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Pokémon Snap Prepared the FPS Generation

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Pokémon Snap is a beloved classic for many gamers who remember it from when they were kids. It is also a game that prepared many of them for FPS’s.

The Nintendo 64 era of gaming brought a lot of amazing, nostalgic classics that many fans who are now adults remember incredibly fondly. One of the most famous of those is Pokémon Snap, a classic of the monolithic franchise that is Pokémon, wherein the player steps into the franchise’s colorful and mysterious world to document the amazing creatures that dwell within. The game was so popular that over twenty years later, a sequel entry was released for the Switch.

One of the unique things about Pokémon Snap that can slip under the radar is the fact that, at its core, the game is ultimately a first-person shooter. It may not seem like it at first glance, but the title has all the hallmarks of an FPS. As such, it went a long way in preparing young gamers for what many of them would be playing in the future, when they became mature enough to handle the violence and fast-paced mechanics of first-person shooters.

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The Rail Shooter Was Not Yet a Dead Genre

Blastoise from New Pokémon Snap

Pokémon Snap places the player on a rail as they adventure through the different biomes of the Pokémon world. The player is tasked with taking as many dynamic pictures of the creatures as possible for the purposes of research and understanding. It’s a simple premise that is done with a lot of hard work and passion, but if it was just a walking simulator game, it’s doubtful that the title’s legacy would be as incredibly pervasive as it truly is.

Pokémon Snap was, for many young gamers, their first exposure to first-person shooters and rail shooters. A lot of the gameplay loop of Pokémon Snap is similar to many shooters of the time, only without the killing and risk of death that would be too gratuitous for young players. Mechanics such as aiming at specific areas, taunting out specific behaviors for the best shot, and using environmental clues to access new areas are staples of the genre that are used in Pokémon Snap.

Players may not be actively controlling the direction, but they are expected to aim and shoot for the highest points and best angles of the rarest Pokémon. The main skill on display is spacial awareness, which is the core of FPS gameplay, asking the player to be aware of their surroundings and to react at a moment’s notice to get the best shots. The skills cultivated in Pokémon Snap are ones that are applicable to pretty much any other FPS.

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It is an incredibly simple formula. First-person shooters were relatively simple in the ’90s as well. There were rail shooters, which Pokémon Snap emulates most closely, and corridor shooters like Doom. GoldenEye 007 and Half-Life only just started showing the way the wind would soon be blowing for the genre as a whole. Pokémon Snap takes the fundamentals of FPS gameplay and transfers those skills to the easiest analog device to use — a camera — in order to train players in the same style of gameplay loop. It’s not uncommon to hear gamers in their late twenties and thirties claim that Pokémon Snap was their first FPS.

Pokémon Snap Came Into Being at the Perfect Time

Jigglypuff singing in Pokemon Snap

Pokémon Snap initially released in 1999 and just one year later, Halo broke onto the scene to dominate the gaming world, ushering in a new golden age of first-person shooters. Soon, the gaming market was flooded with what would be classics of the genre, and a shift would be seen wherein FPS games would become the most prolific genre in gaming. As controversial as the genre was at the time, many younger players had already cut their teeth on the skills needed to excel at those titles in a friendly little game called Pokémon Snap.

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