Pokemon Snap was released back in 1999 for the Nintendo 64 here in the U.S. It was quite a unique little game. At it’s core a rail shooter, you played as Todd Snap, a photographer called by Professor Oak to a remote island to visually catalogue all the Pokemon that lived there. While on rails, you traveled to several geographically diverse locations on the island, photographing various Pokemon (sometimes displaying amazing or humorous behaviours triggered by certain player actions). Back in 1999, when Blockbuster was doing a lot better, you could go to stations set up in the stores around the country and print out the pictures you took in the game as real stickers. It was a great little cross-promotion. I still have a sticker on an old CD player featuring a couple Growlithes.
Pokemon Snap is one of my all-time favourite games. Every few months I stick my old cartridge in, power up my N64, and spend all day taking pictures of all those dumb little critters. The game featured some truly challenging photo opportunities—to this day I still have trouble getting a certain picture that involves Pikachu riding on Articuno’s back. So now, with more than 600 Pocket Monsters (and even more on the way!), and the Wii U’s Gamepad and improved online capabilities, I think Nintendo has on its hand the absolute perfect opportunity to revive a great spin-off. Below are the reasons why:
An Even Wider Array of Pokemon To Photograph
When Pokemon Snap came out, there were 151 Pokemon. And yet, the game offered only a mere 60-something to photograph. Now with five (soon six) generations of the critters to work with and consoles and physical discs capable of processing and holding more information, there’s no excuse to have such a paltry number available. More regions and more Pokemon mean more opportunities for unique photos and interaction between Pokemon who might not normally be seen together outside of trainer battles. This would be especially cool with legendaries. Imagine being able to photograph a spectacular battle between giant mythical beasts!
The Wii U’s Improved Visuals and Unique Controls
With the release of the Wii U, Nintendo finally embraced the HD era. With 1080p video output capability, a game centered around photography and colourful monsters would look great. Also, the Gamepad controller offers new ways to potentially play Pokemon Snap. The built in gyroscope and motion sensor strip provide obvious game mechanics. And having two screens to work with present inventory, map, Pokedex, and other opportunities.
Real world camera and phone technology and popular apps could also provide inspiration for gameplay possibilities. In the original game, after finishing a location, you chose a few photos out of all the ones you took to present to Professor Oak. Alongside those, you could also choose photos to keep in a personal album. Imagine having an in-game “app” like Instagram, image editor like Photoshop, or even a purikura-like extra to spruce up your personal photos! Maybe you could even take real photos into the game editor through an SD card or through the external drive and add little Pokemon touches to them.
Improved Online Can Build A Great Fan Community
Now, I don’t have a lot of personal experience with the Wii U’s online capabilities yet. Mostly because I don’t own the console myself (soooooon….). But apparently it’s been improved from the Wii’s less-than-stellar online service. People share their photos all the time through Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, and other social networks. Imagine being able to take the photos you took in your single-player campaign and being able to share them online with your friends. People could hold photo contests, rate photos, send photos to each other to edit further. Would these be possible? Maybe not on the Wii U, as far as I know. But there’s no reason you couldn’t put the pictures on an SD card and share them on your computer.
Fans have been clamoring for a new Pokemon Snap for ages. I was honestly surprised a sequel didn’t hit the Wii, even though the original is available for download on its digital store. After 13 years, and with a great new console, there’s so many possibilities now. Nintendo could come out with a truly great sequel that would also be a must-have and would move units like crazy. I’m finally starting to find more games I want for the Wii U (mostly Monster Hunter), but a new Pokemon Snap would have me running out to the nearest store to grab a system.