The Nintendo 64’s Pokemon Snap has held a special place in my heart for over 20 years, partially because there’s nothing else quite like it in the Pokemon franchise. Pokemon Snap has nothing to do with catching or battling with Pokemon, and humans aren’t at the heart of its story. Instead, Snap has always been about the joy of discovery and uncovering the secrets of the Pokemon world without interfering with it. Its long-lasting charm has stemmed in part from emulating one of the greatest joys of photography: witnessing and capturing moments it felt like you weren’t supposed to see, like a group of Charmander performing a synchronized dance inside a volcano. 20 years later, that same charm and mystique is present in New Pokemon Snap on Nintendo Switch. With even more courses and Pokemon to discover, New Pokemon Snap is a brand-new adventure that’s absolutely delightful to embark on, incorporating newer generations of Pokemon and stunning environments that feel truly alive.
Like the first game, New Pokemon Snap opens with you, a budding photographer, joining up with a Pokemon professor to snap some photos for his research. The mystery at the heart of the game is quickly introduced–Professor Mirror is investigating a strange Illumina phenomenon that’s causing some Pokemon in the Lental region to glow, and you’re here to catch it in action and discover its source. This sets up an overarching story–something that wasn’t present in the first game–that slowly unfolds as you explore each island. The story itself isn’t particularly deep and feels somewhat half-baked, but having the narrative reasons for continuing to explore each island does help progression feel natural and well-paced. Charming voice-acted cutscenes with Professor Mirror and the research team help draw you in and add to the overall presentation.
What you’re really here for, though, are the new courses, which you explore in a pod-like vehicle known as the NEO-ONE. These take you through all sorts of natural Pokemon environments, from thick jungles to vast deserts and underwater caverns. Though some of them are thematically similar to courses that were present in the 1999 game, such as the beach level, New Pokemon Snap also takes you to brand-new environments. These feature a mix of Pokemon from all eight generations existing in their natural habitats. Each environment is full of life, with something happening in nearly every direction you look–it’s almost a sensory overload the first time you load up a course. The thrill of discovery is still at the heart of its gameplay–that incredible feeling of spotting your favorite Pokemon out of the blue and snapping about 20 quickfire shots of it that all turn out terrible because you were just so excited and weren’t ready for it. Whether you’re photographing a Pokemon that burst out in front of you or zooming in to take a shot of one that’s hidden in the distance, the sense of wonder and constant anticipation of what you’ll see next in New Pokemon Snap is exhilarating.
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Source: Game Spot Mashup