New Pokémon Snap Review


I still fondly remember the hours I spent huddled over my Nintendo 64, trying to capture the perfect shot in Pokémon Snap. I had never even played a Pokémon game at that point in time, but something about it gripped me. Using all the tools at my disposal to snap a shot of a Pokémon doing something funny or cute was so rewarding, and it always kept me coming back. Personally, my favorite photo to get was that of the surfing Pikachu on that very first beach level. That game possesses so much charm, and I hold so much nostalgia for it, that the announcement of New Pokémon Snap 20 years after the original immediately piqued my interest.

It’s hard not to let my nostalgia goggles cloud my judgment of the new game, and there are some things I really miss from the original, but I think Nintendo has succeeded in making New Pokémon Snap a worthy successor. It’s the same style of on-rails gameplay, where you’ll be guided through a natural Pokémon habitat and tasked with photographing all the different ‘mons and some of their unique behaviors. You’re given a few tools along the way — a Fluffruit that some Pokémon like to eat, a flute that plays music they’re attracted to, and a new Illumina orb that brings out some new interactions. Using each of these tools in new ways can lead to interesting photos of Pokémon fighting each other, or laughing and playing together in a field of flowers, just to name a few unique behaviors. Finding these interactions is always my favorite part, and I’ve spent hours trying to get the shot lined up perfectly, just as I did when I was younger.

New Pokémon Snap boasts a whopping 214 different species, where the original only featured 63 of the first 151. There are several more levels as well, including daytime and nighttime versions of most courses. I loved seeing how things changed in each course at night: who went to sleep, who was awake now, or who we hadn’t encountered before. Courses also see some minor changes as you level up your research and take more photos. As you gain experience and rank up, new Pokémon are introduced to the course, engage in new ways with other mons, or simply appear in new places. It’s a good way of keeping things fresh, allowing you to gather several different photos of the same Pokémon.

There are two overarching goals for you to pursue: uncover the mysteries behind the glowing Illumina Pokémon, and fill up your Pokédex with four different photos of each species — unlike its predecessor, New Pokémon Snap also categorizes photos with a one to a four-star rating. The same Pokémon may show up in several different courses, and they’ll exhibit unique behaviors that can bump up a photo’s star rating. It can be a real challenge to get some of those 4-star photos, but then you can share them with the world, something completely new to New Pokémon Snap. Nintendo has introduced a social element to the series, where you’re able to share any of the photos you’ve taken, as well as edit them with silly stickers and captions. It’s a welcome addition, and I’ve enjoyed seeing some of the photos others have taken. Not every game needs to have some kind of social aspect mind you, but I think it works well in New Pokémon Snap, and it’s easy to ignore if it’s not your thing.

New Pokémon Snap Pichu and Grookey

I’m often drawn to more simplistic, relaxing games, where the main hook or mechanic is anything but combat. It’s why I’m so interested in games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Stardew Valley, and why I knew New Pokémon Snap would be a hit for me. Admittedly, it can feel rather slow sometimes, and it definitely feels kid-friendly, though the same can be said of its predecessor. Still, New Pokémon Snap can still be enjoyed by players of all ages, and I found the search for four-star photos to be both very challenging and rewarding. I wouldn’t be surprised if the general audience finds this game a bit boring, and maybe too simple, but there’s nothing wrong with letting a new generation of gamers experience Pokémon Snap just as many of us did in the ’90s.

With so many new creatures to photograph, and a beautiful, laid-back world to explore, New Pokémon Snap has gripped me the same way the original did 20 years ago. It’s missing some of that late 90s charm, but it has so many more areas to explore and more reasons to keep coming back. Its simple and relaxing gameplay means I can keep coming back to it whenever I want as I work toward completing the Pokédex and uncovering all the secrets the Lental region has to offer. It’s a worthy successor, and I hope to see more games like it in the near future. But please, Nintendo, don’t make me wait another 20 years.

This review is based on the Nintendo Switch version of the game. A copy was provided to us by Nintendo.

New Pokémon Snap

With so many Pokémon to photograph and so many new areas to explore, New Pokémon Snap feels like a worthy successor to the original, if a little simple. It can be challenging at times, but its relaxing gameplay will keep you coming back for more.