It’s Infinitely More Satisfying To Snap ‘Em All Than to Catch ‘Em All
Ten-year-old me would be devastated to hear it, but I gave up on catching ‘em all years ago. As much as I love collecting Pokemon, the process of finding, fighting, and catching every Pokemon just doesn’t excite me the way it used to. On the other hand, I spent this entire past weekend no-lifing New Pokemon Snap in an attempt to complete my Photodex. Long after I completed the story, explored every course, and photographed every Pokemon, I still haven’t managed to peel myself away from this game, and I don’t intend to stop anytime soon. While filling up the Photodex definitely scratches the same itch that filling the Pokedex used to, I’m finding it infinitely more satisfying, and rewarding, to snap ‘em all.
Taking pictures of Pokemon is so exciting. It’s thrilling every time you discover a new Pokemon, just as it is in the mainline games. Like walking through the tall grass in a new route you’ve never explored, every twist and turn throughout the course of New Pokemon Snap’s 24 levels offers something unexpected. As you make your way through each region, taking pictures of Pokemon does feel a lot like catching Pokemon. You don’t get to keep the ones you snap obviously, but there’s a sense of progression with each new Pokemon you photograph that replicates the collector experience perfectly.
After completing Pokemon Moon’s Alolan Dex in its entirety, it occurred to me just how much the returns diminish as you near the end of the collection in a Pokemon game. Early on, every Pokemon you encounter is a welcome one because it’s always something new. But that honeymoon phase ends rather abruptly when you start looking to fill the gaps in your Pokedex. Suddenly that sense of discovering disappears completely as you desperately search for the missing ones. Every encounter I have with a Pokemon I’ve already caught feels like an insult. Every hour spent walking laps through a field just waiting for the right spawn feels like a tremendous waste of time. As good as it feels to finish a collection, I just feel like the journey to get there has become a real chore.
New Pokemon Snap is hitting different. As I was closing out my Photodex, one of the biggest differences I discovered is that I never felt like I was wasting my time looking for something. There are some Pokemon in the game that can be incredibly hard to find and required me to replay the same courses over and over, but in every replay, there’s so much more to do while I’m looking for missing monsters. For one thing, there are four types of pictures to take for every Pokemon, including many that require setting up complicated interactions and precise timing. Even if I had all the photos for every Pokemon on a course, I’d still be looking for opportunities to improve the shots in my Photodex and work out better blocking to raise my course score. I never feel like New Pokemon Snap is wasting my time, even when I’m grinding it out.
One of the biggest time sinks in the mainline Pokemon games is the random nature of encounters. Rare Pokemon may only have a small chance of spawning, or might only spawn in certain places during certain weather, or only after you’ve done some tedious task like talk to 32 NPCs in the underground (go to hell Spiritomb). Once you Google where a rare Pokemon spawns, it doesn’t take any skill to find — it just takes time and patience.
New Pokemon Snap, on the other hand, doesn’t reward you for your time spent. Instead, it hides rare Pokemon behind complex puzzles to solve that require you to experiment and pay attention. It’s a decidedly more active process that recognizes cleverness, not commitment.
The mainline Pokemon games have plenty of other qualities, and New Pokemon Snap certainly isn’t the same kind of grand adventure that the RPGs are, but I can’t help but appreciate how much more fun I’m having in New Pokemon Snap’s end game. I was never one to min-max my Pokemon team by fiddling with IVs, partially because it’s tedious, but also because the idea of Pokemon eugenics creeps me out.
But I am min-maxing in New Pokemon Snap by repeating courses to improve my shots and working out better ways to get nice closeups of every Pokemon. I enjoy figuring out all of the puzzles, but I’m also just having a lot of fun working on my framing and timing. Replacing photos with better ones in your Photodex feels great, and there’s no equivalent to that experience in the mainline games, unless mass breeding Pokemon and sacrificing the duds speaks to you. Personally, I much prefer spending my time trying to find the perfect angle to capture Pichu’s smiling face. I still love Pokemon battles, but when it comes to collecting, I’ll stick with collecting pics.
Next: Mirror Mode: The Next Pokemon Game Should Let You Play As A Pokemon Evading Capture
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Eric Switzer is the Livestream News Editor for TheGamer as well as the lead for VR and Tech. He has written about comics and film for Bloody Disgusting and VFXwire. He is a graduate of University of Missouri – Columbia and Vancouver Film School. Eric loves board games, fan conventions, new technology, and his sweet sweet kitties Bruce and Babs. Favorite games include Destiny 2, Kingdom Hearts, Super Metroid, and Prey…but mostly Prey. His favorite Pokémon is Umbreon.
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