Games: New Pokemon Snap a feel-good family-friendly Switch game 22 years in the making
New Pokemon Snap (Switch)
GIVEN the first commercially available camera phone didn't hit Europe until 2002, we were still firing our rolls of shame off to Boots when the first Pokemon Snap hit the N64 – which may explain why the shutterbug simulator became 1999's surprise hit.
It's been a long wait, but fans eager to capture that Kodak moment with their favourite Pokemon can finally go mugshot crazy again with this Switch sequel.
On paper, it's a miracle the original got the green light at all. Gameplay involved little more than riding a little cart around an island, playing paparazzo with Pokemon in their natural habitat.
A young boy in the employ of a curiously evil-looking professor was given the family-friendly Nintendo treatment, with a laid-back vibe that flipped the narrative in a market stuffed with tabloid-baiting blasters.
Yes, you fired off many shots, but there was no Pokemon slaughter ('monslaughter?) here, though you did need to harass its beasties for the real money shots – from coaxing more bashful species out of hiding with Pester Balls or making them dance with your Pokeflute.
The sequel follows the same path as players travel to the Lental region to help document the Illumina phenomenon (which is causing Pokemon to glow) by – yes – taking fake photos of made-up monsters.
Creaking through a variety of islands in your NEO-ONE vehicle, New Pokemon Snap is all about huffing the chilled vibes, taking on the breathy tones of Attenborough as you lie in wait of your photogenic quarry – 214 different species of which are here for the snapping.
It may sound dishwater dull, but pop off the perfect diamond-rated shot and your brain cranks up the dopamine. But not every photo is posterity-worthy. The real skill comes in achieving well-centred images where the Pokemon is looking at you. Extra points are awarded for multiple Pokemon in frame, capturing your unwitting models in front of an arresting background or having them pose.
You can up your chances of seeing Pokemon jump, dance or evolve by chucking some food their way, playing music or going on evening shoots to capture that elusive nocturnal behaviour.
With photography itself having evolved since the original game, your shots can now be digitally editing for clarity, even adding stickers for that social media sheen, while network features let players upload their creations to global leaderboards for user-ratings in a frenzy of competitive photography.
A visual feast, New Pokemon Snap looks gorgeous, dripping with atmosphere day or night, with the glowing Illumina effect especially eye-catching after dark. A sequel 22 years in the making, New Pokemon Snap once again feeds that burning desire for a Squirtle through your aperture in a nostalgia trip that fans of Animal Crossing will love.
If you're after another feel-good, family-friendly Switch game, then Snap to it.