New Pokémon Snap is exactly what its title suggests. Pokémon fans know that Nintendo typically does a great job remaking its older games. We’ve already seen several recent examples of this with Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee, as well as Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.
Now, Nintendo has refreshed a 1999 Nintendo N64 classic in the aptly named “New Pokémon Snap.” Although the game is fun, its high price of $59.99 is difficult to justify, considering its short and somewhat monotonous gameplay.
In our New Pokémon Snap review below, we highlight that while we thoroughly enjoyed the ability to engage with a wide variety of Pokémon, the game’s magic wears off rather quickly due to repetitive level design. Nonetheless, some diehard fans of the franchise are bound to get a short burst of serotonin, despite the game’s disappointing replay value.
New Pokémon Snap review: Plot
New Pokémon Snap takes place in an entirely new region called Lental. After choosing an avatar for your character and passing a short tutorial, you encounter Professor Mirror and his assistant Rita as part of an ecological survey. Your character must explore the region’s beaches, jungles, and deserts in an effort to photograph wild species of Pokémon in their natural habitats.
Part of your assignment also involves researching the Lental region’s unique Illumina phenomenon. This allows you to throw orbs that illuminate Pokémon, giving them a stunning glow that’s bound to brighten up your photographs.
As you progress through Lental’s islands using the futuresque NEO-ONE safari exploration vehicle, you’ll encounter over 200 different species of Pokémon from previous games. These include fan favorites, such as Pikachu, Eevee and Charizard from Kanto, Pichu from Johto, Piplup and Bidoof from Sinnoh and Grookey from Galar. There are even a few legendaries involved, including Celebi, Mew, Ho-Oh and Lugia.
In terms of the game's story, that’s pretty much it. You enter a new area, take pictures of Pokémon, replay until you can advance through the map, then move on. It's not exactly ground-breaking.
New Pokémon Snap review: Gameplay
As you complete each part of your journey, your goal remains the same: Capture four images of every Pokémon for your portfolio. The Professor rates your photographs from one to four stars, depending on factors such as the subject’s Pose, Size, Direction, Placement, other Pokémon present within the picture and Background.
Each stage contains a number of secrets, which allow you to coax some of the rarer Pokémon out into the open. To do this, you can scan your surroundings with your camera, play a soothing melody or — more amusingly — throw apple-like Fluffruits. These either attract wild Pokémon, or smack them on the head to provoke some sort of reaction.
Finding new ways of interacting with wild Pokémon is the game’s main attraction. However, be ready to replay each level dozens of times to capture everything it has to offer. Doing so increases your "experience level," which unlocks minor changes to the map next time you ride through it. This process can be somewhat tedious, to say the least, especially if you miss your chance to photograph a certain Pokémon and have to restart.
New Pokémon Snap review: Controls
New Pokémon Snap has an accessible and intuitive set of controls. The game utilizes the Nintendo Switch's multiple controller options, allowing you to aim using the Joy-Cons, as well as the built-in gyro controls on Switch Lite, or the original console in handheld mode.
Controlling your camera is simple. However, throwing Fluffruits does take some getting used to. There’s a fine line between throwing a treat in front of a Pokémon and accidentally hitting it in the face, startling it, and watching it run away before you can say “Sudowoodo”.
New Pokémon Snap review: Visuals
New Pokémon Snap presents eye-catching scenery and level design. Each map portrays a natural Pokémon habitat beautifully, fulfilling the fantasy of actually going on a safari adventure filled with your favorite Pokémon.
The game’s various Pokémon species are all incredibly designed, too. Watching them interact with each other and their environments feels particularly rewarding. However, the repetition of having to replay each map gets old very quickly. After just a few hours of gameplay, you’ll find yourself craving something new.
New Pokémon Snap review: Verdict
New Pokémon Snap gives fans of the franchise a unique opportunity to see beloved Pokémon in their natural habitats. Despite the challenge of luring out rare Pokémon, however, the gameplay loses its novelty fairly quickly. You’ll likely find yourself switching to a different game within hours of starting.
Overall, it’s difficult to justify why New Pokémon Snap costs the same as some of Nintendo’s flagship Pokémon games, which offer significantly richer and more diverse gameplay experiences. If you’re looking for a fun Pokémon game to pick up and play for a few days, this one’s for you. But don’t expect it to be anything more than that.