New Pokemon Snap: 7 Biggest Changes From The Original To Know Before Playing

Here are all the big changes that were made to New Pokemon Snap for Nintendo Switch.


At its core, New Pokemon Snap is fundamentally the same as the original Pokemon Snap. You're on-rails, you have items at your disposal to help you get better pictures, and at the end, your photos are graded by the professor. But it's not entirely accurate to say that New Pokemon Snap is identical to its predecessor, so let's take a look at the biggest changes in New Pokemon Snap compared to the original.

For more about the long-awaited sequel, be sure to read our full New Pokemon Snap review. And if you already picked the game up and are finding yourself getting stuck, be sure to check out our guide on how to find the Illumina Pokemon needed to advance the story.

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You Can Go Out At Night Now

You're still a kid in this game, but this time the adults let you go out at night. New to New Pokemon Snap are night versions of courses. At night, you'll encounter different Pokemon and a variety of new poses for Pokemon that were there during the day. For example, an Exeggutor who was walking around during the day can be found sleeping instead.

Pokemon exhibit unique behaviors at night.
Pokemon exhibit unique behaviors at night.

Night courses more or less run down the same track as their day counterparts, but it's a nice touch that makes things more dynamic as you comb through each course for all it has to offer. But you might be wondering: "How do you unlock night courses?"

Your Research Level Dictates Your Progress And What You Can Do

It's all about increasing your Research Level.
It's all about increasing your Research Level.

To unlock night courses and, for the most part, progress the story, you need to increase your Research Level on any given course, which is also new this time around. Think of a new Research Level as something akin to World 1-2 in Mario, although some are more similar than others. The next Research Level sometimes adds new routes but mainly adds new Pokemon and different poses and actions for existing ones, much like the night courses themselves.

At the end of a course, all your photos are graded by the professor like in the original game, and with enough points, you'll be able to access the next Research Level. If you are trying to unlock the next Research Level, your best bet is to run through the course again and keep taking photos--even of Pokemon you're already snapped--and submit them for a rating at the end of a course. Even if it's the same star rating, the points you acquire will go towards your point total. Of course, higher star ratings and new star ratings help if you're trying to complete the game fully. If you're looking for those 4-star photo opportunities and can't find them, getting to higher Research Levels is the way to go.

Photodex And The Rating System Have Been Expanded

Photo calculation plays out a bit differently in New Pokemon Snap.
Photo calculation plays out a bit differently in New Pokemon Snap.

Speaking of photo grading, that's calculated a little differently this time around, although it's still the same idea. Both games judge the pose and size of the Pokemon. The original Pokemon Snap graded something called "technique," which is replaced by direction and placement in New Pokemon Snap. The original Pokemon Snap gave you points if you had more of the same Pokemon in the shot, but New Pokemon Snap gives you extra points if there's more Pokemon in the shot regardless of which Pokemon it is.

New Pokemon Snap also grades the background, but you don't always have control over that. However, the critical difference is New Pokemon Snap gives you a star rating between one and four in each photo. The more dynamic and interesting a Pokemon's actions are, the higher the star rating you'll get. However, the stars come in bronze, silver, gold, and platinum, so even if you get a Pokemon doing something unique, you'll only get four bronze stars if the photo is far away and not centered. So basically, if you want to be the very best photographer like no one ever was, you have to get shots that are also framed well.

It's worth noting that there are also slots in the Photodex--this game's Pokedex--for one photo of each star rating, so try not to focus only on getting the highest-ranked shots. You're rewarded for whiffing it now and then.

Edit And Share Your Photos With Re-Snap Mode

Elevate your photographs to new visual heights with Re-Snap mode.
Elevate your photographs to new visual heights with Re-Snap mode.

After you get your photos evaluated, you can actually "re-snap" the ones you plan to save to your album, and that particular feature is entirely new in New Pokemon Snap. The original game also allowed you to save your personal favorites to an in-game album, but you couldn't edit them.

With the advancement of real-life photo-editing tools over the past 22 years, it would make sense for the Pokemon Snap series to follow. In Re-Snap mode, you can adjust various photo qualities, including the brightness, blur, focus size, and focal point. You can also add a filter, rotate the photo, or even zoom in. Afterward, you can add stickers and filters to make the ultimate photographic creation and even share it online for others to see.

Finally, the original game only allowed you to save 60 photos to your album, but in New Pokemon Snap, you can expand the size past that count by increasing your save data size to store even more photos.

New Items Help Improve Your Photo Performance

Illumina Orbs are an incredibly useful tool you'll frequently use throughout your journey.
Illumina Orbs are an incredibly useful tool you'll frequently use throughout your journey.

Okay, so great; re-snapping allows you to make the perfect photo, but what can you do to boost your photo game when it comes to photo evaluations?

Well, just like the original Pokemon Snap, as you progress the story, you'll gain access to new tools that'll help you out. Like the original, you'll get Fluffruits, which are softer and lighter-looking apples that some Pokemon gravitate towards that also give a dash to the Neo-One, making it drive through courses faster. You also receive a music player that gets some Pokemon to do special actions like dancing. It's a bit like the Pokemon Flute in the original, but it doesn't wake up sleeping Pokemon.

The most significant new tools and items added to your photography repertoire are the scan feature and Illumina Orbs. The scan feature shows you nearby Pokemon and notable things like alternate routes. Scanning Pokemon might cause them to do something unique and exciting, which makes for another good photo opportunity.

On the other hand, Illumina Orbs are part of the story of this game, and they're similar to the Pester Balls from the original. Throwing them at a Pokemon makes them glow--or, in the case of a Scorbunny, its flames change color. Other times, a Pokemon, like Pidgeot, will also do something unique when you throw an Illumina Orb at it. In Pidgeot's case, it'll exhibit a unique action and glow. The Professor will undoubtedly love a photo of that.

You Can Customize Your Character

You can create and customize the protagonist at the start.
You can create and customize the protagonist at the start.

In New Pokemon Snap, you can customize your character from the start. You can choose different genders, hair colors, and skin colors. However, outside of the eight pre-set options, there's no further customization for things like clothes or accessories, which is a bit unfortunate given how much recent Pokemon games allowed you such opportunities. Maybe we'll get that in a future update of some kind!

There's An Expanded Story With More Supporting Characters

There's more of a story in New Pokemon Snap.
There's more of a story in New Pokemon Snap.

New Pokemon Snap also features an expanded story and characters, but don't get too excited. After all, this is a Pokemon game, so the story here is still not very complex or nuanced. Like the original game, you're helping a professor with taking research photos of Pokemon. However, this time you're researching something called the Illumina phenomenon, which seems to affect Pokemon in an unusual way. To avoid too many spoilers, I'll leave it at that. Just know that this particular plot point drives the story forward the most.

While it's nothing too mind-blowing from a narrative standpoint, having a more involved story does help incentivize you to keep moving through New Pokemon Snap. It was just you and Professor Oak in the original game, after all, so there wasn't much to the proceedings that helped keep you going. But now it's this new guy named Professor Mirror alongside a humble cast of other supporting characters. Aside from Professor Mirror, you have Rita, his research assistant, and Phil, who's your rival. There's also a fifth character, but I'm not going to spoil who that is; you'll have to find that out for yourself.

Finally, New Pokemon Snap steps up the overall presentation with voice acting for all its characters. It's somewhat limited to crucial scenes, but the fact that it's here is pretty cool! But if that's not your thing, you can also turn the voice acting off.

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