Originally released for the N64 in 1999, Pokémon Snap has earnt a new lease of life with its relatively-recent Virtual Consle release. Many of the Pokémon spin-offs fail to catch the interest of gamers dedicated simply to the main series, and often as not with good reason. However, I would say that Pokémon Snap is without a doubt the best Pokémon spin-off that I have played - it was, and still is, an addictive breath of fresh air amongst Pokémon games. It's good for a photography game as well, but somehow that seemed less significant!
The basic gameplay is remerkably similar to an on-rails shooter in that your character, who is incidentally named Todd Snap, is restricted to travelling along a set path in his buggy, the ZERO-ONE (shown right), and the view of your automatically moving player is controlled from a first person perspective. While I say fixed path, there are a few possible route alterations that can be manipuated using the items that you gradually unlock, such as Apples, Pester Balls and the Pokéflute. You can also use the Dash Engine to speed up your ZERO-ONE, when you get it unlocked.
Essentially, the objective of the game is to fill your albums with the best pictures you possibly can - past simply finding all of the sixty-odd Pokémon, you'll want Proffessor Oak to give your pictures a high points rating. The photos are judged on the placement of the subject Pokémon (central is best), its size, whether or not all of it is visible, and its pose. On top of these you will get get more points for finding "Special" Pokémon such as Surfing Pikachu. You will rapidly become absorbed by the humoungous variety of potential shots, making this game a lot of fun while it lasts. If you are playing the virtual console version, you can post images from Pokémon Snap to your Wii Message Board.
Despite this, you may find that it fails to keep you occupied for that long because, after unlocking all of the game's six locations and getting a decent picture of all the Pokémon, there will be little to pull you back. Regardless, the hours before that easily justify downloading this on your Wii for a mere Ł7 - or, of course, Ł7's American equivalent.
A guide to finding some of the rarest Pokémon in the game