Pokemon Snap has always seemed like the most sensible Pokemon game to me. I know the fact that these cute creatures just scurrying about in the world requires some suspension of disbelief, but I can get on board with the idea of Pokemon easily enough. However, with the main games you also have to accept that pretty much everyone is cool with capturing these creatures and forcing them to fight for sport, as well the fact a ten-year-old repeatedly saves the day in a variety of similar ways. Mystery Dungeon has ‘mons living in anthropomorphic villages, PokePark imagines a world entirely without humans, and in Detective Pikachu, Pikachu is, well, you figure it out.
They’re good games, but they don’t necessarily make sense. On the contrary, Pokemon Snap makes perfect sense. If these creatures existed, people would want to take photographs of them. That’s why, in order to understand the world of New Pokemon Snap a little bit more, I spoke to two real-life nature photographers about what we’ve seen in the trailers so far.
Those two photographers are Iona Haines, the coordinator of conservation organisation Ape Alliance, and Jocelyn Anderson, a professional bird photographer. I showed them both a selection of clips from the upcoming game to get their reactions; interestingly, Haines is a big Pokemon fan and plans on picking up New Pokemon Snap for the Nintendo Switch, while Anderson’s only experience with the series is Pokemon Go. She confesses to not having much idea about any of the creatures beyond that.
“Out in nature, most of the time when I see different species interacting, it’s due to a warning, like a small songbird (such as a Chickadee) calling out that a hawk is nearby, causing all other small birds to take cover,” Anderson says at the “adorable” clip of Corsola and Pyukumuku chilling out on the rocks. She also points out that it’s good to see the game rewarding photographers for taking varied pictures, because “capturing interesting behavior is key for good nature photos as well.”
Meanwhile, Haines picked up on a scene between Pichu and Grookey as being particularly realistic, and in-keeping with the opportunities real-life nature photographers will get. “They’ve wandered close to each other, which does happen in real-life with animals of different species, and then spot the photographer,” Haines says. She also points out that the freeze reaction both ‘mons adopt is typical of a ‘flight’ response when animals’ brains go into ‘fight or flight’ mode. “This is common when an animal you’re trying to photograph spots you, they will momentarily freeze and stare at you. This is the time to quickly take a picture!”
As well as the different image types and the varied behaviour, one of the big mechanics in the game revolves around feeding Pokemon to attract their attention. “When you’re photographing animals, it is often good to wait until they’re feeding as they’ll be preoccupied with something else other than you,” Haines says of Vaporeon eating in the trailer. However, Anderson suggests caution. “From a nature photographer’s perceptive, there should be a lot of caution and consideration of possible repercussions when feeding wild beasties.” This is because sometimes humans can unwittingly feed wild animals something that is not safe for certain species to eat, or because it can upset the ecosystem. Luckily, that’s not a concern in New Pokemon Snap.
Another one of the big interactions in the footage released includes Octillery blasting ink in Sevivper’s face, before Seviper slithers off into the sea. Yeah, I didn’t know it could swim either. “I would say the Octillery thought they were in danger of being eaten by the other Pokemon,” Haines says. “So it released black ink to distract or scare away the predator. Interestingly, the Octillery stays stationary after releasing the ink. Usually, an animal like an octopus would release an ink cloud in order to escape, but maybe it has some sort of poison in it that scared away the other Pokemon.”
Being a bird photographer, Anderson had a lot to explain about the dancing Hoothoot. “The Hoothoot response is pretty great because ‘owl prowls’ are a thing,” she says. “You walk through the woods, play owl calls, and owls will respond if they’re around. I like how there are so many environments and different times of day, makes for an interesting variety of photo opportunities.”
One of the most talked about scenes in all of the footage we’ve seen so far is Venusar gracelessly leaping up into the air and splashing down into the lake below. It was one of the first active clips released of the game, plus Venusaur is an iconic Pokemon thanks to its status as an original starter. It’s a clip Haines was drawn to as well, especially because of the water. “When Venusaur jumps in the water, this could be because it’s a hot looking day and it wants to cool off,” Haines says. “To me, the Venusaur looks like it is jumping into the water for fun! Play is very important in animals for their social and physical development. Water is a great tool for a wildlife photographer because splashes can portray movement in a photo.”
Since Anderson primarily uses birds as her subject, it’s no surprise that one of the clips that captured her interest was Pidgeot swooping down on Magikarp. “This would be a great nature shot,” she says. “It reminds me of an osprey, a bird that eats almost nothing but fish, diving feet-first into the water to catch fish. I’ve yet to get one of those photos.”
Maybe New Pokemon Snap will be her chance.
Next: Exclusive Interview: Saber Interactive’s Adam Tedman On His Move From Rockstar, Growing The Studio, And Evil Dead: The Game
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Stacey Henley is an editor for TheGamer, and can often be found journeying to the edge of the Earth, but only in video games. Find her on Twitter @FiveTacey
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