New Pokemon Snap on Nintendo Switch
It was difficult to keep my expectations in check when a sequel to Pokemon Snap was announced for the Switch 22 years after the original game released on the Nintendo 64. As a child, I spent countless hours capturing photos of my favorite Pokemon across the N64 game’s seven courses. Back then, each one felt magical and grand.
Looking back on it as an adult, I realized how simple and short the game was. Despite its simplicity, I always held the game near and dear to my heart. I never forgot the sense of discovery it made me feel.
I knew that the sequel, titled New Pokemon Snap, had big shoes to fill, especially after making fans like myself wait two decades after the first game to play it. It was long overdue.
As a big fan of the original game, I can say with confidence that New Pokemon Snap is a worthy sequel, and despite a few shortcomings, I anticipate that I will continue to play it to its fullest for many more hours to come.
If you’re unfamiliar with Pokemon Snap, it’s essentially an on-rails shooter, but instead of hurting your targets, you’re snapping photos of them. I think a lot of people have misconceptions about what makes this type of gameplay fun. Taking stunning photos is one part of it, but a bigger part is all about the discovery and finding hidden secrets in the courses.
In New Pokemon Snap, you’re tasked with taking photos of Pokemon in the Lental region to help Professor Mirror investigate the mystery of the Illumina phenomenon, which makes the flora and fauna of the island glow.
You start your research nearby the laboratory on a course called Florio Nature Park with nothing but your NEO-ONE vehicle and your trusty camera. Before long, you’re expanding your studies to other courses and islands, and you’re given a variety of new items to aid you with your research.
These items allow you to interact with Pokemon and the surrounding environment in a few different ways. For example, using an apple-like item called a Fluffruit can draw Pokemon out of hiding spots so you can take a photograph of them. Items can also be used to elicit rare behaviors from Pokemon.
Unlike in the original game, photos are scored in two ways. First, they are given a 4-star rating based on how rare a Pokemon’s behavior in the photo is. For example, a photo of Pikachu eating a Fluffruit is uncommon, so it would be awarded more stars than a photo of Pikachu standing completely still.
I like this 4-star rating system because it adds content to the Photodex. Instead of logging only a single photo of a Pikachu, you log one for all four star ratings. When complete, each page features four photos of a Pokemon exhibiting four different types of behaviors. This encouraged me to interact with Pokemon during the courses in a variety of ways, much more than I normally would have if only a single photo counted for the Photodex.
Photos are also given numbered scores called Expedition Points that are awarded based on the Pokemon’s size, direction, placement, and if other Pokemon of the same type appear in the photo. These scores count towards each course’s research level. Raising the research level can unlock course variations and new areas, which serves two purposes: progressing through the story and discovering new Pokemon.
As you obtain a higher research level on a course, the course changes slightly. Different Pokemon may appear, and in some cases, you can find branching paths to reach areas you couldn’t before.
While most of the research levels produce minor changes to a course, every course has at least one major variation that makes it remarkably different in terms of what you can find (for example, daytime and nighttime variants). Additionally, each island has a boss-like course variant that progresses the story.
The game often nudges you to revisit previous courses to take more pictures and discover more about the Illumina phenomenon before you can continue onto new areas, but thankfully, it doesn’t feel like a chore to replay the same courses several times. In fact, I was impressed with how many new things happened on subsequent trips after I raised the research level on the course.
The first half of the courses do feel a bit too similar in the variety of Pokemon you find—so similar that for the first few hours, I worried if there was anything else coming at all. Luckily, after a slow stretch in the game, the courses became much more diverse. By the end, I was satisfied with the different types of areas despite the odd pacing to get there.
New Pokemon Snap’s story is just fine. It’s better than the original, in which the story was non-existent, but it’s not very engaging, and it usually takes a backseat to the actual gameplay. You just collect the same type of data from Crystabloom flowers on every island to investigate why things are glowing. There’s a lot of repetition in the formula. It’s not bad. It’s just not going to win any awards for brilliant storytelling.
The build-up to the ending is more exciting than the actual ending itself. It wasn’t boring or terrible, but it also didn’t have that “Mew on Rainbow Cloud” shock factor from the original game. In its defense, I honestly didn’t predict the final Pokemon until the moment it was revealed, so there was still an element of magic there. I do recommend trying to stay completely unspoiled until the very end to experience that reveal on your own.
As for the other characters, they provide useful commentary and good enough entertainment. Cutscenes have full voice acting, but regular in-game dialogue only has one-word exclamations from the characters. Phil, the “rival,” could be totally erased, and nothing would be any different. I honestly forgot he existed for the majority of the game. I wish he would have been used for an additional feature, such as challenges to see who could score the most points or something similar.
Don’t let the lack of an engaging plot put you off. Story isn’t what makes New Pokemon Snap a great game. There were many times I felt the same magic and sense of discovery that I remember feeling with Pokemon Snap as a child. For example, rare Pokemon appeared after I experimented with the environment by doing things like lighting up a circle of Crystabloom flowers.
The game has several beautiful, distinct moments that made me say “wow” aloud as I frantically snapped as many photos as I could before the subject went away. Even many hours after I beat the main story, I continued to have these types of moments as I revisited courses.
Some other positive things to mention about the game have to do with how well-polished it is. There are optional motion controls with a wide range of sensitivity levels for those who enjoy precision aiming. The game has full touch screen support, which is helpful for navigating menus in handheld mode. Load times are very fast compared to other games on the Switch, and the draw distance for seeing Pokemon far away is very good.
Visually, the courses in New Pokemon Snap are absolutely beautiful with vibrant colors, even at night, thanks to the Illumina phenomenon. I wish that the main series Pokemon games looked like this game with the Pokemon having such realistic movements and behaviors.
I think at first fans will be critical of the number of unique courses in the game. However, when you consider the number of course variations, branching paths, and differences in research levels, it is easy to see that there’s a lot of content here (much more than there was in the original game) and enough, in my opinion, to justify a $60 purchase.
Casual fans will get around 10-12 hours out of a main playthrough from start to credits if they only do what’s mandatory. Fans who want to make the most of the game will spend many hours beyond that, capturing photos of every Pokemon, completely filling in all pages of the Photodex, and finding every secret the courses have to offer.
New Pokemon Snap is easy to recommend to a wide audience. It’s a fun game for Pokemon fans, a worthy sequel for those who enjoyed the original, and a unique experience for those who are looking for something new to pick up and play in short bursts.
- Strong replay value.
- Beautiful, diverse courses with plenty of Pokemon and secrets.
- Scoring system is better than the one in the original game.
- Well-polished with good touch controls and motion controls.
- Story isn’t very interesting.
- Progression feels repetitive at times.
- Full voice acting is only during cutscenes.
April 30, 2021
BANDAI NAMCO Studios
Dying Light 2 Will Have “A Lot More” Open World Events Than the First Game
Techland drops new details on the upcoming open world title.
In spite of its troubled development and multiple delays, Dying Light 2 developer Techland has been sharing updates and details on the upcoming game much more frequently of late. Recently, they started uploading AMA videos to answer questions from fans, and in another video they’ve released a few more details about the game.
Specifically, when asked about the game’s open world and how it will compare to the first Dying Light, associate producer Julia Szynkaruk said that Dying Light 2’s open world is going to have a lot more to do, not just in terms of events and encounters, but also in terms of areas to explore.
“Yes, there will be a lot more open world events in Dying Light 2,” Szynkaruk said (transcribed by MP1st). “Not only will we have a living world with encounters all over, but also you will be able to explore new locations, such as GRE Quaratines or Dark Places.”
Meanwhile, lead game designer Tymon Smektala also said that though Dying Light 2 is going to be a choice-based games, as far as aligning with the factions in the game goes, you will not have the option to not align with anyone whatsoever.
“You have to understand that our world is extremely brutal, extremely primal, full of threats and conflicts,” he said. “So, if you have no allies, you basically die very quickly — and we don’t want you to die very quickly, and we also want you to make a decision, we also want you to make a statement. So a lone wolf option is not available, you will have to decide if you want to play with those guys or the other ones.”
Dying Light 2 currently has no firm release date. It’s in development for PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, and PC. On next-gen consoles, the game will support 4K, 60 FPS, and ray-tracing across multiple graphics modes. Read more on that through here. Meanwhile, Techland is also working to ensure that the game is properly optimized on PS4 and Xbox One.
PlayStation Studios Steam Page Hints at More Upcoming PC Releases
Sony has previously suggested it will be bringing more games to PC down the road.
A year ago, it seemed impossible that first party PlayStation games would ever be playable on any platform, but of late, Sony’s started bringing over some of its marquee games over to PC. It started with Horizon Zero Dawn, and soon, Days Gone is releasing for PC. PlayStation Studios now has a dedicated page on Steam, appropriately enough, and the page suggests that more games might be coming in the near future.
The PlayStation Studios creators page lists 41 games under its Steam publications so far, which includes games as well as DLCs. Interestingly enough though, only 24 of those are currently viewable on Steam- Horizon Zero Dawn, Predator: Hunting Grounds, Helldivers, and all of their respective DLCs. Of course, Days Gone is coming up as well, and it’s going to have DLCs of its own added to Steam, though that still wouldn’t explain the sizeable gap between the total games listed and the ones that are currently viewable.
Of course, while announced Days Gone for PC, PlayStation Studios boss Jim Ryan did say that “a whole slate” of first party PlayStation games will also be released for the platform in the future, so this doesn’t come as a surprise. It is interesting, however, that they might be ready sooner than you would have thought.
Biomutant Gameplay Trailers Showcase PS4 and Xbox One Performance
Experiment 101 has also shared details on console frame rates and resolutions.
With Experiment 101’s Biomutant out this month, the developer and THQ Nordic have released some new gameplay trailers highlighting the performance on Xbox One and PS4. Check them out below. Frame rates and resolutions that can be expected across each platform, including PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, have also been revealed.
On PC, the action RPG will run at 4K/60 FPS but there won’t be a cap on the frame rate. For Xbox One and PS4, you can expect a dynamic 1080p resolution and 30 FPS performance. PS4 Pro and Xbox One X players can look forward to 60 FPS performance but again, at a dynamic 1080p resolution.
While the title will be playable on Xbox Series X/S and PS5 through backwards compatibility, it will likely default to the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro frame rates and resolutions respectively. Experiment 101 hasn’t revealed plans for a current-gen update so we’ll need to wait for more details in the coming months. In the meantime, Biomutant is out for Xbox One, PS4 and PC on May 25th.
Arkane’s New Fantasy IP is Reportedly Called “Omen”; Vampire-Related and Coming Next Year – Rumour
The game is apparently going to be announced at E3.
Earlier this year, job listings suggested that Arkane Studios’ Austin team, who developed Prey and Dishonored, were working on a new fantasy IP. Now, some new details on whatever this new game is have potentially emerged- and the game’s apparently closer to launch than you’d expect.
The rumour originated on ResetEra and has since been shared on Twitter by @_XboxNews. Arkane Austin’s new IP is apparently called Omen (or that’s its working title, at least) and has vampires. The game apparently has Spring 2022 target launch window, and will allegedly be revealed at E3 next month, perhaps with a CGI trailer.
Of course, this is an unconfirmed, unverified report, so take this with a grain of salt, but if it does turn out to be accurate, it’ll be interesting to see what a studio as talented as Arkane does with this premise. We’ll keep you updated on all new details, of course, so stay tuned.
Latest rumours on Bethesda: Arkane is working on a new IP, working title “Omen”, with vampires. Starfield is focused on space exploration, like Outer Wilds / No Man’s Sky. pic.twitter.com/Twyfej5EMd
— Xbox News (@_XboxNews) May 13, 2021
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