Review: Reinvigorating the Classic Experience of Photographing Pokémon

New Pokémon Snap allows players to unwind on a tranquil, if sluggish journey to snap photos of hundreds of Pokémon on Nintendo Switch systems

After 22 years, Nintendo finally sees a revitalized sequel to the fan favorite gem of the N64, Pokémon Snap, in New Pokémon Snap. The game, released April 30, allows players to explore the Lental Region as a photographer, snapping photos of the wildlife in the diverse biomes: ranging from dense jungles to under the sea.

The player character arrives on the Lental archipelago to assist and work with Professor Mirror, Rita, Phil and veteran photographer Todd Snap–gathering data on Pokémon in the area, as well as investigating a glowing phenomenon known as illumina Pokemon. 

As players progress through the game, they unlock access to a variety of locations where they travel on a preset path to photograph the various Pokémon. It is as easy as moving the joystick to move the camera and then pressing the “A” button to snap a photo. 

This ease is a key benefit to the game. 

“I like easy to play games because it’s nice to just turn off my mind and do some easy or relaxing tasks – I do tend to lose interest faster though after the initial period where I’m latched onto it for a few hours,” junior Allison Ho said.

However, after finishing each level, Professor Mirror will score the players’ photos based on its composition and quality, incentivising engagement with the game’s photographing gimmick.

There is an infinite amount of replay value in getting unique shots of all the various Pokémon reacting with one another in their natural environments. Whether it is a cute Pichu happily scurrying in the prairie grass, a Magikarp flailing around in the water or Taillow birds zipping through the skies, developers Bandai Namco put all their heart into making the Pokémon feel alive. 

Appropriate photos can even be edited in a kid-friendly editor and uploaded to the internet to share experiences in the wonderful world of Pokémon.

While running the chance of over simplicity, New Pokémon Snap is endearing in its lighthearted tone and charming world. The graphics pop in a vibrant array of colors on the Switch; although it is unimpressive compared to the clear, intric details seen in games for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Nevertheless, it is a large improvement over the graphics of recent Pokémon titles.  

Unfortunately, while the game’s basic design approach works well, its repetitive nature is irritating and occasionally frustrating. There are only 11 courses in total to explore – each set with day, night and illumina expeditions – and the process of unlocking them is painfully gradual. 

When it felt like it was ready to move on to a different location or course in the game, players would instead have to continue to traverse the same stages several more times before being allowed to see something new. And with the New Pokémon Snap’s linear progression, this becomes a little exhausting. 

Allowing more freedom and number of levels in the game would have allowed more intuitive approaches and engagement with its world. 

This also leads to an issue with the price point, which is at $60, when it really should be lower. New Pokémon Snap is accessible in its construction, but not in its price. 

The game is not as strikingly memorable as anything in the mainline entries, such as Pokémon Black and White or even the more recent Pokémon Sword and Shield games. Unlike those games, there are no new Pokémon, and the human characters feature superficial personalities with an inconsistency between dry dialogue and well-spoken voice acting. 

The music, while embodying an adventurous mood and fitting the game’s overall aesthetic, still lacks the strong melody to make it iconic. 

New Pokémon Snap still achieves a bright and delightful world filled to the brim with smooth animation, exquisite Pokémon interactions and well-designed photographing basis for the game. Before you know it, the album will be filled with thousands of goofy and gratifying shots of all the Pokémon to see.