When The Pokemon Company announced a Pokemon stream for June 17, discourse immediately bubbled up from social media. Fans speculated we'd hear about the Isle of Armor DLC for Pokemon Sword and Shield-and indeed we did, it received a surprise launch today-but it's doubtful anyone tuned in today expecting another Pokemon Snap game.
Five minutes into the stream, the world learned New Pokemon Snap is in development. Unsurprisingly, Twitter exploded. Though it's over 20 years old, the original Pokemon Snap for the N64 is easily the most beloved Pokemon spin-off game in a crowded series. Despite its popularity, fans' hope for a sequel seemed to fade away with the rise and fall of Nintendo's console generations. New Pokemon Snap is yet another unexpected 2020 curveball-but a thoroughly good one for a change.
New Pokemon Snap doesn't have a date yet, but when it arrives, it's going to be interesting to see how the whole "take pictures from inside a capsule" experience holds up. Make no mistake, Pokemon Snap is a great game, but a lot of its enduring appeal comes down to how it was the perfect Pokemon spin-off game for its time. How will it fare in a world where Pokemon's since seen dozens of games and endless seasons of anime?
Going by the excited froth currently covering social media, nostalgic fans are ready to see for themselves. The original Pokemon Snap was so ahead of its time, the sequel shouldn't have a problem finding new photographers and bringing home the old ones.
Pokemon Snap Was the First Real Opportunity to See Pokemon Come to Life
For many Pokemon enthusiasts, Pokemon Snap was our first opportunity to see Pokemon come to life. In Pokemon Snap, your job is to observe Pokemon behavior across several biomes and take pictures for Professor Oak's studies. This was easier said than done, since said Pokemon are always running, playing, bouncing, and dancing. They have no desire to sit still for a kid in a capsule who's trying desperately to photograph any part of Pidgey that's not its butt.
Throwing Pokemon food is a big help. The bait draws Pokemon closer, which lets you get a high-quality picture. Bait can also be used in more creative ways: throw it at a sleeping Electabuzz so it wakes up and looks at the camera, or chuck some at a Charmeleon so it falls into a pit of lava and evolves into the mighty Charizard. Pokemon Snap isn't just about pointing and clicking. It doubles as a light puzzle game. It's one thing to take a picture of Pikachu as it lounges on the beach. It's another thing to figure out how to get Pikachu to jump on a nearby surfboard so that you can take a picture of a fabled "surfing Pikachu."
Pokemon Snap is chock full of those little moments that make you pause and wonder, "OK, how can I make this Pokemon react? How can I make a shy Pokemon show itself?" Snapping Professor-pleasing pictures requires you to ride through levels again and again until each Pokemon's routine is seared into your brain. It might sound tedious, but Pokemon Snap's repetition is relaxing and rewarding.
The Lasting Appeal of Pokemon Snap
Former USG Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Parish examined the long-lasting appeal of Pokemon Snap several years ago. "Snap's appeal came from the same place as that of the Pokémon anime: It took the games, whose universe and characters were depicted with monochromatic minimalism, and rendered those concepts in more elaborate detail," he wrote. Parish also pointed out how players aren't "shackled to the misadventures of a dopey kid and his pet rat." You're still an outside observer in Pokemon Snap, but that's fine. It's enough of a reward to observe normally static black-and-white Pokemon frolicking in a sort of Jurassic Park. When you're a Pokemon-loving kid who's only seen Meowth and Pidgey as sprites, observing Meowth as he stalks and chases a flock of Pidgey is a thrill. (Especially when the Pidgeys knock out Meowth with a Gust attack.)
Pokemon has obviously come a long way in 20 years. The new games let us feed, pet, and play with over 800 fully rendered Pokemon. The smash hit app Pokemon Go brings Pokemon into the real-world using AR. Pokemon Snap still has its charms, but the appeal of seeing 3D Pokemon and watching them goof off obviously isn't fresh anymore. Will the New Pokemon Snap have anything exciting to offer?
Almost certainly. Photo modes in games are hot, and these snapshots quickly go viral on Twitter and Instagram. To reiterate a point made earlier, Pokemon Snap for the N64 was ahead of its time. 3D Pokemon aren't new, but newer Pokemon experiences like Sword, Shield, and Go prove it's never tiring to see them interact with their trainers and each other. New Pokemon Snap should be able to deliver a huge, rich Pokemon world that's worth photographing and sharing all over social media.
Now if only we could open up a few Blockbusters and install some Pokemon Snap stations.