Full disclosure: The older I’ve gotten, the harder it’s become for me to invest in massive, narrative-driven games. A large part of that is because when I finally have time to play a game, I want something I can easily pick up, play, and feel like I accomplished something. It’s why games like Call of Duty, F1 2020, and Tetris: Effect have become my pandemic MVPs. New Pokémon Snap can be added to that list as its simple but delightful gameplay is great for both quick bursts and longer gameplay sessions.
New Pokémon Snap is a game that ’90s babies have been begging for in the two decades since the original Pokémon Snap came out in 1999. The gameplay is essentially a Poke-safari, where you slowly move on-rails and take pictures of Pokémon in their natural, wildlife habitats. This sounds like it shouldn’t be such an enchanting prospect and yet, here we are.
I can’t lie to you, when I went into New Pokémon Snap the question of “Was Pokémon Snap actually good, or was I just 7?,” was one that weighed heavily on my mind. Turns out, taking pictures of adorable creatures at a leisurely pace was just the thing I was looking for. A variety of locales open up as you progress through the game, and you can explore them in both day and nighttime settings. Whether it’s a jungle, a desert, a beach, or even a volcano, all the locales have their own personality and their own unique Pokémon.
The plot, like most Pokémon spin-offs, is quite simple. You’re assisting Professor Mirror as he tries to gain more information about the Illumina phenomenon which makes certain Pokémon glow at night. The story really is there to only justify why you’re taking pictures of Pokémon instead of catching them all.
The game does a solid job of introducing variety the more you play through each map. The higher you level up on a map, the more you’ll see certain behaviors change in the environment’s Pokémon or new Pokémon introduced. This really helps keep things from getting repetitive in the early stages. The biggest beef I have with the game is the relatively light amount of content provided within the base game. I really hope they do updates in the future adding new Pokémon and maps as this is a world I would enjoy returning to.
Overall, New Pokémon Snap is a delightful, low-stakes game. If you’re a Pokémon fan, a Switch owner, or just someone looking for a game that doesn’t involve world-ending stakes, give New Pokémon Snap a go. I went in expecting a nostalgia grab and came out with a game that’ll likely stay in my rotation for a good minute.