‘New Pokémon Snap’ review: a wonderfully charming outing let down by gruelling grind (2024)

For many ageing millennials, the mere mention of Pokémon Snap is enough to send eyes glazing over with warm, fuzzy nostalgia. Released in 1999, the N64’s camera-led curio struck a chord with ’90s kids by offering a rare glimpse of our beloved Pokémon as living, breathing 3D creations. Or so I’m told, anyway. As a PlayStation 1-owning 10-year-old, I was gleefully smashing crates as a colourful bandicoot, not guffawing at pictures of Pikachu. Now, 22 years later, the AWOL Pokémon Snap has been revived for Nintendo Switch – and I finally get to see what all the fuss is about.

With Pokémon now raking in more cash than Star Wars – and Instagram having raised a whole generation – it’s easy to see why Snap is back. But with New Pokémon Snap hits hitting shelves alongside Returnal, Bravely Default II and Resident Evil Village, is there really enough game here to justify the hefty £40 price tag?

Picking up where its predecessor left off, the creatively named New Pokémon Snap tasks players with photographing over 200 different ’Mon across the all-new Lental region. If you’re one of the aforementioned misty-eyed Snap stans, by all accounts New Pokémon Snap does exactly what its name suggests. Packed with Pokémon spanning nine different generations, boasting detailed graphics, and touting online features, this unlikely sequel offers what you’d expect from a modern revival. For those Pokémon fans with little affinity for the 1999 camera-led curio, however, New Pokémon Snap’s charming but shallow world might be a harder sell.

‘New Pokémon Snap’ review: a wonderfully charming outing let down by gruelling grind (1)

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Abandoning Pokémon games’ usual trainers and gym battles, New Pokémon Snap sensibly trains its lens on the Pokémon themselves. Swapping Gamefreak’s usual free-roaming RPG shenanigans for an on-rails, Attenborough-esque adventure, this safari sim shifts the charming creatures’ personalities to the forefront. It’s a smart choice that fits in with The Pokémon Company’s newfound tact of bringing us closer to these colorful creations than ever before. Still, this is a Pokémon game after all – so between gawking at Torchics and lobbing apples at Magikarp, prepare to endure a few annoyingly upbeat anime ‘pals’.

While far from a story-driven epic, there’s a basic narrative thread tying New Pokémon Snap’s Kodak moments together. Put in the shoes of an excitable young photographer working with local Pokémon expert Professor Mirror, you’re tasked with documenting the behaviour of the Lental Region’s many ’Mon.

Somewhat predictably then, the best thing Snap’s resurrection has going for it is just how stunning its HD Pokémon look. Taking its cues from the light gun shooters of old, this first person camera-clicker sees you documenting the wild Pokémon’s activities as you speed around on a hovering Neo-one safari craft. With no onscreen avatar to render or big maps to load, it feels as though every ounce of the Switch’s processing power has gone into rendering these beloved creatures.

For arguably the first time in a Pokémon game, Gamefreak’s beloved creations are teeming with personality. Caterpies scuttle through the undergrowth. Water coats your lens as a screen-filling Wailord emerges from the ocean. Scorbunnies hop around with a mischievous bounce. And Wobbuffetts… well, wobber.

If you’re the type of person who’s poured hundreds of hours into a Pokémon adventure or find yourself rewatching the anime, there’s a level of personality and charm at play in New Pokémon Snap that will undoubtedly delight. But you’ll first have to endure the worst aspect of New Pokémon Snap: its gruelling grind.

‘New Pokémon Snap’ review: a wonderfully charming outing let down by gruelling grind (2)

Despite the soothing, accessible mechanics that define the ‘point-and-click’ New Pokémon Snap, there’s a classic XP chase at the game’s heart. As you progress through Lental, your photographic research is graded by the ever-enthusiastic Professor Mirror. The more dazzling the photos you take, the more points you receive. And with your cumulative scores ‘levelling up’ each biome, new Pokémon and interactions are revealed on each subsequent visit.

Once your works of art earn those prestigious four-star ratings and rack up scores, you’ll find yourself with a shiny new set of tools. While in the early game you’re merely trying to get a clear close-up of a wild Pokémon, the real points come when you manage to engineer some magical moments. Starting with just a camera, you soon unlock more tools in your photographic arsenal: from the ability to chuck apples at wild Pokémon, to attracting their attention with an incredibly irritating lullaby, to bathing them in a mystical glow with the Illuminate Stones.

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It’s these tools that transform once-dull locations into a land of exciting possibilities. The only problem is: in order to witness or engineer these awe-inspiring moments, you’ll have to replay these same bustling biomes. Once you take enough photos to suitably level up each location’s research level, you’ll then unlock a nighttime variant of the same course. Clear that, and you’ll unlock an entirely new area to shoot. Rinse and repeat.

The system completely destroys the game’s sense of flow, swapping discovery for a dull grind. Sure, new Pokémon sightings and encounters from each return trip mix things up, but this ultimately turns laid-back fun into a bit of a chore.

Persevere and you’ll be rewarded with documentary-esque moments of magic that truly make this game. Whether it’s the thrill of chancing upon a sleeping Onyx and rousing it out of its slumber or watching a ballsy Monferno terrorising a Tyranitor – these are what I wanted from Pokémon Snap. Stumbling upon these moments are akin to the feeling of awe and wonder you get from watching things play out in a nature documentary. It’s just a shame that these moments are too few and far between – and they largely don’t occur until you’ve sunk over 10 hours into New Pokémon Snap.

In other words, Nintendo’s latest is a bizarre collision of charm offensive and gruelling repetition. While diehard Pokémaniacs will undoubtedly get a thrill from coaxing a Sandshrew out of its shelter, New Pokémon Snap‘s meandering grind isn’t for everyone. It’s hard not to think that a shorter, more focused outing would have resulted in a far more exhilarating ride.

‘New Pokémon Snap’ is out now on Nintendo Switch.

The Verdict

New Pokémon Snap sees Pokémon at its most visually stunning, giving the titular creatures the level of animation and care that they deserve. For the first time in recent memory, the starring Pokémon feel less like interchangeable party members and more like living, breathing creatures. Yet sadly, a bafflingly arbitrary scoring system and entirely unnecessary XP grind quickly replace fanboy delight with empty repetition.

Pros

  • Pokémon are charming and gorgeously rendered
  • The few moments of magic are awe-inspiring
  • Pokémaniacs will find plenty to love

Cons

  • The grind is gruelling
  • Repetitive gameplay
  • The game only starts rewarding players after 10 hours of play

As an expert and enthusiast, I can provide information on various topics, including Pokémon Snap. I have access to a wide range of information sources and can provide detailed insights and answers to your questions. Let's dive into the concepts mentioned in the article you provided.

Pokémon Snap

Pokémon Snap is a video game that was originally released for the Nintendo 64 console in 1999. It offered a unique gameplay experience by focusing on photography rather than the traditional Pokémon battles and exploration found in other Pokémon games. In Pokémon Snap, players assume the role of a Pokémon photographer who travels through various environments to take pictures of Pokémon in their natural habitats. The goal is to capture the best possible photographs of different Pokémon species.

New Pokémon Snap

New Pokémon Snap is a sequel to the original Pokémon Snap game and was released for the Nintendo Switch console. It continues the concept of the original game, where players explore different environments and take photographs of Pokémon. New Pokémon Snap introduces an all-new region called Lental, which is home to over 200 different Pokémon species. The game features updated graphics, online features, and gameplay mechanics that aim to provide an immersive and visually stunning experience for players.

Gameplay and Features

New Pokémon Snap offers an on-rails gameplay experience, where players ride in a vehicle called the Neo-one and navigate through various environments. The goal is to observe and photograph Pokémon in their natural behaviors and interactions. The game incorporates elements of exploration, puzzle-solving, and photography. Players can use different tools and items to interact with the Pokémon and create unique photo opportunities. These tools include throwing apples to attract Pokémon, playing a lullaby to get their attention, and using Illuminate Stones to create special lighting effects.

Visuals and Pokémon Interactions

One of the highlights of New Pokémon Snap is its visually stunning graphics. The game takes advantage of the Nintendo Switch's processing power to render the Pokémon in high definition and bring them to life with detailed animations and behaviors. Players can witness Pokémon engaging in various activities, such as scuttling through the undergrowth, emerging from the ocean, or hopping around playfully. These interactions aim to provide a sense of personality and charm to the Pokémon, making them feel more like living creatures rather than just game characters.

Progression and Grind

New Pokémon Snap features a progression system where players earn points based on the quality of their photographs. By taking better pictures, players can level up each environment and unlock new Pokémon species and interactions. However, the game has been criticized for its grind-like nature, as players need to replay the same environments multiple times to unlock new content. This repetition can make the gameplay feel repetitive and turn what should be a laid-back and enjoyable experience into a chore.

Verdict

The article you provided mentions that New Pokémon Snap offers visually stunning Pokémon animations and moments of awe-inspiring magic. However, it also highlights the game's grueling grind and repetitive gameplay, which may not appeal to everyone. Diehard Pokémon fans and those who enjoy the photography aspect of the game may find plenty to love, but others may feel that a shorter and more focused experience would have been more enjoyable.

Please note that the information provided above is based on the content of the article you shared. If you have any specific questions or would like further information, feel free to ask!

‘New Pokémon Snap’ review: a wonderfully charming outing let down by gruelling grind (2024)

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