After 13 years, Nintendo finally has a true sequel to Pokemon Snap coming up. Developed by Bandai Namco Studios, New Pokemon Snap looks to be a nice virtual vacation, allowing fans to interact with their favorite Pokemon across scenic vistas. It’s out on April 30th for Nintendo Switch so let’s take a look at a few things you should know before jumping in.
Story and Setting
The mainline series usually casts you as a Pokemon trainer seeking to become a master by capturing and training Pokemon. In New Pokemon Snap, however, you’re a Pokemon photographer who travels to the Lental region. As an archipelago, Lental has various different islands to explore, each with their own unique ecology and Pokemon. As the game progresses, these regions will open up more with more Pokemon being revealed.
Professor Mirror is actually the one who summons the player to Lental in order to investigate a phenomenon known as Illumina. Other characters include Rita, Mirror’s assistant who helps guide the player, and Phil, who serves as the de facto rival. By navigating the region, you’ll find out more about Illumina, its cause and the effects on the ecosystem. In an interesting first for the series, New Pokemon Snap has full voice acting in cutscenes, bringing its characters to life like never before.
As for the player character, there are a variety of appearances to choose from at the beginning (which can’t be changed later so choose carefully). Unfortunately, these seem to be set combinations of gender, hair-style, hair color and skin color, which means you won’t have true freedom in customizing your own character.
New Pokemon Snap’s gameplay can best be described as a rail-shooter. You traverse environments in a vehicle called the NEO-ONE, which moves on its own and can freely look around in all directions to take pictures of Pokemon. It sounds relatively simple but you’re not just shooting the most Pokemon on film in the shortest amount of time.
Branching Paths and Research Levels
Thus far, we’ve seen environments in the Lental region like a dense jungle, deserts and a tropical beach. However, every expedition won’t be the same. As you take photos and have them graded by Professor Mirror, you’ll receive Expedition Points. Earn enough points and the Research Level is boosted which will unlock additional paths in that environment along with more Pokemon. So you may encounter slight differences and even a different time of day, the latter affecting the behavior that certain Pokemon can exhibit along with the types that can appear.
Over 200 Pokemon
While the original Pokemon Snap had 63 Pokemon from Pokemon Red and Blue to shoot, New Pokemon Snap has more than 200 Pokemon across various generations. You have the classics like Bulbasaur, Squirtle and Pikachu alongside Pichu, Heracross, Meganium and much more. Even Celebi makes an appearance, which means other Mythical or Legendary Pokemon are more than likely lurking.
Fluffruit and Scans
As you explore the different areas, you’ll see many Pokemon casually going about their day. Not every Pokemon will be visible but there are workarounds for that. One is Fluffruit which can be used to lure certain Pokemon out of hiding. Another solution is to scan your surroundings – this will reveal hidden Pokemon and may even coax a reaction out of some. You could also play some music to have a certain Pokemon dance.
One of your main goals is to investigate the Illumina phenomenon and its effect on Pokemon. To that end, you can use it to your advantage in certain situations with Illumina orbs. Tossing said orbs at Pokemon will cause them to glow, which serves a number of purposes. It can wake up Pokemon that are sleeping or maybe change their mood, causing them to become happy. Illumina is also useful for night photography so keep a few handy when the sun goes down.
As Professor Mirror goes over your photos, he’ll score different aspects and give them a rating of one to four stars. In order to ensure the best kinds of photos, you’ll need to consider the Pokemon’s size, the direction it’s facing, placement within the frame, whether other Pokemon are present and so on. The Pokemon’s reaction is also important – capturing rare reactions is the key to top-tier photographs. The Photodex is your main means of cataloguing Pokemon, and allows for saving one picture from each star rating, allowing for a total of four pictures per Pokemon.
It wouldn’t be a photography title without the option to edit and touch up your shots. Re-Snap is just the tool for this. Along with changing settings like brightness, zoom level and blur, it can also add filters to shots. Edited shots can be further customized with different stickers and frames. Once you’re done editing, these pictures can be saved to a personal album apart from the Photodex, thus providing even more space for one’s photography.
Sharing Photos With Other Players
You can also share your photos online and see what other players think of them, though this requires a Nintendo Switch Online membership. Photos shared by other players can be given a “Sweet!” medal which equates to a “like.” Garner enough medals and your shot may start trending or even be featured in-game.
If you’re keen on bragging rights, then there are online rankings as well. These allow for comparing various achievements, from total Photodex Score to Research Expedition scores, to see who’s on top in the global leaderboards. So if you’re finished with the main story and want to compete with other players on nailing that perfect shot, then this should serve as decent enough motivation.
Supports Gyro Controls
For those who want the feeling of actually maneuvering the Switch like a camera, New Pokemon Snap supports gyro controls. Which would be weird when out and about but should work well enough at home. It adds that extra bit of immersion though you can still use the sticks to look around normally as well.
Requires 6.8 GB space
In terms of content, New Pokemon Snap seems like a fairly sizable adventure, especially when its predecessor allowed for completing everything in just six to seven hours. Thankfully, it won’t take up too much space. According to its Nintendo.com listing, the total file size is only 6.8 GB, which is on the smaller side as far as first-party Nintendo titles goes.
No Pokemon Home Support
Unfortunately, New Pokemon Snap won’t have support for Pokemon Home as confirmed by recent previews. So if you’re expecting any photographed Pokemon to be stored in the cloud, then that won’t be happening (which makes sense lore-wise since you’re technically photographing and not capturing them). Save data from other titles like Pokemon Sword and Shield won’t be supported either, which is somewhat of a bummer but not a huge deal-breaker .