New Pokémon Snap: Visually Stunning But Unprogressive – Switch Review

The original Pokémon Snap played a massive role in my childhood. I played it every day, and it single-handedly made me fall in love with Pokémon. More than 20 years later, the original photography game has received a sequel, and it is not called Pokémon Snap 2. Fortunately, despite the terrible name, New Pokémon Snap is an absolutely stunning game, with plenty to do for fans of the franchise.

In New Pokémon Snap, the player is a Pokémon photographer who journies to various islands in the Lental region to take pictures of Pokémon. In doing so, you will also help Professor Mirror in investigating the Illumina phenomenon, where special plants and Pokémon glow. The storyline isn’t going to draw in any crowds and is mostly a generic backdrop to the superb gameplay.

“Every Pokémon — even Trubbish — looks gorgeous in New Pokémon Snap.”

Professor Mirror will grade each photo you take. Firstly, he will determine a star rating of 1-4 stars based on how rare the Pokémon’s activity is. Is the Bouffalant just standing there looking pretty? Or is it locked horns with another one in an intense standoff? Luckily, it is easy to work out why some photos are better than others. To bring these rarer photos out, the player is equipped with a fluffruit — essentially an apple in disguise —, Illumina orbs, and melodies that get some Pokémon dancing.

New Pokémon Snap - Gengar
In-game Screenshot

The Professor will also give the photo a score depending on a few criteria: Pose, Size, Direction the Pokémon is facing, Placement in the photo, and if there are other Pokémon in the frame. The higher the score, the better, and the more levels you will unlock.

The direction the developers have taken does open the doors for more photos, leading to a longer game. Fortunately, in this case, it is a good thing. There are over 200 Pokémon to catch on camera, including the various legendaries you can find after completing the 10+ hour story. Every Pokémon — even Trubbish — looks gorgeous in New Pokémon Snap. It’s impossible not to take pictures.

“Unfortunately, New Pokémon Snap suffers from the same problem as other Nintendo games; Lack of innovation.”

If you finish the story and are still itching for more challenges, you can check out the LenTalk, where there are over 100 Requests for you to complete. While these can seem a little tedious, it is better than nothing. Plus, it gives you a purpose as you cruise in the NEO-ONE around the stunning stages.

New Pokémon Snap - Florges
In-game Screenshot

From the dense jungles of Belusylva to the sandy beaches and deep oceans of Maricopia, each level in New Pokémon Snap is brilliantly designed. The game introduces split paths. This is essentially a choice between which direction you want to go and where you want to take photos. Adding this to the game increases the element of surprise within each level. Just when you thought you had caught everything, a new route appears with Pokémon you haven’t seen yet.

Unfortunately, New Pokémon Snap suffers from the same problem as other Nintendo games; Lack of innovation. Even though there are some new features, the original game had countless “evolution puzzles” and easter eggs. However, New Pokémon Snap is missing both. The first game utilised environmental puzzles that required players to think outside the box to find new Pokémon. This meant you could knock Charmeleon with an apple or Pester Ball into a volcano to evolve it into Charizard or lure 3 Magnemites together so they evolved into a Magneton. Except New Pokémon Snap leaves this out entirely and doesn’t feature a single evolution scene.

“Every step the latest instalment takes forward, it seems to fall two steps behind.”

Progressing through the storyline has also changed since the original, and not for the better. To advance the storyline, players must increase their research level for a particular stage, and it will generally forward you to the next area. This has changed since the original, where you were required to figure out how to unlock the next level by, once again, interacting with Pokémon. You could unlock the next level instantly by thinking outside the box, except now, it is tied to grinding and replaying the level countless times.

New Pokémon Snap also offers the ability to edit your photos and post them online. This welcomes a whole list of hilarious possibilities. You can change parameters like zoom, blur, and brightness and add filters, photo frames, and stickers.

New Pokémon Snap - Tangrowth
In-game Screenshot

While it is funny looking at edited photos, the game lacks online features regarding individual Pokémon. I would have like to see an option to compete with friends on who can take better photos. Or even just an option to compare scores with friends, in general. Hopefully, it will be a feature in the future as the online aspect of the game is incredibly barebones.

New Pokémon Snap is an adequate game for any Pokémon lover. I highly recommend picking New Pokémon Snap up if you are a Pokémon enthusiast. Although, you shouldn’t pick this game up if it is your first Pokémon game. Every step the latest instalment takes forward, it seems to fall two steps behind.

New Pokemon Snap - Xerneas Header
New Pokémon Snap Review
Summary
New Pokémon Snap is a visually stunning game that suffers from a lack of innovation. There are a couple of welcome additions in the gameplay. However, it forgoes key elements that made the original so successful.
Pros
Visually Stunning
Brilliant Level Design
Cons
Missing Key Gameplay
Poor Online Features
8