The rather unimaginatively titled New Pokemon Snap launched on Nintendo Switch last week.
But for those of you who either weren’t gaming in the 1990s or have perhaps not been into Pokemon until more recently, here’s what it’s all about.
New Pokemon Snap is what’s known as an on-rails first-person simulation game. It takes us back to the true essence of Pokemon - finding and capturing them all - ON CAMERA.
Players travel in the Lental region using an on-rails hovercraft and research Pokémon by photographing them.
For each research expedition, the player travels in the NEO-ONE - gamers who played the original will remember the ZERO-ONE - to safely photograph Pokémon in their natural environments. The habitats include jungles, deserts and beaches which can be visited during the day or night with different types of Pokémon on show at different times.
Each photo the player takes is graded by Professor Mirror on a scale of one to four stars based on how rare the current activity of the Pokémon is. The photo is then given a score taking into account things like shot composition, how close the Pokémon is, and whether they are facing the camera or not. You can then decide to save those photos to the Photodex, which can hold up to four photos of each Pokémon (one at each rating).
As players take higher-quality photos, they earn Expedition Points that go toward improving the Research Level of each area in the Lental region. Higher Research Levels will open up more levels to explore in that area and so on.
And it is the areas that are the crowning achievement in New Pokemon Snap.
The environments are simply gorgeous and feel genuinely alive even if the life they are teeming are fictional monsters.
This is a wonderful interlude for Pokemon fans that provides a whole new encounter with bags of secrets to uncover and plenty of longevity.
New Pokemon Snap is strangely rewarding and undoubtedly addictive in true Nintendo/Pokemon style.
You can edit personal photos and build an album of your favourites which - for me anyway - felt like the true core of the game rather than the sometimes simplistic and bland official scoring system.
Mission requests are a cool addition as you explore areas and its secrets. The sense of discovery is fantastic and as someone who played the N64 original I can confidently say this really does that 1999 hit justice.
My favourite part of New Pokemon Snap is trying to photograph at night. Like a night time safari in your living room - or wherever you happen to be playing in handheld mode - it’s great fun.
I struggled with following the story progression at times and the path is not always particularly clear (or it could just be me!). Although some of the confusion is perhaps caused by some of your photos getting high scores when perhaps you don’t feel they deserve it.
Overall it has to be said this is an excellent and faithful comeback for Snap packed full with content, new areas and new concepts while retaining a great deal of nostalgic familiarity.
Leveling up the courses and not grinding out top photo scores is where the fun is really at in New Pokemon Snap and once again the Switch shows off its charm and power by producing a vibrant ecosystem Pokemon fans will simply adore.