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Pokemon Snap (2021) Game Review:

Pokemon Snap (2021) Game Review:

Since I am going back to school, I wanted this month’s posts I do on here to be about a franchise that has made my life so much better since I was 11: Pokemon! And my big one is one I worked hard on and requested by our grand ring leader, Larry: a video game review!  I won’t have time to do these often due to how much detail I like to put in them and how little time I have to play games sadly.  But, I hope you join the first of my Pokemon Month Post.

Let me take you back to the end of the 90s.  The massive global sensation that was Pokemon could not be measured.  It dominated store shelves in every product: cards, stuffed animals, food, school supplies, and much more.  Of course, at the top of the list were video games.  Imagine hopping into Blockbuster, yes, THE Blockbuster, a Nintendo 64, the latest system, on display at a colorful gamers hub, TVs attached above (pictured below.)  On all the screens was a game we didn’t know we needed: Pokemon Snap, a game where we took PHOTOS of our beloved elemental creatures.  It was a short game, but it was such a unique concept, and figuring out how to get the best shots and through the secret passages was all the playground gossip (this was before we had Internet).

This game became a treasure to so many childhoods.  Our young hearts were filled with hope for another installment, but as we aged, our dreams seemed nostalgic only.  So, when a preview for a new game over 20 years later appeared, we Poke Fans thought it was a prank!  But, when the reveal was true, everyone cheered!  And now with eight generations and close to 1,000 possible Pokemon to ‘capture’ on film in addition to the advancements in technology, it all seemed so promising!

I figured since I did the post for the trailer for the new Pokemon Snap on here for all you call GeekyKool cats, the matching video game review should be done by this Pokemon Master! 😉  Grab your cameras, flufruits, and sense of adventure, it is time to solve a mystery with your friends and our keen eye.

*I added some of my pictures from the game below.  My favorites are in an album, link below.  Enjoy! 🙂

OH!  You can get your own copy of Amazon, Gamestop, Walmart, and such. Don’t worry; finding this installment is a ‘SNAP!’ :)-  Sorry/not sorry for the pun, LOL!

Pokemon Snap (2021) Review:

Story: 7/10

I am well aware that this is not like a mainstream Pokemon game.  With this knowledge, please be aware there isn’t going to be an in-depth story.  Still, there is one.  Your goal is to work with Professor Mirror (And YES, I am MIFFED that he doesn’t have a tree/plant name.  There are more choices, people!).  He wants you, apparently, a prodigy photographer for the age of 10-12, to help him figure out the mystery of a journal that was written over 100 years ago that talks about the existence of a few rare, glowing Pokemon, which they name Illumina Pokemon along with special flowers that seem to have a similar glow, called Crystalblooms.  The professor who wrote the journal isn’t sure if these Pokemon got their powers from a meteor that crashed the reason around the same time OR they came together to save the region.  This is what Professor Mirror wants to find out and finding/activating the flowers is the start of it all.

It goes into a little more from there and there are a few fun surprises, but it is mostly there to piece together a reason why we are taking pictures of Pokemon other than to collect them for a Photo Dex for research as we did in the original with Professor Oak.  I personally like they tried to be different and the story didn’t distract from the main appeal/reason for the game, but it didn’t overly entertain me either.  It was all right.

Characters: 6/10

Once more, this is not an in-depth game so the characters are not really either.  Professor Mirror is a young professor and I enjoy his passion but is in general a generally nice, shy guy. He did annoy me at times because he would switch his theories on a whim, like mid-sentence sometimes.  I get research can change hypotheses, but it just made him wishy-washy.

Now, I do miss Professor’s Oak cruel and nonsensical grading scale from the original game. Ironic, I know, because it POed me as a kid!  LOL! Professor Mirror didn’t always make sense to me on his ratings, but I would say 75% of the time, it was fair.  I did like how you could select which photo from her photo album, even if it wasn’t the highest-rated, and still got to keep your highest score.  Anyway, overall, Professor Mirror was an average professor.

He has two assistants like you, both close to your age: Rita, who is a tad older, and Phil, who is a little younger.  I would LOVE to go shopping with Rita. I dig her kawaii style to the max!  High lavender pigtails with a matching vest, pink outfit, boots, neon-colored decore decking her out.  She is rocking!  Supposedly, she is Professor Mirror’s direct assistant/daughter of a family friend and is supposed to be like a mentor to you, although she comes across as innocent and goofy most of the time.  She knows how to explain things, but never starts off confident.  Rita is a sweet girl though.  Phil is a typical rough and tough older elementary boy.  Eager to be your rival and jelly of when you take good photos, but also in awe of them.  Obsessed with a famous photographer.  Speaking of…

A fun little gift to us fans was Todd, the protagonist from the original game is a friend of Professor Mirror’s and he is all grown up, still doing what he loves and being the best in the world at capturing the essence of Pokemon through film.  It was great to see him and he did give you advice and the music mechanic on your NEO machine (like Oak gave him in the first installment), but I REALLY wish he had a bigger role or was in the story more overall.  Heck, I would have loved for him to be my mentor.  But, it was still a nice treat.

Overall, Todd was the best character and he wasn’t new.  The others were okay, but kind of forgettable.

Graphics/Angles: 7/10

Totally upfront: the graphics in this game are stunning!  But there is almost TOO much to look at.  I know that is partly the point; to be emersed in the surroundings, you and the Pokemon, the fantastical world of Pocket Monster.  It also makes it harder for you to find them in their natural habitats.  But, man, the angles and moving around weren’t fun in many of the levels.  It was fluid, which is something I like with the Switch overall.  But with so much fine detail on top of tracking everything when you are intended to capture moving targets already, it sucks out some of the fun.  The Jungle level gave me a headache often.  I applaud the design and graphics team for their hard work and making it pretty, but I am not sure they considered that their hide-and-seek was more like Where’s Waldo after spinning in circles.

I am bowing down to the graphics of the Pokemon themselves and the people.  They looked very good and watching them interact was a fun sight.  ^_^

Region: 8/10

You are introduced to The Lental region (made me think of soup, ha,) a collection of large islands, each one with different terrains: park, jungle, deserts, frozen tundra, beach, underwater, reef, volcano, cave, and ancient ruins.  It made it convenient for the game and taking pictures.  I also did like the day/night element in many of the areas that allowed you to see Pokemon in their environment, but a unique perspective.  Some are more active depending on the times or they act in other ways depending on the time, like animals in real life.

I don’t know how this would work in our real world, lol, but it was great for the game.  Other than the over-the-top graphics at times, I think this region fits this world well.  Although, getting access to some of them is tricky.

One of my favorite parts was that I could take photos at the lab too.  Professor Mirror allowed Pokemon to come and play at LENS lab inside and out.  It kept seeing them in the background of my selection screen and they were so precious.  So, when Todd gave me the chance about 1/3rd of the way through the main story, I was giddy.  It was simple but so fun to find hidden treasure in your own ‘home’ so to speak.

Items/Mechanics: 7.5/10

The new Pokemon Snap kept many of the same items as the original and they work the same way as their predecessors do: 

  • NEO (the updated vehicle of the ZERO-ONE from the first game)- The hovercraft on tracks that you safely travel in order to take the photos.  It can turn the angles 360, go up and down angles to a point, and speed up.  It keeps you safe and adapts to any landscapes, such as going through snow or underwater.
  • Fluffruit (updated apple from the first game)- It does what you suspect; tasty food, lol! You can use it as a treat (some Pokemon love it) or toss it at them to get some amusing photos, lol!
  • Music (an updated version of the Poke flute)- Todd gives this to you in this game.  The music gets some Pokemon dancing or jumping, but not too many reacted to it I noticed.  The bat Pokemon hated it with their sensitive ears, LOL! It also wakes up sleeping Pokemon.

New or updated developments: 

  • They got rid of the pester ball, which is good since it was described as releasing a harmful gas.
  • The zoom on this camera is excellent!
  • Scanner– A very useful item.  It scans the area for hidden Pokemon or Pokemon who are sensitive to sound waves perk up.  Not all of them react to it, but it was helpful many times.  It can also scan for items the professor wants you to try to find, like Illumina flowers, ancient ruins, and such.
  • Illumina orbs– You throw these at Illumina flowers, the glow getting some Pokemon happy or to come out of hiding to surround it.  If you throw them AT a Pokemon, they glow green for a while and give them super strength for a few seconds, again, more cool picture chances.  I’ll explain more about this new key component soon.
  • Research Titles– You get stickers/patches/icons each time to complete a task: finishing a region, level, getting the material for a new orb, getting all the Pokemon in that area, finishing a boss fight, taking so many photos of a certain type, and other milestones.  There are over 200 of these as well.  They do nothing, but they are cute and fun if you like to see physical proof of your achievements.
  • Filters– I didn’t really play with these elements, but there are a lot of neat ones, such as black and white, comic book style, and more.  There are also stickers and borders you can add to your pieces of art.  It’s not as hard or rad as printing them out at Blockbuster, HA, but I like all the choices and it fits our generation well.
  • You can also go to the LENs Lab to check your photo dex, decorate photos, see your patches and stats, and update your settings.  I’m sure you also saved at the lab in the first game, but it was on a simple split-screen, ha.
  • And, of course, you can connect to the Internet, share your photos, and all that jazz.  Modern era!

It was a tad challenging to shuffle it all in the midst of taking photos (I hit the wrong button more than I would like to admit), but it was neat.

Variety of Pokemon: 9/10

There are 214 total and YES, I must admit I am proud of myself, but I GOT AT LEAST ONE PICTURE OF ALL 214 registered Pokemon in this game! Woo-hoo!  I am normally not a completionist (even though I always finish the main story).  Yet, I wanted to do this.

Since there is a variety of weather and terrains, they have a good amount of Pokemon to match.  I would say about 20% of the Pokemon in the Pokedex were in this game.  I know there are 900-1,000 Pokemon and adding all of that right now would be merely impossible.  I still wish there were a few more, like 350 or so.  But I did like the Pokemon they picked (although my two favorite Pokemon, Ponyta and Alakazam weren’t there, BOO!)  And, again, watching them all interact and play was fun.

There are also different LEVELS.  Your photo scores add up like EX in a normal video game, but it is for each island.  This lets you see more Pokemon or new ones in different ways in on the same area depending on if you are level one to max (max level is 3 or 4 depending on the section).  I like how it gives you something to strive for and help give you a reason to go back to the same levels other than filling your dex.  HOWEVER, I have a beef with this in some sections, which I will talk about in another part of this review.

Photo Dex/Photo System: 7.5/10

There is a different type of set-up for this photo dex.  In the original, you could only pick one picture for each Pokedex entry.  It made sense with the limited space in the days of memory cards (ah, that brings me back…)  In the new one, you get an album.  There is a star system: 1-4.  So, you get to have four different poses/shots of all the Pokemon.  And yes, one of the post-game goals is to finish your Photo Dex (I didn’t go that far, lol). Of course, if you get a higher scoring or better photo in the same star category and you want to switch it, you can.  I appreciate that.  ^_^

Now, getting four different photos of each of the 214 Pokemon takes a certain requirement.  From experience and observation, here is what I figured:

ONE STAR- General photo

TWO STAR- Pokemon get hit/using scanner/playing music and their reaction

THREE STAR- Pokemon interacting with each other/unique reactions/sometimes using an orb on them

FOUR STAR- A Pokemon doing something super awesome/attacking/often filling requests

There are exceptions to the rules of course and other factors help, such as how much of the Pokemon you see, what they are doing, if they are in the center of the frame, other Pokemon in the shot, how clear it is, and more.  There are also different colored stars, from bronze to diamond.  I think these factors are by some of the ideas in this paragraph, but I also think I am at the mercy of Professor Mirror too here, lol.

Difficulty: 6/10

The official age demographic of games in the Pokemon franchise is ten years old (which is why Ash is eternally ten, fun fact, LOL!)  So, I understand this is a game for kids/preteens, but what is so wondrous about Pokemon is it captures the heart of all ages.  With this difficulty rating, it is not for the story or the controls (I praised/discussed those above.)  It was about how many times I had to look up how to get through certain levels.  Yes, you are meant to figure out certain obstacles for yourself.  I’m an adult; I get that component in my children’s game, lol! Yet,  some were ridiculous.

The secret passages through the icy region?  Nuts!  Finding some of the mystic Pokemon?  A four-step, insane process.  But the hardest beast for me to find was a Jolteon!  A flipping Jolteon!  Gah!  I had to look up way more than I like for a Pokemon game and I hated that.  Maybe I am just dumb or maybe others felt the same?  I don’t know, but that is why I had to give it this rating.

I mentioned levels in each area before.  Some of them have limited Pokemon compared to others so it is much harder to level up in order to get new Pokemon.  Being forced to do the same level over and over again really got under my skin.  I think there should have been the same number of new Pokemon in each level (I feel the time for each one is the same, although the Jungle one felt endless. Does it sound like I dislike the Jungle level, HA?!)  The reef level really dug me in.  Got so sick of it to get those points!

There is also something called Requests: Rita, Professor Mirror, Phil, or Todd ask you to help them with photo requests (like any Pokemon game, I have to do everything for the world, lol!)  I like the idea of this and they are meant to be hard, but some are unheard of!   Also, there are over 200!  It’s overwhelming on top of everything else. Sure, you want to get your money’s worth for the game, lol. And I KNOW I completed some of them, but they didn’t take them.  It was frustrating!  Again, cool bonus feature, but it just made things more jumbled for me.  You DO get prizes for completing a request, but they are filters, stickers, borders, and such usually.

BOSSES: 5/10:

As stated above, I mentioned that Professor Mirror wants you to find out about Illumina Pokemon.  There are five islands, so when you either find the Illumina flower or achieve a task in that section in order for the professor to make the orb that goes with that island (five islands, five orbs.)  Then, you go to a little region where a massive Pokemon is, an Illumina Pokemon.

This is the counterpart to capturing a photo of Mew in the Nintendo 64 version.

The first stage is simple: just take a good shot.  After that, it’s a mess.  I understand it is meant to be difficult as a boss-like battle and each one uses components that go with recent items or techniques you’ve been given/learned.  Getting a decent photograph is difficult enough, with how quickly they move or hide.  However, in addition to dealing with this roller coaster of insanity, you have to throw multiple Illumina orbs at it until a special pattern appears on it.  Being able to HIT them with the dang orb is hard enough (but I also suck at aim, I admit).  They start to glow after one hit.  I think that is good enough, but NOOOOO! They need a special pattern.

Also, it’s a nightmare to get a photo of them to make Professor Mirror happy.  Now, he gets picky!  There are times that I got it dead-center, but a slight obstacle was in the way or the pattern wasn’t showing!  You cannot pass the stage and move on to the next island if you do not defeat the boss.  *Sighs*

Again, I see where they were going for, but it didn’t have the wow factor and it all just made me mad.  Although, you can go back after you get your shot to take more photos of different Pokemon.

Fun Factor: 6/10

The second we knew this was the real deal, my husband and I rushed to preorder it.  Derrick got to play with it first since I had school.  He only got halfway through, which was unusual for him, a gamer who hard-core plays for at least three days when he gets a new adventure.  It was strange that I finished it before him, ha!

Even though this game was prettier, bigger, bolder, easier to move around, more inclusive, and more interactive, it was missing the nostalgic factor that made the first one so great.  And enough time had passed that it was new for this generation and should have sung to us original Poke fans youthful hearts.

I cannot pinpoint why this game didn’t give me the same fuzzy feeling that other Pokemon games, new and old, or remakes do.  Maybe it was because we waited too long or the graphics made us lose things in the shuffle.  Yet, I heard this from a lot of people; it wasn’t the same.  My hubby and I agreed on that.  Do not get it wrong; it is a fun game and worth it.  But if you are an original Pokemon Kid like me, I hope you like it, but I did want you to be prepared.

OVERALL SCORE: 69/100: C-

My Game Stats:

  • Research Titles: 85/144 (59%)
  • Pokemon Found: 214 (ALL OF THEM, BOO-YAH!)
  • Photo Dex Registered: 492/856 (57%)
  • Total Photo Dex Score: 1, 817, 039
  • Completed Pages: 20/214 (9%) (means I got four different photos for a certain Pokemon)
  • Map Levels: 24/24 (COMPLETE) (Includes boss levels)
  • Maxed-Out Levels: 3/24 (13%) (but VERY close on several of them)
  • Total Photos: 1, 053 saved
  • Len Challenges Finished: 21/194 (11%)

I MADE A PUBLIC FACEBOOK ALBUM OF MY FAVORITE/BEST PHOTOS:

CLICK THIS LINK TO CHECK THEM OUT

AND FOR YOUR INFO, A NEW UPDATE WITH NEW POKEMON AND AREAS CAME OUT LAST WEEK (AUGUST 3rd)!  I haven’t played it yet, but I do look forward to it! 😉

CHECK OUT MY OTHER VIDEO GAME REVIEWS ON MY WEBSITE BELOW:

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Go capture the beauty and fun of the Pokemon World, trainers! Stay geeky! 🙂

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Educator of young minds by day, super nerdy savior of justice, and cute things by night, Morgan Straughan Comnick has a love for turning the normal into something special without losing its essence. Morgan draws from real-life experiences and her ongoing imagination to spark her writing. In her spare time, she enjoys doing goofy voices, traveling to new worlds by turning pages, humming child-like songs, and forcing people to smile with her “bubbliness.” It is Morgan’s mission in life to spread the amazement of otaku/Japanese culture to the world and to stop bullying; she knows everyone shines brightly.

For more information about Morgan and her works, check out her website, which also has links to all her social medias: http://morganscomnick.com

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