Pokémon Snap's an odd one - it's not an adventure game like the handheld versions or a fighting game like those on the console. Instead, you have to take pictures of Pokémon!
You play as Todd, who you might know from the anime. He has been asked by Professor Oak to take pictures of the various Pokémon around the island for research. Believe it or not, the game is, in a way, an on-rails shooter. Todd sits in the Zero-One, a mobile pod from which he can safely take pictures. It can cross water, float, and simply drive on the ground, so moving is no trouble.
There are six normal stages to be found: Beach, Tunnel, Volcano, River, Cave and Valley. Tunnel and River are unlocked by photographing a certain number of different Pokémon, but Volcano and Cave must be found by opening a secret path. Each area has a variety of different Pokémon and a land or object formation shaped like a Pokémon. Find the formation in every stage and you unlock a secret seventh stage, where you can find the elusive Mew, and nothing else.
All in all, there are 63 different types of Pokémon to be found. They range from the ones everybody knows, such as Pikachu, Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur, to the "legendary" ones, like Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres. Remember, the game was released in 1999 (Japan/America) and 2000 (Europe/Australia), so it only includes Pokémon from Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow!
You can take 60 pictures per visit to a course, after which you can select one picture of every type of Pokémon you snapped and submit your selections to Professor Oak for scoring. Points are awarded for numerous things: size points, for the distance the Pokémon was from you; pose points for the pose the Pokémon was in, etc. A few Pokemon, such as Meowth, will perform actions, such as dancing, which give you a good number of pose points if caught on camera. A very small number of Pokemon also have a "special" points award if you manage to get them to do something very special (such as getting Pikachu to ride a surfboard). If there are multiple Pokémon of the same type in a shot, you get "multiple Pokémon" points. And finally, if the main subject is centered in the picture and facing you (Technique), your points are doubled. If your score in one of the categories is too low, the remaining categories will not be rated!
To draw the more elusive Pokémon out of their hiding places, or to get other ones to strike a pose, you can unlock a number of useful items. Apples can be thrown to take pictures of Pokémon eating, or to lure them to a specific spot. Pester Balls can be thrown to anger them. The Pokémon Flute will play a song, which causes certain Pokemon to behave strangely. Although not really an item, you can also unlock a special engine for the Zero-One, which lets it go forward faster if the R button is held.
Pokémon Snap's a fun game and a relaxing break from the other Pokémon titles. It's got one enormous flaw, though - it's super short. If you don't fool around, it's quite easy to photograph every type of Pokémon within an hour! Another annoying thing is that only one file can be kept at a time. If you want to start over, you have to erase your previous game. Still, though – it’s fun while it lasts and a nice break from the norm. Just don't expect something deep and involving!
NOTE: The Virtual Console version of the game's got a neat extra - you can post your favourite photos on the Wii message board and send them to friends!