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New Pokemon Snap preview: Going on safari

It's been over 20 years since Pokemon fans got to venture into Pokemon photography and, today, Shacknews takes an early look at New Pokemon Snap.


It's been decades since Pokemon fans got to go on a different kind of journey. It wasn't to be the very best, like no one ever was. This Pokemon quest involved taking pictures of the pocket monsters in their natural habitat. After years of waiting, fans are finally getting a follow-up to Pokemon Snap with the appropriately-titled New Pokemon Snap. Shacknews recently got to take a first look at the upcoming Nintendo Switch adventure from Nintendo and Bandai Namco.

The premise for New Pokemon Snap should feel familiar to anyone who played the original. Players meet Professor Mirror and are asked to fill a Photodex, which will help with an ecological survey. They'll do so by exploring the all-new Lental region in the NEO-ONE auto-driving vehicle. The vehicle is on autopilot, which gives players a chance to focus mainly on snapping the best pictures possible.

The Nintendo Treehouse team took us through New Pokemon Snap's first stage, Blushing Beach. As a fan of the original game, it looks refreshingly familiar. The beachfront area was home to dozens of different Pokemon species all going about their business. There's a Lapras swimming along the shore, an Exeggutor strolling across the grass, a flock of Wingulls flying overhead, and a Pikachu up to some mischief in the corner, just to name a few examples. Focusing on any of the Pokemon will offer their name, as well as their gender and any other specific identifiers, such as a Vivillon having a marine pattern.

Players will have various tools to help them take the perfect photo. Fluff Fruit will be a go-to item, as it's something to feed lingering Pokemon. It can lure them out of a hiding spot and it can also make them content, making it easier to snap a good picture. It's also more humane than the old apples from the last Pokemon Snap game. Because Fluff Fruit are lighter, hitting a Pokemon over the head with one is much less likely to give it a concussion. Another tool is the "Melody," which is music that can draw out Pokemon into the open. Some Pokemon might even dance, like the aforementioned Pikachu and Exeggutor.

The noteworthy new inventory item for New Pokemon Snap is the Illumina Orb. This is an item that can be tossed at Pokemon and will have different results for each of them. Sometimes, it can lighten a Pokemon's mood and make it friendlier. Other Pokemon will wake up from a deep sleep. Experimentation with the Illumina Orb, as well as the other items in the game, is heavily encouraged.

There's a lot about the NEO-ONE ride that feels refreshingly old-school. That's even with the novelty of a ride over the ocean shores, where I got to check out Water-type Pokemon like Corsola, Pyukumuku, and Stunfisk. However, there are some eye-opening new additions to these rides. For one thing, there's an option to check out the stage at night. Each stage will have a nighttime variant, which will feature entirely different Pokemon. For example, the evening ride through Blushing Beach featured Zangoose, Seviper, Drifblim, Sandygast, and even an Alolan Raichu. Those Pokemon who stick around from the daytime will move on to different activities. In the case of Exeggutor, who was bright-eyed and dancing under the sun, he was on his hindquarters dreaming the night away.

The other major change is that there's a greater potential for secrets. Much of that involves cleverly using the inventory available. Sometimes, you'll see different Pokemon encounters. That Alolan Raichu I mentioned earlier? It doesn't always come out. There's also the possibility to take different paths, which will open the door to Pokemon that otherwise wouldn't be seen on the standard path. Unlike the Nintendo 64 original, which could be fully completed in a matter of hours, New Pokemon Snap is going to offer much more reason to replay each stage.

There is another reason to replay each stage, of course. It's because you're not always going to get the perfect shot. Pictures will be judged on pose, size, direction, placement, other Pokemon (this awards bonus points for other Pokemon that get in the shot), and background. Part of the goal will be to increase your Research Level for each individual stage. Options will be there to compare shots of the same Pokemon and you'll be able to decide from there which will be the better one to submit.

After nearly an hour of watching the New Pokemon Snap demo, it was clear how much it has progressed from the original. It's also clear just how much the Pokemon series, as a whole, has moved forward. There are hundreds of new Pokemon species, as well as Pokemon genders, natures, evolutions, and more. New Pokemon Snap will look to take advantage of all of that. There are also major steps forward in sharing. This game will offer a feature called Re-Snap, which is an in-game album that players can save their photos to. From here, players can utilize a variety of photo mode options and adjust a picture's brightness, blur, focus size, focal point, filter, and caption. The Nintendo Switch's screenshot feature can then be put to good use and give the player a chance to share their handywork with the world.

There is much more to get into with New Pokemon Snap beyond the small slice shown to us. Expect to hear more from Nintendo and The Pokemon Company in the weeks ahead. Look for New Pokemon Snap to release on Nintendo Switch on April 30.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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