Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Oh Pokemon Snap!

 Let's talk about worldbuilding. 

When an author writes a piece of fiction, the world they build has to make some sort of sense to the reader. It needs to be a world with relatively well established rules, even if those rules are mostly grounded in reality. When the story takes place in more fantastical worlds, the author needs to aim at getting the reader to want to keep coming back to those worlds, weather for the characters they've grown to love or just to imagine the world itself. 

Enter Pokemon. 

During the mid-90's when Pokemon first started officially being a thing in the US, fans had two portals into the Pokemon world. One was the anime, with Ash and his pals taking the LONGEST ROUTES POSSIBLE to get anywhere, and the other was the Gameboy games. Both gave us the impression of this vast explorable world, filled with interesting creatures and people who build their lives around them. Nobody wanted to be Ash, they wanted to be themselves but in the Pokemon world, making their own decisions and telling their own story. The problem here was that, due to limitations in the technology, our Gameboy Pokemon were only single colored sprites on a screen, and the TV show forced us to hang out with Ash, the world's most incompetent 10 year old and his babysitters. What we needed was a way into the Pokemon world with the life the anime gave them but the freedom the games gave us. 

Enter Pokemon Snap

Pokemon Snap came out of nowhere as far as gaming was concerned. Structured after a rail shooter (a game where the character moves on their own and the player just points and fires the gun) but with a camera, the game allowed you to explore the wilderness looking for Pokemon to take pictures of. Bonus points were awarded for better visual aesthetics, unlocking more rare Pokemon, and getting them to do unique poses. 

And holy Jynx it was fun. 

This game would be the closest we got to being in the Pokemon world until Sword and Shield. The camera moved 360 and you had to be fast to catch that one special Zubat carrying the Pikachu (No, we still don't know how Zubat can carry a Pikachu without grasping limbs. My headcannon involves double sided tape). It felt like these creatures were real, and that you were right there interacting with them beyond beating them to death to level up your team. 

As an AD/HD riddled person, completing a game can be a challenge, so the fact that I got 100% on Pokemon Snap is a testament to how much I loved this game. I knew the levels better than the layout of my own house, and Professor Oak was always impressed with my pics.

The Years Since

Ever since the end of the Nintendo 64 I have been eagerly waiting for Nintendo to make a new Pokemon Snap game. Every innovation I would think "This is it. This is perfect!" but alas, even with the Wii U, whose controller looked a bit like a camera and had AR capability, we got little. Pokemon Go features a picture taking piece, but the Pokemon just stand in your living room looking at you like they're trying to catch a bus. 

Then this happened: 


...Yeah... I'm buying it...

The Pokemon world is one that only got better with age, each game adding something to the lore, even if it was just another batch of Pokemon to catch. While I adore the Pokemon games, nothing ever quite let you be part of their world like Snap did, and with a new installment that's just a new opportunity for Pokemon lovers to go in and see their favorite world live around them. 


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