Welcome... to Pokemon Island
(IDG) -- Pokemon Snap casts you as Todd, a Pokemon photographer hired by Professor Oak, the "Pokemon Prof" of GameBoy fame, who wants you to take pictures of the 63 different varieties of Pokemon that live on Pokemon Island. Through courses that range from a slow-flowing river to a blazing volcano you ride your trusty Zero-One vehicle and take pictures of the local wildlife.
The idea is to take enough pictures to fill up the PKMN Report, Prof. Oak's comprehensive guide to Pokemon. In order to do this, you must take pictures of as many Pokemon as possible, collect various items, open up hidden courses and, finally, find and snap a picture of the rare and elusive Mew. There's more than enough here to keep the avid Pokemon fan busy -- everyone else may want to bring along some tranquilizer darts.
Pokemon Snap faithfully reproduces the characters from the popular cartoon series faithfully. You will often have the opportunity to evolve Pokemon based on the way they evolve in the cartoon.
For example, find a way to push Charmeleon into a pool of lava, and it will become the powerful Charizard. Throw an apple at an Electrode, or play a song to Pikachu, and see what happens. Toss a Pester Ball into the brush to flush out hiding Pokemon, and then play your flute to make them dance for the camera.
Take pictures of your favorite little creatures, and then show them to Professor Oak to see how you did.
Graphics are standard N64 fare, meaning cute and bright and smooth. The immersive environments house tons of challenges if you wish to see all the Pokemon hidden within. The sounds, from the soft and harmless musical score to the various vocalizations of the Pokemon themselves, help to draw you into the game.
The simple controls also help bring you into the world of Pokemon; taking pictures has never been this easy.
Pokemon black and blue
Prof. Oak grades pictures on several factors, including the size of the Pokemon in the picture and how well-centered the creature is. Pokemon caught in special poses (such as Pikachu blasting off his lightning attack) will net you extra points.
You'll find yourself going in again and again, looking for hidden monsters and trying to achieve better poses in pictures of monsters you already have. Pokemon Snap is every bit as addictive as Pokemon Red and Blue, if not more.
When Pokey met Disney
But here's the rub -- not everyone likes Pokemon. Those who don't know a Pikachu from a Poliwag won't care enough to play this game beyond the rental stage. Without the excitement of finding and capturing the Pokemon you know and love, the game is an often-tedious collection of Disney rides. For Pokemon fans, this is a wonderful game; for everyone else, it's likely a waste of time.
Cute, bright and not overly detailed. The courses are immersive and intriguing, and the Pokemon appear as fans of the series would expect.
From Pikachu's famous call to the raging rapids and the burning lava, the sound never disappoints. The music is sugar-sweet but rarely annoying.
Taking pictures has never been this easy. Just point and shoot. And forget expensive one-hour developing.
FUN FACTOR: 4.0
Pokemon fans will flip over this game and its treatment of their favorite characters. Non-fans may enjoy the theme-park quality of the courses, but the novelty may wear off quickly.
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