Say Cheese! My First Time Playing The Original 1999 Pokemon Snap

Being a rookie Pokemon Snap player with a retrospective view has also given me the notion that it was really quite ahead of its time in several ways, particularly when involving the art of photography in a setting within the Pokemon world. I’m sure nobody involved in the project at the time could have predicted that 17 years later 2016’s Pokemon Go would have millions of people collecting and taking photographs of Pokemon in different locations all over the world!

While the Nintendo 64 classic Pokemon Snap holds a special place in the hearts of many Pokemon fans, I never actually played the game until very recently, when I was very kindly surprised with a copy (complete with box/inlays/manual, to say I was rather chuffed would be an understatement).

The April 2021 release of New Pokemon Snap for the Nintendo Switch has introduced the premise of the game to a whole new generation of fans, but as a Pokemon collector with a particular interest in vintage merchandise I have been itching to play the original 1999 game for quite some time. I bought my first ever N64 console last year and since then I’ve had a lot of fun playing Pokemon Stadium and several other non-Pokemon-related classics, but now that I’ve finally turned my attention to Pokemon Snap I thought it might be fun to document playing the game for the first time and see how it holds up over 20 years after its release!

On first impressions I was very enamoured with the overall aesthetic of the game, as although the 3D graphics have obviously dated due to the game being released over two decades ago, the bright colours and wide variety of character designs that helped make the original roster of Pokemon so instantly recognisable are out in full force. The locations within the game aren’t overly detailed but do an excellent job in setting the scene and seeming like places that various species of Pokemon would live in accordance with their individual elemental types (i.e, fire types such as Charmander living near a volcano, whilst water-dwelling Pokemon such as Psyduck and Slowpoke’s habitats are located in a river setting).

I found that seeing how naturally the creatures we’ve known from the other games and anime fit into the environments in Pokemon Snap exemplified just how good the original Pokemon designs were in the sense of making them feel like real animals that could be found in forests, along streams and in other real-life locations. The variety of different animations that each creature can display when photographing them also helps set each character apart as individuals with their own little quirks and personalities, whether they’re happy, angry, sleepy, hungry or (as I found to be the case with a few of my own personal favourites, Vulpix, Growlithe and Bulbasaur) just plain adorable!

I know that since the first generation of Pokemon were introduced to us all those years ago some fans have stated that they find some of the original 151’s designs to be quite dull and boring compared to those of newer Pokemon, but personally I do prefer the simpler character designs of the Kanto Pokemon and as I was trawling through the various settings in Pokemon Snap for the first time I did feel like a wildlife photographer trying to get the best shot of the creatures in action. As Satoshi Tajiri’s inspiration for the original Pokemon games was his childhood love of catching bugs, I think it is a particularly nice touch that Pokemon Snap’s overall premise explores what is essentially another aspect of zoology (that being the photography of animals in their natural habitat).

Being a rookie Pokemon Snap player with a retrospective view has also given me the notion that it was really quite ahead of its time in several ways, particularly when involving the art of photography in a setting within the Pokemon world. I’m sure nobody involved with the project at the time could have predicted that 17 years later 2016’s Pokemon Go would have millions of people collecting and taking photographs of Pokemon in different locations all over the world!

In terms of mechanics, the game’s controls are very straightforward and although some players may have appreciated more options in regards to taking photos of the Pokemon, I think these easy controls are to the benefit of Pokemon Snap’s overall appeal as I enjoyed how relaxed it feels. As I progressed through the game, more options were unlocked in terms of different courses and items to provoke/entice different reactions from wild Pokemon and though the items in question were rather basic, given the limitations of the time I think they served their purpose well enough. Although it would have been a pleasure to see more Pokemon in the game than the 63 that are included, I think the chosen Pokemon do provide enough variety to keep the game interesting initially, but I can’t deny that it would have been fantastic to see a majestic Ninetales in the Volcano level or perhaps an angry Blastoise facing off with Gyarados in the Valley.  

Of course, in some games having a wide variety of customisable options and overall higher stakes suits the story thematically and is key in keeping the player engrossed, but with this first playthrough of Pokemon Snap it was honestly just nice to go through each level and get excited whenever I spotted one of my favourite Pokemon for the first time, as it really did an excellent job of bringing back the excitement and intrigue I remember myself and my school friends feeling when the first wave of Pokemania hit UK shores in the late 1990’s.

So, despite being over two decades late to the party, I can safely say I thoroughly enjoyed playing Pokemon Snap. In a way I think was probably a blessing in disguise that I didn’t own the game as a child, as I’m pretty sure I would have gotten rather obsessed with it and would have either ended up permanently glued to the N64 trying to get the perfect snap of each Pokemon, or perhaps taken to the chasing local cats/dogs/pigeons around whilst trying to photograph them in a similar fashion (without the apple/pester ball throwing that is, though maybe they’d enjoy the flute playing, who knows). If there are any Pokemon fans like myself who are yet to give the original Pokemon Snap a whirl, I would certainly recommend it. Or, if you played the game when you were younger and haven’t picked it up in a while, why not dust off your cartridge and get snapping? Cute Pokemon, lots of fun and a good dose of nostalgia await!


Written By Emily Carney

Sources/Further Reading:

Pokemon.fandom.com – Pokemon Snap: https://pokemon.fandom.com/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Snap

Bulbapedia – Pokemon Snap:

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Snap

Game Rant – 10 Things You Never Knew About The Original Pokemon Snap On The N64:

https://gamerant.com/pokemon-snap-n64-facts-trivia/

The RetroBeat – Why The Original Pokemon Snap Was Special:

Video Detective – Pokemon Snap Trailer 1999:

£100 Of New Warhammer Up For Grabs When You Enter Our In-Store Painting Competition in August! (Updated)

Throughout August this year make sure to stop in at a Wow Comix Store and pick up a FREE Space Marine to enter into our painting competition!

(Please be aware that winners announcement has been put back until Sunday the 12th of September) the Throughout August this year make sure to stop in at any Wow Comix Store and pick up a FREE Space Marine to enter into our painting competition! The grand prize is a mystery box of brand new sets worth over £100! Here’s how it works:



  1. Head into our Bury, Stockport or Stretford store and ask a member of our staff if you can pick up a Space Marine for the competition!

    Only one can be given out per customer and supplies are limited, so please bare that in mind should you arrive near the end of the month and find that the store has none left!

2. Head home and paint the figure in any way you like!

We will be judging the winners on, not only painting skill, but imagination and its uniqueness! The more bonkers the better as far as the judges are concerned!

They certainly don’t HAVE to be blue!


3. Head on back to the store before the deadline on the first of September and hand the figure in with a member of staff.

We will take some details so that we may contact if you are a winner!

You can’t get much simpler than that eh?!

There are three runner up prizes to take home in the way of three brand new Warhammer: Space Marine Paint Sets (RRP £23.99)
and one grand mystery box for one lucky (and hopefully talented) winner, containing brand new Warhammer worth over £100! The results will be announced on the 7th of September!

Win or lose, once its all over, you can pop back and pick up your Space Marine to take back home either way!

Happy painting!

Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point #1 Review

‘Zero Point’ is a title which manages to get a lot of things right when so many could have gone wrong…

Review by Andy Flood

Written by:
Christos Gage

(Concept/Story Consultant: Donald Mustard)
Art:

Reilly Brown (Pencils), Nelson Faro DeCastro (Inks)

Colours: John Kalisz

Letters: Andworld Design

Released 20/4/21 Published By DC Comics

Epic Games are well known for working in crossovers and mashups with different areas of pop culture, having previously brought characters and elements from Star Wars, Marvel, DC and others to their game Fortnite.  To tie in with their latest in-game Batman appearance, DC launched Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point.  Aside from being a cool crossover project/event, each comic contains a unique code which allows for a free download of DC themed in-game goodies (this first being a Harley Quinn costume or ‘skin’).  If all 6 issues are purchased and redeemed, readers get the ‘Armoured Batman’ skin as an additional freebie.  All of this makes the limited run incredibly good value for money for Fortnite and DC fans.

Even were this not a factor, the comic itself has a great many things going for it.  The cover here is by Mikel Janín, whose art has graced numerous DC titles recently, not least of which have been some excellent covers on the current Action Comics arc.  This cover is immediately recognisable and sets a precedent in terms of style for the other covers to follow while also giving us a nice taster of the varied characters we are about to meet.

We open on a classic Batman scene: a dramatic rooftop meeting between Jim Gordon and Batman.  The Bat-signal in the cloudy night sky torn asunder by a strange, crackling rift.  The creators waste no time in dropping us straight into the action and within a few exciting panels, we are following Batman as he is thrust through this rift into… where?


This is one of many questions Batman faces as he wakes in this new world.  While the setting will be instantly familiar and thrilling for fans of the Fortnite game, it shows Batman in unfamiliar territory in more ways than one.  He scarcely has time to catch his breath before he is drawn into a series of seemingly random encounters.  Here we get to see Batman adapt, analyze and survive in a near literal maelstrom of chaos, despite having no memory of who he is and being unable to speak!

Christos Gage uses Batman’s inner monologue to great effect here, showing a clear understanding of what make the famous Dark Knight tick.  As we learn about this new world through Batman’s experiences, Gage cleverly introduces concepts from Fortnite which will delight fans of the game while also intriguing DC fans.  The tone of the writing is just right, and keeps us invested until the final page.

Artwork is bold, dynamic and colourful; just what is needed for this title.  The world of Fortnite is mercurial and, as such, can be hard to characterise but the art team have done a great job of nailing the style of both the game and the featured DC characters.


Verdict

‘Zero Point’ is a title which manages to get a lot of things right when so many could have gone wrong.  While there is some definite crossover between comic fans and players of Fortnite, it would have been easy to alienate either group.  This issue has plenty to please everyone and, if you’re lucky enough to be fans of both, you get a great comic to read and some very cool stuff for your game.  A cool read for all ages.

(Suggested ages 13+ by DC)


Review by Andy Flood, 20/7/21


My First Pokemon Game: Pokemon Crystal – A Retrospective

I have since enjoyed several other titles in the main series of Pokemon games, although none of them have quite topped Pokemon Crystal…


My First Pokemon Game: Pokemon Crystal – A Retrospective

Article by Emily Carney


The year is 2001. The month is November. Pokemon Gold and Silver had been released earlier that year here in the UK back in April and had been instant hits, providing Pokemon fans across the country with a brand new region to explore and a plethora of new Pokemon to catch. But I personally was yet to embark on a Pokemon journey of my own, as despite being a huge Pokemon fan since 1999 (the year I started primary school) and being obsessed with the anime, films, toys and trading cards, I had yet to actually experience from a first-hand perspective the medium which had kick-started the whole franchise back in 1996, the Pokemon video games. However all that was to change that winter, when I ecstatically received a yellow Pikachu & Pichu Gameboy colour and a copy of Pokemon Crystal.



Despite having played briefly on Gameboys owned by family members and friends, my only proper experience of video games at this point was the first Sony Playstation, which I have great memories of and still enjoy playing games such as Crash Bandicoot, Tomb Raider and Tekken to this day. Upon receiving the Gameboy and Pokemon Crystal however, I was extremely happy that I could now take my game anywhere with me, and could finally join in on trading and battling Pokemon with my friends.

One of the most vivid memories I have before actually playing the game was looking through the Pokemon Crystal booklet that came with the game and seeing how beautiful Ken Sugimori’s watercolor illustrations were (though unfortunately it appears to be very hard to find any pictures of the inner instruction manual pages). Even today Sugimori’s Pokemon artwork are some of my favorite pieces of art ever and I would love to see the franchise return to this style at some point, even just as a homage as I think the charm of these illustrations far surpasses the digital artwork that is commonplace in most forms of official Pokemon-related media today.

Those sneakers though…

Pokemon Crystal is notable for being the first Pokemon game to give the player a choice between playing as a boy or a girl and as being both a first-time Pokemon player and a 7 year-old girl at the time, I was happy about this, although while I was growing up Pokemon as a franchise always seemed to be enjoyed equally by both boys and girls regardless of the gender of the protagonist we were watching or playing as, so while I was pleased to have the choice to play as a girl I do think even if I hadn’t had this choice I would have still had a great time playing the game.

The design of the female protagonist (known as Kris, although as with all main series Pokemon games the player is able to input their own name) is excellent in my opinion and is one of my favourite trainer designs in the series, as it strikes just the right balance between the classic 90’s aesthetic of the early games and anime alongside the sporty, adventurous look that would be applied to other protagonists in future Pokemon games.

Beginning to play the game itself was a fantastic experience. As this was late 2001/early 2002, here in the UK we had just become acquainted with the second generation of Pokemon and although Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal have had some criticism from fans who find the inclusion of new Pokemon to be rather lacking until the later stages of the games, as a first-time player I was just excited to be able to catch any of the Pokemon I’d hurried home from school to see in the anime. My first starter Pokemon was a Totodile I nicknamed “Snappy” and he stayed with me throughout the majority of my journey, evolving from Totodile to Croconaw and finally to Feraligatr, though I did eventually trade him (which I must admit I still feel quite guilty about) for a friend’s Venusaur, a Venasaur which for some reason was rather confusingly nicknamed “Zapdos”. Snappy, if you’re out there on a game cartridge at the bottom of someone’s drawer or cupboard somewhere, please know I still think about you and thank you for being my first Pokemon.

‘ Snappy’

Maybe it’s a combination of a great game and a child’s imagination but I still vividly remember travelling through the different areas of the Johto region for the first time as if they were real-life locations that I’d travelled to. I think part of this is down to the wonderful soundtrack of the second generation games, which vary from the whimsical to the atmospheric and everything in between.

I still listen to the tunes from the soundtrack often today (particularly the themes from Ecruteak City and Cianwood City, which I would definitely consider to be my favorites) and it really is a testament to the talent of composer Junichi Masuda that he could capture the personalities of these individual locations and take listeners back to these places years later with these melodies.

Many players have praised the Pokemon main series games in recent years for its emphasis on literacy and reading being key to fully enjoying the games, and this is something I would very much agree with. Though the story wasn’t as complex as that of future Pokemon games, I still found it to be engaging and was very enthused to defeat Team Rocket and beat the Elite Four. One of my favorite aspects of the game however (and indeed one of my favorite aspects of the Pokemon franchise in general) was how much it encouraged playing with others, whether that involved battles and trades via the Gameboy Link Cable or working together to try and get past a particularly difficult part of the game.

 At my primary school we had a period during the last half an hour of school on a Friday afternoon called “Golden Time”, where we were allowed to bring in toys and games or do fun activities and this was when my friends and myself would bring in our Gameboys and play the  Pokemon games together or trade our Pokemon cards. I remember those Friday afternoons very fondly, I particularly recall being both baffled and enthralled when a friend showed me how to do the Generation II cloning glitch (which involved placing a Pokemon in a box in the PC and then changing box/turning off the console at the right moment while the data was saving in order to duplicate the Pokemon placed in the box, but as there is the possibility of this glitch corrupting save data I probably wouldn’t recommend it nowadays), though instead of using the glitch for something useful like duplicating Masterballs I instead just made copy upon copy of my favourite Pokemon, and ended up with about 6 charizards and 12 Umbreons, amongst others.

Another of my favourite aspects of the second generation games is the ability to travel to Kanto after defeating the Elite Four and take on the gym leaders from the original Red/Blue/Green/Yellow games.

Who wouldn’t want twelve Umbreons?!

Although some players have criticized the post game content for not being as engaging as the initial journey, I genuinely felt like I’d stumbled across some amazing secret when I first realized I could go to Pallet Town and all the other Kanto locations, as this was my first time experiencing this part of the Pokemon world in-game and I personally thought that being given the opportunity to explore Lavender Town, Viridian Forest, Mt Moon and all the areas I’d seen in the Indigo League anime was quite a treat. After exploring Kanto, the culmination of the journey in battling Red at Mt Silver was an excellent way to draw the game to a close and I must admit it took a lot of perseverance (and several of my cloned Charizards) to beat him, but I felt immensely accomplished after doing so.

Red looking edgy

Overall, I really don’t think I could have asked for a better introduction to the in-game Pokemon world, and I have since enjoyed several other titles in the main series of Pokemon games, although none of them have quite topped Pokemon Crystal for me. Unfortunately I did lose my original copy (though did manage to recover my old Pikachu/Pichu edition Gameboy last year, which I was ecstatic about) but I would very much like to acquire another copy at some point in the future (although this may end up being quite an investment as boxed complete copies of the game are currently going for around £200 to £400, with some being priced even higher) and experience the fun and adventure of Pokemon Crystal all over again.


Written by Emily Carney, 2021


Sources and Further Reading:

Pokemon Crystal Wiki – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Crystal#:~:text=It%20was%20released%20in%20Japan%20on%20December%2014%2C%202000%2C%20North,Europe%20on%20November%202%2C%202001.

Pokemon Crystal Bulbapedia –

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Crystal_Version

Serebi.Net – Pokemon Crystal – https://www.serebii.net/crystal/

Pokemon.Fandom – Pokemon Crystal – https://pokemon.fandom.com/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Crystal_Version

Gameboy Colour Special Editions – https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Game_Boy_Color

Poke-Revisit II: https://medium.com/the-new-bark-codex/pok%C3%A9-revisit-ii-pok%C3%A9mon-crystal-8ed5b3d498b7

Candy Evie- All Version Differences In Pokemon Gold, Silver & Crystal:

Syy – 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Pokemon Crystal – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVLQZkif2Mw