Nothing seems as relaxing as bimbling through fields taking photographs of adorable critters. So Pokémon snap is one of those games you can pick up and spend an entire afternoon on. Despite the concept being extremely simple from the get-go, the game is surprisingly addicting. Featuring favourites from every generation, players are able to snapshot all of their favourite Pokémon across a variety of landscapes. Despite this, many people are questioning if New Pokémon Snap is worth the hefty price tag.
All your favourites in one place
New Pokémon Snap is a wonderful dose of nostalgia for all previous fans of the franchise. If you’re prepared to visit the same paths and photograph hundreds of Pokémon several times, then this game is for you. Although the virtual creatures sure are adorable, these routes get repetitive. Unlike the majority of Pokémon games, New Pokémon Snap has no real progression. Similarly, you have to fill out a ‘Pokédex’ style album, but you don’t get to catch any Pokémon. Or own any for that matter. Rather than catching them all, you have to capture them all.
Upon first play, it’s exciting to encounter your favourite Pokémon in the wild. Much like the excitement of the wild zone in sword and shield. Seeing Pokémon in their natural habitat is especially exciting if you’ve spent years with this franchise. It’s adorable. From Bidoof building dams to Scorbunny asleep upon Torterra, it’s hours of adorableness.
But how cute does this game have to be in order to keep you engaged? The novelty seems to wear off quickly. When starting up you’re tasked to run the same route about three times before you are able to progress. Then begins the grind. You have to take a number of quality photos in order to get enough points to gain levels. But it’s hard to capture quality moments when most Pokémon have the same animation in each route. If you’re prepared to sit and play essentially the same level for about 40 minutes then buckle up – but there’s not a whole lot to keep you progressing.
Gotta capture them all
A very quick tutorial walks you through the games controls. It’s very easy to grasp, and the Switch’s motion sensor is utilised. It’s engaging in the fact it feels like you’re actually holding the character’s camera. Much like the Sheikah slate in Breath of the Wild. There are elements where you feel embedded in your character, since it feels very hands on and you’re almost in complete control. But once again, the novelty wears off after the first few hours. If you’re like me, and use a controller rather than using the console handheld, the controls feel a little slow and clunky. With some Pokémon moving extremely quickly, they are almost horrific to chase.
I spent an ungodly amount of time trying to photograph an Emolga in flight. There’s no way to change the speed of your pod, so if you miss a shot you’ll have to restart. This adds to the game’s repetitive nature and just adds a level of frustration. Plus, not every Pokémon you encounter on a route will be there the next time you visit, so keep an eye out for those little wonders.
The tutorial also takes you through how to take a ‘perfect’ photo. Which is essentially the main challenge of the game. Framing and background are all graded by the professor. A better quality photo leads to more points which eventually unlocks more routes and islands to discover. You have to be quick to get these perfect photos though as your subjects will get startled and run. Eventually you learn about Fluffruit, which you’re able to throw at Pokémon in order to position them in a more visually appealing stance. Don’t be fooled though, not everyone is thrilled to have apples thrown towards them and they won’t always eat. No matter how many fruits I threw at Meganium, it wouldn’t stop for a snack.
These fruits do help unveil hidden Pokémon though, which is helpful in nighttime routes where not everything is visible. They also unlock a variety of unique reactions which once again helps that level progression.
Players are able to connect to the internet to edit their photos and share them. Which can be tremendously amusing. The online community for New Pokémon Snap definitely utilises the editing feature to make their photos occasionally hilarious to look at. You can add filters, change the exposure or douse your photos in stickers to make them unique to you, and also bring a smile to other players’ faces. If sharing online isn’t for you, you can just sift through your own photos in a personal album designated to your game. Each photo is saved with your favourite’s highlighted on your species page, so you can always revisit favourites. I have a particularly charming photo of a Bidoof which I took on my first route and continue to revisit.
As a whole, New Pokémon Snap is a cute little safari run. For the first hour or so. But after completing the same level time and time again the novelty and fun wore off. The rewards don’t really pay off the frustration of seeing the same things several times, and with no core story it’s hard to stay engaged and want to progress. Although it’s adorable, it’s too repetitive to enjoy for hours on end. You have to invest a lot of time to unlock new islands, and I simply don’t have the patience. If you enjoy Pokémon enough to take hundreds of photos of them and nothing else, then sure, this is for you. But if, like me, you enjoy Pokémon for more than just their cuteness, maybe give this one a miss.