The announcement of New Pokémon Snap was nothing short of exhilarating to a large number of people. Even I was taken completely aback and thrilled to see the series return for the 21st century. The scenery, the pokémon, the snapshot zoom—everything looked fantastic and trueto form from what the original game established. Just under a week ago, the release date was confirmed for April 30th, and soon after a price point also emerged: a standard, AAA price of $60. My mind immediately started to churn: “Wow, I want New Pokémon Snap, but is it worth $60? I don’t know about that.”
Thus, the inspiration for this post was born. Tallying all the different factors of what I know, remember, and experienced from the original game and the current financial climate of video games as a pastime for both kids and adults alike, I intend to weigh the pros and cons of getting this for the full asking price day one. Should you snatch it up quick? Should you wait for a sale? Let’s take a look at all the relevant factors, in favor and against.
Amount of Content
Many people remember the original Pokémon Snap fondly—including me. Spending my time as a small child making Snorlax dance in different ways with the Pokéflute or trying to launch Magikarps in front a noisy Mankey, catapulting it halfway across the stage, there was no shortage of things to do in each environment available. With so much to do, it felt like the game did everything it could to abide my time and transport me into this little world of strange creatures. As cliché a term as it is, it truly did seem like a magical game.
A few years back, I decided to re-visit my childhood, dusting off the ol’ Nintendo 64 and popping in the copy of Pokémon Snap my family has owned since its release. After playing through it, a lot of that magic was gone due to knowing all there was to discover and how on-rails everything was. But what ended up surprising me the most was that I managed to beat the game in little over an hour. Was it really that short? All things considered, it was simultaneously surprising and not surprising—my childhood self remembered all the times playing it, not just one time through.
One thing to note in the above paragraph is that I knew everything going into it. I knew about all the secrets, all the requirements to get to the next stage, and the finicky requirements that Oak desires in “good” pictures. (I’m willing to guess Oak had many detractors in the years since release.) Should my own impressions be the basis for how much content the game truly has?
According to howlongtobeat.com, Pokémon Snap takes anywhere from 4-6 hours, based on playstyle. Personally, I find this to be a very generous timeframe, as looking up “pokemon snap full playthrough” or “pokemon snap let’s plays” on YouTube will rarely show a result that extends beyond three hours. Again, these playthroughs could also just be people who know the game as much (if not more) than I do, zipping through at medium-fast speeds for the sake of brevity. But at the same time, the game is on-rails and generally linear. One cannot “take their time” in a stage; they’re always moving (save the rare occurrences when an obstacle obstructs the path). Should one judge the amount of content based on all that one can go through without impediment or do we add the time that players could be stuck?
All this boils down to one thing: Will New Pokémon Snap also adhere to a short timeframe? And if it does, will people complain about how much they spent? Some say that matters, others say it doesn’t.
File Size Hints at Content Available?
Various details for New Pokémon Snap have since been revealed along with the release date, including its file size if downloaded digitally. 6.8 GB is the stated size, and that says a lot for just how much content could be contained in this game. For reference, here are the file sizes for other major titles currently available on the Nintendo Switch:
- Super Mario Odyssey – 5.6 GB
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – 14.4 GB
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – 16 GB
- Luigi’s Mansion 3 – 7.1 GB
- Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition – 13.7 GB
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons – 6.8 GB
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – 6.9 GB
- Super Mario Maker 2 – 3.1 GB
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses – 11.6 GB
- Pokémon Sword & Shield – 11.3 GB
- Splatoon 2 – 6.1 GB
- Paper Mario: The Origami King – 6.5 GB
Not all of these file sizes are quite what they seem to be through number alone. Much goes into what could possibly increase file size, including game structure, graphical fidelity, cutscenes, and what have you. It wouldn’t be fair to compare a game that, through all trailer footage and hindsight with the original, consists of an on-rails adventure about taking pictures to a full-blown JRPG spanning 40+ hours. What it does do is give us a general median for the size of games depending on type/genre.
From those listed, New Pokémon Snap seems to be in the range of games such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. In terms of game type, that seems to be roughly what Snap entails: a replayable game that doesn’t do much in terms of a major, linear goal… kind of. If one is to assume that one would spend as much time with this as Mario Kart and Animal Crossing, that would immediately make New Pokémon Snap worth $60. However, the complexity of each game is far different, as Snap is something of a niche appeal that’s hard to compare to anything other than additional photography-focused titles.
One thing that many could easily argue in Pokémon Snap‘s favor is its replayability. Its short-but-sweet structure ensures that it will remain a comfortable breeze that one can pick up and put down at their leisure throughout the years. What becomes more appealing is the picture scoring system that Oak provides at the end of each stage, telling you what’s good and what isn’t and finding the best scenario for each individual pokémon species. For example, the “Surfing Pikachu” in the Beach stage is good, but the two separate Pikachus using thunderbolt on a pair of logs could be better. How to get these little trinkets and experimenting with things will inevitably add more content for elongated playthroughs.
For the purists, the added benefit of finding these events only adds to the potential of Oak providing bonus points. Do you like getting high scores? Do you crave getting the highest scores? Pokémon Snap allows you to do that. While I’ve never been too hard on myself with it, others could get a kick out of juicing the most amount of points from Oak as possible through picture-perfect snapshots and taking advantage of contextual bonuses.
How Much Was the Original?
Being the crisp age of 27, much of the Nintendo 64’s lifespan was lost on me in terms of financial expenditures. Even my poor mother hardly recalls the hard-earned money she spent fueling my poké-fueled hysteria. What was shocking to me upon drafting this piece is that through my research (variously phrased Google searches), there seems to be no solid confirmation on how much N64 games cost at launch. I’ve seen answers range between $50-80 (at that time), with some saying that game prices tended to vary more wildly in those times. One claimed Super Mario 64 was $70, another claimed that Pokémon Stadium was, too. These prices seem mind-boggling to me… but it seems to be the truth.
An article on Ars Technica on $70 games returning provides ample data on the history of video game pricing. Specifically, cartridge-based video games had exorbitant costs at launch, so it’s easy to assume that Pokémon Snap cost anywhere from $60-80 at launch… in 1999. Adjusted for inflation, that’s between $97 and $129 in 2021. (Note: this is all in USD.) When you consider that our parents were spending close to (or over) $100 (in 2021 value) to buy us (or themselves) N64 games, a $60 game of similar caliber—obviously upgraded and improved through modern innovations—doesn’t seem that costly.
Revealed just recently, New Pokémon Snap will incorporate some measure of online capabilities, something the original did not have the technology for. What could this entail for oncoming buyers? Will people be able to play together online? Will it just be an online messenger board where people can post their photos and interact with others’? The latter seems more likely, but nevertheless, the option to provide the community base more accessibility to one another could add further appeal to the game.
To be honest, when I first heard New Pokémon Snap was $60 at launch, I was basically resigned to waiting for a sale. Knowing the original game, what it entailed, and how quickly the content dried up for me, I wasn’t sure I’d be willing to make that kind of financial commitment to a sequel without it showcasing something really mind-blowing. But further research on the history of game pricing and adding up all the miscellaneous details have actually encouraged me to give it a shot day one. After all, the nostalgia is high, and it looks genuinely great. For a photography game laden in poké-charm, perhaps that all it needs. We’ll all have to wait until April 30th to find out for sure.