New Pokémon Snap is an on-rails adventure/photography game that lets players ride through a variety of biomes in a specialized hovercraft vehicle and take pictures of Pokémon.
Yep! It’s as simple as that.
Some 22 years ago, the first Pokémon Snap game was released for the Nintendo 64. And this long-in-coming sequel now lends all of its current Nintendo Switch CGI prowess to creating a much, uh, evolved experience with hundreds of Pokémon in their natural environments.
The story casts you as a youthful assistant who volunteers to help out a Pokémon researcher named Professor Mirror. It seems that he’s been putting long hours into studying these “pocket monsters” in the Lental region because something there in that natural habitat is causing a very strange phenomena: the pocket monsters are beginning to glow. It’s your job to not only take a domed hovercraft and travel throughout a variety of islands—that feature jungles, deserts and beaches—but to also photograph the Pokémon and their ecosystems and uncover the secrets behind this mysterious “Illumina.”
The core goal is to take photos of the hundreds of Pokémon and fill up a Photodex for Professor Mirror. You use a series of lures, such as fruit and dance-worthy music, to get the best pics. And then you’re given star ratings based on the quality and composition of the photo. As you snap higher-quality and rarer photos, you also earn Expedition Points that go toward improving the Research Level of each area in the Lental region.
These elevated research levels open up more spots to explore in that area as well as making some of the Poké a bit more ready to come out to greet you and play.
New Pokémon Snap is a straightforward experience focused primarily on enjoying the leisurely pace; the lush, colorful surroundings; and the quirky personalities and actions of the Pokémon themselves.
This is an adventure designed purely for fans and younger gamers who enjoy the zoo-like experience of watching, photographing and sharing pics of scores and scores of cute creatures that romp and chomp on bits of fruit. Collected photos can be shared with friends online and printed out as vividly colored hardcopy shots.
Players don’t capture or send any Pokémon into battle here. So, there’s no violence of any stripe in this Pokémon mix.
Probably the biggest drawback to the game is not so much its content as the fact that the games photo-rating system can sometimes feel rather arbitrary. You may think you’ve taken a perfectly framed pic of your favorite Pikachu dancing and nibbling on a piece of fruit and still end up with a low star grade.
Quite frankly, a player’s enjoyment of this game will come down to their expectations of it. Fans of the original Snap game will find it nostalgic and lush. And people who simply adore the quirky and unique critters will find this title to be a relaxing, involving stroll through all things Poké. For those who don’t mind a bit of repetition for the sake of charm and cuteness, then, New Pokémon Snap is lovely. The charm may be lost, however, on those yearning for a more competitive side of the Pokémon experience.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.