Review by carnage54
My generation jumped almost whole-heartedly onto the Pokemon bandwagon, but it never really appealed to me personally. I dabbled in the original trio of Gameboy releases and thats all. A long time has passed, the craze still hasnt hit a ceiling, yet I still dont care. That is, until I played this niche photography game. The fact it was an antiquated on-rails N64 title didnt bother me in the slightest. Just playing a Pokemon game where you capture them on film instead of with Pokeballs sounded so novel. So, I downloaded Pokemon Snap from the Wii Shop posthaste.
Immediately, you are dropped into a world with minimal context. You are a young man who takes pictures of wild Pokemon for series fixture Professor Oak. Each level is an on-rails safari, reminiscent of an amusement park tour, where the player snaps photos of the landscape and its inhabitants. Clearly the courses are just a series of cleverly scripted events, yet they nonetheless felt bustling and alive. As you progress, Professor Oak also gives you more tools so you can interact with the environment. Manipulating things to get the perfect shot is far more satisfying than being a silent observer. Thankfully, each course is short and carries a distinct theme. Unlike a real themepark tour, I actually WANTED to constantly replay scenarios and take better pictures.
I was relieved the production values didnt get on my nerves with all the repetition. For the first time in a Nintendo title, I appreciate the fact that the music doesnt stand out too much. Pokemon Snap isnt a game that has any use for bombastic symphonies. Instead, the subtle background pieces and tones lend wonderful ambiance to each level. Also, Nintendos tech wizards did an excellent job emulating the graphics. Running in 480p on a 16: 9 HTDV, Pokemon Snap looks downright gorgeous. Some of the texture details might have you mistaking it for more advanced hardware. Personally, I just love how the varied color palette pops! Other games on the Virtual Console service can look washed-out in 480p, but Pokemon Snap here seems almost re-mastered.
If only I could say as much for the controls. I would recommend trying both control options (Gamecube Controller or Classic Remote) before committing to a playthrough. With the Classic Remote, I was able to operate the game passably. As with other Nintendo 64 titles on Virtual Console, the button mapping made is a jarring transition. The three most important inputs in the game: moving, focusing, and shooting are the most difficult to execute. With practice, it became less annoying, though always managed to irk me in some way. Fortunately, all the HUDs and menus are streamlined and simple to navigate.
All in all, if you can handle some slippery controls, Pokemon Snap is a treat. It will only set you back 10$ and provides around four hours of solid entertainment. Certainly this isnt the greatest value on the Wii marketplace, but there is a lot to be said for just relaxing and taking in the sights.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Pokemon Snap (US, 12/10/07)
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