By: Iris the Keyblade Master
Ah, Pokémon Snap, the only Pokémon-related video game that I ever got to play when I was a kid. It was made for the Nintendo 64, but it’s also currently available on the Wii U Virtual Console. I recently bought a copy for my N64 and found that it still held up for me as an adult.
First, I told myself that I just wanted to test the game out to make sure it still worked. About twenty minutes later, I had furiously headed back to the Beach level to prove to Professor Oak that the size in my pictures was NOT “so-so!” It’s one of those games that is so simple and yet so addicting at times.
Unlike other Pokémon games, you don’t get to capture, train, or trade any of the wild Pokémon that you find in the different levels. You take pictures and send them to Professor Oak, who then gives you points based on its size, position, how many of the same type appeared in the shot, etc. (And boy, does he have high standards for “size!”) However, to get to the next level, you must complete a variety of objectives. Sometimes, it’s a matter of taking a certain number of pictures of unique Pokémon. Other times, you need to trigger something special within a level to get to the next one.
Additionally, certain Pokémon won’t appear without the help of tools that Professor Oak gives you throughout the game. And sometimes the ways to get new Pokémon aren’t so obvious. For example, there’s a Charmeleon that walks around a lava pit towards the end of the Volcano course. If you knock him into the pit with an apple treat, he’ll evolve into Charazard. This interaction increases the replay value of the game, since it encourages you to go back and try new tricks to find hidden Pokémon. (Side note: it’s also worth mentioning that because it’s an older game, you won’t find any Pokémon that came after Mew. Mew himself doesn’t even appear until after you’ve unlocked the final level.)
Technically, the player character has a name, Todd. But like Link and the early Final Fantasy heroes, you get to pick what you want to call him. He doesn’t have much of a personality in the game beyond, “Oh boy, let’s take a lot of pictures of Pokémon!” but it works.
Pokémon Snap is a fun, colorful game. I love the different environments that you get to view through Todd’s safari vehicle. Hopefully, some day, Nintendo will make a sequel. They could really make it work by including the other generations of Pokémon, and maybe add new features, i.e. editing your pictures or getting to explore open world settings instead of following the same track.
If you like the Pokémon series, but never got around to trying this game, then I recommend checking it out if you still have your Nintendo 64 or access to the Virtual Console. It’s a lot of fun!