Gotta Capture Them All (on Film)

I remember the original Pokemon Snap coming out for the Nintendo 64. I still have my ice blue N64 hooked up with the Pokemon Snap cartridge in it so I could get warmed up before its sequel came out. That console hasn’t been touched in a couple weeks though since the game I’ve been waiting over 20 years for finally came out. April 30, 2021 had tons of Pokemon fans getting New Pokemon Snap whether to relive the nostalgia of the old game but with improvements or to get their first chance to travel through different environments and take pictures of the Pokemon.

The general concept of the game is the same. You ride along in a vehicle following a path and take pictures of of Pokemon with camera you’re given. Just like the first game, as you progress through the storyline, you get new items to help take better pictures. Instead of an apple, this time you get a fluffruit…. which just happens to look like an apple. The pester ball is replaced by an item related to the storyline and the illumina Pokemon. We’re a lot more high tech this time so you don’t need a flute this time; the camera itself can play music for you. You even get the speed booster like last time as well. While you still ride the Neo One, this is a much more advanced version that can even go underwater. Don’t make this fool you into thinking it’s the same old game though.

You have a path to follow but at least there’s no clunky train track to follow that just happened to be laid out in new areas you’re just discovering. In this game there, there are sometimes forks in the road so you can choose different paths to take. This means different Pokemon to find depending on which way you go. This also means making a choice of which ones you may have to pass over (at least this time around) by not taking the other route. And there are a lot of Pokemon to take pictures of. Instead of the 63 Pokemon in the first game (which were limited to first generation Pokemon), this game has 214 of them chosen from the 8 different Pokemon generations. Be prepared to really get to know the map too because some areas unlock a nighttime version of the environment with some different Pokemon than during the day or the same Pokemon behaving differently. This time around the point from the photos aren’t just one grand total, they are also counted per region and as you gain levels, things will change there. You may find new Pokemon or see them start behaving differently. This is a big difference from the first game where the behavior wouldn’t change in a region unless you did something to the Pokemon to make them change it. The one downside is that, at least as far as I’ve seen, once things change, they don’t go back to how it used to be. This means that you may lose access to certain behaviors if you don’t catch them before you level up or achieve something.

I had mentioned about the scores for the pictures. Just like the first game, the pictures are graded on a number of categories. To the right is a screenshot where an old picture of Pichu is being compared to a new one. 500 seems to be the standard score for Pose and I haven’t yet figured out what causes it to go down as I’ve had pictures with interesting poses but might only get 200 points out of what I expect is 1,000 points. Obviously, catching the Pokemon doing something really interesting gets you bonus points. You’re graded on size (Fitting the Pokemon in the picture so it takes up as much of the frame as possible without going in too close is worth 2,000 points.), direction (This usually means that facing directly towards you will get you 1,000 points, but I’ve seen odd situations where other shots can get you that as well.), placement (Centering the Pokemon perfectly earns you 1,000 points.), and other Pokemon which obviously means bonus points for more Pokemon in the picture. Where this only counted for more of the same Pokemon in the first game, you get points for any other Pokemon in the shot this time around. New to the scoring this time is the background category. They tell you to try to get Pokemon posed in front of special backgrounds. What is a special background? I have no clue. I’ve taken pictures that I thought had a cool background but got no bonus points and I’ve been surprised by points for it on other pictures. You’ll just have to learn certain areas that will get you points and see what pictures you can take around them. Depending on your total score, the picture will be ranked as bronze, silver, gold, or diamond. You’ll notice in the picture that there are actually 2 stars. This is a big change from the first game. Instead of just getting the highest score for a picture of a Pokemon, you need to do that for 4 different pictures. When you take a picture, it will be labeled as being between 1 and 4 stars. Your basic average activity like a Pokemon just standing there will be a 1 star picture. Getting Pokemon to do things or catching them doing something interesting on their own will make the pictures 2, 3, or 4 stars. So, this means that we haven’t gone from 63 to picture to 214 pictures. To finish this one, you need 856 pictures. To give you an idea of what to expect, I’ve been playing 28 hours and have found 179 of the Pokemon so far and have 413 photos of them so I’m not even half way done yet.

Taking pictures of Pokemon isn’t the only thing to do though. There are other story related things to get pictures of throughout the regions. You will also get requests for pictures of specific things from Professor Mirror and other people working with him which included Todd from the first game. Each of these will require watching for specific opportunities which could be something simple like catching a specific bird Pokemon flying to something like in the image to the left which meant watching for the Pokemon to do something unusual which could happen anywhere in the region. You start out with just the upper word balloon and the region when you get the request. Once you complete it, the picture will be added to the request and the person who asked for the picture will say something more. (So far, I’ve completed 23 of the 160 requests I’ve gotten. The frustrating part is getting a request for a picture you had just submitted.) Just taking the picture isn’t enough though, it has to be the one that you submit to the Professor. You may end up making a choice between fulfilling a request and submitting a really cool picture you want to add to your picture collection. One thing that may give you some relief though is that if you get a cool picture that you can’t submit, you can save them to your photo album after the professor grades the ones you submitted. You don’t get a lot of photo spots to start but when you get close to using them all, the game will give you an option to expand the memory used for photos and give you over 400 more spots for pictures. So, don’t be afraid to save shots you like that might not be good enough for the professor.

Is that enough for you? No? Good, because there’s still more. As you go through the story and take the pictures, you will reach milestones like storyline events, taking a certain number of pictures , taking pictures of a certain number of a specific Pokemon type, or a number of other things. These will unlock research titles. These, along with the requests, will also unlock frames, effects, and other things that you can use to make the pictures you saved even more special to you. You can also crop the pictures before modifying them and share them on the internet if you have Nintendo Online.

There is definitely a lot more to this game than the previous one and while I have completed the storyline, I am still far from completing the game. While the game is fun, I will admit that it’s not one I can sit and play for hours like some games. After making rounds and taking pictures and then running back a number of times, I do find I need to take a break from it. While it’s a fun game, doing the cycle enough times can make it briefly monotonous even if you switch up regions. Don’t let this hold you back because you’ll be ready to start taking pictures soon enough. This game was definitely worth the wait. I’ll leave you with a handful of pictures that I took.

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