If you were a company all of the sudden one of your little ideas turned out to be a world wide phenomenon wouldn't you try to capitalize on it? Take Nintendo and their project Pokémon. Basically the idea behind Pokémon is that they are small odd creatures that can be captured raised and used in combat with one another. Who would have guessed that this would become such an addiction for little kids that they would buy just about anything with the word Pokémon attached to it. It started on the Gameboy and has spread to the collectable trading card market, T-shirts, posters, and even cartoon videos. And now finally they have become 3D in Pokémon Snap for the N64.
The fact that there are Pokémon characters running around in three dimensions as opposed to the very primitive graphics on the Gameboy is really what is going to sell this game. There is no complicated or strategic gameplay, not much replay value, and about as much depth as shot glass. Still it is Pokémon. We love Pokémon. We'll buy Pokémon. Anything that has anything to do with Pokémon will sell. Why? For your answer see previous paragraph concerning the addiction.
The game is a basic shooting game like Rebel Assault or some other shooter on tracks. Instead of using guns and ammo though, you are equipped with a camera and some film. Perfect for the kid who wants to shoot stuff but is restricted by his or her violence-hating parents. The game moves you through different stages on Pokémon island on a buggy called the Zero-One. As you drive along the beach or in the volcano or any of the other levels, Pokémon will fly out at you and it is your job to quickly aim and take a picture of them. At the end of the level you must choose you best pictures to show the professor. He will rate them and allow you to proceed if your shots are good enough.
If you like Pokémon you will be glad to see most all of them here in 3D. If you have no idea what Pokémon are, then you will find this game slow and boring. Also, once you get the hang of the control the game becomes incredibly easy. Every time you pass through a level it is exactly the same so you just have to remember where the good shots were and repeat them. There are special items that you acquire throughout the game to add a bit of variety. Pokémon food, pester balls, and a Poké flute will all help you lure the creatures into getting their picture taken. You can also use the items to knock Pokémon out or open up secret passages into the next levels. Still, these minor options do not change the fact that you are on a silly little buggy driving through an island taking pictures of Pokémon. If this idea does not appeal to you, then you best steer clear.
But what happens when you catch all of the Pokémon on film? Do you get to raise them and fight with them? No, you get to keep you favorite ones in a photo album, and if you are really cool you will go down to one of the photo booths that Nintendo has set up, and print out the pictures that you have taken so you can prove to your friend what a Pokemaniac you are. That is the extent of it.
This game could have been really fun if there was any kind of exploration element to the game. If you could walk around the island looking for Pokémon instead of being restricted to the Zero-One then there would be some interest. But as it is, the game plays like a slow Disneyland ride without any options. Unless you are crazy for the Pokémon, you will play for about 2 days and then wonder why Nintendo would release something so uneventful. Then you'll remember that it's Pokémon so of course it will sell. And if this fails there are many other Pokemon products coming to the market soon so you can have all of the Pickachu that you want.
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