Retro Video Game Review: Pokemon Snap (Nintendo 64)

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Overall Rating: 3/5

Pokemon is nearly synonymous with Nintendo, since the franchise had its American start with the Red and Blue versions of the Game Boy games. Since then, the canon moved on to many more gaming titles, along with a wildly successful trading card game, toy line, and countless others variants of merchandise. One of the entries in the line of video games was a quirky title for the Nintendo 64: Pokemon Snap.

In Pokemon Snap, Professor Oak assigns the player to the task of photographing wild Pokemon, and seeing how well they can capture the creatures in frame. With dozens of familiar characters in the true-to-story environments of the established canon, Pokemon Snap was sure to be a big hit with the throngs of existing Pokemon fans. But, left to its own basic merits, was Pokemon Snap a legitimately good game?

Graphics

This is a half-and-half issue for this title. On the one hand, the Pokemon look great, and very similar to their Stadium counterparts: Easily recognizable from their Game Boy images, and colorfully rendered in three-dimensional polygons with behavioral movements. On the other hand, for a Nintendo 64 title, the graphics are fairly basic and nothing spectacular. Colorful polygons were pretty much the standard, so the highlight of Pokemon Snap may have been the anime-style scenes between levels.

Sound

The voicework was great, with the Pokemon creatures clearly emulating their television-series counterparts with few exceptions. Other than the pocket monsters, though, the soundtrack left a bit to be desired. The background music was average, the non-voice effects were merely okay, and little else was to be found as any redeeming value.

Innovation

The bright spot of this game was its blatant and remarkable originality. A game about taking pictures? That would have been interesting enough, but provide such popular and provocative targets as the Pokemon and you have quite a video game formula. The camera controls were intuitive and user-friendly, it was interesting to see how new items altered the environment, and there was many high scores to keep track of. Creativity was certainly a strong point to this game.

Replay Value

With dozens of Pokemon to shoot and register new high scores for, with different items to gain in the story, and new worlds that opened up, Pokemon Snap provided a decent amount of replay. However, once all the worlds had been reached, all a player could do was repeat levels to try and get higher picture scores. As fun as that can be, thousands and thousands of shots later, the one-track worlds and the experience altogether become stale and unfulfilling.

Despite its original premise and Pokemon-related story, due to its suffering from cripplingly one-dimensional gameplay, Pokemon Snap deserves no more than three stars out of five.

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