Classic Review: Pokémon Snap

Yay it’s finally saturday, which means I can finally come out to play! The others Pinkie’s might be bigger than me and have like important jobs and such …but just because I am just a chibi doesn’t mean you can think little of me! I am the Pinkie that discusses like the actual fun of playing like the games or who plays with the toys and the likes. Today I decided a classic Pokémon game a lot of people seem to like! My Pokémon Fun the Mime Jr will play it along side of me! Even if this is a single player game! Today me and Fun wil play Pokémon Snap on Nintendo 64.

The concept

Uhm even though I find this a bit of a difficult word, the main Pinkie told me I should talk  about what’s the game about here so here goes! This game is like a 3d on rail shooter… but like not one of those mean ones where you kill people or monsters while a lot of angry music blasts through your speakers.In this game you shoot, with a roll of film… well quite a few a rolls actually.  You play the role of Todd “Gimme any name’ Snap. A photographer that one his adventures once encountered a Mew but Mr Snap failed to snap it on camera. Luckily after he is tired of the Pokédex and Red, Oak calls Todd to investigate a mysterious place called Pokémon Island. On this Island Mew is to roam and it’s up to our generic looking hero to succeed where he failed before. Generic looking as he may be, he has a nice short! Gotta love the colour. Poké-Island is pretty rough terrain for a hike though, so luckily professor Oak shows us his skill in engineering as he made an all  terrain vehicle named the Zero-One… and I mean ALL-Terrain. Mr Snap can take this yellow basket looking vehicle thing out to seven stages that unlock as you complete puzzles or score enough points. Yes points, rather than paying the young photographer in cash, professor Oak hands him points based on how good your photograph is. Earn enough points and you will get new tools and sometimes stages. Solving puzzles with these tools will allow you to snap new pokémon or progress in the game even further. It is a nice idea that is executed quite well and some puzzles are very clever, but more on that later. A lot of people are still hoping for a sequel and given how far the pokémon world has progressed  it could make for a nice beefy and mostly relaxing game! This one really misses out on the beefy part.

The Atmosphere

Professor Pinkie told me, I should tell how a game looks, sounds and feels on this spot. So I think, this is what Pokémon Snap does best! It looks super cute! The pokémon are very recognisable and are lively, they do their own thing and if you bonk them with an apple or pester ball on the head they react to it in a funny way! The best thing is, Pokémon have their anime cries. That means every single pokémon states their name or a part of it. Jigglypuff sings it’s iconic song if you save it in a cave, Pikachu is full of Pika-Pika’s and shellder pop out of the water with their cute..yet somehow annoying shell, cry. The 7 stages are very diverse and though they are short they are filled with fun things and easter eggs. Like a surfboard for Pikachu or zelda like walls. Of course this is a game of 19 years ago and yes you will spot it, but the way they move and flow around, it really doesn’t feel that old. The fact that this thing is on rails instead of a massive stretch of land might really help with that. The Pokémon theming is done very VERY well. Originally this game would be launched as Jack and the Beanstalk for something called the Nintendo 64DD , which was supposed to be like an extension or something, but with that falling through Pokémon Snap was born.  Normally when a game originally is something else you really notice it. Think Super Mario Land 2 for example. You can easily tell it was Doki Doki Panic first, well not the title of course.. but you can tell it used to be a NOT mario game. Snap can let you lure a slowpoke to a shellder infested river so it can evolve, you can see meowth being mischievous and you can see Snorlax sleeping peacefully. Everything FEELS like pokémon. They look like Pokémon and sound like Pokémon as well. Graveler looks kinda bad though!

Except for Graveler not being as sleekly designed as he could be, the only complaint I have is how boring the non pokémon stuff is. The nature in stages are fine.. but the items and technology thingies are bland and seem to not contribute anything. Todd is blander than Pidgey and never gets anything going for him. The Zero-One.. though practical.. is just a basket on wheels and doesn’t really seem like the best thing to send on this adventure. That loading screen where Oak waves at the Snap kid makes them both look terrible. However this is kind of a nitpick, cause you only see those elements at the beginning and ending of a stage. The stages themselves like the pokémon are wonderful and varied.

Technical Thingies

So how is the game build? Did the makers do their jobs well?  Does it control well? I really liked the easy controls myself, even though that Nintendo 64 controller  kinda looks like an evil spaceship thingy that can easily cripple you. The biggest problem with Pokémon Snap’s  control on the original system actually is Mario Party. I played a lot of Mario Party on my N64 so all my controllers are a bit..wonky because of certain spin the analogue stick mini games. This gave me some issues while playing this, but for the most time it worked well.  Controls are fairly decently chosen , though I personally would have preferred all items to work from the C pad, like Zelda instead of just one. That being said the apple and the pester ball are a lot more frequent so I get why this was chosen still as soon as you unlock everything it kinda feels odd. Except for some pop up here and there, the game feels quite smooth actually. The main part of the game , shooting pictures works wonders! I like the Z button for photograph mode controls. It is easy to take cute snaps, and easy to send them to the professor. Everything flows. .. except for the throwing.  Throwing apples and pester balls onto pokémon reacts way to specifically. There is no auto-aim whats so ever so be prepared to toss a gazillion apples. Hitboxes can be weird at times and sometimes you knock a pokémon back with a pester ball but sometimes you need an apple for that same job. The balls are filled with some annoying gaslike thing so it would make sense to for it to have an extended hitbox..but no to pester a pokemon you gotta hit it flat on the head. Aside from tossing the technical side is solid as a rock-type though.

The gameplay

Many people adore this game and in the general review scene it would score between a 7,5 and 8,5 out of 10. There is one magazine that has a really weird point score that goes up to 40 and I think they got 30 or so there. Though I had amazing fun playing this game.. I am more in line with the review people as the general public.  This game is not a timeless classic. It’s a snack that is great fun. Though it is great fun to take all the snapshots, the fact that it doesn’t feature all 151 original pokémon is understandable, yet 63 feels like such an odd number as well, especially how easy it is to get them. While progressing to mew, I discovered 54 species without any trouble.  In part because of the gameplay in my eyes biggest flaws. Pictures professor Oak disapproves off still count towards your “Pokédex’
You can litteralty shoot the foot of Kangaskhan in the first stage and it will still be logged towards your completion process. Though your point count helps unlock items, like the Pokéflute, making bad photos still counts, just very slowly. It takes away some of the magic of the game. Puzzles however are positively interesting. There are spots where pokémon can evolve if you interact with it in a specific way. Knock that charmeleon into a lava pit with an apple and bam you have charizard.  Toss an item at Electrode and it will self destruct, which might unlock new secrets, bait a Slowpoke to a shellder pool and congratulations that Slowpoke evolves into a Slowbro! These are fun and oftenly quite clever. Puzzles that you need to complete are nicely telegraphed to the player without it being in your face obvious on your first run either, you really need to look around! These are even fun for non-pokémon players. The only one that might not work for a non Poké-player would be the Slowbro one because the evolution lore is never conveyed to the player. Maybe the diglett you have to snap three times as well.  All the other puzzles are something the game can communicate to you and you find out by playing around with your items and pokemon. Progression is possible for everyone and the game knows what it is doing and relays the needed information to it’s players.

Unfortunately all that cleverness is thrown out the window for the final encounter. The way you snap Mew is so dumb that it aggravates me.  Once you enter the rainbow cloud you see Mew in a barrier that lights up once you photograph it, ensuring it will not be seen. You solve this by tossing apples onto it’s barrier until they break it.  The Pokémon that created all Pokémon life, who has the power to learn every more, shoot fire that can melt through mountains, that inspired the ultimate weapon Pokémon.. which was basically just a clone.. can be stopped by six apples.  How cool would it have been if we could use everything we learned so far to break it’s barrier. Knock a zubat out of the sky with an apple so it heals it.. losing energy to his barrier, then wake up a pokémon with the flute while we see Mew losing some energy playing with it. Using the dash engine to ram into the barrier while it gets closer and the likes.  Or keep it even cuter. Feed a pokémon with an apple, save a pokemon being bullied with a pester ball, wake a sleeping mother pokemon so she can take care of her kids and eventually Mew sees you love pokémon and reveals itself. Instead we really do get in my opinion of of the worst final stages in gaming history! Meany developers this could have ended so amazing.


I would not have minded the final stage so much if the road towards it was nice and beefy, but you can finish this game  very easily. Within 3 to 6 hours you can beat this game if you can keep your eyes peeled, maybe a bit more if you don’t have the logic sense of a gamer. Speedrunners are even able to 100% complete this game in 24 minutes. That time gap is mostly due to the second gameplay element that can feel a bit iffy, the photo ratings.
At the end of each stage Professor Oak will give you an evaluation of your Pokémon. Size, Pose and is it in the middle of the camera.  That last one works perfectly. The other two are sometimes a bit hard to find out what oak exactly likes to see. A pokémon doing an attack will always give you good points but not every pokémon does that. Sometimes the pose is connected to a seemingly random set of frames. I managed to capture a dragonite during my run and it popped out with a huge smile on it’s face and the moment I snapped it it looked exactly like it was giving me a thumbs up. It was the cutest photo I took during those 3  and a bit hours and Oak didn’t like it all that much! Waaaaaaah! My favorite photograph!
The ratings can make the game feel a bit more static, but if you are just out here to be driven around in the cart and snap Pokémon it’s nothing too bad. It just can break your heart a little of that greyed fool baka meany professor doesn’t like that one truly amazing photograph.

Score

I truly loved replaying this game, I had an amazing time while playing it. Yet though I love spending time with this game, I do not necessarily love the game.  It is definitely worth picking up for an evening when you just want to relax and it ages amazingly well. It doesn’t feel all that retro, in a way it still feels like a modern game. It feels like one of those 20 dollar games you buy on steam these days, you know it’s short but it’s great while it lasts and it’s flaws are easily ignorable for how long the game lasts.  The game feels like it was made for “one evening’ and one might argue we should judge it as such. But I am not going to do that. It feels wrong. It feels like saying you love a hooker as much as a wife/girlfriend/husband/boyfriend . Simply because  the one may satisfy you fully that one time doesn’t mean she is 100% satisfactory! Pokémon Snap is an enjoyable ride but it is not something you will come back to each night.  It might not it’s intention to last for longer but if we go compare it to a life partner, those can still be fun for that one particular night as well as an entire life. That is why I mark Snap one grade own!

<\ I really need to talk to this girl about her analogies ‘Pinkie Prime>

I am absolutely eager to see a sequel game  someday with hopefully just a bit more flesh on it’s bones and a better final encounter.Until then snacking this will have to do!  Have you ever played Snap? What monster did snap on camera last? Next week you will find me shouting at a pikachu but remember:
I am not weird, just very pink!
Until we read again.

2 thoughts

    1. Well the story gets even more confusing when you realise this takes place after the events of the first Pokémon game, when the dex is completed. So what would use oak those photo’s for xD!
      It’s a fun game indeed just way to short!

      Like

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