New Pokémon Snap Review – Photographic Memory
More than two decades removed from Pokémon Snap’s debut on Nintendo 64, this unique gaming experience is finally back. New Pokémon Snap effectively carries on the spirit of the original game, tasking you to get the best possible photographs of Pokémon as you travel through environments on a rail line. And while it delivers all the excitement of nabbing the perfect snapshot, like any photography adventure, it’s not without a few undeveloped negatives.
New Pokémon Snap has players assisting Professor Mirror in his research of the Lental region, a diverse area of the world featuring foggy forests, bustling beaches, and more. However, instead of helping the professor by catching and battling the monsters, you use your photography skills to capture them in a different sense of the word.
As you phase into any given level, you’re immediately surrounded by critters to frame up in the lens. With intuitive controls to photograph and interact with Pokémon at your disposal, speed is of the essence, as the Pokémon probably won’t stay in place for long. Whether it’s a Pikachu dashing along the shoreline or a Liepard lounging in the trees, you rarely have a shortage of potential subjects to observe and shoot. Seeing these Pokémon all around you from the first-person perspective is a wondrous experience, giving you an up-close-and-personal way to interact with the series’ beloved creatures.
New Pokémon Snap does a terrific job of balancing the Pokémon in the environment; I rarely felt bored or overwhelmed by the number of creatures I came across. Since you’re traveling through their habitats, not all of the Pokémon are interested in interacting with you. Thankfully, you have various tools at your disposal to draw their attention. Fluffruit nudges and lures Pokémon to a specific spot, a melody player encourages them to dance, your scanner reveals information about your surroundings, and Illumina orbs cause creatures and plants to glow. I loved trying to figure out which tool would evoke the reaction I want from the Pokémon I’m trying to shoot; one creature might have zero interest in dancing or eating, but an Illumina orb might give them a burst of energy, causing them to perform a signature move.
Even the most swivel-headed photographers are sure to miss plenty their first time through an environment. In my initial journey into a sea level, my jaw dropped at some of the interactions taking place between Pokémon, like when a Wingull swooped down and snagged a Finneon out of the water, and I missed my chance to document them. Thankfully, when you replay the levels (and you will plenty of times), you know what to expect the next time you make the trip. In that same session, I couldn’t figure out how to get the best response out of the darting Sharpedo, but I had plenty of other chances thanks to repeat playthroughs.
Traveling through the environments numerous times can begin toeing the line of tedium, but New Pokémon Snap doles out new opportunities, whether that’s variants of the same level, a new time of day, additional tools, or previously unseen areas. Traveling to the same stage during the night may as well be called a completely new stage due to just how distinct the opportunities are. A lot of species are nocturnal, and New Pokémon Snap capitalizes upon that through the different versions of the levels.
New Pokémon Snap delivers all the thrills of the original game, but that throwback spirit isn't the only part of the experience that will give you a feeling of déjà vu.
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