Pokemon Snap (Nintendo 64) review
"Pokemon Snap is a curious, shallow, yet completely addictive and very unusual game. If you haven't heard of Pokemon then you are probably a member of the House of Lords, or dead. Or possibly both. Pokemon Snap takes the pocket monsters franchise off in an unusual direction. Into the genre of the Shoot 'em Up. "
Pokemon Snap is a curious, shallow, yet completely addictive and very unusual game. If you haven't heard of Pokemon then you are probably a member of the House of Lords, or dead. Or possibly both. Pokemon Snap takes the pocket monsters franchise off in an unusual direction. Into the genre of the Shoot 'em Up.
Now before you get all excited at the prospect of Fragging Pikachu and Jigglypuff with your Railgun, it needs to be clarified that this is a uniquely Nintendo take on the concept. You're actually shooting pictures of pokemon with a camera. You have to aim, target and shoot, you even have limited ammo to conserve (sixty shots per film roll). You view this all through the typical first person perspective, lining up pokemon and 'shooting' them in the attempt to get the perfect picture.
There is a story of sorts holding this all together. You're a photographer taken on by Professor Oak (of the Gameboy games and TV show fame). Your task is to visit an idyllic island where 63 types of pokemon live unmolested by pokemon trainers. You must take the best pictures you can and bring them back for professor Oak to grade. One picture of each pokemon can be put in the report, the better the picture, the higher your score.
There are six courses, plus one super-secret course to photograph pokemon along. You travel around these courses in a small buggy called the Zero One, as you move through the game you have to complete certain objectives to unlock the next levels. For example to unlock the Volcano Level you need to make the Electrode at the end of the Tunnel level mad. Throw some pokemon food at him and he'll explode, giving you access to the next stage. With others you need to have found a certain number of pokemon before you can move on, you'll also begin to acquire more useful items such as the pester ball, pokeflute and an accelerator for the Zero One. This means you can revisit earlier levels and snap much better pictures of the pokemon there, plus find more hidden ones.
The genius of this game is that finding each pokemon is very logical and very satisfying to do. Why is Charmeleon walking round and round the lava pit? Well earlier in the level we saw Magmar make a Charmander evolve with his heat breath so if we throw an apple and knock him in, wow its a Charizard! Whats that Magikarp doing out of place in the Valley level? Hit him a couple of times and..yes he's got mad enough to evolve into a Gyrados! Those Bulbasaurs in the Caves look odd..perhaps if I hit them with a apple..no a pesterball..yes, they are really Ditto's. Finally in the end level you take a journey though the clouds to snap the rare (and super-douperly cute) Mew. This is a big challenge as Mew needs to be knocked out of her energy ball before you can snap her and you only have a matter of a few seconds to take the pic before she is back inside. Its fun and frustrating and you'll feel like Annie Leibowitz when you finally get that full page picture of Mew turned to face you.
For a pokemon maniac like myself its a source of great fulfillment to figure out that leading Pikachu to the Surf Board will get you a really big ''Surfing Pikachu'' picture score. Or that getting all the Jigglypuffs to sing at the end of the Cave Level will score plenty as well. Although I finished this game in an evening, I keep coming back to take better and better pictures for my Pokemon report and Album. For example, I realised that if you didn't move the Moltres egg off the track in the Volcano Level you could stay put and snap pictures of the Charmanders for as long as you liked. I know it sounds quite sad, but I spent a while getting all the little fellas posed around some Pokemon food and doing adorable little leaps. It wasn't my highest scoring picture, but it's in pride of place in my album.
Basically the longevity of the game depends on how much you are likely to enjoy going back and trying to get the best/funniest/cutest pics of all the pokemon. If you are willing to keep replaying the River Level in order to get the three Bulbasaurs crowded round some food and doing their sweet little standing on two legs pose, then this game is for you. If however, you would rather be mowing the pokemon down with a machine gun shouting ''take that you saccharine-filled exemplars of the dumbing down of videogames culture!!.'' Then you are a) a sourpuss and a grumpy face and b) should never have bought this game in the first place. Get back to your violence and gore, there is no place for you in Pokemon world!
The graphics are extremely suited to the games style. The big chunky, soft focus N64 renders the requisite level of bright, fuzzy-wuzzy, cartoon like images. All the stages are very well constructed, with the Valley one being my particular favourite. The sensation of rushing down fast and slow moving water rapids is done excellently, and at no point are the levels too cluttered or or indistinct. The music and sound is sparse, but also used to good effect. The themes to each stage are perfectly conceived. The Caves stage has a great theme, melancholy chords that tinkle and bend as you descend into the murky Cave depths. All the pokemon have their proper ''cartoon'' voices as well. The Charmanders squeak ''char, char'' at you and the Jigglypuffs (hooray), sing the ''Jigglypuff'' song. Even Professor Oak will say a few words as he guides your quest.
It was hard for me to score this game. Personally I loved it a lot and I think anyone with a passing interest in Pokemon would enjoy it to. Its a refreshingly innocent game to play and Nintendo should be commended for putting an original spin on a game in a long running franchise such as Pokemon. However the brevity of the main aspect of the game (finishing the pokemon report) makes it less than perfect and the lack of all 151 original Pokemon is also a let down. I hope that Nintendo decide to revisit this idea with a GameCube update and all 251 pokemon included. Even a multiplayer mode would be fun. So for now I think this game is worthy of an 8/10. A great game for all pokemon fans and younger gamers, but not enough meat to the game to appeal to non fans.
Community review by falsehead (March 08, 2004)
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