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New Pokémon Snap review

Amateur photography hour

New Pokémon Snap review
(Image: © The Pokémon Company)

Our Verdict

New Pokémon Snap feels antiquated by today’s standards. Your enjoyment of the game will ultimately come down to whether you enjoy taking hundreds of pictures of virtual creatures, as you slowly chug along predetermined paths multiple times in the hopes of spotting something new. It’ll probably pass muster with Pokémon-loving kids, who will delight in seeing Pikachu scamper across the screen for perhaps the very first time. But for anyone aged 10 or above, this eclectic safari park isn’t worth the price of admission.

For

  • Intuitive controls
  • Pokémon are undeniably cute
  • Pleasing visuals

Against

  • Very monotonous
  • Feels incredibly dated
  • No real incentive to keep playing

New Pokémon Snap is yet another example of Nintendo reviving a beloved title for a new audience, and one that will undoubtedly attract the attention of those who played the original game back in 1999. Resurrecting past titles is something that Nintendo does incredibly well, mostly owing to the fact it has a rich library of classic games that appeal to young and older audiences alike. Everyone has their favorites and a personal list of older Nintendo games they’d love to see remade (give us a new F-Zero, please!).

The problem is, though, not every title stands the test of time. Once the warm and fuzzy feelings of nostalgia fade away, New Pokémon Snap feels rudimentary by today’s standard, and we found it extremely monotonous to play. There’s simply not enough variation on offer, and only fleeting moments of enjoyment to be found that make it hard to justify the price tag.

Review information

Time played: 8 hours
Platform: Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Switch Lite 

Of course, there’s no denying that New Pokémon Snap may rekindle fond memories for those who played the original Pokémon Snap game on the N64. But it’s hard to fathom how anyone but a child could seriously enjoy this shallow safari park-style experience for more than a couple of hours.

New Pokémon Snap price and release date 

  • What is it? An on-rails photography game where you take pictures of Pokémon
  • Release date? April 30, 2021
  • What can I play it on? Nintendo Switch
  • Price? $59.99 / £49.99 / AU$79.95

Snap chat

New Pokémon Snap

(Image credit: Nintendo)
  • Easy to learn controls
  • Accessible to all players

You begin New Pokémon Snap by choosing from a selection of premade characters – there aren’t any customization options available – who acts as your silent avatar for the game. The player is introduced to two main characters shortly after, Rita and Professor Mirror, who have enlisted your help in photographing Pokémon across the Lental region, which is made up of various unknown islands.

Your main goal, apart from filling up your Photodex with countless pics of generations worth of cutesy Pokémon, is to hop across the various islands in a bid to learn more about the Illumina phenomenon, which can make Pokémon give off an otherworldly glow. Essentially, you’re on a research mission, and your camera is the key to making discoveries. 

A quick tutorial walks you through the game’s controls, which are super easy to pick up. You control the camera by using the analog sticks or, if you’d like a more realistic experience, by using the Nintendo Switch’s built-in gyro controls. You can zoom in using the ZL button, and snap pictures by pressing A. It’s intuitive, and we really appreciate being able to fine-tune our shots using the Nintendo Switch’s gyro controls.

The tutorial also explains how to take a perfect picture, and that’s where the game’s main challenge lies. It’s not enough to fire through a reel of film without any care or attention. You’ll need to take into account a Pokémon’s pose, direction, what’s happening in the background, and the size of your subject when they’re lined up in your lens. Everyone knows how to take a good photo, and the same basic rules apply in New Pokémon Snap.

Subject matter

New Pokémon Snap night

(Image credit: Nintendo)
  • Getting the best scores is challenging
  • New unlocks create new opportunities
  • Mini-missions and in-game achievements add more depth

Thankfully, however, there’s more to the game than simply pointing your camera at Pokémon and shouting “cheese!”. As you progress through the game, which is done by raising your research level from the scores you receive from Professor Mirror, you’ll be given upgrades to your research camera and the ability to throw Fluffruit towards any nearby Pokémon. This is the crux of how you’ll discover more types of Pokémon that may be hidden away, and also how to prompt unique reactions. It’s these snaps which will score you the highest points. 

Speaking of points, each photo you take is given a rating between one to four stars, and Professor Mirror will rate them accordingly after each outing. You can select the photos yourself, which are handily organized into folders of each Pokémon you snapped, or have the game automatically select the best ones for you. This auto-select feature is a life saver, as the idea of sifting through countless photos of a Magikarp is not our idea of a good time, and the game will sometimes surprise you by what it considers to be a “good” photo. 

If you want to hit the four star ratings, you’ll need to try to capture Pokémon in the middle of a candid moment, which again, can be done by using the right tool for the job. Some Pokémon may require a Fluffruit to coax them out of hiding, or a melody played to wake them from their slumber. You’ll also unlock a scan function early on that can sometimes reveal new routes, and there are mini-missions to complete that earn your titles (in-game achievements basically) and more items for the editing suite. It’s a nice puzzle-solving element that makes each journey to your destination slightly more interesting.

Change the film already

New Pokémon Snap beach

(Image credit: Nintendo)
  • Extremely repetitive

As the game progresses, you’ll be tasked with regularly revisiting routes on the various islands you need to frequent as you slowly raise your research level. The Pokémon you discover and the actions you see will change in subtle ways the higher your research level becomes, but honestly, the thrill of seeing Pokémon roaming around the lush and sometimes beautiful scenery wears off extremely fast. 

Yes, we smiled when an Emolga flew directly towards us after perching in a nearby tree the first time, and there are different locations like a desert, beach or jungle that are inhabited by new Pokémon types to snap away to your heart’s content. But it’s often the same exact route you’ll have to sit through, the same Pokemon you need to photograph, all with the prospect of getting a slightly better rating. That cute and cuddly Emolga soon lost its charm the fourth time it flew over our heads, and New Pokémon Snap doesn’t feel organic enough to make retreading the same steps worth it. It can often feel like groundhog day. 

Finishing touches

New Pokémon Snap picture edit

(Image credit: Nintendo)
  • Share your photos with other players online
  • Edit your pictures in various ways
  • Photodex lets you view all your best photographs

But what awaits players when they’re not snapping pictures of Pokémon? Photo editing and community sharing, basically. You can connect to the internet and share your favorite photos with other New Pokémon Snap players, who can award the pics they like best with a Sweet! medal. You can also edit your photos in a pleasing number of ways using the Re-Snap feature and Photo Editing options, which let you add filters, change the exposure or place fun stickers on your pictures. You need a Nintendo Switch Online subscription to access the online functionality, sadly, but you can still share your Pokémon pics the standard way: take a screenshot on the Switch and share it to social media. 

You can also sift through your burgeoning album of Pokémon photos in your Photodex, if you like, which shows 3D models of your various subjects, along with information on their vital statistics like height, weight and type. But there’s not much else to do outside of the main game, sadly. 

Verdict 

A real life safari park is fun the first time around, but imagine if someone asked you to do it five times in a row, with the slight chance that you’ll discover something new?  Sounds pretty laborious, right? Well, that’s what New Pokémon Snap feels like. It’s a real grind to play, and the rewards simply aren’t great enough to justify the investment of time it requires. If you love Pokémon and have always dreamed of capturing them all through the lens of a camera, it at least lives up to that promise. Just keep your expectations in check as to how fun photographing Pokémon over and over again really is.

Adam Vjestica

Adam is a Senior Gaming Writer at TechRadar. A law graduate with an exceptional track record in content creation and online engagement, Adam has penned scintillating copy for various technology sites, and also established his very own award-nominated video games website. He’s previously worked at Nintendo of Europe as a Content Marketing Editor and once played Halo 5: Guardians for over 51 hours for charity. (He’s still recovering to this day.)