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New Pokémon Snap Review

Verdict

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Trusted Reviews Recommended

New Pokémon Snap is a fun and relaxing safari tour, with fantastic photography mechanics that should please both series newcomers and those looking for a dose of nostalgia. But limited interactivity options and a repetitive gameplay loop will likely put off those looking for a challenge.

Pros

  • Photography mechanics are simple and fun
  • Pokemon animations look fantastic
  • Diverse and immersive habitats to explore
  • Faithful to the original N64 game

Cons

  • Limited number of unlockable items results in repetitive gameplay
  • Very little challenge
  • Boss encounters are underwhelming

Availability

  • UKRRP: £49.99
  • USARRP: $69.53
  • EuropeRRP: €57.87
  • AustraliaRRP: AU$89.99

Key Features

  • Platforms:Nintendo Switch
  • Genre:On-rails first-person simulation
  • Developer:Bandai Namco Studios

Introduction

If you’ve ever wanted to go on a safari trip through the Pokemon World, then New Pokemon Snap will be a dream come true, tasking you with catching ‘em all with your trusty camera. 

It was an absolute joy to journey through the various habitats, snapping away at all of the surrounding Pokémon critters. Every tree, rock and Pokémon have been created with outstanding and immersive detail, making this one of the very best looking entries in the Pokémon franchise yet and one of the best Nintendo Switch games I’ve tested recently. 

But staying faithful to the N64 classic that it succeeds, New Pokémon Snap is actually a puzzler in disguise as a Planet Earth-style expedition. Armed with a bucket-load of fluffruit and Illumina orbs, you’re required to trigger and photograph unique animations from every single Pokémon, whether that’s treating a Pikachu to a snack or getting Belossom to dance along to a melody. 

It’s an endearing and refreshing objective compared to the more action-packed RPG entries. But with Bandai Namco failing to build significantly on these 20-year old game mechanics, the approximately 13-hour journey can become tediously repetitive, limiting the appeal to those chasing a nostalgia hit or just fancy a relaxing tour through the Pokémon universe. 

Pokémon Habitats – 11 different locations offer oodles of variety

  • New Pokémon Snap locations include forests, deserts, volcanos and seafloors
  • New 3D animations make this one of the best looking Pokémon games yet

The new Pokémon Snap features 11 habitats to explore. Bandai Namco has done such an outstanding job designing every environment that I was always eager to unlock the next and gawp at my new surroundings. The sound design is incredible too, as you hear the howls, squawks and growls of the many Pokémon hiding in the wilderness. 

You start off at the Florio Nature Park, featuring fields of grazing Bouffalant, a lake of peaceful Swanna and a family of Bidoof building a dam. From there you unlock the likes of swampy jungles, underwater caverns and blustery deserts, with every location benefiting from a unique atmosphere and selection of monsters. 

New Pokémon Snap

Since it would be impossible to fit every one of the 932 monsters into New Pokémon Snap, Bandai Namco has picked out 214 of some of the most iconic critters ever introduced to the series. It’s done a terrific job of balancing Pokémon picks from every generation, so fans of all ages can discover their all-time favourites, from the iconic Bulbasaur to the adorable Grookey.

The Pokémon look absolutely fantastic too, with the gorgeous 3D models bringing the monsters to life, while also remaining faithful to the very original animations to make them instantly recognisable. The Pokémon also exhibit their own personality with charming results. Scorbunny will sprint through the park with a cheeky big gin on his face, but Sharpedo will gnash its teeth at you when snapping a picture too close. 

Many Pokémon will even interact with each other. I’ve seen Pidgeot scoop a Magikarp out of the water for a hearty lunch, and a Quagsire encourage a baby Wooper to dive into a pond. This all results in a tremendously immersive experience, which really is like watching a Pokémon-themed nature documentary at times. It’s also nice to see Pokémon behaving like wild animals for a change rather than miniature weapons of destruction. 

New Pokémon Snap

Each stage also boasts multiple hidden secrets to make repeated visits more enticing. Bandai Namco has even added ‘night time’ variants for many of the stages, while also introducing a tier system that sees a couple extra Pokemon enter each environment once you’ve gained enough experience points. It’s a nice idea to reduce repetition, but it can’t quite make up for the monotonous gameplay. 

Gameplay – Gotta snap ’em all

  • Camera mechanics are simple, but require great timing for high-scoring shots
  • Interactivity options are barebones, making the gameplay loop very repetitive.

The core gameplay loop is very simple. Every single Pokémon in the game needs to be captured in four different poses. One of these will be a neutral animation, but the remaining three need to be sussed out via trial and error, with many requiring you to trigger the animation.

This is a great concept on paper, but there unfortunately isn’t much variety with the Pokémon interactions. I was able to solve most puzzles by simply feeding a Pokémon fruit or bonking it on the head with a well-timed throw. This is fine for the first dozen critters, but as you start to approach 100 Pokémon entries in your Photodex, it starts to feel very repetitive. 

New Pokémon Snap

You do at least unlock a couple of additional items to vary up the puzzles, but that’s limited to various coloured Illuminati balls that can make Pokémon glow up in the dark, and a Melody which can wake select Pokémon from their slumber or encourage them to dance along to the tune. 

However, I think these items were underused. New Pokémon Snap would have benefited from additional unlockable items for Pokemon interaction, which would not only vary up the puzzles, but also make back treading through previous stages more enjoyable. 

Bandai Namco bizarrely snubbed the evolution mechanic too, despite it being one of most exciting features of the original game. In the original, you could force Charmeleon to evolve into Charizard by knocking it into a lava pit, but such mechanics do not exist in New Pokemon Snap. 

New Pokémon Snap

Aside from the post-game Legendary Pokémon appearances, New Pokémon Snap doesn’t feature many exciting moments that reach the same heights as its predecessor. Seeing Pikachu surfing atop a Mantine and Lapras chasing off a Sharpedo were fantastic sights, but they didn’t feel satisfying since I didn’t trigger such events by my own actions. 

The biggest departure from the original Pokemon Snap is the introduction of Illumina Spots. These are essentially the game’s own spin on boss battles, as you encounter one large Pokemon which you need to photograph. 

These Pokémon will usually have some sort of magical barrier that prevents you from taking photos, but you just need to toss an apple or illuminati ball to overcome this obstacle. It’s too simple a solution compared to the standard Pokémon puzzles, making these ‘boss encounters’ feel extremely underwhelming. 

On the positive side, Bandai Namco has built on the strong foundations of the photo evaluations, with Professor Mirror scoring your photos on the Pokémon’s pose, size, direction and placement in your photo. You also get bonus points for noteworthy poses and backgrounds, making it a fun challenge to score a platinum star rating. 

I felt that my photos were always judged fairly, and I rarely ever questioned the Professor’s judgement. This score-based system encouraged me to revisit every location multiple times to gain a perfect score for every Pokemon, even after I hit the credits. 

However, I found it very frustrating that you’re only allowed to submit one photo per Pokémon for every trip, which means you need to revisit one location at least four times to complete a single Pokémon’s Photodex profile. I’m not sure why this limitation has been put in place, as it only compounds the game’s issue with repetition. 

Story – A mundane distraction

  • The story feels like needless filler in-between stages
  • Character dialogue is distracting during expeditions

New Pokémon Snap also differs from the original game by featuring a more fleshed out story mode. While Professor Mirror originally tasks you with completing the Photodex by photographing every Pokémon in the region, the story soon shifts focus onto the mysterious Illumina Pokémon. 

I understand why Bandai Namco wanted to add a bit more structure to the narrative, but I never felt engaged with the Illumina Pokémon storyline, especially with an underwhelming conclusion. 

New Pokémon Snap also sees an expanded cast of characters, including an aged Todd Snap from the original game. However, these characters offer very little to the story, and only ever pop up between expeditions to provide excited ramblings and deliver the news on newly unlocked stages and items. 

I personally believe New Pokémon Snap would benefit from cutting out the majority of the dialogue to reduce the waiting time between expeditions. They can also infuriatingly pop up during missions to offer hints which can really damage the immersion. Fortunately, there’s an option buried in the settings which can reduce the frequency of their in-game chimes. 

Conclusion

The new Pokémon Snap is a fantastic sequel to the N64 classic, capturing the spirit of the original snapathon while providing a modern gloss with gorgeous 3D Pokémon animations and incredibly immersive habitats. 

The objective of snapping ’em all on camera is still very enjoyable, but the lack of variety for Pokémon interactions can make repeated visits feel repetitive. And while the introduction of Illuminati Pokémon ‘boss encounters’ changes up the formula slightly, they’re also some of the more tedious challenges to complete. 

Despite the lack of challenge and the overly repetitive gameplay loop, New Pokémon Snap was still a joy to play through, with the relaxing vibe offering a welcome change of pace in the Pokémon series. If you’re a big Pokémon fan or simply want a game with little to no difficulty, then New Pokémon Snap is a must-have addition to your Nintendo Switch library. 

Best Offers

Should you buy it?

You should buy if you’re a big Pokemon fan or want a relaxing game:
New Pokemon Snap is best viewed as an interactive Pokemon safari with some fun camera mechanics added to the mix. There’s an abundance of nostalgia here for Pokémon fans of all ages.

You shouldn’t buy if you’re looking for a challenge:
The limited number of items and lack of evolution mechanic means there isn’t enough puzzle solving here to satisfy those looking for a challenge.

Verdict

New Pokémon Snap is a fun and relaxing safari tour, with fantastic photography mechanics that should please both series newcomers and those looking for a dose of nostalgia. But limited interactivity options and a repetitive gameplay loop will likely put off those looking for a challenge.

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FAQs

Is this game literally walking around taking pictures of Pokémon?

While the main premise is to take pictures of Pokémon, there are some added puzzle mechanics to make the experience more interactive.

Are there language settings?

Yes, there are multiple language settings for text, as well as audio character voices in both English and Japanese.

Is New Pokemon Snap a remake?

No, New Pokemon Snap is a sequel with entirely new level designs and Pokemon, but retains very similar gameplay.

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