New Pokémon Snap takes the formula of the original game, released over twenty years ago, and refines it for modern audiences. It offers players you love Pokémon a chance to simply enjoy the creatures they've fallen in love with over the years without the stress of battling and levelling up. While the game's rating system can be a little cumbersome to understand at first, the sheer variety on display is enough to have franchise fans enthralled and will likely serve as an excellent springboard for players who've been thrown off by how daunting this oftentimes unapproachable series can seem from the outside. It's just some good vibes, man.
There are few games more relaxing than New Pokémon Snap. It’s the result of taking a universe known for its bright optimism, colourful creatures and generally relaxed attitude to gameplay and almost entirely removing the player from the equation. Well, that’s not entirely true. You’re still playing the game but this is a Pokémon for folks who don’t want to deal with stats and battles.
In New Pokémon Snap you’ll be seated in a fancy on-rails vehicle and glide through various habitats with the only goal being to take the best possible photograph you can. It’s chill, adorable and more complex than you might expect.
While the general premise sounds basic… that’s because it is but that’s not a bad thing! You’ll arrive in the Lental region to be greeted by Professor Mirror who desperately needs your help researching the huge assortment of Pokémon scattered across the islands. You won’t be catching or battling them in the pursuit of being the best trainer on the island, you’re meant to serve as a National Geographic crew. Observe those creatures, both cute and terrifying, in their natural habitat and try to capture visual evidence of their behaviour.
Your pictures will be graded by Prof Mirror who uses a… less than intuitive grading system. The rarer a Pokémon’s behaviour the more star’s it’s worth: Common stuff like walking around is worth one star while something special like a Pichu and Grookey sleeping on top of a Torterra (which is adorable by the way) is worth four stars. Then those stars are ranked by bronze, silver, gold and platinum depending on the quality of the photo. It can be more than a little confusing at first, with shots you expect to rank well not achieving the grade you think they deserve and vice versa.
If you’re the type of person who cares deeply about your collection of Pokémon stills then you’ll likely come to grips with the system faster than someone who just likes watching the critters play and scurry about. There’s no real pressure to excel, New Pokémon Snap wants you to have fun and appreciate its world more than prove yourself as an amazing photographer.
New Pokémon Snap also features more variety than we expected. It makes sense given the sheer amount of Pokémon these days but in terms of the levels you’re embarking down, there’s a sense of progression that significantly improves the variety on offer in the game. Taking decent shots in a course will net your research points which, once you earn enough, will upgrade the environment. Pokémon will engage in different behaviours, new paths may open up and entirely new creatures may emerge from the undergrowth the more levels you earn on a course. It’s a great way of keeping things fresh and provides a tangible sense of development and progress in the game.
Beyond that New Pokémon Snap isn’t shy about offering up challenges for the player. Every time a course is unlocked or upgraded, the game’s mostly forgettable characters will task you with taking a certain picture or a special event or Pokémon. Some of these are simple yet others require some brainpower to work out, amounting to small riddles to solve in order to steal that one picture you need. While not overly challenging, they’re a great way to push players to return to previous locations and look for the details they might have missed on earlier runs.
While simply taking photos may sound like a rather plain element of gameplay New Pokémon Snap cleverly introduces a host of actions into the fold to keep things engaging. Not only can you zoom in to take your shots (it would be weird if you couldn’t) you can also throw fruit to Pokémon in an attempt to lure them over for the perfect picture. You’ll also be able to scan the environment for any creatures hiding from lens or points of interest that can be scanned for some interesting info about the course. A speaker in your Jurassic World-like pod can wake up sleeping Pokémon or even illicit a dance. Illumina Orbs, part of the strange phenomenon you’re trying to learn about in New Pokémon Snap can be thrown at Pokémon to make them glow and provide a small boost to your photograph ratings. Small inclusions make runs far more interactive than one might have expected.
One thing we really hope is included in an update is the ability to restart a course if you miss a particular event. It can be the case that there’s a picture image you just keep missing and if that’s the case, you’ll need to see the course through to completion before restarting. A quick restart would be a great addition to the game as it would eliminate those runs dedicated to a single shot that becomes soured when you miss it or want to immediately take a better picture. It would be a small feature and we hope it’s introduced to the game in the future.
New Pokémon Snap Verdict
New Pokémon Snap takes the formula of the original game, released over twenty years ago, and refines it for modern audiences. It offers players you love Pokémon a chance to simply enjoy the creatures they’ve fallen in love with over the years without the stress of battling and levelling up. While the game’s rating system can be a little cumbersome to understand at first, the sheer variety on display is enough to have franchise fans enthralled and will likely serve as an excellent springboard for players who’ve been thrown off by how daunting this oftentimes unapproachable series can seem from the outside. It’s just some good vibes, man.