Pokémon Snap was released more than 20 years ago (1999) for the Nintendo 64. A proposal that combines Pokémon with photography, allowing these wonderful creatures to be immortalized in their habitat.
It is clear that times have changed. It’s fair to say that allowing us to record this was a groundbreaking proposal at the time. Why am I saying this? Because today hardly a day goes by that we don’t take pictures. It’s part of our daily lives thanks to the ease with which we have a camera on mobile phones, allowing us to keep memories of absolutely anything.
We also live in the age of social networks, of pretending, so we can not only photograph everyday moments, but also share them with just one click. But it wasn’t like that before. Previously, these reminders were reserved for holidays, birthdays, and other special events. So I reiterate that Pokémon Snap’s proposal was all a vision of what was to come.
And of course, this change should be reflected in the game in some way. For this reason it comes with some novelties but keeping the basic idea, its mechanics and also that nostalgic scent.
However, I didn’t feel like playing it at the time. I love Pokemon and I love photography, but for some weird reason I figured it wasn’t for me that (and may God forgive me) I’d tire of it.
I couldn’t be more wrong. New Pokémon Snap is one of those games that you fall in love with and get hooked as soon as you play it. The first time you see Pichu and Grookey running and playing and can’t stop pressing the photo button is pure magic. That’s when you realize the game has already caught you. It gives you an incredible feeling that the Pokémon are there, they feel alive, that you are on a real safari, walking among them. Can you ask for more?
To start, the title allows us to choose a character from 8 available. There isn’t much variety: you’re either blonde or brown. And it seems that the combination of brown eyes and blonde was unthinkable. I don’t understand why the typical color palette that allows us to choose the color of hair and eyes is not available at this point. Even the hairstyle choices. But hey, don’t let that beginning spoil the charm they offer us in New Pokémon Snap. Because once that bad start is eliminated… what comes is magic.
We enter the Lensis region to help Professor Espejo and his assistant Rita in their investigations into the mysteries of the region, the Pokémon that live there and a mysterious phenomenon called Lúmini that makes some Pokémon glow in a special way. Because although the game is for taking photos, there is also a story behind it that serves as an excuse to take those photos.
The new Pokémon Snap is a very friendly way to introduce or follow the franchise. We’ve stopped abusing – because we’re not kidding ourselves, we’re bloody abusers who lock our pets in balls so they can fight later in battle – and we’ve finished the Poké Balls through our Reflective Flora (our camera) and Pokédex which replaces Fotodex.
Basically we have to do the same thing: “Hunt Pokemon”. Only this time it will be about capturing them in our photo album and learning as much as possible from the details we immortalize.
We’ll make our adventure through the region in the Neo One, a vehicle similar to the one in Jurassic Word, a kind of capsule that allows us to travel by land but also to dive into the depths of the sea.
We will have different routes so we can drive through beach areas, jungles, deserts and even volcanic areas. But all this will be unlocked as we level up, which we will achieve thanks to our photos, which I will talk about later.
Each area will be full of color and detail. Because let’s not forget that we are the ones who snuck into their habitat to spy on them. And I took that very seriously. Imagine what ends up captivating you that I whispered as I walked through the jungle at night so as not to startle or disturb her. We will see how Pokémon interact with each other, walk around, sleep, play or fight.
Even exploring the base camp itself can provide you with photos that you will want to save. Right from there I have one of Eevee being very angry at me for throwing a banana at his friend’s head (logical).
And if you’re worried the tour is very guided and we’re not allowed to leave the Neo One, that’s true and that’s a shame. But imagine if everything were real, do you think a teacher would let us enter without protection in places where we may encounter free-roaming Ariados or Lycanroc or who knows what other wild Pokemon? Not to mention that this was already done and maintained in the previous installment.
I have already told you that we will study the Lumini phenomenon through the discoveries we make in our travels and also thanks to the photos. While the truth is, the story doesn’t matter and is nothing more than an excuse for what really matters: having fun catching Pokémon in their natural habitat, in their day-to-day lives.
Everyone behaves differently, reacts differently when they see us driving past, and that’s just wonderful. Because when you throw a Bananzana or play the music of the Neo One, not everyone reacts in the same way, among other tools that are proposed to get the Pokémon’s attention. This forces you to be alert with your camera to capture every gesture or reaction to be able to immortalize it.
But we will not only take photos for the illusion that we will have, but because the teacher will evaluate our photos and give them stars according to different criteria: pose, size, orientation, frame, if there are more Pokémon in the photo or if the one in question Pokémon under the mysterious Lumini Effect. And that score will be the way to move up.
But here comes my first complaint: The way of judging is very honest and strict. Sometimes photos where the Pokémon is barely visible gave me a high score, and other photos that I found spectacular, personally and because of the frame, got a low score. It’s clearly based on the above criteria and they forget the most artistic part, I think, due to the difficulty of automatically grading it. a shame
In addition, after each trip, we can only show the teacher one photo of each Pokémon, so you have to carefully choose which one to rate. Although you can save as many as you want in your album. In this sense, the game itself forces you to replay each zone. And each time we repeat a route, the Pokémon are more comfortable with our presence and their reactions vary, in addition to the fact that sometimes new routes are opened in it, as well as different times of the day (day, night, sunset).
Because the experience that the score gives us and the small changes that we experience when we repeat the route, in a way reflect the experience that you have as a photographer. Something you couldn’t see on a first pass and now so. New details that go unnoticed by inexperienced eyes. Aside from not always having time to take “the” photo you wanted, repeating the tour allows you to be more attentive and prepared.
Despite these minor changes, however, repeating the same route multiple times becomes a repeat. Luckily it’s something voluntary, if you follow the story and put aside a little desire to reach the four stars of each Pokémon there is no need to repeat the route over and over again.
The title also offers us some secondary objectives, which are tasks that will be unlocked as we level up, missions such as taking a specific photo of a Pokémon or a specific situation. Uninteresting missions unattractive in my opinion.
And I said at the beginning that we are in the age of social networks and sharing everything we photograph, no matter how mundane it may be. The new Pokémon Snap gives us the ability to share photos online (but not in RRSS directly from the game) so everyone can enjoy our art. Additionally, they allow us to retouch the photos by adding filters, frames and stickers – something that is great for using/advertising the Instax Mini Link. Although I have to admit that after tinkering with the possibilities of the image editor, these were soon limited and no longer interested me.
Something I commented on on the weekly podcast when I was talking about New Pokémon Snap, and they called me concerned, relates to load times. But is it necessary for you to get so high on something that it just takes you back to the main menu? Because I’m not talking about loading the islands as you explore them, but as you move from one menu to another. These are times that dull the playable experience a bit.
It’s a game to play relaxed, enjoy it, be transported back to childhood (and not so childhood), enjoy those Pokémon encounters, and dream that it’s true. Challenge yourself to capture them in this special moment. A photographic safari full of surprises, nostalgia and illusion that you can hardly miss.
If you’re one of those people who have doubts about whether or not to get New Pokémon Snap… I would ask you a very simple question: do you like Pokémon? If the answer is yes, then despite the price, it’s worth it.