Offering a fantastical safari through jungles, oceans, deserts and beyond, New Pokemon Snap is an extended and ever-changing expedition through an enchanting world of pocket monsters, with limited interactivity but plenty of opportunity for surprise and delight.
Pokemon Snap was released more than two decades ago, and there hasn’t been anything like it since, so you can’t really fault this sequel for using the exact same premise. In fact New Pokemon Snap delivers pretty much exactly what I would want in a follow-up to the Nintendo 64 original; more creatures, more levels, prettier graphics, and the same laid-back vibe.
This time you’re off to the archipelago of the all-new Lental region, which is conveniently made up of a whole heap of completely different biomes and inhabited by more than 200 Pokemon from all previous generations and regions. Riding along pre-determined paths in the floating NEO-ONE vehicle, your job is too look all around for Pokemon to take photos of.
That may sound like a pretty passive premise compared to the catching and fighting of the main Pokemon games, but the act of observation is still pretty exciting. Cool and adorable creatures are simply everywhere, so it takes many journeys through each path to spot them all.
And you’re not entirely unassertive; you can gently lob tasty fruit and use other unlockable tools to coax creatures into better light, get them to exhibit different behaviours and uncover secrets. It’s these interactions — figuring out how to slow Grookey down so you can get a good shot, discovering that you can make Tangrowth stretch his gross arm out to grab a fruit, or just nailing Bidoof in the face with an apple — that makes the world extra charming.
There’s a lot to do here compared to the original game, and for the most part it’s paced extremely well with new challenges, areas and options as you go. Uncovering the depths of each route increases your research rank to alter the surroundings in ways both major and subtle, while hidden alternate paths and night-time safaris give access to entirely different Pokemon and behaviours.
Of course there’s also something of a narrative tying it all together, this time centred around a mysterious phenomena that can make Pokemon glow, and a professor that wants you to document multiple behaviours for every monster in the land.
Professor Mirror is much more complimentary than Professor Oak, but much like in the original game this guy can be frustratingly inflexible when it comes to what he finds interesting. You can sometimes bring him a beautiful representation of what you think is a totally unique situation or behaviour, only for him to tell you it’s a less worthy version of a pic you’ve already submitted.