Retro Gamer Ireland Retrospective – A Look Back At Pokémon Snap
With the upcoming release of New Pokémon Snap on the horizon, I (Naoise O’Hare) thought it would be a great time to revisit the original and one of my all-time favourite games, Pokémon Snap.
Pokémon was first released in Japan during the mid-90’s in the form of Pokémon Red and Green on the Nintendo Game Boy, later released as Red and Blue to the rest of the world. With the subsequent release of the hit TV show, Pokémon was set to take the world by storm. Pokémon Green, Red and Blue were just the first of many Pokémon games to be release across numerous consoles. Of the many Pokémon video games released throughout the years, there is one so quirky and unique that it has captured the hearts of gamers around the world, that game is Pokémon Snap on the Nintendo 64.
Pokémon Snap was released in 1999, it was quite different to any game before it and a complete genre change to its Poké-predecessors. You take on the role of Todd Snap, an eager young photographer who travels to Pokémon Island in search of adventure. There he meets up with the legendary Professor Oak who needs help with his Pokémon Report. To complete this report, you are tasked with travelling around the island and snaping photos of all the Pokémon you can see, or you could say, Snap’em All.
There are 7 distinctly different levels to go through and the game plays out like a rail shooter, travelling from start to finish and instead of shooting ammunition, you shoot photos. Todd travels in the Zero-One, a vehicle that protects him from the elements and gives him a clear 360 view of the environment around him. The Zero-One can travel on ground, in the water and even through the air depending on the level. With each level having a mainly linear path, you travel from A to B and with the help of your trusty camera, you try to catch as many Pokémon as possible, catch them on film that is.
As this game is part of the first generation of Pokémon, or, Gen 1, there were only 151 Pokémon in the world at the time. Of these 151, there are a total of 63 Pokémon in the game that you must try and take photos of. Now, maybe the technological limitations of the time were the reason why the developers could not fit all 151 Pokémon into the game, but as the game was released on the Nintendo 64, it begs the question, why not make space for one more and make it 64. My theory on this is that back then, rumours would fly about secrets in games, secret levels, endings and characters that might be unlockable through various means. As Pokémon Snap was released during the days before the internet was widely available, these rumours would be notorious among gamers, with people spending countless hours searching for secrets in games that might not even
exist, such as the fabled Mew under the truck beside the S.S.Anne. My theory is that the developers put 63 Pokémon into the game on purpose, to get people talking. Most would assume that there would be 64 Pokémon in total, as is the name sake of the console that it is played on. This would then create rumours of certain Pokémon being found, like my brothers friends neighbours sister saw a Blastoise in the river. These kinds of rumours would keep people talking about and playing the game for a long time to come.
Of the 63 Pokémon that did make the cut, there are a lot of fan favourites including Pikachu, Squirtle, Bulbasaur, Charmander and of course, Charizard. In other Pokémon games, it was all about random encounters with Pokémon and subsequent battles. What I love about this game is that you get to see Pokémon in their natural environment, some lazing around and others having fun with their fellow Pokémon. This all plays into the objective of the game as when you take photos of the creatures, you return to Professor Oak and he grades them, giving them higher or lower points depending on the size, placement, number of Pokémon and what they are doing in the photo. This points system makes for great replay-ability and it is a lot of fun trying to outdo your previous shot in the hopes for that perfect pic. There are also some items that you use along the way to help you get that perfect photo. Most fans of the series are used to throwing Poké balls but in this game, things are a lot different. Instead of Poké balls, your throw apples and pester-balls, now this might now sound vert exciting but trust me, they are a big part of the game. The apples and Pester-balls are used to coax Pokémon out of hiding, lure them to certain areas and can even give some Pokémon a nudge in the right direction. You also get to use the Poké Flute which helps you get some snaps of sleepy Pokémon and can even help you see some legendary Pokémon that might be in hiding.
Pokémon Snap is a feel-good game that I would highly recommend to anyone who is a fan of the series. With New Pokémon Snap just around the corner, it is a great time to revisit the classic Nintendo 64 title in preparation for the new game. With only 63 Pokémon making it into the original, it’s exciting to see who will make an appearance this time around. I would love to see the rest of Gen 1 that did not make it in the first game, finally get their time to shine. As the Pokémon universe has expanded so much since then however, there are so many Pokémon to choose from. Fans of the original game have been hoping for a sequel for over 20 years now and with only a few weeks to go until the release of New Pokémon Snap on the Nintendo Switch, we will finally get another chance to Snap’em All.
Words by Naoise O’Hare (Retro Gamer Ireland). You can follow Naoise on Instagram.
New Pokémon Snap
We’ll leave you off with the latest trailer for the upcoming New Pokémon Snap. You can get your hands on the title for Nintendo Switch from April 30th.
Are you looking forward to New Pokémon Snap?