Pokémon and photography go together like peanut butter and jelly.
If you've never played Pokémon Snap, which came out on Nintendo 64 in 1999, you wouldn't be crazy for thinking it's a stupid idea. On paper, taking pictures of Pokémon doesn't sound exciting. However, Nintendo and HAL Laboratory managed to make Pokémon Snap one of the best spin-off titles in the series, capturing the joy and exploration of photography with classic Pokémon tropes.
In the title, you step in the shoes of Todd Snap (yes, that is his name) and pilot the Zero-One, a buggy that can go on pre-determined paths at a constant speed. Professor Oak assigns you with the task of taking pictures of Pokémon on a mysterious island. You have to go through seven different courses and take good pictures of different critters by taking advantage of different scenarios and events in each stage. For example, in one level, a Charmeleon dances around a lava pit and you have to knock him into the fiery hole so he will evolve into a Charizard. In another stage, you have to use the Poké Flute to wake up a sleeping Snorlax.
The game has a trial-and-error puzzle element to it, as you have to learn how to use different tools, which you earn as you progress through the game, such as apples, pesters balls, and the aforementioned flute. It fully captures a sense of environmental exploration as you have to figure out the best way to set up different Pokémon for a picture, or find a way to get the Pokémon out in the wild for a photograph.
If there's one complaint I have with Pokémon Snap, it is that it is too short. The six main courses are filled with secrets, but there are still only six of them, and the secret final course is just a venue to photograph Mew. Still, there are so many things to admire about this game that its brevity isn't a big deal, especially since you can get it for 1,000 Wii Points ($10) on Virtual Console.
It is a damn shame that we haven't seen a sequel to Pokémon Snap on Wii. The pointer controls would be flat-out wonderful with this game. Until that happens, I'll just continue making use of the ability to upload pictures to my Wii Message Board in the Virtual Console version.