New Pokémon Snap is delightful—some of the time
New Pokémon Snap is visually breathtaking in a way you would expect from a Nintendo Switch title, and it’s perfectly poised to let yourself unwind after a long day. If only it wasn’t such a grind.
The first-person photography game is a long-awaited sequel to the N64’s Pokémon Snap, a breakout hit for the franchise released in 1999.
Fans loved seeing their favourite Pokémon come to life—until then, they had only seen them in 8-bit grayscale on a tiny GameBoy screen—and casual gamers found the game peaceful and refreshing.
The sequel works in much the same way to the precursor. Players travel in a railed buggy through various environments and take pictures of as many Pokémon as possible.
The photos help create a “Photodex”, which researches the Pokémon of the Lental region and its unique Illumina phenomenon.
For any hobby photographers or wildlife documentary lovers, the game is a treat. Being able to see Pokémon in their natural habitat as opposed to only mid-battle like the core series games is delightful.
Reading about Toxapex being Corsola’s natural predator in the wild isn’t the same as seeing three Toxapex gang up on a Corsola and run it into the ocean, presumably to be devoured out of sight.
Photos are graded with a complex review system, with options to fine-tune visuals or add filters and stickers later on.
Because of the game’s grading system the restrictive framing options—where the Pokémon is dead centre, always—were initially disappointing but the re-Snap feature allows for much more freedom and control over your photos.
What brings the game down is its monotony. Progressing through the story means playing the same limited set of courses over and over again, with each run-through playing out similarly.
Pokémon will occupy the same areas, doing the same things they were before, which means often taking the same photo. The story isn’t compelling enough to keep playing either.
There are only 200 Pokémon out of the total 898, and just 24 courses with which to view them.
For $79.95, there is an expectation of a lot more.
Similar price points can provide a core series game with an easy 50 hours of gameplay – the New Pokémon Snap doesn’t provide the same.
It doesn’t hold up compared to other slow-paced games either. Nintendo’s other hit franchise, Animal Crossing, had audiences playing for hours in one sitting.
While the New Pokémon Snap is a welcome addition to the franchise, it will definitely leave you wanting a lot more.