Why does Nintendo do the things that they do? Seriously, sometimes it just really bothers me. When fans were calling for a 3D Pokemon RPG of epic scale like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Nintendo responded that they did have Pokemon games in the works for the Nintendo 64. Firstly, they had Pokemon Stadium, which took arguably the worst part of Pokemon, battling, made you do it over and over again, all for nothing, since you couldn’t level up your Pokemon and transfer them back to the Gameboy Cartridge. They made 2 versions of this too. Then, there’s Hey You Pikachu! What a crock that was. It cost some $70.00 when it originally was released, and it wasn’t even that good a game, or even that good a communication game. Finally, you have Pokemon Snap, a game in which you…get this…ride around on a set of rails (not literally, but in the sense of House of the Dead style games) and shoot Pokemon. Only, it’s not that much fun, because you’re shooting their photo with a camera. Pokemon Snap does what it wants to do however very well. I got this game with my Nintendo 64 when the price went down to $99.99 here in the states with the Atomic Purple extra controller. The strategy guide that I also got for the game I still have, unopened I think. That tells a bit of the difficulty level of the title.
Pokemon Snap is the story of Todd and Professor Oak. For those unfamiliar, Todd and Professor Oak are third-rate characters from the TV show. Though I haven’t watched the series in years, I think the basic deal behind Todd is that he wants to take pictures of all the Pokemon in the world and Professor Oak is a top-notch Pokemon Researcher with a heart of gold. The link between the two stars of Pokemon Snap Comes from the main character of the TV show, a field researcher in a sense named Ash Ketchum who is given his first Pokemon from the Professor. The Professor is interested in learning about all the Pokemon in the world, and since Ash and his crew can’t “catch them all,” quite contrary to the shows slogan, Oak decides to send out a youngster into certain peril to do his work for him. However, Oak has all the live animals to torture, so he just asks Todd to take the pictures for him.
The neat thing about Pokemon on the Gameboy was 151 different creatures. So, you would think given the hulking size of the Nintendo 64 cartridge that Nintendo would include everyone of them. Well, they don’t. They aren’t all there, but I don’t know the exact number of them off the top of my head. I think it’s just under half however as I think about it now. Anyhow, the gameplay is quite simple. There are a number of different areas, including a cave setting, a forest setting, and a volcano section. In each one, there are a number of different Pokemon, all waiting to cross the red carpet and be photographed. However, some of them are shy and elusive creatures, and for those, you’re armed with a deadly weapon: apples. If you’ve ever gotten hit with an apple, you know how much it hurts. Well, in Pokemon Snap, the most accurate way of getting the attention of the Pokemon is by pelting them with apples, or throwing them in their general direction in order to get their attention. Once you do get their attention, you then must quickly take their picture. You get a maximum of 60 photos per roll, but you get a new roll every time you start an area (including the same one over and over again). I think the number 60 is just representative of how many the system can hold in memory at any given time. Taking the pictures is a quick and painless process, and there aren’t too many buttons even used in the process. This is a kid’s game at heart for sure. The difficulty level is low, and getting to the end of the game only takes a few hours at the most. However, there are some elusive Pokemon that you need to hunt after, which add a bit to the game.
The final Pokemon is a challenge to photograph however, and takes some patience. There are a couple that are annoying to photograph and piss you off. And then you feel like a crappy gamer, because you can’t photograph a freaking piece of crap Pokemon! Err…Anyhow, though the game can be annoying, and it’s fairly shallow, Nintendo at least put some effort into the graphics engine. In retrospect, the graphics are fairly solid. The Pokemon all look very realistic, even better then on the TV shows. The areas also have a lot of stuff that goes on in them, subtle little features that you don’t really notice yet add a lot of realism to the environments, such as trees swaying and water motions. The sound in Pokemon Snap is pretty average, but I donít think that Iíve found a Nintendo 64 game that didnít have average sound.
Overall, Pokemon Snap is a childrenís game, and Iím not a child. If I were a child, Iíd give this game a ten out of ten, because children are stupid and lack any form of judgment. However, I am a man, and I can tell a pretty, yet basic game when I see it. I can also tell a good idea from a bad one, and this is a fairly good concept. Though itís not the best game, itís pretty fun for a little while, and I might even consider playing a sequel of it if it had all the creatures in it. If you have kids, pick it up for them, Iím sure theyíll enjoy it. If youíre older, buy it if itís cheap, but donít expect the best game ever.