Game Review: New Pokémon Snap (Nintendo Switch)

Those of us who loved our N64s with all our hearts have been waiting for this for some time. A follow-up to the beloved Pokémon Snap, released way back in 1999. Called New Pokémon Snap and released on the Nintendo Switch, it’s time to take off the nostalgia goggles, ready the camera and take some pictures of Pokémon!

The game begins with you choosing a premade character who will be your silent avatar throughout. Your character has just arrived in the Lental region and meets Professor Mirror who is researching a phenomenon surrounding Illumina. Along with his assistant Rita and now, you.

Professor Mirror needs you to get out there, explore the islands of the Lental region and take pictures of Pokémon and the phenomenon. How are they linked? How does it relate to the arrival of an asteroid hundreds of years before and just what are Illumina Pokémon? More importantly, will you be able to find them and take a picture?

If you’re entering this game a seasoned Pokémon Snap player then you might be surprised by just how unchanged gameplay is. The goal is exactly the same; take the best pictures possible across numerous courses as you move on the rails through them. From a park to the jungle to the beach to icy mountains and underwater caves, there are a wealth of locations to explore. Along with a ton of Pokémon to see and take pictures of.

In fact, there are so many Pokémon doing so many different things that replaying levels is a necessity to fill your Photodex. This might sound repetitive, and it is to a degree, but to vary things up each course has research levels. As these increase and change, different Pokémon appear and their behaviours change offering up brand-new opportunities. That’s even before you take into account that many levels have different routes, and both day and night courses. Even after multiple trips through a course, you’ll likely only have seen half of what it offers.

It’s not just about taking the pictures though, it’s about the quality of those pictures. Something that is judged once you finish the course. Find you’ve taken 20 pictures of Pikachu on a course? You’ll be asked to select the best one for submission. Do that for all the Pokémon pictures you have and Professor Mirror will rate them.

There are six factors and most of them are pretty obvious. Things like the direction of the Pokémon, after all, if it has its back to you, your score is going to be lower. Or if the Pokémon is centred in the middle of your picture. It sounds easy enough but a lot of these Pokémon aren’t playing ball and are happy to make your would-be perfect picture lack as they change direction suddenly.

Once the Professor has rated your picture, it will be awarded with a rating from either bronze, silver, gold and diamond. Of course, the goal is to get diamonds across the board but it’s not the only challenge as each Pokémon has four picture spaces in your Photodex. One for each star rating that you can earn. How do you earn different stars? By observing and taking pictures when Pokémon do something specific. Finding out what that is all part of the fun, although you can encourage it.

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As the game goes on, you are given more and more tools to help you get the best Pokémon pictures possible. Tools such as the ability to throw Fluffruit at Pokémon, not just to annoy them but you might be surprised by the pictures you can get if you do. Tools such a melody player that encourages some Pokémon to dance when they hear it. Or tools like Illumina orbs which are essential to really seeing just how different Pokémon behave.

Hit a Pokémon directly with one and things might happen or hit a nearby Crystabloom and watch in awe. Not too long though or you’ll miss a chance to snap some spectacular pictures. Of course, these and the other unlocks aren’t going to be enough for you to take perfect pictures all the time. That is down to practice and learning the courses.

With a lot of courses to complete, way more than the original game, that might have been enough to sell New Pokémon Snap. However, there is more to keep players coming back time and time again. These are the requests given to you by the other characters in the game. Requests to take certain pictures of certain Pokémon doing certain things. A welcome addition, you’re given a hint of what you need to do but finding out just what it is, is where the fun is.

There’s so much more to New Pokémon Snap then just taking pictures of Pokémon and it really adds a ton of longevity to the game.

That being said, it has got a limited lifespan as once you’ve run through the courses multiple times, finished the barebones story and taken as many great pictures as you can be bothered with, the game will likely start to gather dust. Being able edit your pictures and share them online likely doesn’t have the long-lasting appeal that Nintendo might hope it will.

Still, it is a worthy successor to a classic Pokémon game and will deliver hours and hours of fun. Its charming and relaxing gameplay has wide appeal with both new and seasoned Pokémon players.




New Pokémon Snap
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