I never expected I’d play over 40 hours of New Pokemon Snap, but here we are. The original Pokemon Snap is one of my most replayed games of all time because it’s exceptionally short. You can probably run through the entire game in about four hours, and while I haven’t revisited it in many years, I’m sure I played through Pokemon Snap at least ten times growing up. While I fully expected New Pokemon Snap to be significantly longer, I never thought I’d spend more time with it than most mainline Pokemon games. New Pokemon Snap isn’t an RPG obviously, but make no mistake: the grind is extremely real.
The grind really kicks into gear in the endgame, but you’ll get a taste of it in the campaign too. Each new course in the game is gated by the completion of a specific objective. Usually, you won’t be able to visit the next region until you’ve located a glowing Crystabloom flower and take a picture of it. You’ll never find these flowers on your first run through any course, and in fact, they typically won’t even appear in the Level 1 version of a course. You’ll need to complete each course and take quality photos of every Pokemon two to three times before you can earn enough experience to increase a course to Level 2. Most courses have a day and night version as well, and you’ll almost always need to take both versions to Level 2 before you can progress in the game.
You’ll be able to visit all 24 courses and complete the story without needing to level any of them past Level 2, but once you finish the campaign, the real grind begins. New Pokemon Snap offers a major grind in part because of the requirement to level each course from 2 to 3 (and then 3 to MAX) as well as the complex puzzles you’ll need to solve through trial and error on every single course.
When I finished the story around 10 hours in, I expected to put, at most, another 10 hours in to clean up any Pokemon I missed and max out every course. Now, 40 hours have gone by and I’m still not even close to being done.
The first sign of trouble was Founja Jungle (Night), a course that maxes out at Level 2 and features some of the most complex interactions and arcane puzzles in the entire game. While leveling this course from 1 to 2 only took a couple of tries, it took me 15 runs to level up from Level 2 to MAX Level. After the seventh or eighth run, I had stopped discovering new things and believed that I had found everything there was to find. The problem with the XP gain system is that you earn less and less experience as you repeat the same course because you’re making fewer discoveries and thus taking fewer brand new pictures. The closer you get to leveling up, the slower you gain experience. I spent hours running Jungle (Night) without making any real progress on my Photodex, and that was just one of 24 courses.
If you intend to see every Pokemon in the game, you’ll need to spend the time maxing out each course. Usually, when you increase the rank of a course, new Pokemon will appear in it. Because the Photodex does not include blank spots like a normal Pokedex, you really have no choice but to keep replaying each course until you find Pokemon you haven’t seen. The only way to know whether or not you’ve found all the Pokemon in a specific course is to find all of the Pokemon in that course’s region. The 24 courses are separated into six regions, and every time you snap all of the Pokemon in one region, you’ll get a sticker on your Photodex to let you know that you’ve finished it. Some regions have as few as four courses, while others, like Maricopia, have six. If you don’t have the sticker for Maricopia, there’s no way to know in which of the six courses the Pokemon you’re missing is hiding. All you can do is reach max level in every course and keep replaying all six until you find it.
This is why I’m 40 hours deep in New Pokemon Snap, and this doesn’t even take into account the time it takes to find every four-star photo opportunity for all 217 Pokemon. At this point, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to play the game for 100 hours just to completely finish the Photodex. I’ve finished plenty of National Dexs in my time, and it’s never taken me nearly this long to do it. It may look like a chill session with some friendly monsters, but it turns out that New Pokemon Snap is a lot more hardcore than it looks.
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Eric Switzer is the Livestream News Editor for TheGamer as well as the lead for VR and Tech. He has written about comics and film for Bloody Disgusting and VFXwire. He is a graduate of University of Missouri – Columbia and Vancouver Film School. Eric loves board games, fan conventions, new technology, and his sweet sweet kitties Bruce and Babs. Favorite games include Destiny 2, Kingdom Hearts, Super Metroid, and Prey…but mostly Prey. His favorite Pokémon is Umbreon.
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