It’s been 22 long years since we last strapped into the NEO-ONE, but aspiring photographers have finally been given a New Pokemon Snap game. The game with a simple premise of taking pictures of various Pokemon became a beloved fan favorite in the franchise and was given a well-deserved revamp, what with the 22-year difference and hundreds of new Pokemon added. New Pokemon Snap is definitely a comfortably familiar experience, but that doesn’t mean you should expect more of the same. Let’s dive right into the differences that 22 years can make.
First off, New Pokemon Snap has the advantage of being crammed full of Pokemon: When the original dropped, there were only 151 Pokemon, and not all of them appeared in the game. With so many Pokemon now, each stage is so overly packed with a wide variety of Pokemon; players need to play each stage over and over again just to see them all, let alone get 4-star pictures. This is another significant difference: New Pokemon Snap asks players to get four varying levels of quality (1-4 stars) of pictures for each Pokemon, whereas the original only asked you to have one. This adds an extra element of replayability as you try to get more interesting and exciting shots across every stage, but can get tiring at times trying to get a photo for each level of each Pokemon (1-star photos tend to be boring to capture).
Speaking of the rating system, in the original, Professor Oak would fail a picture for something as simple as not seeing a Pokemon's face. His criteria required a certain level of finesse and perfection, making you strive to perfect the minute details for every last point you could earn. Professor Mirror, however, is far more forgiving and understanding. He will accept any picture with a Pokemon, regardless if you can see its face or even if it is incredibly far away. It feels like New Pokemon Snap puts more of an emphasis on “catching them all” than high-quality photos.
One of the best parts of the original Pokemon Snap was the items, testing them out on each Pokemon to see how they interact or react to them, resulting in new creative pictures. In the original we had Pokemon Food, while New Pokemon Snap has Fluffruit. These both function the same as treats and lures to make Pokemon happy, friendly, or just bring them closer to you for a better shot. Fluffruit in New Pokemon Snap feels a bit lighter, meaning when thrown it takes longer to get to the Pokemon, which can make shots a bit tougher to line up while moving on rails.
Another item that was heavily used was the Pesterball in the original game, which was more of a “negative reinforcement” or “pestering” option, often leaving a gross smell and making Pokemon angry or knocking them out. This has been removed and switched to the Illumina Orb, which is a more friendly option, making a Pokemon glow with the possibility of having different effects. The only thing the Illumia Orb does not do is create the angry or knocked out reactions that the Pesterball did. And finally, the Poke Flute and Melody player which are essentially the same item. When played, this will cause a sleeping Pokemon to awaken. The original Poke Flute offered a few different tunes you could cycle through with varying styles and tones, offering a variety of songs to listen to as you make Pokemon dance and have fun. The Melody Player, however, only plays one tune, and as you are testing it out to see what reactions you’ll get, it can be pretty annoying to hear the same thing over and over again.
A game focused around photography, it is essential to have a working camera with a control scheme that flows. With New Pokemon Snap being on the Nintendo Switch, it has the advantage of leveraging the dual joysticks that it offers. The original on the Nintendo 64, however, had only one joystick. This results in the New Pokemon Snap allowing for a much more targeted approach to taking pictures with better framing options. As long as the reticle—which has a lot of free-roaming space on screen—has focused on the Pokemon, the frame of the shot can have its own diversity, creating some truly beautiful images if you have the patience. In addition, the original game had only a handful of stages whereas the new one has significantly more options with night-and-day cycles, as well as multiple levels of Pokemon interaction the more you play, meaning more opportunity for new and varied shots.
New Pokemon Snap not only has more stages and Pokemon, but it also has new features including Scan Mode. This mode gives players the ability to manipulate the path that is traveled and to scan areas or Pokemon for clues as to where they might be hiding or how to get better shots. The best part? The signal it gives off will also get a reaction from certain Pokemon, resulting in some excellent pictures.
If you are familiar with the original or are new to Pokemon Snap, both games allow players to experience the world of Pokemon from a new lens. New Pokemon Snap is not just a sequel with new graphics and Pokemon; it plays like a love letter to the original game. It took all of the strengths which made it so special and improved on them. New Pokemon Snap is just that, a new Pokemon Snap game with new Pokemon, new items, and new features, while maintaining the same concept that captured audiences 20 years ago. Playing the role of a photographer can be difficult, but with items and practice, you will get that 4-star picture that you are after.