We Take Pictures, That's It - Let's Play Pokemon Snap

It was summer of '99 when Nintendo dropped a game that would change the world of Pokemon forever. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that influential. But it certainly made a big impact in it’s own right. A game that no one asked for, yet everyone wanted.

Pokemon Snap is a first person rail shooter in probably the oddest sense of the term. The point of the game is to capture Pokemon. Only instead of catching them in Pokeballs, we’ll be catching them in photographs. The whole game is about taking pictures. That’s it. We are gonna take pictures of Pokemon. And honestly? I love every bit of it. As does anyone I’ve ever talked to about the game. So much so that a big community of people would have loved a sequel that will probably never happen. But I digress.

We take control of Todd Snap as he is called to a desolate island by Professor Oak. As per usual, the good Professor needs us to do his work for him. So we will be taking pictures of all 151 63 Pokemon. The game is by no means long. Especially with a rather short Pokemon list, only covering about 40% of Gen 1’s roster. But dammit the game is so charming with some great replay ability as you try to get the best photograph of each little critter.

The Let’s Play

It is my job to escort us on this island adventure. Episodes will vary in length as necessary. To start they won’t be very long, and I plan to update once a week. I’ll explain the game mechanics and about some of the key features to getting some of the better photographs. I do not know how to get the best photo of each Pokemon, and we will probably not be getting the best for each. There is some nuance to getting points and it all comes down to how Professor Oak feels. That said, enjoy this cute little game. I’d also like to add, please no spoilers of things that we haven’t seen. If anyone is coming into this thread without knowledge of the game, I’d like for them to be surprised by the levels and Pokemon. That said, if it looks like there’s a cool thing I may be missing, feel free to message me in whatever way you see fit. Just keep it out of the thread.


Episode 1 - Beach
Episode 2 - Tunnel
Episode 3 - Beach | Tunnel
Episode 4 - Volcano
Episode 5 - River
Episode 6 - Beach | Tunnel | Volcano | River
Episode 7 - Cave
Episode 8 - Valley Two Times
Episode 9 - Valley One Last Time
Episode 10 - Pokemon Signs | Rainbow Cloud
Final Episode - Every Stage | Final Clean-up

Characters and Tools

Todd Snap
Todd is the protagonist of Pokemon Snap. Professor Oak hired him to go to Pokemon Island with the ZERO-ONE to take pictures of wild Pokemon behaving naturally for a Pokemon Report.

Professor Oak
The Pokemon Professor. Once again getting someone to do all his work for him. Mostly just telling us how good our photographs are. Get used to a lot of voice clips from him.

An all-terrain vehicle given to Todd in order to navigate Pokemon Island. Has the ability to be used in three forms. Ground, water, and hover. Yeah. Some great technology being used to take pictures of Pokemon.

Apple Shaped Pokemon Food
Pokemon food in the shape of an apple. Now, Pokemon food never looked like this in the anime, so I don’t know if the original Japanese version just had an apple and the English translation changed that, but it’s kind of weird. Good for throwing though. Can be used to lead Pokemon around. Also apparently to just throw at Pokemon? Come on Professor Oak. That ain’t right.

Pester Ball
A small ball to be used by throwing at Pokemon to annoy them. It’s also filled with a purple gas that I’m sure is safe for Pokemon. Right, Professor Oak? Right?

Dash Engine
A completely normal upgrade to our ZERO-ONE that allows us to boost through the course at great speeds. This one is actually helpful and doesn’t harm the Pokemon in any way. Unless you get stuck on them which is very likely.

A flute that can awaken sleeping Pokemon and make Pokemon dance. A pretty normal item, as it does not appear to harm any pokemon, as long as you do stop playing it at some point. Please don’t make them dance forever.


Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.

I loved this game so much as a kid because it showed Pokémon doing animal things. They were just hanging out in the wild, and I thought that was the coolest thing!

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It is extremely cool. And it’s also something we haven’t really seen since. Until Pokemon Go, but that’s not quite the same.

Just imagine a real modern Snap, though. With motion controls, you could have the camera be an actual physical object you move around to take pictures, and with tablet technology you could show the pictures on a handheld screen instead of just the TV. It would be such a perfect use of modern technology and easily the greatest game of a generation.

Sure does suck that no such console exists taking advantage of all that technology.

I know right? If only some company related to Pokemon had made a console that could be taken anywhere but still be played in the comfort of your own home. I guess we’ll just have to continue to enjoy this classic. And wish that Blockbuster still existed so you could print your pictures to show your friends. No other way this can work.

You’d think this would be the easiest game to sell to Nintendo execs for the Wii or Wii U, but nope.

I suppose the idea that if they tried to make a sequel, it wouldn’t live up to the expectations of the audience, could be holding them back. It’s not like they were trying to make the classic that they did at the time. Would it be as good if they made another one?

Episode 2 - Tunnel

This time we go into a dark and scary tunnel. The closest thing this game has to a sewer level. It doesn’t have as many Pokemon as the beach, but it still provides some neat stuff. Also, by completing the tunnel we got a new item.

Apple Shaped Pokemon Food
Pokemon food in the shape of an apple. Now, Pokemon food never looked like this in the anime, so I don’t know if the original Japanese version just had an apple and the English translation changed that, but it’s kind of weird. Good for throwing though. Can be used to lead Pokemon around. Also apparently to just throw at Pokemon? Come on Professor Oak. That ain’t right.

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Pokemon Snap was such a great game, but it was definitely shaped by the era. Simple, offline games made for children. It has simple gameplay, huge replayability, and not only lots of secrets, but the type of secrets that are easy for one kid to tell another and have them go home and try it themselves. I feel like the problem with trying to make a modern Snap would be the expectations placed on video games these days. You just know it would end up having to be some open world thing with MMO style areas and I think it would absolutely lose the charm.

That being said, how awesome would a straight-up remake be with updated graphics?

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A graphic upgrade for the game would be amazing. I would love to see the courses done in an modern take.

But I don’t really agree with the notion that a sequel would need changes to make it modern. I think there are classic like games that are out nowadays, such as Shovel Knight, that prove people still like the old style of game. It would just come down to the team making sure they know what made the original a hit and focus on that. Honestly, if it was almost the exact same with just more courses and Pokemon I would be happy.

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We didn’t unlock a new level last time, but we did unlock something else. The ability to use apples. So now it’s time to go through some old ground and see what we can do now that we have these delicious non-fruits.

Episode 3 - Beach | Tunnel

Blowing up that Electrode to unlock the next level is the coolest thing, especially as a child who feels like they’re discovering a hidden secret that they shouldn’t be. All of the secrets in this game have a wonderfully organic design to them and still feel fun to rediscover almost two decades later.

Even if the game didn’t tell you to try throwing it at an Electrode, it’s intuitive enough that you would do it. The level shows you an exploding electrode, and then it gives you a lot of Electrode just sitting there. All you have are apples so you’re gonna throw them at the Pokemon. This game does a good job of giving just enough information to continue and find secrets.

So we should be ashamed about what we did to the Electrode. But it did get us a new area. Does the ends justify the means? Well, we get fire Pokemon out of it so it’s up to you.

Episode 4 - Volcano


I didn’t realize how badly I needed to see Happy Vulpix.


All Pokemon deserve to be happy. Vulpix is one of my favourites, maybe we can get both of them happy in another run.

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So I hope everyone had their fill of fire Pokemon, because now it’s time to jump onto the opposite. And for those that are picking up on Professor Oaks’ ill intentions, we get a new item that just goes to show we can’t trust this man.

Episode 5 - River

There are a couple hidden Pokemon and special photos left in this course that we will have to return to later to get. And we of course need to find out what to do about that button.

I think the Slowpoke wasn’t eating in your photo, it was just recoiling from you throwing stuff at it.

Metapod and Kakuna are a little annoying to shoot photos of, even when they’re close by, since it’s never particularly clear what side of them the game wants to be facing the camera.

The river is definitely the start of the second half of the game, where it’s very easy to miss pokémon, you aren’t guaranteed to get an easy shot seven seconds into the levels, angles are hard, distances are great, and you’ll often have your focus split by things on multiple sides.

That last point I’m excited to come back to later on, since it highlights some genius aspects of the level design.

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This is where the game starts to kick it up. Ill probably need to do multiple runs to show everything off soon.

I am loving your increasingly horrified reactions to Professor Oak’s “gifts”