Hands on with New Pokémon Snap! Is the Poké-photo game fun to play with your kids?
Written by tokyoclub on April 27, 2021
Our littlest reporter, and her daddy, pay a visit to The Pokémon Company to play the new game prior to its release.
Pokémon fans have this Friday circled on their calendars, because that’s when New Pokémon Snap comes out. It’s especially exciting because in the 22 years since the release of the original Pokémon Snap we’ve seen not only new generations of Pokémon come into being, but new generations of Pokémon fans too, which should make for a fresh experience for old and new fans alike.
Two of those new fans are our Japanese-language reporter P.K. Sanjun and his four-year-old daughter Rei. P.K. didn’t get into the franchise until the release of Pokémon GO, and Rei’s interest in the pantheon of Pocket Monsters has been steadily growing over the past year. So when The Pokémon Company invited P.K. to stop by their office and try out New Pokémon Snap before it’s even on sale, he decided it sounded like an excellent time for a take-your-daughter-to-work day, since he was particularly interested in finding out if parents and kids can enjoy the game together.
▼ Rei, moments before bursting into squeals of delight as she noticed all of the Pokémon plushies (which we also saw at the Pokémon Shirt shop) in The Pokémon Company’s lobby.
To start, a Pokémon Company representative explained the objective of the game and the controls. In contrast to the mainline Pokémon games, in New Pokémon Snap you’re not capturing the critters themselves, but their images as part of a photo safari.
Your in-game character rides in a vehicle that automatically moves through the island environment, and you control the camera’s viewfinder, pointing it at wild Pokémon species and snapping pictures. Once you reach the end of the course, your pictures are evaluated on a number of parameters, including the size, facing, and pose of the Pocket Monster you photographed.
You can even add stamps and frames to your pictures if you want to make them even cuter than photos of Pokémon already are.
In terms of genre, it’s essentially a non-violent rail shooter, and P.K. listened attentively to the description, his curiosity piqued at this alternate style of playing within the Pokémon world. Meanwhile, Rei…
…had started to doze off.
She perked right up once some Pokémon started appearing on scene, instantly recognizing Pichu and Grookey.
P.K. first went through a couple of levels on his own, and quickly found that the controls aren’t anything you need to be a hardcore gamer to get the hang of. Then he handed off the controller to Rei for her to take a turn.
However, there turned out to be a lot going on for Rei’s four-year-old mind to keep track of. As mentioned above, your character’s vehicle moves automatically, but with Pokémon sightings possible at any angle, to get the best shots you need to keep scanning the terrain at different vectors than the one you’re advancing in. So while Rei can more or less handle a few laps in Mario Kart, she wasn’t able to take New Pokémon Snap snaps all that smoothly by herself.
That’s when P.K. put his parenting skills to work and figured out that by splitting up the left and right Joy-Cons, you can have one person control the camera angle, and the other handle hitting the shutter! So Rei took over shutter duties, and also gave directions to Daddy whenever she spotted a wild Pokémon. Essentially, they turned New Pokémon Snap into a voice-activated co-op game, calling out “Daddy, there’s a Pikachu to the left!” or “Rei-chan, now’s our chance! Hit the shutter!”
Communication and smiles flowed both ways, and in the end, the Poké-fan parent and child had a great time. As an added bonus, P.K. also appreciated that New Pokémon Snap’s levels, at least the early ones that he played, are about five minutes long. That’s long enough to have fun, but still concise enough that it’s easy to say “OK, one more level, and then that’s all for today” if it’s your kid’s bedtime.
P.K., though, is free to stay up as late as he wants playing.
Sometimes it’s not bad being a grown-up.
Related: New Pokémon Snap official wesite
Photos: RocketNews24.©2021 Pokémon. ©1995-2021 Nintendo/Creatures Inc./GAME FREAK inc.©1999 Nintendo/HAL Laboratory, Inc.Developed by BANDAI NAMCO Studios Inc. ©2021 Pokémon. ©1995-2021 Nintendo/Creatures Inc./GAME FREAK inc.©1999 Nintendo/HAL Laboratory, Inc.Developed by BANDAI NAMCO Studios Inc. Pokémon is a trademark of Creatures・Game Freak, Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Logo are trademarks of Nintendo. ※ Game images from in-development version.