Remember New Pokemon Snap? It was one of several Pokemon games that launched last year, and easily the best of them. In fact, as I have argued before (admittedly to stifled laughter), I think New Pokemon Snap is the best Pokemon game since HeartGold & SoulSilver, and its biggest competition is Let’s Go. New Pokemon Snap placed a respectable seventh on TheGamer’s Game of the Year list last year, and I was half-expecting to see it place in tenth or ninth on my own list this year after I snuck it through thanks to some DLC. I know we’re only three months into the year, but after the perfect window for a winter update was missed, I have to ask – is New Pokemon Snap ever going to get any new content?
In some ways, you’d think that would be a straightforward question with an easy answer. Pokemon games haven’t typically dabbled in DLC until recently, New Pokemon Snap has all the trappings of a standalone game, and we were never promised it would be live-service. The more likely outcome might be a whole new game – a prospect I wouldn’t complain about, but would slightly lament the long wait for another meaningless story and whole new infrastructure when a few new maps with different Pokemon is all it takes. It doesn’t seem built for expansion, but there is the notable fact that it got one. In early autumn last year, three new free maps were added, bringing with them a host of new Pokemon – including some oversights that felt as if they had been held back, like Gyarados.
One single free update doesn’t make a game a live-service game, but it feels very odd that a game no one was really expecting to ever deliver more content (as much as we hoped it would) suddenly dropped a surprise update then went silent again. I’m struggling to understand the point of it all. Was the free update a test, to see how many people would play for free before internally committing to larger paid expansions? Or were there just three maps not quite ready for launch that were eventually booted out the door a few months later before the project officially closed?
There is endless potential in New Pokemon Snap. We don’t even have a quarter of all the Pokemon in it, and despite specifically making my case for Bruxish and Tsareena, the two most photogenic Pokemon have been completely overlooked completely. Quite a few of the typical box office Pokemon don’t make the cut, and while I’m all for celebrating the lesser known ‘mons, if New Pokemon Snap is going to be met with a another 20 year wait for new Pokemon photography game, it seems a shame that so many big hitters miss out on the series’ best game in a decade. At least in mainline games there are type and power balances to account for when the shortlist of ‘mons is written up, but in Snap, there shouldn’t be any limitations.
In fairness, a lot more work goes into Snap maps than regular Pokemon. You can pretty much just drop encounters wherever you like in Pokemon, so long as they’re levelled appropriately. In Snap though, each Pokemon interacts with the map in a unique way, with the best environmental storytelling Pokemon has ever known. New maps obviously take a lot of work, and that’s why I’d be prepared to pay for them. The free maps were neat, and just as fun as the base maps, but I wouldn’t expect that forever, but if a £9.99 DLC offered a new island with four new maps with day night cycles, then sign me up.
Pokemon Snap has endless possibilities, it just doesn't quite have the license to print money that mainline Pokemon games do. That, plus the fact Bandai Namco are involved, might make the decision making harder. Given the classic Pokemon games being ported to the Switch would mean guaranteed profit and yet has still been ignored is proof that despite its colossal pop culture dominance, The Pokemon Company sometimes just doesn't know what it has. Come on, Ishihara. Hand over the goods. Giz New Pokemon Snap DLC.
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