I talk a lot of shit on the Pokemon that I consider to be inferior. My Pokemon articles are full of references to “trash-tier” Pokemon, garbage monsters, and the ultimate insult, pack-fillers. I really don’t blame Pokemon for creating so many characters I don’t want to look at. There’s over 800 creatures now, and they can’t all be great. It seems like for every flawless legend they come up with like Umbreon or Rayquaza, there’s ten more stupid-looking fish and bugs I just ignore. It’s not that I hate Pyukymuku, I just think it’s a pointless, useless Pokemon.
Or at least, that’s what I used to think. But New Pokemon Snap has made me realize that I’ve been wrong about everything. There are no bad Pokemon, they’re all special and precious and incredible in their own unique ways. I didn’t come to this realization quickly, but my time with New Pokemon Snap has changed my entire relationship with Pokemon for the better.
I think the biggest difference between the Pokemon in Snap and the Pokemon in the mainline games is the way you encounter them. I’ve spent countless hours pacing around in the tall grass just waiting for a rare Pokemon to spawn, only to lash out in anger when yet another Bidoof challenges my team to an ill-advised battle to the death. It isn’t just a plain-looking design that makes Pokemon like Taillow undesirable, it’s also their commonality. The more Taillow I run into while I’m looking for a Phantump in the Petalburg Woods, the more I despise them.
But New Pokemon Snap doesn’t burden you with random Pokemon encounters like this. You don’t have to worry about running into a Taillow when you’re looking for something more interesting because all of the Pokemon exist in the world together. Taillow is still a boring-looking Pokemon, but I never got the feeling that it was taking the place of anything else like I do in the regular games. Taillow is just there, living it’s life, not hurting anyone, and it’s hard for me to get upset about that.
Part of the endgame experience in New Pokemon Snap is collecting a variety of shots of each Pokemon at the best angle possible. Any old picture of Finneon will do, but if you want to complete your Photodex and score the highest points possible, you’ll need to discover more interesting poses and interactions of Finneon. For some Pokemon, this means watching them closely and taking a picture at the perfect moment. Other times, this means solving a puzzle by activating an elaborate chain reaction of events that lead to a unique photo opportunity when two or more Pokemon meet and interact in a specific way. These puzzles are the core of Snap’s Request System and necessary for capturing the highest-tier, four-star photos for each Pokemon.
I think that my time spent looking for these photo opportunities is what finally made me understand that every Pokemon is precious. Snap isn’t about finding rare Pokemon to collect, it’s about finding rare moments to collect, and every single Pokemon has them. Some are harder to discover than others, but they all require you to really study the Pokemon, interact with it, and in a weird way, get to know it.
Photography can be an intimate experience between the subject and the photographer. The more I looked closely at these monsters and studied their behavior, the more I felt connected to them. I learned so much about monsters in New Pokemon Snap — especially the ones I never cared about before. Now, I don’t look at Starly as a trash-tier Pokemon. Sure it’s common, but it has behaviors and a personality that make it unique.
When I eventually get back to the mainline games, I expect I’ll feel a lot differently about the Pokemon featured in Snap. When I stumble upon Mareanie on the beach, I won’t bristle at its phallic-looking tentacles or busted teeth, I’ll just remember how cute it looks when it’s munching on a fluffruit. I wish that New Pokemon Snap featured every Pokemon so that I could have this level of appreciation for the entire roster.
Snap has also renewed my interest in the upcoming Pokemon Legends: Arceus because it features 3D Pokemon living in their natural environments and interacting with one another. While I don’t expect to see the kind of complex interactions that New Pokemon Snap features, I hope that Legends gives us the same sense of each Pokemon’s personality and behaviors. I want to get to know even more Pokemon and learn to appreciate them for being who they are, even the lousy, pathetic ones that look like they don’t deserve love. I see you, Nosepass, and I would like to take your picture.
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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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