PAX East: Hands on with Snapshot
The first thing that usually comes to mind when you say camera game to me is “yawn.” Besides Beyond Good & Evil, I really can’t tell you of any good games that include a camera as a major dynamic… that is until now. While at PAX East I got a chance to get my hands on Snapshot, a game created by Retro Affect and winner of an IGF Award in 2009. The thing that drew me to Snapshot was the look. It reminded me of something I would play on my Super Nintendo; very colorful and lively. I guess it just brought back good memories, and even moreso after watching for a minute or two when I realized that the game was actually a puzzle platformer.
In Snapshot you control Pic, a robot with a camera that can literally capture objects in photos. You use this ability to navigate through levels to reach the end. You start off simple enough capturing objects like boxes and using them to boost your way to certain areas. Not too far from the beginning, though, you will find other objects such as platforms, doors, elephants (yes, elephants), and various other objects to help you reach your goal. As with any puzzle game, most of the tools at your disposal are obvious; you just need to figure out how to use them to reach your goal. You can only carry three pictures at a time; this adds an extra degree of challenge to the game since you will need to choose your tools wisely. You can also change the orientation of objects, so Snapshot will require you to think at different angles as well.
One of the cooler things I found about Snapshot was that if you capture an object in motion, when you release the object it will still be in motion. I found this out the hard way when I released a moving snowball from a photo and crushed myself. You will also run across items that look like objects you can capture but not really. For example, on one level there was a wooden plank that was shaped like one of the boxes you can see in the screenshots. I took a picture of it, and then when I posted the picture a box popped out of it. This requires you to be on the lookout because it wasn’t blatantly obvious that I needed to take a snapshot of that plank. Luckily the dev was there to explain to me what that part was all about and I did see that once I hovered over the plank it started to light up.
The levels definitely got more and more interesting as well as challenging as I progressed. You run into “no photo zones” where you are unable to capture objects; many puzzles revolve around getting what you need out of these zones. As mentioned earlier, you can also take snapshots of doors to help you get around the levels and even use elephants as a spring to get to elevated areas. The last level I played was one where large snowballs are being shot at you. This is where I learned my lesson about moving objects, but I also saw where the game was going in terms of using speed and accuracy as part of the challenge in the puzzles.
Overall, I had a blast with Snapshot and it’s one of my favorite games of the show. I will be looking forward to hearing about updates on Snapshot and can’t wait for release. I would also like to take this time to thank Retro Affect for having the most comfortable chairs of the show. I honestly forgot how comfortable minivan chairs are. Retro Affect has no release date yet but it will be available on PC upon release. Hopefully in the future we will see a XBLA or maybe even a PSN release. Either way, this game should definitely be on your radar. Check them out at their website, on Facebook, or Twitter.