Before photo mode in video games, Pokemon Snap was Photo Mode: The Video Game. Putting you behind the camera of a professional pokemon photographer, your goal is to take candid snapshots of these creatures in order to help Professor Oak with his research. Decades later, this Nintendo 64 game still holds a special place in many players’ hearts.
With a sequel just months away from release, Steff and I finally took the time to complete Pokemon Snap once and for all. Is this cult-hit spin-off still picture perfect?
Traveling through eight different locales, you’ll ride along a set track with an eye on taking the best images of each pokemon. Since you’re traveling through their natural habitats, you get to see them living freely. Being able to see Snorlax sleeping in a field, Lapras out in the ocean, and Charizard bursting out of a volcano is a real treat, especially during a time when we only really saw them battling one another.
Getting pictures isn’t always as straightforward as point-and-shoot. Some pokemon need to be given food in order to get them in view. Some need to be pestered in order to wake them up. Some might even need a tune from the poke flute in order to get them to dance. On top of taking pictures, you’ll manage a few other items such as apples, pester balls, and the poke flute in order to get the best shots out of each creature.
Furthermore, you’ll have to trigger a few secret switches on key levels in order to progress. The answer to the first one is pretty obvious, though the others might take a bit more thinking to work out. The answer to the final one is a bit of a reach, but I prefer having these secrets in there rather than it being a straightforward photography game.
Even so, taking pictures is the best part. Being able to capture pokemon in more candid moments is such a treat. Back in the day, you could even export photos to your memory card and print the pictures at your local Blockbuster Video. At the end of each stage, Professor Oak will judge your photos. Though I don’t always agree with how he scores them, I at least understand that he likes the pokemon to be appear large in the photo, striking an interesting pose, and centered in the frame.
Where the game falters is that it’s an incredibly short experience. Even with the shoehorned-in backtracking missions that arise at the end, you can beat this game in under two hours. One could squeeze a bit more out of the game by trying to get perfect pictures for every pokemon, but the experience gets repetitive quickly as there’s only a few levels and the pokemon run through the same routines every time if left to their own devices.
Even in a time when photo modes are becoming a standard in modern games, there’s still a novelty and charm to Pokemon Snap. The combination of taking photos and light puzzle-solving is a joy to experience, even if the ride is incredibly short. With the new Pokemon Snap on the horizon, I’m excited to see how the experience evolves!
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