During my time with the N64 I went through a brief attempt of getting into the phenomenon known as Pokémon. I played the versions that appeared on the Gameboy Colour & liked them but they didn’t make me fan…either did Pokémon Snap but I enjoyed it a hell of a lot more!
Pokémon Snap puts you in control of a photographer tasked with the documentation of Pokémon Island’s Pokémon who live in peace amongst the different climates & geographical locations. The game plays out in the 1st person & on the rails meaning there is no free exploration of each location. Instead the player is tasked with just taking photos of the various Pokémon throughout.
There is a maximum of 60 pictures allowed to take per level run where at the end the player can select the best. The selected ones will be graded & added to a Pokémon report. This is where the games replay-ability comes into it.
Scoring is based on a number of factors:
• Pokémon size.
• Pokémon pose.
• Keeping the Pokémon in the frame.
• Any special pose that the Pokémon does.
• Multiples of Pokémon.
As the game progresses the player will receive additional items to help get photos of harder to find Pokémon as well as force transformations & more varied behaviour. For example Poke-fruit can be used to lure Pokémon from hiding or stun them by hitting them with it while the flute will make some Pokémon dance.
There are 7 levels:
Beach, Tunnel, Volcano, River, Cave, Valley & Rainbow Cloud. They are of varied length but require multiple plays once new items have been unlocked.
Pokémon Snap manages to make the Pokémon world come alive as never seen before. Even on the rails the levels seem so vibrant & you are too often busy snapping away to notice action that is taking place behind & above you as well! However on multiple runs through a level it becomes increasingly obvious just how few different Pokémon are present. Even with new items the levels don’t drastically change & often it will be all about trying to marginally improve small mistakes. This quickly becomes boring…
I can’t help but wonder why it had to be on the rails…I mean surely limited freedom could have worked in some levels? It would have added a new way to approach levels especially if it was an unlockable extra way further down the line. As it stands the last unlock is a speed boost for your vehicle. It’s not exactly a game-changing moment…
Visually the game is pretty & the contrast in level design is good. Pokémon look pretty good & it does feel like we are disturbing their natural habitats rather than them just waiting for us to show up so they can pose.
Fun for a day or 2…once the lay of levels is learned the lack of variety in Pokémon stands out. Replay-ability comes from the scoring of pictures which is done well but the disappointing unlocks fail to offer up enough reasons to keep going back.