Pokémon Snap had a different kind of Attention

Why I Love is a collection of guest editorials on GamesIndustry.biz intended to showcase the ways in which game developers appreciate each other’s work.

I must make this clear from the off, I’m not even much of a Pokémon fan. I totally missed out on the first trend in the mid-’90s. Back then I had been filling up my gaming lifestyle with much more”older” games; competing with my friends in GoldenEye and Perfect Dark on the Nintendo 64, researching the futuristic universes of Deus Ex, or playing Counter-Strike with my roommates.

But from the year 2000, I was returning home for the Christmas holidays for the first time since beginning University. My 12-year-old brother was playing Pokémon Snap and as I watched him perform, I was intrigued. With a couple of weeks to kill at home over the holiday period, I decided to start my own save file.

What instantly struck me was that the pace of Pokémon Snap was so different from what I was used to playing. It was this type of lean back and relax experience that was so alien to me from other gaming experiences. I didn’t know the difference between Pikachu and a Poliwag (I don’t, to tell the truth, and usually refer to them as the”Main One” and”Swirly Belly”), but that wasn’t what kept me coming back.

I wasn’t part of the following and didn’t know a lot about the world of Pokémon, but what was great about Pokémon Snap was that it functioned as a good entry point. They set up the game into resorts everywhere and had notable stands in Blockbuster in which you can print off your favorite snap on a whole lot of stickers.

The N64 technology at the time was starting to get a little long in the tooth and also we had been seeing what the next generation was able to do with Dreamcast and PlayStation 2, but those basic animations and colorful characters were able to produce an experience that enabled me to get lost in a joyous, easy universe. I could absorb the entire world of Pokémon in my own pace, without the strain of potentially losing a struggle. Sure, Professor Oak’s scoring method was eccentric, but that made the game better. It wasn’t frustrating; it just made you want to go back and try again.

Until there, the majority of the games I had played centered around some type of conflict and violence or, at least, were incredibly competitive as with racing games. Pokémon Snapshot some components from those, as it was basically an on-rails shooter, yet the absence of danger and violence was a refreshing change of speed (though I did enjoy bouncing an apple off a Pokémon’s head). I could still shoot albeit with a camera instead of a gun – but I was not being assaulted and stressing about my HP declining. The challenge of collecting them all and getting those grades from Professor Oak felt instantly intuitive to me.

Pokémon Snap is not a lengthy, complex or particularly deep experience, but the fact you can play the identical path many times over and have a slightly different experience — attempting to get better pictures every time — was just the thing I had to unwind after my first semester at University away from home. Basically for me, it felt like the game equivalent of binge-watching daytime TV; I could just tune out of everything else I had on my head.

I still seek out these experiences in games now. I can’t count the number of hours I’ve spent investigating worlds looking for interesting items and preventing the most important narrative advancement. But when I play a game such as Fallout, Zelda, or Red Dead Redemption, I take the opportunity to appreciate the smaller details and systems designers implemented that offer a more relaxing experience compared to pressing main missions.

As programmers, it’s a shame that we spend so much time building exceptionally detailed and rich worlds, only for people to rush through them completing missions rather than taking time to linger around, indulging in both quests. I’m a huge fan of open-world titles like No Man’s Sky, Abzu, and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture that embraces this type of low key, lively exploration. I think there’s a lot more potential for these kinds of experiences.

The photography components of Pokémon Snap happen to be incorporated into a lot of games as an additional element. Pokémon Snap managed to take everything that could most likely be an ongoing side pursuit or mini-game and twist a whole adventure from it!

That is why I think a lot about my time enjoying Pokémon Snap. When I started up my first games company, our very first title was a relaxed frustration-free experience for its Nintendo DS (though regrettably this title never got released), and that I believe Pokémon Snap had a much deeper impact in my career than I would have anticipated when I first tried it quiet Christmas holiday.

As we know, games are a terrific form of escapism. These types of games offer you a type of digital tourism without stress, where you can explore and relax at your own speed. I think that is why games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons have found such a massive audience, particularly in the current climate where surfing the actual world can be quite stressful.

I was eager to hear the statement of a brand new Pokémon Breeze coming to Switch, but I still have a soft spot for the original. I have the N64 cartridge, and I’ve recently purchased a converter to play N64 games via HDMI just so I can recapture this experience two years later. It’s been a great deal of fun getting back into the flying minecart thing, throwing apples to Pokémon faces, trying to get that ultimate snap.

Why I Love is a collection of guest editorials on GamesIndustry.biz intended to showcase the ways in which game developers appreciate each other’s work.

I must make this clear from the off, I’m not even much of a Pokémon fan. I totally missed out on the first trend in the mid-’90s. Back then I had been filling up my gaming lifestyle with much more”older” games; competing with my friends in GoldenEye and Perfect Dark on the Nintendo 64, researching the futuristic universes of Deus Ex, or playing Counter-Strike with my roommates.

But from the year 2000, I was returning home for the Christmas holidays for the first time since beginning University. My 12-year-old brother was playing Pokémon Snap and as I watched him perform, I was intrigued. With a couple of weeks to kill at home over the holiday period, I decided to start my own save file.

What instantly struck me was that the pace of Pokémon Snap was so different from what I was used to playing. It was this type of lean back and relax experience that was so alien to me from other gaming experiences. I didn’t know the difference between Pikachu and a Poliwag (I don’t, to tell the truth, and usually refer to them as the”Main One” and”Swirly Belly”), but that wasn’t what kept me coming back.

I wasn’t part of the following and didn’t know a lot about the world of Pokémon, but what was great about Pokémon Snap was that it functioned as a good entry point. They set up the game into resorts everywhere and had notable stands in Blockbuster in which you can print off your favorite snap on a whole lot of stickers.

The N64 technology at the time was starting to get a little long in the tooth and also we had been seeing what the next generation was able to do with Dreamcast and PlayStation 2, but those basic animations and colorful characters were able to produce an experience that enabled me to get lost in a joyous, easy universe. I could absorb the entire world of Pokémon in my own pace, without the strain of potentially losing a struggle. Sure, Professor Oak’s scoring method was eccentric, but that made the game better. It wasn’t frustrating; it just made you want to go back and try again.

Until there, the majority of the games I had played centered around some type of conflict and violence or, at least, were incredibly competitive as with racing games. Pokémon Snapshot some components from those, as it was basically an on-rails shooter, yet the absence of danger and violence was a refreshing change of speed (though I did enjoy bouncing an apple off a Pokémon’s head). I could still shoot albeit with a camera instead of a gun – but I was not being assaulted and stressing about my HP declining. The challenge of collecting them all and getting those grades from Professor Oak felt instantly intuitive to me.

Pokémon Snap is not a lengthy, complex or particularly deep experience, but the fact you can play the identical path many times over and have a slightly different experience — attempting to get better pictures every time — was just the thing I had to unwind after my first semester at University away from home. Basically for me, it felt like the game equivalent of binge-watching daytime TV; I could just tune out of everything else I had on my head.

I still seek out these experiences in games now. I can’t count the number of hours I’ve spent investigating worlds looking for interesting items and preventing the most important narrative advancement. But when I play a game such as Fallout, Zelda, or Red Dead Redemption, I take the opportunity to appreciate the smaller details and systems designers implemented that offer a more relaxing experience compared to pressing main missions.

As programmers, it’s a shame that we spend so much time building exceptionally detailed and rich worlds, only for people to rush through them completing missions rather than taking time to linger around, indulging in both quests. I’m a huge fan of open-world titles like No Man’s Sky, Abzu, and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture that embraces this type of low key, lively exploration. I think there’s a lot more potential for these kinds of experiences.

The photography components of Pokémon Snap happen to be incorporated into a lot of games as an additional element. Pokémon Snap managed to take everything that could most likely be an ongoing side pursuit or mini-game and twist a whole adventure from it!

That is why I think a lot about my time enjoying Pokémon Snap. When I started up my first games company, our very first title was a relaxed frustration-free experience for its Nintendo DS (though regrettably this title never got released), and that I believe Pokémon Snap had a much deeper impact in my career than I would have anticipated when I first tried it quiet Christmas holiday.

As we know, games are a terrific form of escapism. These types of games offer you a type of digital tourism without stress, where you can explore and relax at your own speed. I think that is why games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons have found such a massive audience, particularly in the current climate where surfing the actual world can be quite stressful.

I was eager to hear the statement of a brand new Pokémon Breeze coming to Switch, but I still have a soft spot for the original. I have the N64 cartridge, and I’ve recently purchased a converter to play N64 games via HDMI just so I can recapture this experience two years later. It’s been a great deal of fun getting back into the flying minecart thing, throwing apples to Pokémon faces, trying to get that ultimate snap.

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