Review by Aganar

Reviewed: 09/03/03

"Get the blowtorch, Molly! We've got a great game if we can get off these damn tracks!"

During one of Nintendo's attempts to milk Pokemon, they created this game, Pokemon Snap. This had an interesting idea. Instead of catching the little buggers, you try to photograph them! Getting them from different camera angles, poses, etc would effect how good the photo is. Sounds like a good idea, but it was not executed as well as it could've been.

The game displays some of the most impressive visuals to an N64 game, rendering the creatures in full 3d at scale size. Seeing a giant Charizard bursting from the lava and breathing fire onto you is quite a sight, as well as is a Magikarp being thrown into the waterfall and a giant, very detailed Gyrados bursting forth from it. The special effects, textures, and polygon counts for the time were all very high. It's quite a shame because they became dated so quickly, as seemed to be the cycle in later N64 games. Backgrounds look quite beautiful, all having different themes and representing different areas of the world of Pokemon. I was a little disappointed with the last level, seeing as how its just blackness with Myu floating across the screen. I mean they could've made him at least a little more detailed. Oh well. Overall the graphics were very good.

Story.........yeah. Not much to say. You play the role of Todd, a pokemon photographer (surprise, surprise). Professor Oak equips you with his latest machine, which can travel almost anywhere. In it, you go through the different areas in order to get the best pictures of rare pokemon. There ya go. Feh is all I can really say.

Now, the gameplay is a completely different matter. During the game, while in your vehicle, you slowly go through a level, where you see many Pokemon passing by. The key to getting a good picture is timing. Waiting until you get just the right distance or angle is very important. But for a lot more pictures, you must ''tamper with nature'' as I like to call it. Todd also carries on him apples and pester balls. Throwing an apple nearby will cause pokemon to run up and eat, giving you some nice shots. More often however, you will need to use a pester ball to irritate the pokemon into taking a certain pose (hence the name ''Pester ball''). For instance, to get the cute little Charmander you see become a ferocious Charizard, you must knock it into some lava with a pester ball (isn't Todd nice?). Soon, Charizard will burst forth from the lava, giving you the shot you want. Some Pokemon need to have actions taken throughout the level just to get one good shot.

I like the idea of this a lot. Manipulating the pokemon to get good shots is really an ingenious idea, which hasn't been done before. But, with this cool idea came the flaw that Nintendo didn't realize. I don't like being stuck on stupid tracks! I don't like having a time limit on how long I can stay to get the shot I want for my photos. Because of this, the game seems to become simple trial and error. If you throw a pester ball at a pokemon and nothing happens, you probably did it at the wrong time, or used the wrong item. But, if you had a free-roaming level where you could try over and over and just walk around, it would be a lot more fun.

And really that's the only main problem. Photographing them is still very fun, and its cool to see how your different scores for almost identical shots very. If you know exactly what to do in every level, it's actually also very fun just to see the world of Pokemon interacting. You can see many Pokemon fighting each other, and changing the outcome of the fights can be cool. You can see plant pokemon living in their environment, or water pokemon camouflaging in the rivers. So if nothing else, I have to give the game props for the amount of detail they put in the worlds.

The sound and music are pretty mediocre. It's nice to hear the Pokemon with all their different voices, but its nothing new. And the music just becomes irritating after playing through the levels over and over.

The game is very short, but there actually is ALOT of replay value to it. As I've said, to get the best shots you have to be constantly hitting things with pester balls in order to trigger a pose or a transformation or something. A lot of times you come back around in levels, so the pokemon you hit earlier probably will now do something on the way back, or be open for YOU to do something to it in order to get a good photo. In addition, the levels are hidden with secrets you must find in order to unlock the 6th and final level. Even after that, it's still fun to try to get the best photo you can find. I've actually just waited through the level, and you can still get some cool shots without using any pester balls. Nintendo also made the “Pokemon Snap Stations” available at local Blockbusters to let you print out your pictures. Once you loaded your memory card into the game (and paid 5 bucks to get a card you could only use once), you would load several of your best pictures and print them out. They could then be peeled off and used as stickers. So, there's always something for you to do.

Overall, the game really isn't that bad. It has good graphics, an interesting idea, a lot of replay value, and great detail put into the world. But, the presentation was simply awful, and to the casual gamer it's too short. Most importantly, you're stuck on those stupid tracks! Had those things been changed, and you were on foot able to explore each level at your own rate, it could've been a revolutionary game. But instead, its just an ok game dubbed terrible by Pokemon haters and people who don't like its style.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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