Nintendo/Screenshot by Daniel Van Boom

Pokemon fans rejoice: we finally have a sequel to Pokemon Snap, and it’s a great one. New Pokemon Snap launched on Friday, and is some of the best fan service in the franchise’s history. It’s fun, surprisingly substantial and so chill that you don’t even need to be a Pokemon fan to enjoy it. 

Underpinning the gameplay are two systems: Ranking and points. Professor Mirror analyzes each photo you give him, and will give out points based on size, composition, background and a number of other factors. More complex is the star rating system, which is particular to each Pokemon in the game.

Getting 4-star photos

The star rating system is kind of confusing, at least on paper. Each star category relates to a type of photo, not the quality of photo. Quality is denoted by the star colors: Bronze (less than 2,000 points), Silver (2,000 to 3,000), Good (3,000 to 4,000) and Diamond (4,000 and up). Instead, the amount of stars correlates with rarity of shot. The more common the behavior, the fewer stars.

Get more out of your tech

Learn smart gadget and internet tips and tricks with CNET’s How To newsletter.

What makes this system hard to get your head around is that it’s particular to each Pokemon. What may be one star for a certain Pokemon — like catching it sleeping — could be two or even three for another. Typically, four-star photos require you to get the Pokemon to act in a certain way. Making matters more complicated, the game can sometimes allot arbitrary rankings: A photo taken one second can be one star, a near identical photo taken a second later could be two or three.

Nintendo/Screenshot by Daniel Van Boom

Take the above collection of Bidoof. The one-star shot is just a close-up of two friendly Bidoof. The two-star is pretty much the same shot, except I took it immediately after throwing an Illumina orb at one. (In other words, I caught it reacting to something.) The three-star photo is a trio of Bidoof swimming together. To get the four-star Bidoof, I had to throw a fruit at a Bidoof hiding in a hut, then capture it as it popped its head out on top.

So, in essence, a guide on shooting 4-star photos would require detail on each Pokemon in the game. To illustrate how 4-star photos can be caught, however, here are four examples of rare moments you can capture in Florio Nature Park which yield 4-star shots. 

Pidgeot and Magikarp (Florio Nature Park, Day)

Nature is metal. 

Nintendo/Screenshot by Daniel Van Boom

This one can be hard to time, but is totally awesome if you can. You’ll need to have the stage at level 3 to snap it.

As you exit the forest area and enter the lakeside, Pidgeot will fly over and land in the center of the path. It’ll then fly off and come around on your left, around the same time as Dodrio jumps onto the scene. Your job is to throw a fluffruit at Pidgeot, either when it’s in the center of the path or when it’s on the hill to your left. That’ll cause it to fly off again, to the big tree near Magikarp.

Once you see Pidgeot perched atop the tree, throw a fluffruit at Magikarp. Magikarp will flail in the air, which will catch Pidgeot’s attention. The bird Pokemon will then swoop into the distance before circling back to snatch up Magikarp. It’s extremely cool.

Pidgeot, on the hunt.

Nintendo/Screenshot by Daniel Van Boom

Magikarp: “I’m in trouble.” 

Nintendo/Screenshot by Daniel Van Boom

Note how if you time it wrong, the game will confuse the photo with one of Ducklett, as happened to me here. 

Nintendo/Screenshot by Daniel Van Boom

There are a few challenges here. First is hitting Pidgeot with a fluffruit, which isn’t too hard, but also isn’t so easy that you’ll get it each runthrough. The second, much bigger issue is timing when you throw the fluffruit at Magikarp. If you time it wrong, your vision will be obscured by grass. I also had an issue where the camera registered the shot as a photo of Ducklett, which is chilling in the background. Very annoying. 

I found the best time to chuck fruit at Magikarp is when you’re around the middle of the Bidoof-built bridge. If you can time it right, you’ll get a 4-star shot of Magikarp. Capturing Pidgeot will yield a three-star photo. 

Emolga kills fruit

The first time you cruise through Florio Nature Park with the scanner, you’ll be alerted to some charred fruit at the bottom of a tree in the second area. I thought it was Scorbunny for sure, that little rascal. Surprise: It’s Emolga.

Throw a fluffruit on the ground below where Emolga is perched here. 

Nintendo/Screenshot by Daniel Van Boom

It has a target, now wait to see what happens next…

Nintendo/Screenshot by Daniel Van Boom

That fruit was two days away from retirement. 

Nintendo/Screenshot by Daniel Van Boom

To catch the electrical critter in the four-star act, wait until it flies atop the tree branch on top of the charred fruit. Then chuck a fluffruit to lure Emolga to the ground. It’ll jump down, examine the fluffruit and then electrify the hell out of it. Charred fruit? More like scorched Earth. 

Don’t mess with Wurmple

Flying Pokemon normally trump Bug Pokemon, but not in New Pokemon Snap. One of the best shots you can get in Florio Nature Park is Wurmple spraying poison all over Tailow. If you do it right, you’ll get that as part of a Westside Story-esque showdown between three Tailow and Wurmple.

As you roll by the bottom of the lake, around the area where you snapped the shot of Pidgeot snatching Magikarp, three Tailow will fly out of the bushes on the left. To get Wurmple’s poison attack, you need to photograph at least one of these Tailow midflight. To get an even better shot, snap all three. That’s harder than it sounds, since they’re flying fast and you’ll need to photograph each individually.

Photographing all three Tailow separately is a challenge.

Nintendo/Screenshot by Daniel Van Boom

Fatality, Wurmple wins. 

Nintendo/Screenshot by Daniel Van Boom

You’ll pass a tree with sleeping Hoothoot inside, and then the showdown will be on your left. Wurmple versus Tailow. If you took shots of two flying Tailow, it’ll be two Tailow and one Wurmple. Shoot all three flying Tailow and you’ll get three on three. In either case, chuck an Illumina orb at Wurmple and it’ll jump around and attack the aggressing Tailow with a poison attack. 

A battle by moonlight

Wurmple and Tailow aren’t the only Pokemon with beef in the Nature Park. Once you’ve got Level 3 of Florio Nature Park by Night unlocked, you can see a clash between two significantly more gnarly battlers: Heracross and Pinsir.

To get the goods, you’ll have to start in the area with the glowing crystal bloom. If you’ve got this far, you know that you can scan the mound of dirt and Pinsir’s horns/pincers will poke out. To get Pinsir fighting Heracross, you need to throw an Illumina orb at its horns, not fluffruit. If you flow fluffruit, you will get no dance of death.

Throw an Illumina orb, not a fluffruit, at Pinsir. 

Nintendo/Screenshot by Daniel Van Boom

Scan three or four times and Heracross will fall on his back, not ashamed of itself in the slightest. 

Nintendo/Screenshot by Daniel Van Boom  

And then they FIGHT. 

Nintendo/Screenshot by Daniel Van Boom

Throw the Illumina orb at Pinsir and it’ll jump out of its mound of dirt. Now scan a few times. After three or four scans, Heracross will fall out of a tree. It’ll land on its back and look embarrassed, while Pinsir walks over to give it a look. Then, as you make your way by the Hoothoot tree, you’ll see Pinsir and Heracross square off. It’s totally rad, and will net you 4-star shots of both Pokemon.