For those of you who don’t know me very well, something I really wanted when I was a child was my very own camera. Not because I was jealous of those in my family who owned one, but because I developed a fascination with walking around and taking pictures of the beautiful pieces of nature that surrounded my home. I know it sounds like I watched too much Discovery Kids when I was a lot younger, but this wish of mine was actually influenced by a very interesting spin-off in the heavily-revered Pokémon franchise. Replace the turn-based strategy with on-rails photography, and you get Pokémon Snap for the Nintendo 64.
Gotta photograph ’em all
Released in the summer of 1999, Pokémon Snap tasks you with taking pictures of 63 Pokémon in their natural habitats. You and your trusty ZERO-ONE vehicle travel through seven courses that make up Pokémon Island, and you must use your photography prowess and a handful of gadgets to make sure your pictures look as nice as possible. Every time you complete a trip, you must choose which of your shots will be shown to Professor Oak, who gives your pictures ratings based on size, pose, and technique. Even though the amount of courses seems small, the goals of timing your shots correctly and searching for all the included Pokémon will have you hooked.
This was the first game to have 3D Pokémon character models, and the team at HAL Laboratory did a fantastic job designing both those and the courses’ graphics. There can be a little slowdown when things like smoke and fire cover a big portion of the screen, but it’s only temporary. In terms of sound, the voice-acting for each character (Both human and Pokémon) is above average, and each course comes with very appropriate music.
Snap, crackle, Pika
This Pokémon game doesn’t have nearly as much replay value as the main series we know and love, but it’s a unique game within its franchise. If for some reason you enjoy photography simulators, or if you simply enjoy on-rails games of any kind, Pokémon Snap will no doubt be a very charming addition to your N64 library. It could definitely use a sequel on the Nintendo Switch, especially if it’d allow you to share your in-game photos directly to Facebook and Twitter. If we can’t bring our cartridges to Blockbuster anymore to print out our photos, we may as well go the social media route.