New Pokemon Snap for Switch might be the vacation I need right now
This casual photo safari game -- with a surprising amount of photo filters -- makes me miss travel more than ever.
Scott SteinEditor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
ExpertiseVR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tabletsCredentials
Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
The recent opening of Super Nintendo World in Japan reminded me: I haven't been on vacation in a year. Over a year? I've lost track. Don't remind me. It hurts.
Nintendo's upcoming New Pokemon Snap game on the Nintendo Switch, a new follow-up to a game first released on the Nintendo 64 a long, long time ago, feels like Nintendo's virtual spring break. With Pokemon. And a camera. In a lot of ways, it also feels sort of like it was made for VR. But this isn't VR, of course. It's your Switch.
I haven't actually been able to play the game yet, but Nintendo showed me a Zoom preview of the game being played. I sat and watched it, passenger-style.
New Pokemon Snap isn't an RPG like most Pokemon games. It's also not multiplayer. Instead, it's a relaxed "on-rails" trip through the Lental region, finding Pokemon along the way. When you see one, you try to take a good photo of it. Better shots get better star ratings, and sometimes it seems like a matter of luck and skill. You can throw fruit at the Pokemon that they can eat, which makes them do things.
The camera has a variety of photo filters, which can be used in the game or for sharing out photos. Expect a lot of people to make weird Pokemon memes.
It's not clear how many courses there are in the game, but I saw examples of ones set during both the day and at night. It's relaxing, and you can tilt the Switch around to "look" at things, or just use standard stick controls. With motion controls on, it seems almost like a VR game without the VR headset (no, this won't work with the Labo VR headset -- I asked).
I love Nintendo's more theme park-like game efforts. Nintendo Land for the Wii U ended up becoming one of my favorites years after it launched. Mario Kart Live felt like a ride in miniature, too. New Pokemon Snap has that similar type of vibe, like a Jurassic World journey but without the dinosaurs. Just cute, cool creatures lurking around corners of a chill Nintendo ride.
But the lack of a collaborative multiplayer mode feels like a missed opportunity. I guess you can always sit next to someone else and yell when you want them to snap a photo.
In a year when new Switch games feel a little more scarce, Snap might be a fun one to consider if you're not traveling anywhere anytime soon. (Like me.)
New Pokemon Snap arrives on the Switch on April 30.