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Comparing Pokemon Snap’s graphics to Sword and Shield is silly

Here we go again!

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Scorbunny and Pichu in Pokémon Snap. Image: The Pokémon Company

The world has hardly begun to fully accept the unlikely return of Pokémon Snap, but the same old discourse has already started to rear its ugly head. Once again, Pokémon fans are talking about graphics. Except, this time, it makes even less sense than before.

Some quick background: There was a lot of drama over what monsters the games excluded during the release of Pokémon Sword and Shield. Game Freak suggested that it wanted to focus on the overall experience over sheer number of monsters, but fans felt that the entire package didn’t quite compensate for the missing Pokémon.

The whole discussion was memed, with Game Freak quotes appearing next to low-quality textures in Pokémon Sword and Shield. The point was to highlight hypocrisy ... or something. It ultimately doesn’t matter as much anymore, because the games sold well and Game Freak promised it would add more monsters. Just today, Sword and Shield were given expansions that include all sorts of new critters, and more are in the pipeline.

I believed this discussion was behind us, except today also saw the release of a new Pokémon Snap trailer for the Nintendo Switch. Some fans have been quick to point out that Snap ironically seems to have “better” graphics than those in the mainline games.

Now, most fans seem to understand that the comparison is somewhat unfair, and have said as much on social media. But for those who don’t see the issue, there are some important things to consider here before people start dragging Sword and Shield again.

Pokemon Snap is an on-rails game. It’s much easier to make sure your visuals look great when the playing area is limited. Plus, it’s a game about photography, so of course special attention will be paid to the graphics and animations.

Pokémon Snap will be a newer game. It’s not out yet, and we don’t even know when it will be out, but of course a future game is going to look better than something released in 2019.

Pokémon Snap isn’t being made by Game Freak. This time around, Bandai Namco is crafting the experience. It’s only natural that different developers make things that look different from each other. Game Freak seems to prefer more stylized, cartoonish worlds.

Pokémon Snap’s graphics vary depending on where you look. While fans point to more high-definition trees and water shimmers in Snap, which supposedly outstrip those you’ll find in the main games, these highlights are selective. Take a look at an official Snap screenshot below, for example.

Two baby Pokémon  in Snap. Image: The Pokémon Company

Objectively speaking, that grass is flat and horrible. The flowers look like they were cut out of cardboard. Everything looks a little washed out here. You can easily find a screenshot of Sword and Shield that looks better than this, but honestly? It doesn’t matter.

Pokémon Snap is back, and that’s much more exciting than a few grumps online comparing apples and oranges.

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