New Pokémon Snap is the killer app Nintendo Labo VR desperately needs – here's why

Pikachu eating an apple. An apple! So precious.
Pikachu eating an apple. An apple! So precious. (Image credit: Nintendo)

It’s been a big week for Pokémon games. On top of updates to Pokémon Go (Gigantamaxing!), a new puzzle game called Pokémon Cafe, and some sort of toothbrush AR game we can’t explain, Nintendo deigned to announce what we’ve really been after all these years: a Pokémon Snap sequel.

With up-to-date graphics on the Nintendo Switch, and eight whole generations of Pokémon to populate a Snap safari, it’s never been a better time to bring back Pokémon Snap – an awe-inspiring game on Nintendo 64 that tasked you with photographing Pokémon along rivers, beaches, jungle paths, and even the moon.

The real trump card for New Pokémon Snap, though, may be in the form of Nintendo Labo’s VR camera.

Released in 2019, Nintendo Labo VR was a kind of VR starter kit, using hand-assembled cardboard accessories to create virtual reality goggles and a number of peripherals to help you immerse yourself directly in the action (Blaster, Bird, Wind Pedal, Elephant – you know, the classics!).

But the VR camera accessory showcases a perfect opportunity for New Pokémon Snap, enabling players to take snapshots of their favorite pocket monsters in the wild with something more tangible and, you know, camera-like than the tablet-shaped Switch console.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

While some aspects of the VR kit were less fleshed out than others – and playing Zelda in VR was simply a terrible idea – the VR camera was really a delight to use. 

Everything from peering into the camera, to the satisfying click of cardboard as we adjusted the zoom, was brilliantly immersive, even if we had only a few ways to make use of the camera – taking photos of fish, mainly – in the Labo VR Kit.

If there was one thing holding the VR Kit back, it was a lack of killer apps to really make all that crafting and building feel worthwhile. With a beloved IP like New Pokémon Snap to tie it to, Labo VR could get a whole new lease of life, and it would be a huge waste not to let the two products enhance each other.

Bundle it in, Nintendo

(Image credit: TechRadar)

It’s fully possible that we’ll see Nintendo add functionality for the Labo VR Camera, though we expect it might come as a later update some time after launch.

The real victory would be getting the camera accessory bundled in with the game itself, as a re-purposed peripheral focused entirely on New Pokémon Snap – say with a Poké-centric design or different color options.

Avid fans and nostalgia junkies such as us ourselves will no doubt flock to this game regardless, but leveraging Labo’s existing camera peripheral could be the difference between might-buy and must-buy for so many players. And if Nintendo isn’t making it the best photojournalist experience they can, what really is the point of the remake?

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.