New Pokémon Snap (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Drew Hurley 07.05.2021

Review for New Pokémon Snap on Nintendo Switch

The creation of the original Pokémon Snap is a fascinating little tale. Originally developed by HAL laboratories as a Jack and the Beanstalk game, it later had the Pokémon IP tacked on when the franchise popularity exploded worldwide. The game quickly garnered a cult status. The Pokémon fever at an all-time high, fans were not just playing, they were heading to Blockbuster to print out real physical versions of their creations. While the game received a subsequent re-release on the Wii, it's been a surprisingly long hiatus since The Pokémon Company has revisited their little photography experiment. Now, as the franchise is again booming in popularity to levels only seen during those early days, over two decades later, the series returns. The Pokémon Company has tapped Bandai Namco to revisit the on-rails snap-a-thon.

Welcome to the Lental Region, a brand new archipelago of Islands within the world of Pokémon that is home to Pokémon species that runs the gambit from all eight generations of the franchise. As a new, budding Pokémon photographer, the player walks through the familiar steps of other Pokémon games, arriving at the Lental region he's taken under the wing of Professor Mirror, and given a camera and the keys to the on-rails vehicle of the Neo-One. This starter-snapper sets out across each of these islands in the footsteps of the legendary explorer "Captain Vince", searching for the fabled Illumina Pokémon.

For those unlucky enough to have not experienced the original Pokémon Snap, the premise is simple enough. The only Pokémon capturing here is within celluloid only. No Pokéballs on hand, though there are some different orbs to toss later on! The Poké Paparazzo is given a 360" field of view within his very own touring machine, from within which he aims to capture the most dynamic poses and monumental moments of these amazing creatures in their natural habitats.

There are 23 different tracks to explore, running the gambit across every type of biome. Starting out in verdant, flower-filled fields where the Deerling and the Buffolant play. Moving to dense and foggy jungles, where Pokémon can be glimpsed darting through the mist. As the stages move on, things heat up on an island where arid dunes see Lycanrocs howl into the air, and Skorupi burrow into the sands. Things get hotter still beneath the molten flows of a volcano, where Slugma pop from lava flows, and Monferno bounce between rampaging Tyrantrums. Counterpoint to this are the frigid wastelands of icy that see Spheal rolling down the slopes, and Snorunts shivering together. There are even areas of beach, reef, and deep under the sea for all the water lover types out there. The original Pokémon Snap hosted only 63 Pokémon, but since it was released in 1999, it only had the original 151 to pull from. 22 years later, the catalogue has grown exponentially. Now, there are 214 different Pokémon to find in these varied lands.

Screenshot for New Pokémon Snap on Nintendo Switch

There are plenty of Pokémon to shoot, and it is worth taking many pictures of each. Each photo is given a star ranking based on what the Pokémon is actually doing at the time. A simple photograph of a Pokémon just chilling or wandering around will be just a one-star. Catching its attention and triggering some sort of reaction, a two-star. Getting it to do something interesting, or catching it in the act of doing something such as diving into a lake, or roaring in anger at the shutterbug. Finally, there are four-star scenes to immortalise, each of these require special events to be triggered. A family of Lapras bursting into song. Squirtle falling into a whirlpool vortex. Big moments.

To assist in crafting the perfect scenes, there's more than just the camera equipment on hand. First up, there's "Fluffruit", a doppelganger of an apple and seemingly with identical properties. Fluffruit can be used to attract the attention of the Pokémon. By throwing nicely near them to the target, attracting them to a specific spot, then snap away while they munch on down… or not so nicely. Rebounding the fruit off the side of its head, enraging it and making for furious photo ops. Later, a device to play music is unlocked, to inspire dancing or… to wake sleeping Pokémon and enrage those too! The main item though, comes in the form of the Ilumina orbs.

The story of searching out the Ilumina Pokémon leads to the revelation that special crystals are scattered through the Lental region, and when they interact with Pokémon they can trigger different behaviours and illuminating glows. The main story is dedicated to tracking the six Illumina Pokémon across the many stages, and uncovering what links them all together. As Professor Mirror delves into the history of these fabled Pokémon and the science behind their powers, he develops a throwable portable version of the phenomenon. Throwing these at Pokémon can trigger big reactions in the target. It can cause Bellossom to burst into dance, cause Alolan Raichu to suddenly spin out some breakdancing moves mid surf or a Wailord to surface and spout a jet of water from its blowhole.

Screenshot for New Pokémon Snap on Nintendo Switch

These extra pieces of equipment are key, but the core piece of equipment is, of course, the camera. This is reloaded with a film of 72 shots for each run. Upon finishing the stage, the 72 photographs are gathered up and presented to Professor Mirror. It turns out, he is something of an art critic, and occasionally, quite the harsh one! Each photo is given a score based on key factors of the photograph. During this evaluation, points are allocated for the categories of pose, size, direction, placement, any other Pokémon in the photo, and the background behind the Pokémon. Adding all these scores together establishes a rank for each photo, that ranking being bronze, silver, gold, or platinum.

This scoring is also used to unlock new areas to explore. Adding together the scores of all of the Pokémon within a stage gives that stage's Expedition Ranking. Reaching a high enough Expedition Ranking on a stage unlocks a new level for that stage, and with each new level comes new photo ops. New levels see the Pokémon in different places compared to where they've previously been seen, now doing new things. A perfect example is the very first stage, Florio Nature Park. The first time through the park, a Grookey and Pichu are playing together, but when they spot the camera, they scarper, sprinting away out of sight and into the long grass. They reappear here and there but are quick to vanish when spotted. When the stage reaches level two, they're less wary. Playing together while in sight, but it's with level three that things really change. They're used to the sound of the shutter, they even run towards the Neo-One, waving and dancing. All of the stages have these neat little features of showing subtle change, and not just upon the level-up. Little things can change between trips that make it rewarding to play again and again.

Screenshot for New Pokémon Snap on Nintendo Switch

That's the best thing about this, the changes in the world keep things interesting on subsequent playthroughs, and, there will be many, many playthroughs. The main story itself clocks in at around ten hours, but this has a lifespan considerably longer. There are 214 Pokémon, each with four different types of photos, and each of those can be anything from bronze to platinum. It takes a ton of attempts to figure out all four classes of photo for each, especially when it comes to the highly coveted four-star. Thankfully, the game gives a system of hints for tracking these down in the form of requests. The supporting cast asks for photos of Pokémon with a clue as to what behaviour will result in a four-star shot. "Did you know Ducklett can fly? They're pretty tiny, so be careful not to miss your photo op!". "Audino loves to dance. If you want to catch one dancing on camera, your best chance is probably when it's outside."

The requests aren't the only thing to work through and tick off either, there are also "Research Titles". These are like achievements, for example, "Pokémon Feeder" title is unlocked by feeding Pokémon 100 times. The "Best Show Collection" title is granted for obtaining more than 4,000 points in evaluations more than 50 times. Further expanding the life of the game for the completionists out there. Completing levels and accomplishments unlock little extras, a big part of these being elements for customising photos. Stickers and frames to take the best photos and turn them into masterpieces, or memes, depending on the artistic flair. These creations can then be shared online, with other players able to give medals for the best out there, and there are already plenty of inspiring creations.

Despite coming from a third party instead of from the Pokémon Company, Bandai Namco have completely captured the spirit of Pokémon. Giving personality to each monster in every aspect, each little unique way of moving, each little quirk and behaviour, how they interact with each other. It's just absolutely charming. Bandai Namco manage to deliver a world of Pokémon that is the best to date, as good as Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield looked, it's hard not to wish they looked like this!

Screenshot for New Pokémon Snap on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

It's the absolute perfect time for this game. Not only because Pokémon is just settling into a new renaissance and resurgence of interest not seen since the 90s, but also because of the state of the world. Games that encapsulate escapism and the ability to just chill are desperately needed. It's part of the reason Animal Crossing exploded like it did. New Pokémon Snap is enjoyable in the exact same way. A game to lose yourself in. A game to play on rainy Sundays. To play late at night. To unwind and to decompress. Best of all, it's the perfect way to reconnect with the franchise in honour of the 25th anniversary. So, settle in, sleeve those new Shining Fates, throw on season two of Pokémon Journeys and get snapping.

Developer

Bandai Namco

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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