New Pokémon Snap Review

New Pokémon Snap was released on 30th April 2021, and after a few weeks of game play, it is time for your AR Queen to share her thoughts! So first things first, I have to admit that this is my first time playing Pokémon Snap. I didn’t have a console growing up, so I never got to experience the original game, and instead lusted from afar because it just looked so cool.

Thankfully this time round I’m an adult who has a Nintendo Switch that I have basically exclusively to play Pokémon games on, so your gal was ready!

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I was a little hesitant to buy it at first, because quite honesty, I’ve never really bought many games and £50GBP just seems SO much to me for a game. I think I’m still stuck in the 90s when they cost £30GBP.

I found a copy for a tenner cheaper in Argos, so after the internal debate of ‘can I justify that much money on a game’ my husband set me straight because ‘it’s photography and Pokémon. It couldn’t be more ‘you”. So I ordered it! And boy am I glad I did.

A spoiler notice is in full effect for the rest of the review!


The Aim of the Game

The basic concept for the game is that you are helping Professor Mirror with a Pokémon survey in the Lental Region, and he needs you to photograph Pokémon in their natural habitats so that you can learn more about them.

The region is known for an unusual occurrence known as the Illumina phenomenon, and Mirror hopes to find out more about it through your research. As you explore each area and photograph more Pokémon, more areas open up as you follow the diaries of Captain Vince, the explorer who discovered the Lental Region and the Illumina phenomenon originally, and believed that it had something to do with a myth from the region involving a meteorite and Pokémon.

You travel in a NEO-ONE, a sort of bubble hovercraft, photographing Pokémon along set routes, almost like through a Safari park, and the more different interactions you photograph, the more you will unlock. Your aim is to the get 1*, 2*, 3* and 4* interaction photographs of all the Pokémon you encounter, and as your travel the world figure out more of Captain Vince’s dairy, and go beyond what he discovered.

To get different interactions you can throw Fluffruit at Pokémon, run a scan with your camera, play music, and as the game progresses, you will also unlock Illumina orbs, orbs that mimic the Illumina phenomenon that mean you can cause it in any Pokémon you find. This is a particularly lovely effect as the Pokémon will glow, and I really hope they bring it to Pokémon GO one day!

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The Review

Graphics

I did not have the highest hopes for the graphics of this game. The Switch isn’t known for having the most beautiful games, and Pokémon games are often criticised for their graphics by the fanbase, so I wasn’t sure what to expect here. However, I was very pleasantly surprised, and the game is really quite beautiful!

Unlike most Pokémon games, this isn’t made by GameFreak, but instead Bandai Namco, and the game is on rails, which allows more focus on the specific areas of game play because they are limited.

The part that lets the graphics down the most is probably the grass, which is a flat texture that could definitely have been improved upon, but the ground in areas that aren’t grass seem to be a lot better. Some of the leaves and flowers are also more on the 2D side and look flat compared to some of the really detailed areas. Arguably as you advance through the game the graphics get better and better with the last few areas being the most detailed.

With a game based around photography, the graphics had to step up here, and I was impressed. The worlds are beautiful and varied, and the photographs you can take are really stunning. The use of light and shadows in particular I really enjoyed.

Don’t get me wrong, there are things that could be better, but the Pokémon themselves and the Illumina effect came out really well.


Story Line

Without giving too much away, the story line is obviously not particularly intense or detailed, because it doesn’t need to be. You follow Captain Vince‘s stories, and then surpass him to make your own discoveries about this mysterious Lental Region. But here’s the thing, the story line just doesn’t really matter.

I found myself delaying the inevitable ending by revisiting areas over and over again because I wanted to try to photograph new Pokémon, or Pokémon I had already seen in new ways, and the story line was totally secondary to that experience.

The point of this game isn’t the story line, or getting to those final credits (don’t worry, there is a ton to do after the credits), but instead, the aim of the game seems to be to just relax. To take it all in, to adventure and document the Pokémon you meet along the way. I could have seen the credits hours before I saw them, because I wasn’t necessarily compelled to ‘finish’ the game in that sense, I was just so hyped to do more.

There could have been zero storyline beyond ‘go outside and complete your Pokédex’ and I would have been just as buzzing to get home from work and go on this game as I was with the storyline we had. It’s almost ASMR in game form!


Issues

The only real issue I have with the game is that the LenTalk requests can be a pain to get right.

The LenTalk system is a way that the other characters in the game can ask you to take specific photographs on the courses, and you are rewarded for completing the tasks. The problem with these is, to get the tasks to register you have to have been asked to take the specific photo first, and if you have accidentally already taken a photo that fulfills a quest, you then need to take a better photo than the one you’ve already shown the Professor in order for them to register.

I’d recommend checking LenTalk every time you get a notification of new requests in order to avoid taking a photo that you need, without realising it. There are a lot of these requests, and it can be quite difficult to take a better rated photo in order to register them, I know it is something I am having problems with now I’m going back through the game to complete these side quests.

My husband’s biggest complaint is the music. It is very samey throughout, and as you can choose to play music to cause interactions with Pokémon the same tones can be heard over and over again. The constant repetition gets frustrating when you are an observer or someone else in the same house, so sorry husband, but I plan to play a lot more yet!

My other complaint is… I want more! I really hope we get more DLC in the future for Snap because I would love more areas to unlock, and more Pokémon to photograph. Because of the storyline there are plenty of options for expanding this world, whether it be more of the Lental Region, or somewhere entirely new, following other adventures of Captain Vince. Heck, we could even visit the regions we already know and I’d be hyped to play!


Conclusion

If you are looking for a super chill Pokémon game that you can play for hours with no stress, this is absolutely the game for you.

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I’ve played more hours of this over the last two weeks or so than I have total Pokémon Let’s GO or Pokémon Shield, which is probably blasphemy to admit for a Pokémon fan, but once those credits rolled I felt less inclined to play the other games.

With Snap I find myself going back to it constantly, repeating the same courses over and over to get better photographs and find new exciting little things I had missed before. I was really surprised with how much time I’ve spent playing this game, finding the hours flew by and that I just felt happy when playing.

I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys the AR aspect of Pokémon GO, anyone who played the original Pokémon Snap, and anyone who wants a Pokémon game that isn’t battle focused. It is a really different experience to the main series games, and I now really wish I had been able to play the original Snap when it came out.

This game has made me appreciate Pokémon I didn’t before, like Quagsire, what a cute dorky dude, or the weirdly delightful Morelull, and even the spooky creep Trevanent, who I had previously thought was a let down after how cute Phantump was, but now, Team Trevenant!

Animal Crossing was the OG game of the pandemic in the early months, but for me, New Pokémon Snap is the one that will keep me company now as lockdowns continue. It wasn’t a game I knew I wanted, but it turns out it is exactly what I needed. Chill, pretty, stress free and lovely to look at. It is good vibes all round, and just a delight.

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