By Isaac Espinosa
The region of Lental: Home to spectacular vistas, many different species of Pokémon, and most importantly, opportunities for amazing pictures! New Pokémon Snap, developed by Hal Laboratories and Bandai Namco, is the latest addition to the Pokémon line-up of spin-off titles. Building on the original Pokémon Snap released on March 21st of 1999, New Pokémon Snap updates the game with somewhat compelling features, along with tons of new Pokémon from Generation 3 and onward! So kick back, relax, and let’s begin this pleasant little journey!
The story is a simple one, but it works in establishing a goal for the long term. You play as a young researcher who studies under Professor Mirror alongside Rita, Mirror’s main assistant. Professor Mirror explains that your goal is to obtain pictures of different Pokémon throughout the Lental Region, so that you may aid in his research on the Pokémon in their natural habitat. As you continue to supply pictures to the Professor for him to evaluate, he begins to touch upon the mysterious Illumina phenomenon, which causes various plant life and Pokémon to glow. You’ll soon meet Todd Snap, who returns from the game’s previous version to collaborate with Professor Mirror, and Phil, who acts as your friendly rival throughout the journey. And that covers most of what New Pokémon Snap has to offer in terms of story. Once these plot points are established, you can begin to experience the gameplay for yourself.
New Pokémon Snap’s main feature is the ability to take beautiful pictures of various Pokémon throughout multiple parts of the Lental region. These vast areas include the Floria Nature Park, packed with flower beds and narrow pathways, the Founja Jungle, filled to the brim with numerous vines and trees, the Lental SeaFloor, deep underwater and home to various aquatic Pokémon, and so many more wondrous nooks and crannies to explore! You’re free to take as many or as few photos as you like, and you can choose which of your photos will be evaluated by the Professor. Each photo you submit for evaluation receives a rating and a score, based on how well-executed the photo is. Your stats increase if your photos are framed especially well, or if you catch a Pokémon eating or striking a pose. This system encourages you to try and get the most dynamic photos possible for the Pokémon you encounter as a way to fill up your Photodex, the game’s photo album. You’re given many options to do this, like throwing fruit at the Pokémon to wake it up, giving it a tasty snack to feast upon, or waiting for that precise moment when a Pokémon does something cool. It can be really exciting to see what each Pokémon does when it knows it’s on camera, and who knows? Maybe you’ll even encounter a super rare one to add to your Photodex!
Unfortunately, that’s most of what New Pokémon Snap has to offer. Aside from taking pictures of and being able to customize these photos with cute little edits, there isn’t much else to do. This is to be expected, though, considering that New Pokémon Snap mainly offers only one real gameplay aspect: taking photos of Pokémon. And in this regard, it does a fine job of offering a fun, diverting experience. Personally, I wanted other parts of the gameplay to be more involved for the player, oerhaps in the form of some kind of challenge or more exploration of the game’s various environments, New Pokémon Snap isn’t supposed to be that type of game. A lack of variable content is really the game’s only flaw.
So the New Pokémon Snap turns out to be a relaxing and enjoyable journey that acts as a great stress-reduction game. While it doesn’t offer much outside of its flagship mechanic, the game doesn’t have to provide anything else in order to leave me generally satisfied. Its beautiful presentation really allows me to kick back and take in the numerous habitats and the Pokémon within them. And with how stressful life can be in this day and age, a good distraction seems like it’s all people really need.
Bronx native Isaac Espinosa is a senior intern at the New York Videogame Critics Circle. Recently, Isaac was named the Circle’s first assistant mentor.