based on the pictures you have taken. These points add up and ultimately raise the level of the track.
New areas and tracks unlock every time the previous track is raised to Level 2 or higher, with a few exceptions. While you can continue to raise the level of tracks beyond Level 2, that is where the game’s grind sets in. And, thankfully, the development team has not locked new courses and areas behind long grinds on previous courses. Grinding to higher levels, however, will make Pokemon in that area more friendly towards you. This means they might not run away as quickly when the NEO-ONE comes rolling through.
Gotta Snap Them All?
When it comes down to it, New Pokemon Snap is essentially an on-rails shooter. That is, if you swap out an automatic weapon for a camera and baddies for Pokemon! While it’s a different take on the Pokemon franchise that we haven’t seen in over 20 years, the core experience is still the same. You ultimately still have to “Snap Them All!” and fill out that Lental Region Photodex.
Despite the familiarity, the Lental Region is still a brand new place for you to play and explore, spread across multiple islands and varying biomes. You travel along sandy beaches, to the top of bubbling volcanos, through dense jungles and even through a controlled nature park. Like with all Pokemon titles before it, New Pokemon Snap gives you varied environments with hundreds of different Pokemon to find and collect.
And, collecting these Pokemon could not be easier. With a variety of tools at your disposal such as the ability to throw fruit at Pokemon, scan to find hidden things, play a melody to grab the attention of Pokemon and so much more, it’s easy to point and click to snap your favourite photos. Each photo you take is based on two ratings systems: a star system for the uniqueness of the shot you took, and a numbered score to determine your photo level (bronze, silver, gold, or platinum).
The higher the star count, 1 through 4, the more rare or unique the photo. For example, snapping a photo of a Magicarp flopping around in the water will net you 1 star, but snagging a picture of Magicarp jumping will get you 2 stars! With 4 different photos to find, you’ll be using the tools at your disposal to see what you can convince Pokemon to do, so you can snap and collect one of each photo.
Once your star score is determined, you move onto your numbered score, which will result in receiving bronze (up to 3000), silver (up to 3500), gold (up to 4000) or platinum stars (over 4000).
Tips for taking photos
Photos are graded based on a number of factors including pose, size, direction, placement, other Pokemon and background. To sum it up like Professor Mirror does, attempt to get the Pokemon in the middle of the frame and as large as possible while staying within the photo. You’ll score more points if the Pokemon is facing you, and if there are other Pokemon in the shot with it.
I found that by using the eye test, not all scores will make sense. For example, when romping through the desert in my NEO-ONE, I took two photos of Kangaskhan. One I took from across a small pond, and while the Pokemon did not completely fill up the photo, it was looking at me, was centered in the photo, and even had a Magicarp swimming around in front of it. For that shot, I received a silver rank.
Fast forward to my next run through the level, and I got up behind the Kangaskhan and got a shot of its backside. While large, it was not facing me, did not have other Pokemon in the shot, and was really just a terrible picture. I got a gold rank. It is times like these where the scoring system just does not make sense, and it will happen more frequently than you might like.
Even with over a dozen hours of playing time with New Pokemon Snap, the game’s visuals still amaze me. While not every Pokemon looks as good as it could, the overall quality of the game is top notch. The same quality extends to the audio experience as well, which is definitely aware of itself.
Trips during the day are a bit more upbeat and exciting. However, taking out the NEO-ONE during a nighttime run provides a very quiet, calming experience, as it should. From the soft music to the sounds of your camera clicking, to the beautiful yet sometimes shocking noises of Pokemon, there are little details around every corner that I am still uncovering, even on my 6th or 7th trip through the same area.
It is worth noting that when certain Pokemon come into focus on the screen, generally very large Pokemon, the framerate of the game can take a sudden drop. While noticeable in the moment, it does not overly impact the entire adventure.
New Pokemon Snap is a worthwhile adventure and must have for Pokemon fans
While the concept of New Pokemon Snap might be simplistic by definition, it is a must have for all Pokemon fans. Even though it’s designed as a single player experience, photos can be shared online with friends after using unlocked stickers, frames, and more to liven up your favourite shots. You can even upload your photos and compete with others to obtain the best score!
Add in small details like using the Switch touch screen to navigate the research camp and your photos and you have a very detailed, incredibly polished Pokemon adventure at your fingertips. Even after completing the main quest, which is about a 12-15 hour endeavor, there is more to see and do. You can jump into optional side quests, hunting down specific photos for all members of the research team. Overall, there is a decent amount of content here for the price you are going to pay. While the game might lack those random Pokemon encounters I was hoping for, it’s still a solid experience, and one worth diving into on day one!
+ Gorgeous worlds to explore
+ Tons of Pokemon to photo capture
+ Fantastic story progression
– Lack of random encounters
– Occasionally the scoring system doesn’t make sense
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF NEW POKEMON SNAP
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5