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Pokemon Snap hasn’t changed in 20 years. This is a great thing

New Pokemon Snap


New Pokemon Snap is the long-awaited sequel to the cult classic N64 and although it is 22 years old, 7 generations and approximately 750 new Pokemon since the release of the original, the basics of the game have not changed much. You are still inside a capsule vehicle traveling on a fixed path, yours photos are still being evaluated by a professor and, most importantly, still manages.

Like many gamers who flocked to buy the New Pokemon Snap on Friday, I released the original N64. My heart was excited by the New Pokemon Snap, but my brain was tired. I had it all wrong. New Pokemon Snap is an invigorating vacation for your brain that works because it̵

7;s so full of heart. Can I remind you of something?

Although it’s a sequel, New Pokemon Snap reminded me of a completely different game: Animal crossing: New horizons. Like Animal Crossing, the appeal of the New Pokemon Snap cannot be explained in words alone. Like crossing animals, the New Pokemon Snap is more satisfying than it should be. Like Crossing Animal, New Pokemon Snap is simple OK.

Since its announcement last June, the New Pokemon Snap has been the subject of horror among Pokemon fans. In 2021, the concept of Pokemon Snap, viable as a full-price game in 1999, seems more appropriate as a free iOS / Android title. How would Namco Bandai developers prepare the game enough to feel significant without stretching the concept?

Watching Pokemon eat, sleep and play (or fight) is one of the constant pleasures of the New Pokemon Snap.

Pokemon company

Break them all

New Pokemon Snap is not a complicated game.

The movement of your vehicle is fixed, so your only job is to look around and take pictures. In the beginning, Professor Mirror – as there is always a Pokemon professor – gives you Photodex, which you will complete by taking pictures of Pokemon. Mirror will rate your photos at the end of each level, giving you points based on factors such as how big the Pokemon is and how centrally focused it is.

The Photodex categorizes the photos on a four-star scale. Each star represents a different action: Picture of Pikachu sitting quietly, he could be a star, eating fruit could be two stars, thundering three stars, playing with a Pokemon friend four stars. Different actions, different star rankings. To do this, you are given various tools – a fruit toss, a light bulb, a scanner and a music box – to capture Pokemon in different actions and from different angles.

This whole scam is just a pretext to make you pay attention to the details. And most of all, it works well: Playing the same levels in search of different angles on the same Pokemon or trying to provoke different reactions has an addictive quality.

The star rating divides the different actions into different categories – it is performed on a one-star photo, listens on a two-star photo and so on. To complete Photodex, you must capture all Pokemon in four different states.


Photodex for Grookey in New Pokemon Snap

Sometimes the difference can feel arbitrary. All four photos of Grookey are similar, but all were classified differently by the algorithm.


This brings us to the real MVP of New Pokemon Snap: level design. It’s fantastic. Each stage is an intricately designed decor. Not only is the game often beautiful, it is also effective for directing your attention. Large, irresistible Pokemon keep your eyes peeled from one area to another, but the screen is often filled with many moments worth capturing. On your third or fourth level pass, you’ll find that this same Pokemon you’ve seen the first few times is just a diversion, and that an even better shot is on the side or behind you all the time.

To keep the gameplay fresh, the level design is often changed. All the points that Professor Mirror gives you for taking photos are counted for leveling at each stage and each new level up brings new elements. This could be a new Pokemon, the same Pokemon is behaving differently, or slightly different routes open. These changes sound small, but like changing the pieces in the same set of puzzles, they drastically change the strategy.

It’s not flawless. The systems do not work perfectly, especially the algorithms that determine the points and star categories. Star rankings are specific to each Pokémon, so I often found out what it would be like to have two stars for one species, to be ranked differently for another. What’s more, I would take several pictures of the same Pokemon in a second or two, only to find that almost identical pictures would fall into different star categories. Meanwhile, the dot system gives priority to the size of the Pokemon in the frame. This results in more points for boring close-ups than for fun shots taken from a short distance: Sometimes it feels like your creativity is stifled by the man “Professor Mirror, in this case.” But these are technical imperfections that cause minor annoyances, not major disappointments.

The design of the game level is exceptional. Great, impressive Pokemon steal your attention, but shooting moments are everywhere.


Daily escape

There are two types of Pokemon fans: Those who play religiously each major title, and those who only remember the original 151. Those from the former group probably already have plans to play New Pokemon Snap this weekend, but fewer hardcore fans shouldn’t write off the new Pokemon Snap.

Make no mistake, the game is basically a fan service. Have a satisfying dream quality to see your favorite Pokemon eat, sleep and just in general vibration in the idyllic worlds within the New Pokemon Snap. But you don’t have to be able to list all 893 Pokemon to enjoy it. In fact, you don’t even have to play a Pokemon game to enjoy it. New Pokemon Snap is like safari adventure, an escape in which you can immerse yourself for 20 minutes at a time.

But while you may enjoy the bites, I was probably most surprised at how important the New Pokemon Snap is. Thanks to Pokemon’s exceptional level design and immersive shooting, Namco Bandai managed to make the New Pokemon Snap charming for the ten-hour length of the main story. Even better, after seeing the credits, I have the feeling that I have clicked only a small part of everything that has to be clicked. In the era of 50-hour open-world RPGs, this shows that more is not always more.

New Pokemon Snap is a relaxing game for photographing anime creatures. It’s not epic and it doesn’t try to be a remarkable moment in the games, but it makes you smile. Last year, Animal Crossing proved that it could be more than enough.

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