See the video version of this review at the end of this page!
When a game lies dormant for over 20 years, there’s bound to be expectations when it rises again. There’s a delicate balance — and one not easily reached — to craft a game fairly, with care toward what made the original so beloved, while also accounting for appropriate modernization. As part of a prestigious, long-running series that at times seems almost too eager to rest upon its nostalgic laurels and as a follow-up to a game old enough to have started its own Pokémon journey twice over, New Pokémon Snap could have easily succumbed to such lifeless complacency. Instead, New Pokémon Snap rests confidently in the center of that target between nostalgic callbacks and necessary evolution. By thoroughly developing each facet of the game, New Pokémon Snap brings the world of Pokémon to life in the most complete way the series has ever seen.
Like its predecessor, New Pokémon Snap is an on-rails (photography) shooter. Your goal is to capture every Pokémon in the new Lental region by snapping photos of them to deliver to the professor. Controls are intuitive with motion controls you can toggle on or off, and the unobtrusive UI at the far edges of the screen serves as a constant reminder of your camera functions should you need it. You can snap your pictures from afar or zoom in, which also slows down your movement slightly. Extra utilities, such as tossing fluffruit and playing music, can be used to affect the Pokémon around you, starting New Pokémon Snap‘s ascent into a lively, dynamic, and complete experience.
Similar to the original Snap, your photos in New Pokémon Snap are scored based on a variety of factors, such as size and if there are other Pokémon in the photo. This time, however, Pokémon perform a range of behaviors categorized into “stars,” with 1-star actions being the most common, going all the way up to rare 4-star actions. Because you can only present one picture of a Pokémon species to the professor at a time, you retread ground to fill out your Photodex not only with each Pokémon but with each of their behaviors. The inherent addictiveness of wanting to complete your Photodex and get the highest score possible on each shot work hand-in-hand with the impressively deep level design to keep players coming back for more.
Environments are expansive and make the most of both visual and audio design.
Despite having over 20 courses, New Pokémon Snap makes sure players want to repeat them through various intrinsic factors. It’s already worth your time to revisit stages because of the sheer number of Pokémon and the interactions they have. You likely won’t see every Pokémon your first time…