It's the middle of a sweltering summer; the thermometer can't keep up with the ever-rising heat and we're begging my best friend's parents to let us set up the N64 on the tv in their bedroom because it's one of the two rooms in the house with air conditioning. After hours of pestering and promises of chores and completed homework, they cave, and a summertime tradition begins.
I can picture my friend and I perfectly, lying awkwardly on our stomach on their parents’ bed, propped up on our elbows. It's a miracle we didn't give ourselves back problems because there were no chairs to sit on but we didn't care. It was a comfortable temperature for once and we got to play Pokemon Snap.
Fast forward 22 years and we're here again. I'm sitting on my living room couch, the one room in the house that has air conditioning, but this time I can sit comfortably and there's a brand new world for me to see. It's not quite summer yet, but the temperature is slowly creeping up and the nostalgia is in full swing.
New Pokemon Snap was everything I wished it would be, and I wished that it wouldn't be too far from its predecessor. With so many new pokemon to choose from, brand new courses and locations to explore, the heart of the game is still exactly as it was back then - filled with the thrill of discovery. The series acts as a front row seat to the habitats that these pocket monsters occupy when we aren't making them fight. Especially towards the end of the game, the whimsical adventure the game takes you on fills your heart with wonder and awe beyond any other pokemon game I've ever played. They really crafted this game into something truly special, something far beyond a simple on-rails photography game.
While the actual narrative itself is I'll be honest, nothing to write home about, it's still a vessel to help you explore and experience this world through a camera lens. While most of the other games largely take place in cities and worlds built by humans where pokemon exist, the snap games are a window into a world that was never meant for us. We're just visitors in these forests and caverns and ruins, there to capture a fleeting moment before going on our way.
Now some people might say that New Pokemon Snap doesn't differ enough from the original and to that I have to disagree. I feel like it kept exactly what the original created and cultivated, and refined the rougher parts. Adding day vs. night courses, speeding up the photo evaluation process, multiple photo entries for each pokemon. They created ways to expand the game without over-gamifying it and bloating the overall experience. While it's not the longest game in the world, I think it's exactly the length it should be. Even after you roll the credits, there are countless Requests you can still fulfil and you can continue to work towards completing your Photodex. The newer game to me does an amazing job of bringing the 1999 game into the newer era of video games without losing touch with its original charm and wonder.
I will admit, I absolutely played this game through a lens of nostalgia, but that's ok. This may be a standalone title that was made so anyone can pick up and play, but it feels like it was crafted for those who had that love and devotion for the original. While one person might play and think it's a neat concept, and then set it down never to pick it up again, for myself and many others, this is a window back into a heart warming past that I will carry with me for a long time. Thank you New Pokemon Snap, for taking me back to those sweltering summer days.
If you're a snap fan yourself, or just want to take a look at some of the photos you can capture, you should check out my photomode.io page. It's a good showcase of what I consider to be all my noteworthy photos (i.e. any photo I've posted to my twitter lol).