Before anyone gets too excited: no, there is not a currently-announced sequel to the Nintendo 64 gem, Pokémon Snap. However, a recent video from the NormalBoots YouTube channel (which you should absolutely check out here) got me thinking deeply about this game and the incredible potential for a sequel that has been left untapped for nearly two decades. I’ve seen fans across the internet making pleas for a new entry since the dark days of the Wii U’s reign. “Use the control pad as a camera!” they shout. “The Wii U is perfect for Pokémon Snap!” While I don’t disagree with the sentiment, a new Snap would have likely underperformed due to the overall unpopularity of the Wii U. Low sales would have shone negatively on the title, not necessarily reflecting the limited install base to begin with, and possibly led Nintendo to conclude that funding any further entries would be a fool’s errand.
But now we have the Switch. As of this writing, Nintendo’s newest console has sold just under 20 million units (possibly crossing this goal by the time this blog is published). That is an insane number for only coming out a year and a half ago! If there was ever going to be a successor to the fondly-remembered Pokémon Snap, now would be the time for Nintendo to act. But what form would this sequel take? Would it simply be a heavily-refined rendition of the first game? Or would it take some risks to create something entirely new? I’m here to pitch my ethereal vision of the majestic…the wondrous…the hypothetical…Pokémon Snap 2!
We’re going to start with a clean slate. That’s right: no more “on-rails” traveling. Rather than short levels, the player’s time would be spent inside a few large, open-ended zones that contain a variety of locales, with the player able to traverse them freely on foot. Imagine exploring a vista in the Pokémon world and seamlessly wandering from a small mountain range down to a lush, green prairie, and then further towards a sandy beach that overlooks the ocean, all the while discovering new creatures to snap along the way. At some point, vehicle rental would be available to the player to make traversal a faster experience for late-game backtracking. These massive zones could even incorporate weather forecasts, which would alter the Pokémon available to encounter at that particular time and encourage planning. The basics of this new style of gameplay should be explained to the player by none other than…that’s right…Todd Snap! But much like Red and Blue from their inclusion in Pokémon Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon, he should be aged into adulthood.
Thinking of sheer logistics, there would likely not be enough space to feature every single Pocket Monster in the game, so the total list would have to be pared down, yet expansive. Different species of Pokémon should behave uniquely toward the player. Smaller creatures might flee in terror if your avatar comes tromping out of the woodwork at them. Conversely, larger beasts and evolutions would stand their ground and possibly even lash out at the player. But the catch is that you don’t have a health bar: this is still a photography game, after all. Some sort of penalty would have to be enacted for when players stoke a Pokémon’s ire and actually get attacked, perhaps blacking out and losing money like in the main series of games. In this manner, rare and powerful Pokémon would truly be a challenge to capture for the camera.
After a photo adventure, players could exit the zone at any time and venture to town, where they would be able to sell their photos for cash to a newspaper, magazine, or art outlet, each providing different long-term rewards. General photos could be sold for a fair amount, but specific photos requested by said outlets or other NPCs would be worth far more, making it worth the time to set up their requested shots. Players could use their resulting income to purchase items and upgrades at shops, ranging from useful tools like bait and decoys to full-on camera upgrades for zoom capabilities, night vision, or water durability. Your in-game avatar would also benefit from equippable upgrades, such as thicker pants and jackets to explore cold areas, running shoes for greater navigation speed, or even camouflage to make it harder for Pokémon to see you, thus reducing their likelihood of running away and allowing you the chance to take that perfect, pristine picture. This money could also be applied to the previously-mentioned vehicle use, with rental centers set up in the various zones to accommodate players with sufficient cash.
Once you are done with spending, players would have the capability to return to their home. This would serve as a hub where your in-game avatar could be customized much like the newer games in the main Pokémon series (hair, eyes, clothing, etc.). Players could pass time by sleeping to await more favorable weather conditions or a specific time of day. There would even be access to a laptop with the capability of actually uploading the photos you’ve taken to an online gallery for other players to view, like, or comment. Photo modes are all the rage in modern games, so what better way to capitalize on this trend than with a game consisting of that very purpose?
The entire premise of this Pokémon Snap sequel popped into my head almost instantaneously. To me, the gameplay would ideally feel like a hybrid of the original game combined with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, creating a photography-based adventure game that includes elements of RPG equipment progression. If a sequel is ever created, I doubt it would end up being in the style of which I’ve written. I just feel that there is a lot of potential for success with a massive game that focuses on something besides fighting: a big push in the modern gaming industry. How do you feel about Pokémon Snap? Should a sequel ever see the light of day, or is it a venture best left in the dark? I’d love to hear your opinions! As always, friends, game on!