I going to have to admit something here. Pokemon Snap is one of my favorite games of all time, and I still play it every once in a while today. Now, if you haven’t ever played it before, you may think I am insane. But I’m pretty sure that those of us who played it and enjoyed it won’t ever forget the fun we had with it.
Pokemon Snap wasn’t like anything I’d ever played before in 1999, and here in 2012 I still haven’t played anything like it since.
If you are among the uninitiated I’ll help you out here a little bit. In Pokemon Snap you view the game in first-person and take pictures of Pokemon as you sit in a little car that you have no control over as it takes you through each level. The goal is to take pictures of Pokemon that will score you enough points to unlock the next level or item.
That’s about it. But think about it for a second, do you know how popular Pokemon was in 1999? I’m pretty sure if somebody said to make a Pokemon cart racer it would have been funded immediately. What makes Snap so perfect? You get to see some of your favorite characters from your favorite games in ways that you had never been able to before. It blew my mind. How excellent the actual gameplay side of it is just added to everything else it already had going for it.
Yes, of course I want to play that level again and get a new high score Professor Oak, who do you think I am? High scores are my jam. Anything where I can brag to friends about how cool my score is is my kind of game. I remember my friends and I would record our scores (because there weren’t online leaderboards back then, you crazy kids) and call each other to see who had done the best. I loved replaying the same levels over and over just to see what I could do better, and sometimes you would even find things you didn’t know existed which made it all the more exciting.
I’m also fascinated when I discover hidden secrets in games, it makes me feel like I’m peeling back layers of a game that I didn’t even know were there at first. In Pokemon Snap, there are all kinds of hidden things to find. Whether it be a hidden Pokemon you hadn’t seen in the game before, or a way to make the Pokemon do something you hadn’t seen, or just some neat little extra that was thrown in for fun. The more you play Pokemon Snap, the more it feels like you’re solving a puzzle of how to make everything work exactly as you want it to.
Even some of the levels had you solve puzzles to figure out where to go next, and they were hidden quite well sometimes. Whenever you get a new level it feels so rewarding because all of them are such wonderful places to visit. You go to beaches, forests, volcanoes, and even more exciting places later. I know I say this a lot, but having variety is what makes your game special. If every level looked similar it wouldn’t be half as exhilarating to discover a new place to go and want to see what is has waiting for you instantly.
The game is only a few hours long if you blow through it, but its likely you’ll stick around to suck all the fun you can out of every single level. Pokemon Snap is so different from anything else out there that I can’t help but love almost everything about it. The music, which is some of my favorite in the Pokemon series, is so memorable that I can hum almost every track from the game right now. The levels are so bright and colorful, it feels like you really are on a safari. I realize the graphics aren’t so amazing today, but even now they still retain a lot of their charm.
Charm is a good word to summarize the experience with Pokemon Snap. The whole thing is so charming, everything about it just feels…nice. I feel like the developers had a passion for what they were doing rather than churning out any Pokemon related thing because they knew people would buy it.
As it stands, Pokemon Snap is a game where some of my fondest childhood memories reside. I even remember when Blockbuster let you take your cartridge there and print out physical copies of the photos you took in the game. Somewhere in my house, I still have my awesome Charizard and Articuno pictures. I may just be looking at it with a heaping helping of nostalgia, or maybe it really is one of the best games ever made. I think it may be a little of both, but it’s one of my favorites either way.
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