“Beyond the skies of adventure, victory is certain if you play like this”. Ten, one hundred, one thousand emotions – and twenty years later – we found ourselves a surprise New Pokémon Snap in hands. The original made its debut on the immortal Nintendo 64, but it is Bandai Namco – obviously in collaboration with Nintendo and The Pokémon Company – who have rethought this rejuvenation. To brush up on such an idea, especially in a period so full of anxiety and melancholy, it seemed really right.
New Pokémon Snap, in fact, stands out from the other chapters of the saga and takes us away from the classic battles to put ourselves in the shoes of a photographer. Alongside Professor Speculux, the goal will be to investigate and immortalize the secrets of Pokémon Lumina, creatures linked to a mysterious past event in the Lentil region.. The plot will take us slowly to unearth the consequences of the impact of a meteor and all the changes it has brought to the Pokémon ecosystem.
The archaeological plot is an interesting idea and manages to involve the right, if you keep expectations low. We are speaking, after all, of a spin-off that pushes the accelerator on nostalgia and emotions, rather than on the complexity of the story. New Pokémon Snap, in this sense, takes up the same base as its predecessor and places us in various paths on tracks with the aim of photographing, and studying, as many Pokémon as possible.
Photography, as you might have guessed, is the focal point of the gameplay. Immortalizing Pokémon in their natural habitat has a more unique than rare charm: from the resting Sylveon to the Gengar crouched in the darkest caves, from the Charizard hidden in a volcano to the Vulpix form Alola playing in the snow. To continue, we will have to advance our Research level. How? Giving our best with the shots, of course. Dear Professor Speculux will evaluate the photos based on numerous criteria: centering, background, composition and, of course, timing.
Taking home a photo of a Vaporeon swimming is not the same as capturing a Pichu from behind. The spirit of observation is important, and keeping an eye on their movements is vital to be able to be in the right place at the right time, and thus obtain the best possible result.
Getting the timing right, finding new Pokémon and getting memorable shots will give us points and stars and, consequently, new paths of exploration, secondary roads, news in the areas already seen and even real night expeditions. Graphically, the various levels are all well diversified from each other, just as they are different the types of Pokémon that we will find in the various habitats: from mythological ones to those of the abyss, from ghosts to psycho type.
It should be emphasized that we will not be simple passive protagonists: many tools in our possession will allow us to trigger particular reactions in Pokémon. Throwing soft apples will attract the greediest of them, with the radar we will instead find secrets or make the curious ones approach, while with a speaker we will emit music capable of making some Pokémon dance or wake up sleeping ones.
Last but not least, the Lumina spheres, which will cause luminescent reactions in the surrounding Pokémon, allowing us to take really rare photos. The goal, as you can imagine, is therefore to repeat the courses several times to get better and better scores. Dynamics that, in the long run, can also make the game rather repetitive: the expeditions do not vary one iota and soon you have the feeling of witnessing the same interactive video over and over again. Fortunately, the setting is changed so often that it will never stop offering something new.
On average, the game can last you from 15 to 20 hours; even something more if your goal is to discover all the goodies of the end game or try your hand at side missions. As in other games there is a Pokédex to complete, here we have a Fotodex: a binder in which to collect all our ‘catches’, even shareable online with other real players. In fact, the idea of being able to edit the shots already taken with a real retouch editor is nice: the features of this little program can be unlocked by progressing in the adventure, including stickers, filters and frames.
I 60 frames per second they are always insured both in docked and portable mode, at least during the gameplay phases. Some more conspicuous decline is present during the animated films, and even if graphically you certainly cannot scream at the masterpiece, artistically it is instead very easy to be amazed. The care in Pokémon settings and animations is obvious, and running around with the NEO-UNO in their natural environments – without disturbing them – is a relaxing experience. like few others, and a great way to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of reality or other more challenging games.
New Pokémon Snap, all in all, it does not aim to be an unforgettable masterpiece, but it is an excellent pastime between a frustrating loops from Returnal and a vampire bite from Resident Evil Village. If Pokémon are your thing and, for once, you really want to be friends with them rather than throwing them into arenas to beat them up and bet on the winner, now you finally have a second choice. Photographer’s Profession is the new Pokémon Master. And Ash dumb.