New Pokémon Snap | Review

New Pokémon Snap | Review

New Pokémon Snap is a decidedly brave production. It would be wrong to call it a sequel, as well as a reboot or a remake ... it is more to be considered as a new iteration of that spin-off that, in 1999, convinced audiences and critics with its out-of-the-box concept and its disengaged game mechanics. but capable of entertaining players of all ages, even going so far as to be one of Shigeru Miyamoto's most popular productions.

In these twenty years, however, things have changed a lot. Smartphones have allowed us to always have a camera in our pocket and social networks are comparable to digital photo albums that can be shared with anyone through a simple “tap” on a screen. Yet, even in this new social context, the concept of New Pokémon Snap is still as peculiar and courageous as in the past, succeeding in the unlikely enterprise of making it fun to spend a few minutes, as well as several hours, trying to photograph Pokémon. in their natural habitat.

Dutiful Premises

Before starting the analysis of New Pokémon Snap, we believe it is right to premise some important elements that on more than one occasion have revealed themselves in our mind during the review. It is important, first of all, to clarify the nature of the new Bandai Namco production. New Pokémon Snap is not a game designed to offer a high challenge rate, net of some sections devoted to fan service and to bring back the memories of those who played the first title of the series in 1999. Its purpose is mainly to relax the player with a playful system designed to distract those who approach it in a disengaged manner.

In equal measure, if you have never tolerated Pokémon, or the idea of ​​confronting yourself with a game with particularly staid and redundant dynamics does not appeal to you, New Pokémon Snap will not make you change your mind in any way. The game, in fact, is designed primarily to offer a different type of interaction, with the creatures of Game Freak, to fans of the franchise.

In the distant region of Lentil

The story of New Pokémon Snap follows the now well-known canons of the series. Our avatar, who in this case takes the place of Todd Snap, arrives in the Lentil region to support Professor Speculux and his assistant Rita, in the complex task of completing the FotoDex, or a photographic collection of all the Pokémon present in the region . Taking advantage of the narrative ploy of the presence of different biomes within the unprecedented region, the developers of Bandai Namco were able to fish with both hands from the entire PokéDex, grouping within New Pokémon Snap over 200 creatures among those seen in the various generations that have followed one another in the last 25 years.

The simple narrative incipit of New Pokémon Snap obviously will expand as the adventure progresses, bringing to light the presence of a mysterious phenomenon called Lumina, able to radiate the A Pokémon of a particular light that, according to a legend, allowed the creatures to save the Lentil region from an imminent catastrophe. Obviously, the rival canon will also be present who, as usual, will try to steal the limelight from you trying to constantly impress Professor Speculux with his results.

As we mentioned earlier, the narrative sector of New Pokémon Snap is highly derivative and takes up all those clichés that fans have had the opportunity to memorize over the past 25 years but a constant use of properly packaged cinematics and a general streamlining of the dialogues, due to the less varied dynamics of the system playful, make the story of New Pokémon Snap enjoyable and interesting, net of not expecting excessively deep or innovative writing.

And the Hasselblad Award goes to…

A hunter once he said that shooting and photographing were very similar practices. In both of them he aimed before firing, just as in both he found himself entangled in a constant contrast between patience and ability to react. Pulling the trigger at the right time was for him comparable to taking a photo at the exact moment in which emotions could shine through the film, transforming a single moment into a piece of history. For that man, photographers were nothing more than pacifist hunters and playing New Pokémon Snap, we could only remember those words.

Imagine a shooter on tracks, remove for a moment the canonical rain of bullets that generate in those productions and insert the "click" of a camera and you will have a clear idea of ​​how the heart of the experience offered by New Pokémon Snap is structured. Each exploration that the player will be called to carry out will begin aboard the NEO-UNO spacecraft, built by Professor Speculux, and in a few moments from arrival on the spot, the vehicle will begin to follow a defined path, without the possibility of controlling in any way from the player's speed or direction is part of the player's direction.

While the NEO-UNO will travel its course, the Pokémon present in that biome will begin to reveal themselves around the player, intent on their daily activities: some will sleep , others will fly in flocks, some of them will simply be enchanted by the passage of the spacecraft, while still others will try to hide from the target. It will therefore be up to the player to be able to photograph as many as possible in that defined period of time, always keeping in mind not to be faced with impassive silhouettes and that, perhaps, while concentrating on photographing a Magikarp that jumps on the shore of a lake, the Scorbunny who had his back to him up to that moment could have turned around.

It is therefore essential to know how to study the surrounding environment, have good reflexes and, above all, always know how to seize the moment. By moving the two analog sticks, you can trivially move the camera lens and viewfinder in all possible directions. Pressing the left trigger will allow you to zoom and pressing the A button will take a photo. The number of shots available is limited but more than enough to immortalize all the creatures in the biome and enjoy some creative experiments. At the end of the section you will be taken back to the laboratory, where Professor Speculux will do his utmost to evaluate the work done.

As you progress with the adventure, you will be rewarded with tools to make it easier to immortalize the various Pokémon. The apples, already present in the first chapter, will serve to attract the creatures to a specific point, allowing you to take excellent front shots without having to worry about the Pokémon turning suddenly. The fruits can also be used as an obstacle, to slow down those excessively fast little plates in their march, artificially creating the right moment to immortalize them. Not all Pokémon, however, will be attracted to apples and some will ignore them beautifully, perpetrating their routines regardless of your distractions.

The radar, on the other hand, will have the function both to attract the attention of the Pokémon, making them turn towards the goal or triggering a unique action for each creature, both to show the player points of interest to analyze in the various paths. The objects available do not stop only at these two but we do not want to anticipate further elements so as not to ruin the most interesting aspects of the narrative sector of New Pokémon Snap.

It would be really incorrect not to praise Bandai Namco's desire to replenish the original formula with a series of gameplay elements designed to vary the game formula. Just as different tools have been introduced to ensure different approaches to the player, in the same way also the predefined paths that characterize the various explorations that take place within New Pokémon Snap, offer some really interesting ideas and acts to make the phases less tedious. of research.

At the end of each exploration aboard the NEO-UNO, in fact, Professor Speculux will endeavor to evaluate your work. You can choose a single photo for Pokémon, helping you with the stars placed on the frame to get an idea of ​​what the final result will be, and show them to the professor who will assign you a grade for each of them and will give you a quantity of "experience on the campo ”which will increase your knowledge of the area in question.

Leveling up on a certain path will generate a constant increase in fauna as well as the possibility of taking different and hitherto inaccessible roads. The possibility of exploring the same biome at different times of the day also manages to offer that extra bit of variety that makes the constant repetition of the required actions less burdensome, offering the player, after having progressed sufficiently in the story, a good number of settings, and times, to choose from.

Unfortunately, however commendable the efforts made by Bandai Namco are, it cannot be expected that New Pokémon Snap turns out to be a champion of variety, precisely by virtue of its playful structure. Making it free to explore, and therefore not on tracks, would not have substantially changed the game formula, risking only to make it less hectic in some phases where thinking about what tool to use, when to use it and without ever losing the perfect moment to take a picture. , generate the right dynamism that never makes the final experience too staid.

The social side of New Pokémon Snap

A photograph is always a double image: it shows its object and , in a more or less visible way, who is "behind", the "counter-shot". It is the image of the one who photographs at the time of shooting.

Wim Wenders

There is no better sentence than this to explain how much a photograph can represent more who takes it than what is represented inside it. An element that in the last twenty years has become increasingly evident with the birth and evolution of social networks and their constant presence of photos that showcase the creative side, more or less present, of the various users.

A social phenomenon certainly known to the developers of Bandai Namco, who wanted to introduce in New Pokémon Snap some "social" dynamics in some ways atypical, compared to the standards we are used to today today. If you think for a moment about the concept of the game, it is instantaneous to think of its transposition on mobile platforms, perhaps integrating within it the possibility of connecting with the most famous social networks allowing a more immediate sharing of one's creations. Bandai Namco, on the other hand, wanted to remain anchored to the concept of video games and create around its new title a system for sharing creations that, if you stop and think about it, makes more sense than you think.

Instead of creating a more hit and run experience, perhaps relegated to spare time within a day, New Pokémon Snap requires the player to completely detach from reality for a few moments, interfacing with a console to enter a parallel world, made up of colorful biomes and creatures to photograph. A place where once you have finished an exploration you can dedicate yourself to your shots, far from applications and photo editing programs. By changing some aspects, giving vent to the imagination and sharing them with other New Pokémon Snap players.

In its anachronistic being, the system chosen by Bandai Namco for New Pokémon Snap works perfectly. At the end of the various expeditions you can view all the photos taken, choose the ones you like best and save them in your portfolio. You can then move to the section dedicated to retouching to zoom in on a subject, apply filters, change the focal length, change the color palette, apply stickers or fun effects. Finally, you will be able to share your creative flair in a special channel, where you can view the creations of other players and where the developers will periodically choose the best shots to be published on the official website of New Pokémon Snap.

Although we are faced with a very basic editing system, which in some respects reminded us of the one present in Pokémon Sun and Moon, we appreciated its strong consistency towards the photographic universe. The total absence of a three-dimensional nature of one's shots, although it may seem a deficit to those accustomed to the photo modes present in most of today's productions, is perfectly aligned with the concept of two-dimensional photography, requiring first of all a good basis on which being able to work.

Ultimately the "social" sector of New Pokémon Snap turns out to be much more than a simple divertissement, going to make up for the lack of a real multiplayer sector, offering an asynchronous experience capable of pushing the player to improve expedition after expedition.

It's a question of art and technique

On the technical and artistic side of New Pokémon Snap, there is very little to complain about. It is enough to admire for a few minutes the work done by Bandai Namco to understand where the trust that has been given to him by The Pokémon Company comes from. The cinematics are suits made with painstaking attention to detail and animations. We do not hide the fact that we have repeatedly wondered when we will see similar ones in the main titles of the series.

The polygonal models of the Pokémon are convincing, as are their animations. A single flaw can be pointed out in the sporadic absence of reactions from the monsters to our inputs. Let's not talk about when they will beautifully ignore our attentions, how much more of a "robotic lack of response" in some moments when an apple is literally thrown at them. Nothing transcendental is clear but in a production where rapid and instinctive action is the master, it makes your nose turn up a little when it happens, even if these are sporadic moments and have never proved to be a constant. Pokémon routines are always believable and the fusion of Game Freak's creatures and the detailed landscapes created by Bandai Namco easily succeeds in the task of immersing the player in a credible and bewitching world.

Nothing to declare. finally, on the excellent localization in Italian which, as per tradition for Nintendo productions, presents flowing and streamlined dialogues with the canonical attention to the younger audience to offer them a full understanding of the text and game functions.

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