‘Pokémon Snap’ takes shot into great video game list

Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist
Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist

‘Pokémon Snap’ Trivia

Many people don’t realize that many later Nintendo 64 games were originally designed for the Nintendo 64DD (Disk Drive) — an add-on that was designed to add more capabilities and greater graphical ability to the Nintendo 64.

“Pokémon Snap” was originally planned to be released as a game for the Nintendo 64DD but after the 64DD was met with poor commercial success in Japan, it was never released in the United States, so “Pokémon Snap” was developed for the Nintendo 64 without the need for the Disk Drive.

In addition, according to Nintendo.com, Pokémon Snap started development as a non-“Pokémon” product, but the game’s creators felt it lacked a motivation for the players to take photos, which led to the idea of incorporating Pokémon into the game.

According to ign.com, “Pokémon Snap” was the sixth-best-selling game of 1999 — a strong year for the “Pokémon” franchise, with six of the top 10 best-selling games featuring Pokémon. “Pokémon Red,” “Pokémon Blue” and “Pokémon Yellow” were the top three games with “Pokémon Pinball” and “Super Smash Bros.” also making the list.

Editor’s Note: This is an article in our ongoing “Great Video Game” series in which readers and staffers alike are asked to submit a few hundred words about a video game that they consider to be great. This week’s suggestion comes from online reader Daniel Pope.

By Daniel Pope
Guest Contributor

Have you ever seen the episode of “Doug” where Doug is really afraid of eating liver and onions for the first time? That was a really good episode. It was a real cool “Doug” moment. There’s another episode, more relevant to the topic, where Doug spends an entire weekend playing a video game. He ignores his homework and everything.

I had a weekend like that once. The game was “Pokémon Snap” for the Nintendo 64, and even though I only rented it the one time, it sure has left an indelible impression on me.

“Pokémon Snap” tells the story of Todd Snap — I think this is where the game gets its name — a photographer enlisted by Professor Oak to take pictures of various Pokémon in different environments.

Oak says he needs these photographs to accompany his scientific findings, but I’m not sure if he ever goes into specifics. Throughout the game the player unlocks new traps and baits in which to lure out the more reclusive creatures.

Everyday items such as apples and flutes can be used to attract even the most camera shy of Pokémon. It should be noted that there are more than 60 Pokémon that you can photograph in this game. All the fan favorites are here: Zubat, Cloyster, Goldeen and even Weepinbell.

This game is by no means perfect. As a protagonist, Todd Snap is no Ash Ketchum. He’s basically just a cypher that the player never really grows to care about.

It would’ve been pretty cool to get Professor Oak more involved. A few Oak-controlled levels would’ve given players the chance to know the professor as more than just an auxiliary character.

I also feel like there was a real opportunity for the game to highlight the inherent exploitation in photographing the Pokémon for research, many of whom clearly don’t care to be photographed.

The surface is hardly even scratched on the complex relationship between artist and subject, although it can probably be argued that this was never really a priority of the developers.

One thing I distinctly remember about “Pokémon Snap” is how difficult it could be. Many of the subjects wouldn’t come out of their hidey-holes without very specific coaxing.

Photographing each and every Pokémon was a herculean task I was never able to accomplish. I remember having to look up hints and tips online for this game. Some people say this is cheating, but I disagree.

When people make lists of the greatest Nintendo 64 games ever, “Pokémon Snap” is often left off. I find this incredibly disappointing. Plus, it isn’t nearly as violent as other entries in the “Pokémon” series, which makes it a great choice for young gamers out there. I would highly recommend this game to “Pokémon” fans and newbies alike.

Does reading this article make you think of a video game that you consider great? Please send us an email at lariat@baylor.edu with a suggestion for a “Great Video Game.” Please include a few hundred words on why you consider your game to be great and you just might find your opinion here.