We’ve heard it a million times before – eejits moaning about how Pokemon ditched the National Dex despite the fact that doing so was an obviously necessary concession for the host of new features we’ve seen implemented over the last few years. New Pokemon Snap takes these cuts to a new level, and for good reason – you’re going to tell me that animating several behaviours for almost 900 ‘mons who can roam around varied biomes and uniquely interact with one another is feasible? Please read at least one Wikipedia article on game dev.
I’m 100 percent happy that New Pokemon Snap kept its roster tight. I mean, it features almost triple the amount of creatures as the original Pokemon Snap, but it’s got less than a quarter of the National Dex. If you asked me to pitch a Pokemon Snap game, I’d say “choose about 200 of them and make it good,” so I am extremely happy with the direction this has gone in, even if some of my favourites are missing – which they are not because we have both Blastoise and Vaporeon. If Haunter is there too this might end up being my game of the year, to be honest.
Anyway, the reason I’m saying that New Pokemon Snap picked its roster right is because of behaviours. When you think about it, what does Porygon do? Just sort of sit there, looking at you quizzically like the weird robot it is? Victreebel would eat other ‘mons and spit them out like a four-year-old having their first carrot. Milotic would glide seamlessly through roaring waves and make them look elegant, even tranquil. Garbodor would have everyone running away from it because of its funky smell – listen, folks, it’s not Garbodor’s fault, rubbish is literally a part of its body.
The most recent New Pokemon Snap trailer exhibits all of these behaviours spectacularly. We’ve got loads of poster ‘mons that are there purely because they’re synonymous with the series – Pikachu, starters, and so on. But we’ve also got some ostensibly boring ones who are just a perfect fit for photography – ones who we might not catch and train in a mainline game, sure, but ones who are far more fascinating to observe than some of our absolute favourites.
Bouffalant is a good example of this. Did you remember that Bouffalant exists? I didn’t until this morning. What a crap Pokemon. But it roams in herds, doesn’t it, and is just really lovely to watch, which makes it equally lovely to take photos of. We’ve got Octillery, who evolves from one of the worst Water-types of all time, Remoraid – and that’s coming from a self-proclaimed Water trainer – squirting ink at Seviper, who apparently swims now. Petition to make Seviper part Water-type so I can include it on my teams from here on out, cheers.
I mean, Chinchou and Lanturn are chilling out in the darkest recesses of the deep sea, which makes sense given their angler fish-esque light bulb antennae. Bellossom dances, Mareanie chases Corsola – not Cursola, mind, who Mareanie would likely be being chased by, except for a hug – and Swanna gracefully parades its way along resplendent rivulets with a ballet of cheeky little Ducklett behind it. I use Toxapex occasionally in competitive play, but I’ve never thought much of the rest of these ‘mons – and that’s before I even mention Ariados, whose New Pokemon Snap spider web could put The Lord of the Rings’ Shelob to shame. That could be a whole piece in and of itself – tune in next week for Ariados vs Shelob: ultimate battle of the arachnid kaiju.
Magikarp bounces out of the water like in Sword & Shield – teach it Bounce instead of Tackle at level 15, you cowards – Blastoise explodes out of its shell like a tortoise with Schwarzenegger’s DNA implanted in it, and Tyranitar bellows into the void just for the sake of it. It’s like that scene in I Love You Man where Jason Segel and Paul Rudd just shout things on the beach for ages while Segel’s dog does a poo. I haven’t even mentioned Wailmer, who is the purest joy the world of Pokemon has ever known in that new trailer – speaking of which, is there a panoramic setting for capturing Wailord’s ridiculous 14.5-metre frame? It’s longer than a bloody Brachiosaurus is tall. Yes, that’s one of the ones with the long necks – come on, you watched The Land Before Time just like I did.
New Pokemon Snap has a small roster, sure, but it’s one of the most thoughtful ones in the entire series to date. Every single ‘mon included in it deserves to be there, even the ones I reckon are rubbish like Morelull . Shiinotic is honestly the most disgusting Pokemon I have ever seen – miss me with your Trubbish nonsense – and I’m even glad that’s there because I’m sure it has decently fascinating behaviours. I honestly can’t believe I paid either of those wretched ‘mons a compliment, but it’s just because of how well I reckon Snap chose its roster. I personally can’t wait to play it for nine million hours.
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Cian Maher is the Lead Features Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.
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