New Pokemon Snap Review — Snapping Happy
New Pokemon Snap
Review copy provided by the publisher
Yes, I’m one of those people who ranks the N64 among my favourite consoles of all time. Heck, I even hosted a PAX Panel about it last year.
While it’s easy to pick games like Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time as my favourites on the console, the original Pokemon Snap holds a place near and dear to my heart. It’s definitely a game I could go back and replay at any time.
Suffice to say when, during a Pokemon Presents Presentation last year, Nintendo and The Pokemon Company announced there was going to be a New Pokemon Snap game, I was extremely excited and it quickly became one of my most anticipated titles of 2021.
Fast forward to April 30, and let me tell you, my anticipation was very much justified.
Upon loading the game for the first time, I was blown away. I was greeted with the same level of style and charm that the original game had, however, I can comfortably say that Pokemon has never looked better.
I set off on my first journey around the Florio Nature Reserve and was instantly sucked in. Every detail of the environment was crafted beautifully and was really well thought out. Everything felt natural and this definitely seemed like a perfect habitat for Pokemon.
As I progressed, I was excited to see what came next – and there was lots. Courses developed the more you visited them, Pokemon became more comfortable and you gained the opportunity to encounter a wider range of monsters in more unique situations.
Not only that, but most courses had a day/night cycle, presenting the opportunity to visit the same locale but in a variety of situations. Despite visiting areas regularly, the game was kept fresh. Given most courses had a day and night option, plus two or three ranks, you could comfortably play the same course six times and things were guaranteed to be different each time.
Couple that with the fact that on each playthrough, you’re never going to find everything and you’re in it for the long haul. Like I say, (almost) every level is crafted in such a way that you want to keep revisiting. Pokemon are hiding in every nook and cranny and, if you’re like me, that’s all the motivation you need.
I was compelled to revisit locations over and over again. I wanted to fill out my Photodex and I wanted to fill it out with the best range of pictures that I possibly could.
Like the original title, New Pokemon Snap gives you a range of items to help you on your journey. These items can lure Pokemon out from their hiding spots, scan the environment and more often than not, be used as something to throw at your targets to make them pull a funny pose.
It’s vital that these items are used correctly, as like I said, filling the Photodex is just one part of the job. The other half of your mission is ensuring the photos are of the highest possible quality.
Each page of the Photodex was split into four sections, one to four stars, and in order to progress, it was in my best interest to snap Pokemon in a variety of situations, ensuring I was filling each box.
The collector part of me loved this, I have a compulsion to collect everything in games and quite often Pokemon is a game that amplifies these urges. In the mainline games, I’ve gotta catch ’em all and in Snap, I’ve gotta snap ’em all.
At times though, the ranking system felt a little bit off. As you’d expect when a computer is trying to judge something, there’s going to be errors, but on a semi-regular basis, photo’s that I was convinced should have got a higher score or star ranking were undervalued and, in my eyes, wasted.
There were a few other minor disappointments in the game. The Illumina levels had some weird pacing issues for me. The concept of snapping these really rare Pokemon is great, but sitting through a whole level staring at just one creature slowed things down, even more so when you’re taking dozens of photographs, only for 99% of them to be thrown out.
Alongside the Illumina levels, the Desert level fell a little flat for me, it lacked the charm that many before and after it had and was just a little dull. The oasis section was nice though.
There were only two other things that were a little bit of a letdown. One was the lack of environmental puzzles. Maybe it’s my nostalgia speaking, but as a youngster, finding the rock shaped like Kingler or the rock formation like Cubone was special. There was none of this in New Pokemon Snap.
Finally, there were one or two little technical niggles. Occasionally I would throw a Fluffruit at a wall, expecting it to rebound, only for it to clip through and disappear for eternity.
None of these issues were major for me though, and they certainly didn’t detract too much from my overall journey in New Pokemon Snap. Instead of worrying about the problems, I came away from the game with a beaming smile on my face and a feeling of joy.
There was something special about seeing the creatures that have played an integral part in my life, thriving in their natural environments and that alone is enough for me to recommend the game.
Overall, while New Pokemon Snap won’t be for everybody, there was a surprising amount of content, plenty of fantastic moments and a wonderfully crafted world. For anybody looking for a zen game to kick back to and forget about the worries of the world, I can’t recommend this one highly enough.