There’s no Pokemon Snap 3DS, but at least we have Dragon Quest VIII

We should all be rather thankful to Square Enix. For once, one of the company’s many ports is going to do something important. It’s been years since we’ve seen any sort of Pokemon Snap successor, or even any kind of game that handles photography for pleasure well. (We’re not talking about Natsuiro High School Seisyun Hakusyo.) Square Enix is giving us an opportunity to enjoy that kind of gameplay again as a bonus feature in the 3DS iteration of Dragon Quest VIII.

Honestly, it may even prove to be better than Pokemon Snap. I loved that game. I bought it the moment it was added to the Wii Virtual Console. When I had an opportunity to get a $9.99, Donkey Kong 64 N64 unit at Goodwill, I did so only because I knew it would let me play the Pokemon Snap CIB cartridge I’d acquired at Wolff’s Flea Market over a year earlier. I’m a fan.

dragon quest viiiStill, I always wished Pokemon Snap offered a little more focus. Yes, there’s always the hope that you’ll catch a perfect picture of some illusive Pokemon, pleasing the harsh taskmaster that is Professor Oak. But once you’d cleared all six areas, seven if you count Rainbow Cloud, and photographed all 63 critters, there wasn’t much left to do.

Which is why Dragon Quest VIII seems so promising. It’s like sure, we aren’t getting to photograph Pokemon, but maybe Slime snapshots are just as good? Either way, we’re accumulating images of iconic characters. It’s certainly better than, say, a roaming game where eventually everyone tries to see how ridiculous and possibly perverted every picture could be. (Yes, we’ll talk about Natsuiro High School Seisyun Hakusyo some other time.)

It sounds like Dragon Quest VIII could have a perfect balance of pleasure and purpose, which is what’s so appealing about its photo mode. It’s something Pokemon Snap lacked. Once Blockbusters got rid of those machines that would make stickers out of your best shots from Pokemon Snap, you didn’t have any reason to keep going. With Dragon Quest VIII, you can keep your favorite shots on your SD card or share them on Miiverse. You can go around, taking selfies and pictures with your virtual friends.

dragon quest viii 2But it’s the Photo Quests that are the most important part of this Dragon Quest VIII. They’re what will make people look at the RPG and go, “You know, I miss Pokemon Snap, but DQVIII‘s Photo Mode makes the loss easier to bear.” People will be assigned missions that will send them around the entire world, hoping to get the perfect pictures of people, places and things. It makes me wonder if Cygames’ team members were inspired by their N64s.

With Pokemon Snap, you always knew there were certain, special shots to get. You might be able to catch a Pikachu surfing or a Pidgey using Gust on a Meowth. But you only knew about these “quests” through experimentation. With Dragon Quest VIII, you’re getting assignments. You know there are secrets to search for in the world, and capturing them will bring you closer to a reward for your efforts.

I guess I’m just happy that Dragon Quest VIII is going to have a gameplay element reminiscent of a title I loved, and I want all of you to be happy about that too.

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