RETRO REBOOT!! Pokemon Snap (Nintendo 64)

Up until the announcement of Pokemon Sword and Shield, the mainline series was never featured on Nintendo's major home consoles. Instead, the N64 and Gamecube saw many attempts at making experimental ventures. Perhaps the most popular of these being Pokemon Battle Stadium. I never had a chance to play it, heard it was good. Instead I gravitated towards Pokemon Snap, my favorite Pokemon related game ever. And while the make and design of the game seem to catch many off guard, it was a pretty creative rail shooter with high replay value.

Developed by HAL Laboratory and Pax Softnica and released in the United States in June 1999, Pokemon Snap puts you in the role of a photographer in a seemingly all-terrain vehicle who is asked by Professor Oak to gather photos on Pokemon to help further his research.

The character in question is Todd Snap, who first appeared in the anime in the episode 55, Pokemon Paparazzi, simply named Todd. He's appeared in several more episodes throughout the Indigo League and again in Johto League Champions. Professor Oak declares that Todd is the perfect guy for the job and gives him various tools to help him out. The gameplay is pretty straightforward on its surface, your control layout is displayed on the HUD, you can throw pester balls at Pokemon to see if you can garner a different reaction from them, which goes a long way towards improving your score or keeping Pokemon at a reasonable portion of the screen. Professor Oak is a perfectionist can be quite a stickler for detail if some Pokemon are slightly off screen. 

There's seven levels total, each region has Pokemon indigenous to its location. The Beach and River for instance, are more likely to have an abundance of water based Pokemon, and the Volcano is naturally home to fire based types. One of the elements that keep this game so fun to play is each level has so much to investigate as you go back to previous stages with new items Professor Pak gives you. The Poke-Flute can make some Pokemon dance, wake up, or sleep. Items can also help unlock alternative route through levels and help earn a higher score by discovering more Pokemon.


I have some reservations with the design of the Nintendo 64 controller, but some games are perfectly designed for it. The color coordinated button layout makes it easy to recognize which function you need to access as soon as you need it. 

The visuals in Pokemon Snap I like to describe as serene. The Pokemon models bear their likeness very well. The only action in the game escalates as angry reactions or some jolly frolicking from many of the creatures, be it Magnemites dancing in unison or an enraged Electabuzz. The various environments look about on par with many Nintendo 64 games, but it's very clever how the player is presented visual clues to entice a Pokemon to come out of hiding for the camera. Your eye is drawn to rustling leaves or suggestive rock formations and you're likely to try many actions to incite a response. 

At the end of the stages, you have a chance to look at your compilation of photos to search for the best picture to garner a higher score, including special poses that are worth a lot. If your photos don't meet Oak's staunch requirements, you'll be sent back out into the field. Being too close or certain portions of the Pokemon off screen can hurt considerably. Even a picture that I thought looks perfect, Oak will criticize like a total jackass. Go get your own pictures!!. The scoring can feel a little inconsistent based on his judgement, but it does encourage further efforts to try and develop a formula for getting the best results.

Only 63 of the 151 or the original Pokemon from the Kanto region are present, but I feel they were all creatively used. Pokemon Snap is an easily addictive game that's fun to pick up and revisit. It's incredibly casual friendly and is one of those games I wished got a sequel. I was so happy when it got announced for the Wii U Virtual Console. With the console's built-in camera and motion gyroscope, I thought the Wii U would've been a perfect time to make a follow-up to Pokemon Snap. But alas, it wasn't to be. Check out Pokemon Snap, if you haven't. It may not be a game centered around combat, but it's wildly entertaining.

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