Pokemon Snap Review

Like a lot of people in the 90s I couldn’t get enough of Pokemon games. Unfortunately, I never had a Nintendo 64 until much later in life. Even more disappointing is the fact that I never played Pokemon Snap until now. Even if you don’t like Pokemon or maybe you just want something casual to play, then Pokemon Snap is the game for you.

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You play as a Todd Snap, a Pokemon photographer on an island filled with Pokemon and you must help Professor Oak with a report. He wants you to take pictures of any and all Pokemon you spot on the island. To help you, Professor Oak provides you with a motorized buggy that will automatically drive around the island, essentially making the game a rail shooter. The only difference here is instead of a gun, you have a camera. You aim the camera with the joystick, hold Z to zoom, and then press A to snap a picture. The controls are fantastic and work great. Eventually Professor Oak will provide you with items to help you to take better pictures and discover hidden Pokemon. Seeing how the Pokemon react to these items is one of the best parts of the game because after unlocking an item you’ll want to go back through previous courses and try them out to see what you missed. First you’ll get apples which you can throw at Pokemon to knock them down or around them to lure them to a certain course. You’ll eventually obtain pester balls which can be thrown at Pokemon for various affects. Throwing pester balls in specific areas can uncover a hidden Pokemon that was out of sight. When you’re given the Poke Flute you can play different tunes to see the Pokemon in rare poses. You even obtain an upgrade to make the buggy move faster. Since the Pokemon in each course initially do the same things and can be found in the same areas, I found the speed boost useful to boost past an area where a Pokemon may always walk, allowing me to take a picture of it from a different angle. The different items really allow you to be creative with your shots.

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There are seven courses total in the game all taking place on the island. You’ll navigate through a Beach, Cave, a River, and other diverse locations attempting to take pictures of a total of 62 Pokemon. Unfortunately, the developers did not include all 151 that were available at the time. In order to progress to a new course you must meet specific requirements like taking pictures of a certain amount of undiscovered Pokemon. Some courses are hidden and must be discovered by playing. There’s a lot to uncover and see in Pokemon Snap and taking the time to see everything can be time consuming but also addicting. It’s one of those games where I found myself saying “just another thirty minutes” but I ended up playing for another two hours. Not only does this game look great for the Nintendo 64, this was the first game players got to see Pokemon rendered in 3D. The Pokemon animate nicely and all look respectable.

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You can take a total of sixty pictures and if you run out of film or make it to the end of a course, you automatically finish the course and can submit one picture of each Pokemon you took a picture of to Professor Oak for him to check. When he checks each picture he scores you on how the picture came out. If I had one gripe with the game, it’s his ridiculous scoring. The pictures are scored based on distance, pose, and technique. I don’t know what makes Professor Oak an expert on photography but trying to get the best score can be a challenge. Technique means the Pokemon must be centered but the game’s idea of centered isn’t always accurate. Sometimes they are off-center but it’s considered centered. The poses can be subjective, and a pose Professor Oak may grade highly, you may find to be sub-par to another pose. But taking a picture at the best distance? Forget about it. I’ve been super close, far away, and even what I thought to be just right and getting the highest score for distance always seems to be the biggest challenge. Sometimes an extreme close-up warrants a high score for distance, but other times it doesn’t. Some shots that are a decent distance with a clear shot of what the Pokemon is and clearly shows the pose will not always grant you a high reward. Unless you’re going after the highest score possible for each Pokemon, it won’t be that big of a deal but I’d like a second opinion on some of my photographs.

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Pokemon Snap is one of those games that’s easy to pick up and play and is just a relaxing good time. It’s addicting and contains more content than one would think. With a scoring system, hidden Pokemon to discover, secret passages to new areas, and other secrets, there’s no shortage of content. You can definitely beat the game in a day and veterans can probably beat it in an afternoon but newcomers may find themselves investing a considerable amount of time trying to uncover anything. It’s a Nintendo 64 gem that everyone should play.

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