A blast from the past or is it slightly out of frame.
Console: Ninetendo Switch
Publisher: The Pokemon Company
Developer: Bandai Namco
Over two decades have passed and several console generations have been and gone, since the original release of Pokemon Snap on the N64. The moment I saw the orginial trailer for the New version, my nostaglia feelings rose through me. I have fond memories of the orginal game as a child, uncovering each and every secret was pure joy, rewarded with the gift of being able to photograph the legendary Mew! I was filled with excited to re-live these days but with updated graphics, a multitude of new pokemon to pick from and the ability to program much more into this fantastic game.
When I started to play this game, it was safe to say I wasn’t disappointed, but unfortunately after a solid few hours into the game, I began to wonder if this new version truly captured what made the original so special. Don’t get me wrong, as an absolute fan of the Pokemon series, it was an utter joy to play this game, I have and will continue to enjoy uncovering the hidden pokemon I have yet to find until they have all been uncovered. The original game was full of secrets, I will always remember bashing a Charmeleon into the lava and out popped the fecious Charizard! But the New Pokemon Snap failed to recreate those moments of discovery I had with the original game. There were some great secrets to be found, but none held that spark of joy I felt with the original. And nothing could beat finding Mew at the end of the original, leaving me nothing short of disappointed when I finished this new version, without spoiling the game, I felt they could have made the end far more interesting.
Before I dig into my questions about this game, I wanted to highlight the positives first. To begin with the graphics are beautiful! I completely understand people’s critics of the graphical prowess of the Nintendo Switch console, but I think they do a wonderful job of embracing the cartoon-ish nature of Pokemon and have done a fantastic job creating a beautiful setting within the Lental region. The Pokemon models look great and I never really ran into anything that looked out of place or any lazy textures. It is clear a lot of time was put into making the game look stunning. Nintendo have always had a high bar set with their standards. My first play through on the starting level, my eyes were in awe as familar pokemon interacted with both the world around them and the other pokemon in the area, seeing pokemon act more natural was a delight, adding more depth to them that is missed with the mainline series.
There are also a large seleciton of levels unlocked through the game, navigating a wide range of different biomes. Each setting was completely different and unique, housing specific groups of pokemon which very much belonged to each area. Some of the levels also contained a different time of day, where there were subtle changes to the environment and what Pokemon you might stumble across. Multiple playthroughs would reward you with a level increase in that area, adding in new interactions, more Pokemon and potential new routes. The game rewarded those with patience and keen eye, gradually progressing you through each new area and dip feeding you with new things to discover. This idea of discoverery was enhanced with the request system within the game, acting as small hints to special moments within each level or pointing you towards hidden secrets. Some of them are trickier than others, adding a nice level of challenge and you were always rewarded with a one of a kind shot.
The main area I felt let the game down was the story – Pokemon games over the years have never been known for their great story telling and in this game the story is more an added extra to the game. To be honest, I doubt I would have truly noticed if one never existed in the first place. The main line games have been relying more and more on one-off gimmicks (e.g. Mega evolutions and dynamaxing), unfortunately this game is no different in that respect. There were some moments in the game where throwing one of the growing orbs produced an interesting interaction but often they merely added a lacking glow to the Pokemon. The other flaw for me within the game were the gadgets you are given to support your photography, the apples return from the previous game and were by far the most useful tool. Used to either feed or bash the Pokemon, allowing you to gain that elusive three-starred picture. However, the noise from the scanner and the music you could play, rarely added anything to my journey and I would often forget that they were even there to use.
Overall the game is fantastic and a wonderful trip down memory lane. I plan on continuing on, uncovering the extra hidden pokemon and hunting down any elusive legandary pokemon that are hidden throughout the game! I would give this game a 4/5. It is also a great title for your kids, to introduce them into the world of Pokemon.