Pokemon Snap is a game developed by HAL and published by Nintendo/Creature/GameFreak. The basic premise of the game is that you travel around Pokemon Island in a buggy on rails (known as the Zero-One), taking pictures of the Pocket Monsters (Pokémon) that inhabit various regions of Pokemon Island. As you move further into the game, and further into the island, you will recieve special items, such as Pester Balls, Pokemon Food, and the Pokeflute. Such original names...
Players control a character named Todd, to a very limited extent. You choose what course to run, what items to use and when, when to take pictures, and you can rotate in the Zero-One almost 360 degrees, using the Control Stick to look around. Press the Z button to zoom in on a Pokemon (hopefully) and then press A to take a picture. Zooming has no variation; this is an auto-focus camera, apparently. After you accumulate enough points and photograph enough species of Pokemon, you can get and use special items mentioned above. To use Pokemon Food, press the A key while NOT zoomed in, and press the B key to throw a Pester Ball. Food can be used to lure Pokemon into funny poses, and the Pester Ball can be used to make Pokemon chase you (Khangaskhan on the Beach level). The Pokeflute can be used on Pokemon like Jigglypuff to break out in karaoke and Snorlax to experience a rare case of wakefulness (only a temporary condition) in the latter.
Unfortunately, the Zero-One rolls on tracks at a predetermined speed throughout the course. Hills do not cause the Zero-One to roll faster or slower; however, the player can, if he/she is impatient enough, press the R button to speed up the Zero-One, usually to get to a specific Pokemon, or to get to the end of the course faster. Additionally, there is no course-to-course variation in the tracks to provide a bit of variety, which could've added a few hours of replay value.
Todd has been contacted by Professor Oak, the wise old man in the Pokemon series. The reason: Oak wishes to obtain pictures of Pokemon in their natural habitat. Pictures are graded by a few categories: Size, Pose, Technique (if the Pokemon is in the middle of the frame), and if Other Pokemon of the same type are in the shot. Wow. Sounds like ...! You can then save your best shots in the PKMN folder to show friends, and delete the bad ones faster than dannye abolishes GTKY nodes!
The seven courses are:
Todd starts out on the Beach level. This is an introductory course, with multitudes of slow, large Pokemon that are just begging to be shot. (with a camera! Put away that hunting rifle! Yes, I find Pikachit more annoying than a GTKY node, but for God's sake, little kiddies are watching!) You also get a feel for how the game is played, and after you accumulate enough points, you are ready to go on to the next level! Pokemon like Meowth, Lapras, Pidgey, Kangaskhan, Scyther, Pikachu, Butterfree, and Magicarp can all be found on the Beach level.
The Tunnel used to be an old power plant, so it has many electrical-type pokemon. Pikachu, Electabuzz, Magnemite, Electrode, and Zapdos, should you be lucky enough to unlock him. Zubat, Dugtrio and Diglett can also be found.
The Volcano is, predictably, inhabited by fire-type Pokemon: Charmander, Charmeleon, Charizard, Moltres, Growlithe, Arcanine, Magmar, and Vulpix all reside within the fiery Volcano.
The River (and the Valley) are both courses where you run on water instead of rails, however, you still have a preset course; no rapid-hopping for you. The River contains Pokemon like Bulbasaur, Metapod, Psyduck, Shellder, Slowpoke, Slowbro, and Vileplume. The Valley contains Magicarp, Squirtle, Mankey, Gyrados, Dratini, Starmie, Staryu, and Dragonite.
The Cave is a dark, mysterious place, full of magical and mysterious Pokemon. Pikachu, Articuno, Jigglypuff, Zubat, Bulbasaur and Ditto all abide in this dank, dark hole. At some points, your Zero-One does break off from the track and hover in midair, which looks pretty cool in the video clip.
The last course is the Rainbow Cloud. The Cloud contains but one Pokemon: the elusive Mew, named for the kitten-like sound it emits upon being hit with Pokemon Food or a Pester Ball. Mew has the potential for being the highest-scoring Pokepicture; however, those points don't come without a little bit of effort. Mew floats in a ball of energy, and attemps to take pictures through this ball will not work. However, if you throw three pester balls at Mew, and all three hit the shield, it will vanish for a few seconds, and Mew will fly around your ship in consternation, then resume his flight, shield included. The maximum point value for Mew is 10,000 points, which is rather considerable, considering that most pictures retail around 1,500 points.
Although some courses are better about this than others, many of the graphics, such as for grass, are mere two-dimensional shapes pasted together with digital glue to form a diorama. On the one hand, seeing 2-D shapes is rather unstatisfying. On the other hand, that's really quite a minor complaint; the game is overall pretty good.
The sound isn't exactly movie-quality, but most people won't be paying attention to the sound effects and the 10 seconds of heinously repeating sound clips. Most people would be frantically trying to get a flying Dragonite in the middle of the picture frame, or trying to hit Electrode with a Pester Ball. Some of the gameplay is quite clever; you can get Pikachu to ride on Articuno's back on the Cave level, and that's after Pikachu floats down on a pack of ballons. Hidden tricks like this increase the replay value, but they arn't enough to combat the lack of depth in the game - only seven levels, and figuring a max of 10 minutes per level, including picture processing, that ain't a lot of time wasted. Max "fresh" play time on this game would be about two hours, assuming that one attempts to find all the hidden scenes, like Pikachu balancing itself on an Electrode (silly Pikachu. Always showing off...)
- Snap pictures of your favorite Pocket Monsters in 3D environments.
- More than 60 Pokemon, out of 151 at time of release (251 now).
- Seven levels.
- Save 60 of your favorite photos to cartridge.
- Interact with Pokemon by throwing objects at them, playing songs, etc.
- Loads of hidden characters and secret signs.
- Create your own Pokemon album.
- In a smart marketing feat, Snap owners could bring in their cartridge and print up special sticker-sheets of their favorite Pokemon critters. Note that this was only available at participating Blockbusters.
- Rumble Pak support.
If you like this game, or you want to try more Pokemon games (may God have mercy on your soul), the following titles are recommended: