Title: New Pokémon Snap
Released: May 2021
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Overall Score: 10/10
Pokémon is one of Nintendo’s biggest franchises, boasting a massive and immersive world with tons of lore and history. It is no surprise that the series has so many different spin-off games. Of all the spin-off games made, none have captured fan’s affections like the iconic Pokémon Snap. Originally released on Nintendo 64, this simple photo safari game made such an impact that it was re-released on the Wii and Wii U virtual consoles.
Now over 2 decades later, this legendary game has finally received a sequel long awaited by fans. New Pokémon Snap for the Switch is a fresh reimagined game inspired by the original Pokémon Snap, jam packed with updated features and breathtaking graphics. Embark on a visually stunning adventure, travelling island to island on an ecological survey, photographing hundreds of Pokémon with a cast of new research pals!
The New Pokémon Snap takes you to the Lental region as a field researcher helping Professor Mirror and his assistant Rita research the mysterious Illumina phenomenon. Unlike the original Pokémon Snap that took place on one island, the new game is an archipelago made up of 6 different islands to explore!
From dense jungles, vast deserts, and even incredible underwater biomes, the Lental region has 11 different stages with over 200 new Pokémon. Each time you complete a stage you will earn research points, for new Pokémon you capture photos of, and the rarity of their behaviour. These points increase the stages research level from 1 to 3, which not only changes how the Pokémon interact with you but also the paths you can explore.
As if 11 stages with 3 levels each wasn’t enough, some courses also have day and night versions, each with their own routes and Pokémon. There are at least twice as many courses as there were in the original Pokémon Snap including the new special Illumina stages.
The mysterious Illumina phenomenon is a special glow that has been seen emitting from Pokémon and vegetation unique to the Lental region. The story of the New Pokémon Snap follows Professor Mirror and their team as they work to uncover the truth behind the Illumina.
As you play through the game’s various biomes, you will notice the Crystabloom plants which emit a glow that attract the rare Illumina Pokémon, allowing players to capture photos in special stages.
Each stage sends you off on a safari trail in the NEO-ONE. This futuristic safari vehicle comes equipped with all the gadgets needed to lure out Pokémon and capture the perfect pic for the camera.
The new set of tools include a scan function that will highlight points of interest on the map and make Pokémon look your way, the Pokéflute which has now been replaced by an MP3 player on your camera that emits music, Fluffruit which can be used to lure Pokémon or be hurled at them (PETA no Pokémon were harmed in the making of this article), and Illumina orbs, a new feature that lets the player light up the Pokémon with an incandescent glow or illuminate the Crystabloom plants causing special events to occur.
So far, the New Pokémon Snap may seem as easy as a walk through the safari park, but the games real challenge comes after you complete the basic stages. Professor Mirror allows you to take 72 photos per stage and will have you choose your best pic per Pokémon for him to evaluate.
The photo rating system has become more complex since the original Pokémon Snap, as each photo is given a score based on 6 different categories: pose, size, direction, placement, other Pokémon, and background.
Each category gets research points, adding up to a total that determines if your photo is a bronze, silver, gold, or platinum star. At first figuring out how to get the best score can be tricky, but as you snap more and more photos and gain experience you start to piece together what makes the perfect pic.
What’s the point in getting all those pictures evaluated? The special behaviours you uncover in your photos get added to your very own Pokédex called the Photodex.
The Photodex is a cool new feature that lets you build your own encyclopedia of Pokémon. Each entry getting 4 photo slots for capturing the Pokémon’s different behaviours. The slots are rated from one star (the most common actions) to four stars (the rarest actions) with the stars ranging from bronze to platinum based on the score they receive from Professor Mirror.
Some of the rare behaviours are for you to uncover on your own, but others can be unlocked from missions given to you by Professor Mirror and his assistants. These side story quests ask for specific photos of Pokémon that give you hints to unlocking hidden interactions. Plus, completing most of these requests will give you rewards like filters or stickers to jazz up your pics.
Keeping up with the times, the New Pokémon Snap added a photo editing mode that lets you add special features just like your average social media app: filters, frames, captions and even stickers. Nintendo even gave the game its own network that lets you create your own Poké-profile compiled of your favourite shots for others all over the world to see.
The online network lets you explore other players photos based on top trending photos internationally, and even lets you view your ranking amongst all other players based on your overall Photodex score. You can even upload your own photos allowing other players to view it and give it ‘likes’ in the form of Sweet Medals. If your competitive like me, you can work your way up the rankings, getting all the Sweet Medals to be the best like no one ever was!
The New Pokémon Snap receives a score of 10/10 for being a sequel that brings back all the nostalgia of the original game, but with all the updates I never knew I needed. The most fun feature for me was being able to edit photos with filters and stickers to upload for other players to see. I would spend hours trying to take funny photos in hopes of making people laugh and smile at the cute antics!
As the first ever sequel for this Pokémon spin-off game a lot was expected by the fans, and this game delivered, standing as an example of what all sequels should be. Over 20 years later the New Pokémon Snap kept the original format of Pokémon Snap for N64 and enhanced the gaming experience with modern and exciting features and new stunning graphics. Get ready to venture out into vast wilds from the comfort of your home as this relaxing game filled with cute creatures will become your favourite new Pokémon adventure!