Virtual Console Wrap-Up: Pokemon Week Special Edition

Usually we only cover the most recent releases for the virtual console, but in honour of Pokemon Week here at Diehard GameFAN, we’re looking at the two N64 games feature everyone’s favorite cock fighting seizure monsters: Pokemon Snap and Pokemon Puzzle League!

Pokemon Snap
Developer: Hal Labs
Publisher: Nintendo
System: Nintendo 64
Original Release Date: 06/30/1999
Wii Points: 1000

Alexander Lucard: Pokemon Snap was not only the first N64 Pokemon game, but it was also the first true Pokemon spin-off from the turn based RPG franchise. Pokemon Snap was such a change from the RPG series that it left gamers either confused or with a big grin on their face. A first person photography game? No combat? No leveling up? It’s just pictures of cute monsters doing cute things? As you can imagine the audience was split. Of course without Pokemon Snap, we’d have never had Cardcaptor Sakura or Fatal Frame as it became the blueprint for all photo games to come since.

I really enjoy Pokemon Snap for what it is. Even I get bored with the Pokemon RPG’s at times and it was great to just sit back and watch the Pokemon do their things. I miss being able to print off the stickers, but it was a welcome surprise to have a new ability added to this game in its stead. You can take pictures in the game and send them to your friends and post them in your Wii’s photo album.

Pokemon Snap is a great outside the box game for those looking for something a little more passive and a lot less number crunching while still focusing on the original 151 Pokemon.

Guy Desmarais: I never did buy Pokémon Snap back in the day, but I rented it so often that it might have been to my advantage to seek out the game and acquire it. The game came out right in the middle of my own Pokémon craze, as I owned the red version of the Game Boy RPG and DID end up catching them all with the help of my brother, who had the blue version. I was also watching the anime every morning while I was having breakfast, right before I would get to high school. I never did tell my friends about my Pokémon obsession back then as it never caught on in Montreal as much as it did in other places in North America, and was actually somewhat frowned upon. Anyway, all of this to say that Pokémon Snap was one of my favorite games on the system, and that it is a truly unique experience that needs to be tried at least once. I know that simply taking pictures on a safari doesn’t look like much of a game, but if you are a fan of the franchise, it becomes so much more than that. You can actually see all the creatures you have fought and read so much about in their “natural” habitat, and you can affect the environment to get a better shot. It all comes together to make the whole Pokémon universe much more immersing, as it develops the personality of some of the Pokémon which were never really stars in the games or the show. If you are a non-fan, you probably won’t like “get” the game and its concept. However, it is a must have for anybody who is even remotely interested in the franchise.

Chris Bowen: I remember that while I never had an N64 – not until it was too late to really use it, anyway. My brother did, and I used to play some of his games. One of the few that I really enjoyed for that system was Pokemon Snap. It was a unique idea at the time; play as Professor Oak’s photographer, and take pictures of Pokemon in their “natural” habitats. You know, when they’re not getting the shit beaten out of them by a prepubescent’s pet, and stuffed into miniature cages.

The game was part photography simulator, and partly one large easter egg. You had a variety of tools that could be used to effect Pokemon, and get them to act around their environment. One particularly memorable moment to me was when I knocked Charmander into a volcano, and turned him into Charizard (meaning he skipped a step, but never mind that). Then I bonked him again, and pissed him off to the point where he blew fire at me. Legitimately awesome moment, and a great picture score to boot!

Not only do I love Pokemon Snap, I wish a new one for the Wii could come out, using the Wii’s hardware and the capabilities of the controller. If Nintendo made Pokemon Snap for the Wii, with the new Pokemon, I’d snap it up in a heartbeat, and I would play it. Mind you, this is coming from someone that hasn’t had his Wii hooked up since May.

Aaron Sirois: Pokemon Snap was a game that boggled my mind. Sure it was nifty watching the Pokemon run amok in a 3d world, but there was nothing to do but take pictures of them. It always felt like a cheap money grabbing scheme to me.

Still, if you’re a diehard Pokemaniac, I suppose this kind of thing could appeal to you.

Charlie Marsh: I remember renting this twice back in the day. The first time, I thought it was the worst game I’ve ever played. The second time…not the worst, but damn. I hated it, and I still do.

I liked Pokemon back then (the Blue one, to be specific). It was fun collecting Pokemon and raising the perfect team to be the best trainer of all time. Beating the Elite Four and your rival (that fucking asshole) was a legitimate accomplishment, as was completing your Pokedex.

Then they took that concept and made a game about taking pictures. How exciting. I thought it was interesting for about 30 seconds before realizing that this was all the game had to offer and I went back to Star Fox or some such game. I actually don’t quite understand why I didn’t like it. I like(d) Pokemon, I kind of like taking pictures of birds and other animals in nature, but this game just didn’t do it for me. It wasn’t as fun or rewarding as the original games.

Bebito Jackson: Pokemon Snap was creepy. Am I the only one that was scared to death wondering which of the cock fighting monsters was going to pop out at you? It’s one thing fighting those things via trainers and such, but to see them all coming at you in first person? After all…. they are MONSTERS.

I’ll admit it. I peed myself playing Pokemon Snap. One of those blue monster things popped out of the water or something and I screamed like a little girl. Then I had nightmares about it. I dreamed Pokemon were popping out of all kinds of places. My neighbor’s bushes. Out of garbage cans like they were muppets. My toilet. It was horrible.

It was only compounded by the fact that I couldn’t stop playing. It was all kinds of fun. I wanted to capture that perfect picture at that perfect moment of the perfect Pokemon. The best way to describe it is nervous excitement. I was scared to death but I never dropped the controller.

I…. really shouldn’t have contributed to this. I gave no information, insight or anything of substance about this game and the only thing anyone can take away from this is that I soiled my pants.

Pokemon Puzzle League
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
System: Nintendo 64
Original Release Date: 09/01/2000
Wii Points: 1000

Alexander Lucard: Pokémon Puzzle League is basically a souped up version of the old Tetris Blast but with more game modes and options. It is also the only Pokémon video game to feature the full anime voice acting crew. I prefer the GBA version known as Pokémon Puzzle Challenge for the RPG story mode, but PPL has excellent graphucs and is a highly addicting puzzle game. Even if you’re not a fan of Pokémon, the Team Rocket 3-D version of Panel de Pon is one of the neatest versions of the game I’ve ever played.

Guy Desmarais: Pokémon Puzzle League is a classic puzzle game with a nice Pokémon twist. There are more than enough game modes to keep you interested for a while, and the multiplayer mode by itself is worth the price of admission. It is one of the most addictive puzzle game I have played not named Tetris, and quite honestly, it might be in the top ten as far as best N64 games go. Sure, the Pokémon gimmick might be cosmetic more than anything else, but is still is fun to pick your trainer and kick your friend’s ass, no matter how silly it may be.



Chris Bowen: Panel de Pon is probably my favourite Tetris-like competitive puzzle game in any iteration; even the underwhelming DS version is a great game. I remember playing the GBC version of Pokemon Puzzle League while stationed on the USS George Washington, and loving it, though it was just Tetris Attack with new sprites. The N64 version has a much better personality to it, with a heavy influence (including some good FMV, considering it was a cartridge) from the animated cartoon.

You don’t have to like the cartoon, the games, or anything Pokemon to like Pokemon Puzzle League; Nintendo took a great puzzle engine and made it look REALLY good.

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