New Pokémon Snap is a heartwarming trip down nostalgia lane. With a huge range of levels, gorgeous graphics, and a relaxing soundtrack, it’s hard not to enjoy every minute you spend in the Lental region.
Long ago, when I was but a bright-eyed child with a passion for Pokémon, my older brother brought me a Nintendo 64 and one glorious game: Pokémon Snap. I spent many days with my best friend taking pictures of Growlithe and Kangaskhan, and can still remember our minds being blown as we drifted through space to snap a shot of the illusive Mew. Now, over 20 years on, it’s time to relive the game in a way I never imagined.
Much like the original, New Pokémon Snap is an adorable on-rails photography title that tasks you with taking pictures of the titular monsters in luscious jungles, desolate deserts, and many other types of terrain. This graphically gorgeous game allows you to bathe in a warm bath of nostalgia, but is also suitable for fans who are brand new to not only snap but also the Pokémon franchise as a whole.
If you’re a newcomer to the wondrous world of Snap, or have taken a break from the Pokémon franchise in recent years, this game is the best possible entry point. The Pokémon and environments look better than every title in the mainline series. Being able to interact with each creature in unique ways, watch fully voiced cutscenes, and complete a huge range of side quests is an exceptionally fun experience.
You’re given the opportunity to lightly customise your character from the start. I appreciate being able to make a character feel a little bit more like me, but this aspect could be expanded on with unique outfits, a range of hairstyles, and – most importantly – more skin tone choices.
It’s easy to enjoy New Pokémon Snap as a casual player; you can simply drift through each of the stunning levels in the NEO-ONE and snap a pic or two of your favourite Pokémon. Playing like this lets you finish the game in about eight hours. However, if you want to master the title, you need precision, patience, and problem-solving skills to get a picture that lives up to Professor Willow’s lofty standards.
The professor asks you to take a picture of every single Pokémon in numerous different poses, some of which are incredibly difficult to achieve. You must throw fluffruits at just the right angle, toss illumina orbs to make flowers glow, and play a sweet melody to get certain ‘mons dancing. If you’re a perfectionist like me, getting high-quality pictures and completing side quests along the way will take you upwards of 50 hours.
One of the few issues I hold with New Pokémon Snap is the scoring. When you take a stunning picture of a Furret munching on a fluffruit, but Professor Willow decides a zoomed-in picture with no whimsy is better, it can feel slightly disheartening. Despite this, you can still save the picture post-criticism, add a fun filter, create a kooky caption, and upload it to the in-game internet for some ‘Sweet!’ reactions. Because you know your friends will always appreciate you more than that sassy professor.
Despite my burning competitive spirit, I also took time to relax with New Pokémon Snap. The musical accompaniment in each level fits perfectly, and every track is just as soothing as you can imagine from an on-rail photography game. I’ve spent a lot of time laying in bed with my Switch in handheld mode enjoying the ambience and taking time to just relish in each of the environments without stressing about getting the perfect photograph.
I can understand people who feel restricted by on-rails games, but I believe the range of levels offered helps combat any fatigue you may feel from a long play session. Each area has at least two different levels, most levels have a day and night variant, and on top of that, you can rank up every level about two or three times. Each new research level adds fresh Pokémon and changes how they behave, and you also have the ability to backtrack if you miss anything.
New Pokémon Snap is the sequel I have been longing for since I completed the original all those years ago. If you’ve been waiting for a Pokémon game with gorgeous graphics and voiced cutscenes, there is no doubt in my mind that you will love the experience as much as I have.