Photo modes are so hot these days! But, well, not so much on Switch. Search “Best Photo Modes” and you’ll get a bevy of PlayStation and Xbox games, probably — like The Last of Us, God of War, or Death Stranding. And sure, those games are lovely and pretty and photorealistic… But you don’t need a fancy 4K game console to take good photos, and besides — Nintendo basically invented taking photos in games, didn’t they!
To prove that the Switch can hold its own when it comes to photography, we’ve put together the best games that either have brilliant photo modes, or are actually about photography, right here on Switch.
Get your trigger… er, shutter fingers ready, it’s time to snap!
Publisher: Something We Made / Developer: Something We Made
Don’t be fooled by its black-and-white looks — TOEM is a world full of colour. Just not literally. It’s a sweet little hand-drawn exploration game that flew under the radar, but deserves a second look for anyone that’s interested in a charming, quirky game about discovering secrets through the lens of your very own camera.
The photography in TOEM is simple: just point, and shoot. People will give you tasks, like taking a photo of a certain bug, or helping them find something that’s missing (by taking a photo of it), or solving puzzles — but it’s not the act of photographing that brings this game to life. It’s the bits in-between: The seeking, the finding, and the adventuring. TOEM’s world is full of tiny joys to discover, and the camera is just your way of documenting them.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Bandai Namco
New Pokémon Snap is the culmination of over 20 years of fans clamouring for a sequel to the cult-classic N64 game, Pokémon Snap, which combined rail shooter mechanics with a peaceful, safari-like expedition into a world of Pokémon.
This was revived, polished up, and largely left unchanged for New Pokémon Snap, with players tossing
apples Fluffruit at wild Pokémon to get the best shots for their photo albums. Additional surprises, like the Re-Snap feature for editing pics, the abilities to go underwater and shrink, and the Illumina phenomenon — which makes Pokémon glow — brought the Poképhotography game into the modern era. Being able to share our snaps on social media didn’t hurt, either!
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Publisher: Origame Digital / Developer: Origame Digital
There are types of photographers who risk their lives to document wars, riots, and global tragedies. Without their cameras, the world would not be able to reckon with these events; we might not even know about them. Umurangi Generation, at first, puts you in the shoes of a young photographer who just wants to skate and hang out with their friends in a red-skied Aotearoa, but as an impending global crisis looms in the background, the photos you take for some unnamed publication take on a darker meaning. You are documenting what might be the end of the world. Is your contribution priceless, or worthless?
This sandbox photography game is one we weren’t able to review when it released, although what we’ve played of it so far is impressive. At the time of writing it’s on sale with a 50% discount on Switch eShop, so there’s never been a better time to snap it up.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo SPD
Breath of the Wild is not the first Zelda game to incorporate photography as a mechanic — that honour goes to Majora’s Mask and its one-photo-only Picto Box — but it is the first Zelda game to make photography a large part of the game.
As the final Rune that Link receives after waking up, the camera exists to help Link fill out the Hyrule Compendium… and take selfies. In fact, the developers even put in eight different selfie poses, which is pretty much the only time we get to see Link truly goofing off. And since the world of BOTW is so dang beautiful, it’s a fantastic addition to be able to capture its sweeping vistas, and breath-taking organic events like the Blood Moon and the dragons flying through the sky.
On a darker note, there are also Link’s lost memories — represented by photographs taken before the Fall of Hyrule — that can help him trigger cutscenes to remember what he forgot.
Monster Hunter Rise isn’t just about hunting down enormous and intimidating monsters, though that’s a big part of it. You can also pose up a storm with your buddies, too.
Beyond the obvious Switch capture button, the game actually has a full blown camera feature. This matters, because after hunting the next most important part of the game is fashion, with lots of armour to craft for you, your Palicos and Palamutes. To access it you scroll the bottom right menu with the D-Pad to Camera, then Up/Down to activate it. You can zoom, frame and change perspectives, saving up to 300 images for your album. There are even quests that’ll occasionally need you to use it.
It’s all about posing up a storm with your buddies, though.
Publisher: Dear Villagers / Developer: Modern Storyteller
The Forgotten City might not be the kind of game you’d expect to have a photo mode, but the ability to freeze-frame the inhabitants of this city trapped in a timeloop actually fits quite nicely into the story.
With the addition of filters and free camera movement, you can show off the surprisingly gorgeous vistas and setpieces in this strange, beautiful narrative game, and take a moment to appreciate all the gold statues, too. There sure are a lot of gold statues.
Publisher: Humble Games / Developer: Witch Beam
Unpacking is a relatively simple game about, well… unpacking, but its photo mode adds an extra element of personality to the story. You find out who is the human behind all the cardboard boxes slowly, as you take out art materials, a university degree, and well-loved stuffed toys; in Photo Mode you decide who this person is, and how they react to things.
You can pose the stuffed Piggy with a knife, or add stickers and effects to make things look magical, or even a depressing filter to represent how miserable you were in that tiny apartment. After all, photos preserve our memories, and our memories are coloured by the photos that survive. Right?
Smash Bros. series boss Masahiro Sakurai has surprised and delighted his Twitter followers with pics taken using the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate photo mode (albeit a developer version with special Sakurai-only tools) for years now. The opportunity to assemble and arrange the largest crossover roster in video game history for hi-jinks and hilarity is at the heart of this platform fighter, and adding a photo mode was a stroke of genius.