Written by: Joe Lollo; student reporter
Nintendo’s latest Pokémon game captures the magic of the fleeting moment. The sequel to Pokémon Snap, a beloved Nintendo 64 game released in 1999, New Pokémon Snap expands dramatically on that now-quaint photojournalist adventure. Players snap digital photos of hundreds of Pokémon, save their pics to their Nintendo Switch, and share them with other Pokémon fans online.
The game blends the excitement of going on a safari, like in Planet Earth or Subnautica, with the safety and fun of a Disneyland game. Players can comfortably photograph – and even catch – Pokémon creatures in the wild, without the fear of being attacked. The challenge lies in capturing the best moments on your journey.
Each leg of your trip offers its own unique sights and thrills. Players start off in an area known as Floria Nature Park, where Pokémon like Pikachu, Bidoof, and Generation 8’s Starter Pokémon Grookey, Scorbunny, and Sobble frolic. Taking photos of each helps complete the Pokédex, each game’s in-game catalog of Pokémon and their behaviors. Capturing specific moments (e.g., Bidoof building a dam, Scorbunny showing off with a Blaze Kick) is key to success. As players progress, they’ll spot new Pokémon, see new behaviors, and unlock new areas: jungles, deserts, reefs, mountains, and more.
This all takes place in a new region of the Pokémon world: Lental, an archipelago with a surprising variety of biomes, from white sand beaches to foggy forests to an active volcano. In Lental, under the direction of Pokémon researcher and historian Professor Mirror, players study the region’s indigenous creatures and a local phenomenon known as Illumina. Basically, the local Pokémon glow, and Mirror doesn’t know why. To better understand those special Pokémon and unravel a light mystery, players set off on a photo safari in a hovercraft known as the Neo-One. Equipped with a camera and tools to attract wild creatures, including delicious berries, Poké Balls to capture Pokémon for later, and a melodic whistle, players snap photos of Pokémon in the wild to supplement the professor’s research. The better the photo, the more points you’ll score from Mirror when he reviews your work.
What makes a good photograph is, for the most part, obvious. Professor Mirror wants big, clear images of Pokémon centered in the frame. If they’re doing something special, even better. If other Pokémon are also in frame, better still. But scoring in New Pokémon Snap can sometimes feel inconsistent; you may show a lovely looking photo to the professor, only to have him rate it one star (out of four). Meanwhile, an unquestionably lousy photo can earn a four-star rating. Trying to crack the game’s algorithm can be perplexing, and a bit frustrating.
If a particular photo doesn’t turn out quite the way you’d hope, you can tweak it after the shutter snaps, like you would on your smartphone. The professor won’t re-review those edited pics, but your Pokémon snaps can be cropped, tilted, filtered, and decorated for sharing on social media or in the game’s online bulletin boards. This is Pokémon Snap for the Instagram and Snapchat generation.
And this is where the magic of New Pokémon Snap lies: watching Pokémon behave like wild creatures. That can be witnessing something grand, like a giant Wailord breaching, or something mundane, like a Pidgey building a nest. And, of course, it’s capturing those moments on film. New Pokémon Snap is the video game equivalent of visiting Jurassic Park without the whole eating tourists thing. It’s an immersive journey in the natural world of Pokémon, all from the comfort of your Nintendo Switch.