We recently got a closer look at the long-awaited Pokemon Snap sequel for Switch.
For Pokemon fans of a certain age, Nintendo 64's Pokemon Snap remains one of the most beloved spin-offs the series has ever produced, but it's taken Nintendo more than 20 years to release any sort of follow-up. That two-decade wait will finally come to an end next month when New Pokemon Snap arrives on the Switch, and as we saw during a recent preview demonstration, the game, wisely, doesn't stray very far from the original's formula.
As before, your goal in New Pokemon Snap is not to capture Pokemon but rather to photograph them. The story is set in the Lental region, a diverse archipelago where Professor Mirror is conducting research into a mysterious phenomenon that's causing Pokemon and vegetation to glow. As part of his research, you'll travel around the different islands, photographing Pokemon in their natural habitats and unraveling the secret behind these luminous monsters.
The gameplay demonstration we watched focused primarily on Blushing Beach, the pristine coastal level briefly showcased in the game's reveal trailer. Each locale in New Pokemon Snap comes in day and night versions, with different Pokemon to photograph between them. During the day, Pikachu, Bellossom, and Machamp could be seen roaming about the beach, while nocturnal monsters like Inkay, Zangoose, and Drifblim emerged at night. Even Pokemon that are present during both times of day will often be doing something different, presenting new photo opportunities; Exeggutor that are stomping about during the day will be sleeping along the shore at night, for instance, while Bellossom will be dancing in groups beneath the moonlight.
Just as in the original game, your expedition around these islands is entirely on-rails. You'll travel through each level aboard the Neo-One, a high-tech pod that slowly moves along a virtual track, snapping up photos of the wild Pokemon you encounter en route to the goal. You also have a familiar set of tools at your disposal to help you capture the Pokemon on film. You can lure monsters out of hiding either by throwing a "fluffruit" or playing a gentle melody, which in turn may cause the Pokemon to react in unexpected ways.
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These actions can also set up some humorous interactions between Pokemon. One stretch of beach, for example, was dotted with a group of Sandyghast hidden among the sands. The presenter lured one of them out of hiding with a fluffruit, but its sudden appearance startled a nearby Octillery and sent it scurrying away into the ocean.
In addition to the returning abilities, New Pokemon Snap introduces a few new tools to your arsenal. Chief among these is the scan function, which reveals information about Pokemon and certain objects of interest around the environment. In place of the original game's Pester Balls, New Pokemon Snap also gives you Illumina Orbs. Chucking these at a Pokemon will illuminate it, which is especially helpful when taking photos at night.
Once you've reached the goal at the end of the level, you'll be transported back to the lab, where Professor Mirror grades the photos you've taken. As in the original, your photos are scored based on various criteria, such as how prominent the Pokemon is in the frame, and whether or not any other monsters were captured in the photo. This time around, photos are also assigned a star rating. This ranges from one to four stars depending on how rare the action you photographed is.
After Professor Mirror scores your photos, you'll be able to add them to your Photodex. You can save four photos of every Pokemon--one for each star rating--in the dex, encouraging you to continue snapping pictures of each monster, even if you've previously photographed them. The game also gives you the option to edit photos you've taken with the Re-Snap function. This feature allows you to change the composition of the photo by panning in or out, adjusting its blur, and even applying filters and stickers. These touched-up photos won't count toward your Photodex, but you can save them to a separate in-game album and share them online with other players.
Another way New Pokemon Snap seems to encourage replayability is by introducing a research level for each locale. As you travel about an island photographing Pokemon and amassing more points, you'll gradually increase that area's research level, which in turn may open up different Pokemon behaviors to photograph. Nintendo also teased that islands will have alternate routes, as levels in the original game did, although we didn't get to see any of these during the demonstration.
New Pokemon Snap launches on Nintendo Switch on April 30. To use the game's online sharing feature, you'll need to have a Nintendo Switch Online subscription. You can read more about the title in our and our breakdown of the biggest differences between New Pokemon Snap and the original. If you're already playing the game, then we recommend you look to our guide detailing how to find the Illumina Pokemon in the Lental Seafloor.