Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Pokémon Snap

Go To
You might've caught them all, but you haven't SNAPPED them all.

Pokémon Snap is a Nintendo 64 game in the Pokémon series developed by HAL Laboratory. It was first released in 1999 in Japan and the US, and in 2000 for Europe and Australia. It was later published on the Wii Virtual Console and Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack.

You play as a boy named Todd Snap who has been recruited by Professor Oak to visit a Pokémon nature reserve. You Gotta Catch 'Em All... IN PHOTOS! The game plays as a Rail Shooter but with a camera, as Todd's vehicle proceeds through each level on a set path and you get points for photographing Pokémon in certain poses, or getting several 'mons in one shot. As you earn points, you unlock more photography locations and new items which can lure out Pokémon or get them into different poses.

A sequel for the Nintendo Switch called New Pokémon Snap was developed by Bandai Namco Entertainment and released on April 30, 2021.

Pokémon Snap contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Abandoned Area: The game takes place on an island that was inhabited by humans in the past, but deserted for unknown reasons and is now a wildlife sanctuary. Some of the levels feature declining old buildings that Pokémon now roam through.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: The Rainbow Cloud stage has no visible ground, but takes place on a sea of rainbow-colored clouds.
  • Artifact Mook: The Volcano has an out-of-place pool of water at the end of the stage that seemingly only exists to put Magikarp in every level.
  • Astral Finale: The game reaches its climax as Todd travels to Rainbow Cloud to find the legendary Mew. Said location resembles a giant sea of clouds, with Pokemon-themed constellations everywhere.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: The ZERO-ONE, a multi-purpose vehicle which can move on land, sea, and air (using rocket boosters). Unfortunately, since the game is a rail shooter, the ZERO-ONE cannot go off the guided route aside from the River and Valley, where the vehicle can drift from side to side on the water.
  • Backtracking: You'll need to return to previous stages when you unlock new items, as some Pokémon will only appear when you lure them out with food, pester balls or the Poké Flute. Enforced with the Pokémon signs, which must be found using said items in order to unlock the final level.
  • Balloonacy: A Pikachu in the Cave stage gets grabbed by a Zubat. If a Pester Ball is thrown at the Zubat, it'll drop Pikachu, who will then sprout balloons from his back and float safely to the ground.
  • Boss-Only Level: For a given value of "boss", the Rainbow Cloud is simply a long, straightforward level where you must get the best possible picture of Mew.
  • Brick Joke: In the Valley stage, a Magikarp can be lured out of the water and sent flying through the air thanks to a nearby Mankey. Several minutes later in the stage, the Magikarp falls near a group of Graveler.
  • The Cameo: Six Pokémon appear as Pokémon Signs which will unlock the Rainbow Cloud once all six of them are photographed. The six are Kingler, Pinsir, Koffing, Cubone, Mewtwo, and Dugtrio.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Pokémon can be bonked on the head with Pokémon Food, and knocked out with Pester Balls. It's all good fun.
  • Com Mons: There are some Mons you can photograph dozens of times. Magikarp appears in every location aside from Rainbow Cloud, Pikachu appears in four, Zubat and Bulbasaur appear in two (although in the Cave, the Bulbasaur are actually Ditto). The official strategy guide lampshades Pikachu's use of the trope.
    It's another Pikachu! These shocking Pokémon seem to pop up everywhere, don't they?
  • Convection, Schmonvection: The volcano stage has lava everywhere, but it's harmless due to your hi-tech vehicle.
  • Developer's Foresight: Play the Poké Flute near a singing Jigglypuff and it'll get offended.
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • If the Charmander early in Volcano gets to a Pokémon Food before the nearby Magmar does, the Magmar attacks it. The Charmander promptly evolves and knocks it the hell out.
    • The Pidgey the Meowth is chasing in the beach level use Gust and knock it out in retaliation when it attacks their nest.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The three legendary birds are seen hatching from eggs, which they are unable to do when the breeding mechanic was introduced.
  • Easter Egg: There are tons of little secrets and Video Game Set Pieces that you can find by performing specific actions. The most difficult one to see is definitely getting a Pikachu to ride Articuno. If you do manage it, though, the result is well worth it.
  • Feelies: During the game's release, players could take their cartridges to Blockbusters (Toys R Us in Australia) and print out stickers of the photos they took. Much like StarTropics, this was digitally simulated in the Wii's Virtual Console rerelease. Once per day, the player can send a picture from the gallery to the Wii Message Board. The Wii U version doesn't have this function, but it's possible to achieve the same result by posting screenshots to Miiverse.
  • Fictional Constellations: One level has a constellation of Mewtwo as a Pokémon Sign. The rest of the Pokémon Sign mons can be seen as constellations in the Rainbow Cloud level.
  • Final Boss: Mew is the final Pokémon the player must photograph in order to finish the game, and the encounter plays much like a boss battle, since the player must use pester balls to shatter Mew's shield before it becomes visible to the camera.
  • First-Person Snapshooter: The stages are played from Todd's point of view, and the central premise of the game is to take pictures of various Pokémon.
  • Floating in a Bubble: Mew's bubble prevents it from getting its picture taken, so you have to break its shield to expose it; and optionally throw one final Pester Ball at Mew when it's out of its shield to get a perfect pose, though you must be quick.
  • Food and Animal Attraction: Pokémon can be lured over with Pokémon Food, making for better size scores.
  • The Fool:
    • Meowth acts a bit like this in the Beach level, merrily skipping after Pidgey whilst terrorizing them.
    • A Pikachu at the beginning of the Tunnel level moves every time the player takes a picture of it. Doing this twice will make him roll on a passing Electrode, who hurts Pikachu when he blows up on a nearby rock.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: On film, that is. The objective of the game is to take pictures of all 63 different Pokémon species that inhabit the island.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: When the player finally exposes Mew, it will chase its bubble to conceal itself again. In this brief moment of vulnerability, the soundtrack is replaced by the sound of a beating heart, signifying that the player must be quick to take a picture of that Pokémon.
  • Interface Screw: Taking a picture of a Staryu will cause it to orbit around Todd, potentially obscuring the player's view.
  • Last Lousy Point:
    • Goldeen can be rather annoying to photograph. It only appears in the Valley area, and you have to throw Pester Balls into the water to scare it out. This can take many Pester Balls, and once Goldeen does jump out, you have about half a second to react and snap a quick picture of it before it splashes back down again.
    • Magneton can be fairly annoying to get the center bonus on due to the gap between its bodies.
  • Lava Pit: There's a few lava pools at the end of the Volcano stage. Dunk a nearby Charmeleon into the left one for it to evolve, and throw Pester Balls in the right ones for Growlithe and Arcanine. Moltres' egg must be dumped into lava for it to hatch and for the player to continue the stage.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: In the tunnel stage, a Pikachu can be lured over to a giant egg. Playing the Poké Flute afterwards will cause Pikachu to use Thunderbolt, causing the egg to hatch into Zapdos. And then it extends when Zapdos uses Thunder to start up a nearby generator and make the machinery work again.
  • Magic Dance: The Jynx in the Cave stage do this to hatch the Articuno egg when the player plays the Poké Flute.
  • Magic Music: Pokémon will usually get really excited and start using their Elemental Powers when they hear the Poké Flute. You usually get a ton of bonus points for this.
  • Missing Secret: Despite what you may expect from a Nintendo 64 game, there are exactly 63 Pokémon in the game. An Ekans was present in some betas, but it can't be found in the final game.
  • Mobile Shrubbery: Porygon attempts to blend in with the grass and a rocky hillside using Conversion. However, you can still see its nose sticking out and moving.
  • Monster-Shaped Mountain: There are Kingler-shaped rocks on the Beach and a mountain shaped like Dugtrio on the Valley.
  • Morphic Resonance: A group of Ditto shapeshift into Bulbasaur in the Cave stage, though they can be easily identified by their trademark dot-shaped eyes.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Jigglypuff uses the same microphone/marker from the anime to sing. She even sings the exact same song, and also puffs up when she gets angry.
    • The Ditto in the cave that transform into Bulbasaur can't change their faces, which at first just seems to be a way to clue the player in on what they actually are. This is a reference to a PokéDex entry, which states it can transform into almost a perfect copy (though the eyes not changing is even more common).
    • In the River stage, you can get a Slowpoke to fish with its tail. A Shellder will then clamp on its tail, causing it to evolve into a Slowbro. This is a reference to how Slowpoke evolves according to various PokéDex entries (in reality, however, they evolve through normal leveling up).
    • In the Tunnel stage, you can get three Magnemite to come near each other using Pokémon food, which causes them to become a Magneton. A reference to the fact that Magneton is three Magnemite linked together through magnetism (again, in reality, they evolve through leveling up).
    • A Snorlax at the Beach will wake up and dance when the Poké Flute is played. The Poké Flute is the only way to get Snorlax to move in Pokémon Red and Blue.
    • Surfing Pikachu and Flying Pikachu (known here as "Balloon Pikachu") make appearances as references to the Trading Card Game. This is more evidenced by the fact that the surfboard Surfing Pikachu pretends to surf on is pink.
    • The art design and the voices of the characters are based on the anime instead of the games.
    • When Charizard is hit with Pokémon food or the Pester Ball, it unleashes a Flamethrower aimed for the player's face (or camera). This is a reference to how Ash's Charizard roasted Ash's face frequently out of disobedience (at the time, which morphed into an affectionate gesture later on).
  • Never Trust a Trailer: A print advertisement shows Caterpie reflected in a camera lens, even though the game doesn't have any Caterpie. (It does have Metapod and Butterfree, though.)
  • Non-Dubbed Grunts: A large chunk of Pokémon in the game retain their Japanese voices from the anime, even ones that have English voices at the time of release. Several even being able to be pinpointed from certain episodes. These include:
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Four Ditto disguise themselves as Bulbasaur using Transform. You can still tell they're Ditto by their eyes. They can be turned back into Ditto with Pester Balls.
  • Pattern-Coded Eggs: The three Kanto legendary birds' eggs appear and can be hatched by the player - a crystalline silver egg for Articuno, a yellow egg with lightning designs for Zapdos, and a white egg with a flame design for Moltres.
  • Playing with Fire:
    • The player can cause a Magmar and a Charmander to fight over some food. After the former knocks out the latter with a fire attack, Charmander evolves into Charmeleon and retaliates with its own Flamethrower.
    • Charizard will use its Flamethrower attack against the player if it's pelted with Pokémon Food or Pester Balls.
  • Rail Shooter: Of a sorts. You're on a literal rail, but the game is much more slower-paced than any proper Rail Shooter - and there's no life points or the like.
  • Scary Shadow Fakeout: There's a shadow of a Pinsir that is formed by assorted junk in the power plant level that is visible if the Zapdos egg is hatched.
  • Shall I Repeat That?: Oak will volunteer to repeat his explanation whenever he gives the player a new item.
  • Shock and Awe: The Electric-type Pokémon use electrical attacks in the game. This is required to get Zapdos in the Tunnel.
  • Shout-Out: In the Valley stage, a Magikarp can be lured out of the water and sent flying through the air thanks to a nearby Mankey. Later, it will fall near a waterfall. Throwing a Pester Ball at it will make it use Splash and hop over into said waterfall and evolve into a Gyrados. This is a reference to a Chinese story where a Legendary Carp swam through the Qiantang River and jumped over the "Dragon Gate" at the end, turning it into a dragon.
  • Spooky Photographs:
    • The cave stage has mysterious crystals that twinkle in a strange pattern. If the player takes a picture of the structure, it will show a constellation of Mewtwo surrounded in a supernatural aura.
    • Haunter is only recognizable after the film is developed. To the naked eye, said Pokémon resembles a smoke ball that flies in an erratic pattern.
  • Stock Ness Monster: The first Lapras appear so far away from the player, pictures will make them look small and blurry, similar to some real-life attempts to photograph Loch Ness Monster. Take enough photos, and a Lapras will appear close enough for you to take a clearer picture.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Electrode explode when hit with Pokémon Food or Pester Balls. You need to do this to unlock the third stage.
  • Suddenly Voiced: This is the first Pokémon game that uses Pokémon Speak in place of cries. Todd and Oak also vocalize here and there, which wasn't common in games back then.
  • Super-Speed: If the Pikachu playing hide and seek behind a log in the River stage is photographed, he'll use Quick Attack to run away quickly, making it one of the hardest special Pikachu poses to get.
  • Surfer Dude: Early in the Beach stage, a Pikachu standing in the sand can be lured over to a pink surfboard with Pokémon Food. He'll then pretend to surf on it.
  • Tie-In Novel: A Gamebook was made based off of the game.
  • This Is My Side: A Charmeleon in the Volcano stage paces around a Lava Pit, occasionally marking his territory by roaring. Knock him into the pit, and he evolves into a Charizard.
  • Underground Level: The Cave, an underground cave system with lots of small passageways from which Pokémon can pop out.
  • Updated Re-release: The Virtual Console release adds a feature where you can add the pictures you've taken in-game onto your Wii Message Board. This is done to replace the original game's feature of printing out stickers of photos at game rental shops. Also, Jynx's face was changed from black to purple, to coincide with Jynx's modern design.
  • Variable Mix: During the final level, the normal background music will go super quiet and start playing a loud heartbeat when you've knocked Mew out of its shield, signifying the tension of the moment. The heartbeat even speeds up if you manage to get closer. Once the moment ends, the normal music will fade back in.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: There are a number of sections where you can be friendly to various Pokémon or help them throughout a stage. They will usually reward you with the opportunity for a very good photo later on. For example, you can try to save Jigglypuff in the Cave from Koffing harassing them. Each Jigglypuff you save (three in all) reappears near the cave's exit, singing and dancing.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • Hitting Pokémon with food or Pester Balls. This causes some Pokémon to become angry, resulting in a better shot than just doing nothing. You can also cause Pokémon to pick a fight with each other by tossing food between them. Sometimes, this even becomes necessary to unlock a new level or quest.
    • You can play the Pok&eacute Flute in front of singing Jigglypuff to anger them, almost like they're accusing you of trying to one-up their performances.
  • What the Hell, Player?:
    • At the end of the Cave stage, you'll see any Jigglypuff you rescued singing on a stage. If you play the Poké Flute, they'll get mad.
    • Hitting a Pokemon with a Pester Ball makes them yell at you.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Electrode in the Tunnel stage will use Self-Destruct when provoked, causing them to explode. You need to do this to an Electrode at the end of the stage to unlock the next stage.