Nostalgia Week: Scouted is turning back the clocks and highlighting some of the best things to come out 20+ years ago and how they’re being reinvented (and reinvigorated) in 2021.
If there’s anything that the last year has taught me, it’s that the future will always remain unpredictable, so I look to the past. To old memories and trends that remind me of what was good and wholesome, sometimes to a fault. That’s where my head was at when Pokemon Snap was set to release last week, worried I’d be stuck reminiscing about how my brother’s best friend growing up beat the game for me in the basement of my parents’ house. But instead, it’s been a perfect nod to the past and a little hope for the future.
The controls and features of the game remain similar to the original, but there are now over 200 Pokemon to find. It’s a deluge of fictitious monsters running amok in forests, caves, and under the sea, ripe with hidden pathways for rare glimpses and an overly critical scientist who definitely didn’t go to art school. It’s also an incredibly beautiful game, something all the new Pokemon games have had in common. But what really makes me happy about this game is that they left the good things in. We can still hurl apples at the head of a sleeping Pikachu. The Pokeflute is replaced by a new tune that gets stuck in your head immediately. Your tires still screech to a halt if you try and speed up too quickly and get in the way of stampeding Dodrio.
I could be being hyperbolic — it is just a video game after all — but the hold that this game had on my youth was unlike any other. I would spend hours trying to get better scores and beat levels, my hands sweating and cramped from holding tightly to the N64 controller. But after playing a few rounds of the New Pokemon Snap, it was almost like playing it for the first time. What Nintendo has always been good at has been reading its audience. Animal Crossing at the beginning of the pandemic probably helped millions of people remain (relatively) calm and now New Pokemon Snap is doing that as we ease back into what will surely be a new reality.
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