Ever craved a break from all that battling? A chance to sit back and chill, where the only capturing comes via the lens of a camera? Say hello to the joys of New Pokémon Snap.
Nintendo have a knack for recycling that rarely disappoints and, in this instance, we receive an update to a game from the Nintendo 64 days. It’s billed as a sequel, tweaking a few things, ditching some and adding more, but keeping the core play – and its sense of wonder – intact.
The story goes a little like this: You’re an ace photographer, and you arrive at the Lental region to assist one Professor Mirror in his studies of the local wildlife – and the mysterious glowing ‘Illumina’ phenomenon. You’re sent on missions in various locations ranging from jungle to desert to beach to seafloor, with the aim of capturing photos of various Pokémon in their natural habitat.
That core play is as simple as it sounds. You trundle about safari-style in an “on-rails” scenario – you just keep on trucking in your little NEO-ONE craft (which could easily pass as one of the Octonauts’ Gups) – but have the ability to turn 360 degrees, keeping a keen eye out for various Pokémon from through the years (plus the odd bit of flora) and capturing them photographically. They’re not all ones to just boldly sit up and say “Cheese!” for you though, so you must snap them at their best, often requiring quick reactions before they scuttle off into bushes or beyond your field of vision.
After each sortie into the wild you return to base, where you can sort through your snaps, pick the best of each Pokémon and submit it for a photo evaluation. Star ratings are assigned from one to four for each critter, with ones and twos proving fairly easy to get, while the threes and fours just might entail a bit more skill than merely pointing and clicking. Luckily, as you progress you unlock various means of perhaps convincing your quarry to dance for you – possibly literally once you gain access to the music player. A separate rating – expedition points – is arrived at via several variables, including composition, the subject’s pose, how close you managed to get to them, whether you caught their face or their bum, and such. This adds to your tally of research points, which are very handy indeed, opening up pleasures such as night time excursions and new areas for you to explore as you get deeper into the game – meaning more varieties of Pokémon to get snappy with.
You can repeat opened areas at will until you capture that perfect shot – and you will need to grind a bit at times both to get those perfect snaps and to reach those research point unlock targets. But it’s relaxed grinding.
“You can repeat opened areas at will until you capture that perfect shot…”
Being a 2021 game, there’s no escaping such niceties as stickers, photo filters, borders and the ability to edit brightness or zoom, all of which can be used to zhuzh up the contents of your ever-growing photo album. Your best snaps – or your worst, should you be so inclined – can be shared with the world, ready for rating by your Snap peers.
Dedicated Pokémon fans are sure to treasure several notable little touches during their travels. All the creatures have their own sounds, usually related to that which they’re based on in our world, plus we get to witness this wild cornucopia of creatures in their correct scale – big ones, little ones, fat ones, thin ones… You know how it goes.
While those who are excited by the classic Pokémon battling more than the thrill of discovery may find things a tad on the dull side, those who relish uncovering new creatures and cataloguing them will find New Pokémon Snap to be a wonderfully chilled experience that can quickly become alarmingly addictive. Hey, gotta snap them all!
New Pokémon Snap is available now on Switch.