New Pokemon Snap Could Be The Perfect Photo Mode Tutorial
Photo modes in games rule. I know they’re a little bit niche, and most people just mess around with them for ten minutes, realise they’re not as fun as swinging an axe through your enemy’s face or peppering them with arrows, and give up on them. But they’re my favourite thing about most games that they’re in, and they open up a whole new world of possibilities. Even though New Pokemon Snap is a photography game, I didn’t really expect it to have a photo mode. As the latest trailers reveal though, I was dead wrong about that, and now I think it could offer the perfect photo mode tutorial.
The original Pokemon Snap game was played on rails, with you choosing when to take the shot to grab the perfect picture. New Pokemon Snap will also be on rails, but it seems like there’s a little bit more to it this time. In New Pokemon Snap, you can sing melodies to Pokemon, illuminate them with light orbs, and be rewarded for catching each creature in a variety of poses. That’s all to be expected though. What really caught my eye was the extra photo mode options we caught a glimpse of in the trailer.
The customisation options the trailer specifically lingered on and talked about were just the lighthearted, whimsical ones. You can put stickers on your ‘mons, or borders around the edges to make it look like a scene from the anime or something from a scrapbook. This is perfectly in keeping with the game’s tone and target audience, and I don’t have any qualms with it, but that’s not really a photo mode to me. That’s just messing about and having fun – and hey, it’s a video game, having fun should be the priority!
But there’s something else in New Pokemon Snap too. Once you finish each level, you’ll be able to go back and mess around with each photograph you’ve taken, and this is where New Pokemon Snap kicks it up a notch. Here, you get to mess with five categories: Brightness, Blur, Focus Size, Focal Point, and Filter. You also get to zoom in and add a caption. Brightness and Blur are fairly straightforward, while Focus Size means how much (or how little) of the picture will be in focus while the rest is blurred. Likewise, Focal Point dictates where in the picture this Focus Size hits, and Filter will change it to black and white, sepia, or whatever else.
This is a good cluster for someone wanting to get into virtual photography, because it lets you play with some of the key features without drowning you in too many of them. Messing around with focus can be tricky, and I still don’t have the hang of it myself to tell you the truth, but it seems like New Pokemon Snap is only offering a basic version of it. That means you’ll get to try it out without the risk of making a mistake and ruining it irredeemably. From a single look at the photo mode screen, I think its success rests on how many filters it has, and how different they are. Control offers a similarly restrictive photo mode, but there, the base complications of photo mode remain, and the near-indistinguishable filters make for frustration, not fun.
A key difference between New Pokemon Snap and Control is that Control is not on rails. This means that, in order to take a great photo, not only do you yourself have to make good use of the level space while controlling the character, you also need to manipulate the roving camera into new areas. With New Pokemon Snap on rails, that pressure is off. Of course, with a fully realised photo mode like Cyberpunk 2077 or Spider-Man: Miles Morales, New Pokemon Snap would open up a whole new world of photography, but we all need to start somewhere and it’s fitting that, as a photography game, New Pokemon Snap is attempting to do that for players everywhere.
If you’ve never tried virtual photography, I encourage you to give it whirl… or maybe I encourage you to wait a month for New Pokemon Snap, then give it a whirl. It has completely changed the way I play some games. I love it enough that its addition makes me proclaim Final Fantasy 7 Remake a perfect video game, and it’s the best escape from both the internal and external toxicity in games. It can be difficult to know where to start though, and definitely feels overwhelming at first. I hope New Pokemon Snap lives up to my expectations, so people finally have a game to ease them into photo modes, rather than shoving us in at the deep end.
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Stacey Henley is an editor for TheGamer, and can often be found journeying to the edge of the Earth, but only in video games. Find her on Twitter @FiveTacey
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