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The increasingly common gameplay mechanic that has the player taking pictures of enemies, items, NPCs, or features in the environment. This comes in two basic forms: as a sidequest, and as the whole point of a Hidden Object game.

In the sidequest form, either taking pictures allows you to collect or “capture” your subjects, or you receive a bonus when you take pictures of certain, usually well-hidden things. On platforms without a built-in hard disk, these sorts of games are infamous for either consuming absurd amounts of storage space, or having a painfully restrictive number of photo slots.

In the Hidden Object version, you identify the hidden objects by taking pictures of them. That's usually the whole game, although there may be minigames as well that use some other mechanic.

In both versions, if the photos are scored beyond "the subject is present in the frame", the AI often has some… unique ideas on what makes a good picture.

If the photography switches to a first-person view, then this overlaps with In-Universe Camera.

Examples of First-Person Snapshooter include:


  • Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, which had you taking pictures of photograph icons spread throughout the environments. The pictures actually end up as screenshots in the game's folder.
  • Dark Cloud 2. You take pictures of objects in your surroundings, and then using combinations of those photos as inspiration, create new items. You can also snap pictures of Palm Brinks' inhabitants, who will mug for the camera in their own special pose. Getting particularly difficult snapshots, such as bosses or unique enemy attacks, would also net you points and rewards.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. You could earn rupees by snapping up photos of certain things with the Pictobox, and getting a photo of the Deku King or Tingle netted you a Piece of Heart. There's another event in the game triggered by taking a photo of one of the (female) pirates and giving it to the fisherman on Great Bay Coast. There's also the slightly creepy stalker Zora who wants a pic of Lulu (for his own...needs...), who'll pay you to snap a pic of her while she's grieving the loss of the eggs.
    • The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker featured an elaborate Sidequest that involved taking pictures of nearly every character in the game. Which had copious amounts of Guide Dang It and Lost Forever moments, a camera that could only hold 3 pictures at a time and no way of knowing if the pictures were acceptable until you took them to the sculptor... which meant it was often too late to get more if they were rejected. It is possible to get the entire gallery filled during the first playthrough, but it requires a lot of planning ahead and never saving before you get your pictures approved.
    • Your reward for collecting all the statues? A statue of yourself.
    • Just getting the picto box, as well as upgrading it for color features, spans a sidequest on its own (it all starts with exploring the narrow caves behind Tingle's prison, then fulfilling three snap shot tasks, then finding a rainbow-colored firefly in Forest Haven and then giving it to Lenzo). Then there's, of course, the various sidequests in Windfall Island that involve giving pictures to certain characters. The Wind Waker really gives use to this item!
    • One picture/statue can only be found if you have a Gameboy Advance and a cable to link it to your Gamecube, allowing you to complete another sidequest that spans 5 of the game's regular dungeons.
  • In the first Baten Kaitos, this is the only way to make money beyond the rare gimick magnus that can be sold (and you want to keep most of them for them to finish changing to register them instead of sell). The ammount the photos sell for depends on a number of factors, but the most common are distance (proceeding with a melee attack to get close is often to your benefit), lighting (Light and dark attacks before the camera will make the photo brighter or darker, and getting the balance right is key), and if the enemy blocks the photo (less money resulting). Thankfully, 2-4 "decent" photos (less if you don't keep boss photos as a Bragging Rights Reward or get some perfect shots) is all it takes clear out every shop of their (limited but slowly respawning) inventory.
  • The Metal Gear Solid series. Taking pictures is required at least once in the series, and numerous Easter Eggs are available by snapping up photos of random innocuous things. Depending on what you snap you can find ghosts, have your CO call you a pervert, and confirm your best friend's doubts about your sexuality.
    • If you wait until the fourth Act to obtain the Camera in Metal Gear Solid 4, you'll find Otacon used it to take some photographs of Naomi.
  • Pokémon Snap (really a Rail Shooter in disguise) had this as its central premise.
  • Dead Rising featured this, which made some sense since the protagonist is a freelance reporter. He's covered wars, ya know.
  • Super Smash Bros. Melee had a Camera Mode that allowed players to take in-game photographs of their battles from various angles. And in case you wondering, yes you can do that, too.
  • Beyond Good and Evil was one of the first to use it as a major plot driver, as the main character was an underground reporter charged with digging up the truth about an alien conspiracy. In a variation, she's really a professional photographer.
  • This trope is becoming more common as video games get more complex, but it is by no means new. Way back in the early '90s Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin for the Sega Genesis asked you to take pictures of supervillains before you fought them. You could then sell them in your secret identity between missions to buy more web fluid. (Justified, of course, because that's exactly what Peter Parker does in the comics.)
  • Gran Turismo 4 and 5 allow the player to take a picture of his car, during a saved replay, or in a fixed location. The player can even save these pictures to an USB thumb drive, transfer them to computer, and masturbate to the car-porn. Seriously, a Cadillac Cien in the right light...
    • The Forza Motorsport series has copied this idea, coupled with a livery editor.
  • The whole premise of Fatal Frame (Project Zero in Japan) and its sequels is to take photographs of ghosts in order to seal them in your special camera. However, you also get bonuses for non-dangerous incidental ghosts.
  • One of the characters of Shadow Hearts 2, Anastasia (yes, that Anastasia) is armed with a camera which, in addition to providing expanded information on enemies you snap, also allows her to 'capture' certain enemies, copying their signature moves.
    • Speaking of, the sequel Shadow Hearts: From the New World also features this trope. Although this time, it's the protagonist spunky young detective who wields a camera. It also has an Enemy Scan effect, but he cannot copy attacks like Anastasia. The photos he takes are used in a trading sidequest.
  • One quest in World of Warcraft has the player take a newfangled gnomish image capture device called the "Super Snapper FX" and take a picture of a dangerous turtle. Unfortunately, the flash from the camera makes the turtle more than a little mad. When the picture is taken, an item is left in the player's inventory that shows an image of the turtle.
  • Bioshock has you acquire and use a “Research Camera” as part of the plot. Using the camera to take photos of various enemies can grant you combat bonuses against them, and even power-ups! In the sequel's single-player mode, it's replaced by a video camera, which gives you more points for using a variety of attacks on the subject.
    • Naturally, since Bioshock is basically "System Shock 3" and its use is similar to the method for researching monsters and objects in System Shock 2, though that involved using chemicals found in storerooms.
    • Comes back in Bioshock 2 multiplayer, although it's Nerfed considerably (it only allows you a small, circumstantial bonus against the person you snapped, no rewards for you)
  • Another old one, with a decent level of justification, the video game interpretation of Darkman had “Camera stages” where you ran through a basic Hogan's Alley taking shots of your next target. The actual Darkman required photographs to craft his disguises, so this is somewhat justified, although for some reason, the more pictures you took increased the amount of time he could stay in disguise, instead of just how good the mask looked.
  • Bully had quite a few missions and sidequests that involved taking pictures, which you could save if you wanted. The NPCs make direct mention of Jimmy having a camera.
  • Donkey Kong 64 had a camera that allowed you to "capture" banana fairies for inventory upgrades.
  • The entire premise of the old DOS/Mac Edutainment Game Midnight Rescue! was that by capturing photographic evidence you would be able to figure out the bad guy's disguise.
  • In Spy Fiction you can disguise yourself as anyone you can photograph - either their outfit alone or their face depending on whether you can photograph them from the front or not. It makes the stealth sections remarkably easy.
  • In Eternal Sonata, Beat's ability to take photos of monsters is the best way to make money throughout most of the game. That is, if you can learn the game's crazy standards for what constitutes as a good picture.
  • The Touhou games Shoot the Bullet and Double Spoiler, sort of. The games are shmups, photography is your only option, and it acts like a Smart Bomb, clearing all the bullets that you photograph.
  • The Sly Cooper games, especially 2 and 3, have areas where Sly uses his all-purpose gadget to take some reconnaissance pictures, a natural thing for a thief to do before major operations. One mission uses the ghost-trapping idea, though.
  • In Final Fantasy XI, an entire side game known as "Pankration" exists that requires "capturing" monsters in a camera like device to be later summoned for a Pokemon-like arena battle. The photos were later used to fund a new type of Bonus Boss fights, likely to drive some traffic towards Pankration as well.
  • Legend of Legaia has you visit a hot springs resort, where you can buy a Camera Stone from a vendor. It lets you take photographs in various places. If you win a Swimsuit for Noa by winning the dance contest in the Tower of Sol, she'll be wearing it in the pictures.
  • In Eternal Darkness, Peter is a reporter, but you can't take pictures. You can, however, use his camera flash to stun enemies.
  • Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis let you pick up a few extra bucks if you took pictures of the dinosaurs in your park.
  • Myst IV: Revelation had a camera feature that could be used to not only capture puzzle solutions, but to also capture pictures of stuff that you thought was pretty. Taking lots of photos was also one way to variate and somewhat personalize an event that happened later on in the game.
  • Trace Memory.
  • Izuna 2: The Unemployed Ninja Returns has a sidequest of taking pictures of everything, from monsters to townsfolk, despite taking place in feudal Japan, which several characters lampshade. Of course, that could be why it's so friggin' hard to find film...
  • This is in the demo of the game for Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. Why do you needed to take good pictures of rhinos and elephants, just because you found a camera somewhere? Because.
  • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia has several camera-related sidequests, in which Shanoa must photograph such rare beasts as the Jersey Devil, the Chupacabra and the Yeti.
  • Anachronox, the Quake 2-engine RPG, had this. The main character is a private detective, however, so it makes some sense. He doesn't do much detective work with it during the game, instead spending his time taking pictures of rare and fantastic things.
  • The World Ends With You plays with this a bit by Joshua, and later Neku using a cell-phone camera to take photos of the past.
  • Ghostbusters: The Video Game (2009) has the PKE Scanner, which you use to "scan" ghosts to get information on their fictional back stories, combat techniques, and which Proton Pack mode is best suited to breaking them down.
  • Rhythm Heaven's Freeze Frame.
  • There are a few Mario Party minigames that involve taking pictures of things, sometimes just to catch the most things in one photo.
  • Silent Hill: Shattered Memories - taking pictures with the protagonist's phone cam will reveal a number of secrets... including the UFO Ending.
  • Several James Bond games have objectives that require you to take pictures of secret weapons, devices, and such.
  • The Endless Ocean games cast the main character as, among other things, a freelance photographer for diving magazines. Taking and selling pictures of various aquatic wildlife is an easy way to make money in the game. The second game tells you what (in theory) makes for a good picture by the game's standards.
  • The 3D Doujin fighter Line-Kill Spirits incorporates a somewhat unusual mechanic for fighting games: the only way to stop your opponent from regenerating after being damaged is to flip up her skirt and take a picture of her panties. This is pretty much the entire point of the game.
  • A mission in Wing Commander IV had you on a recon mission, snapping photos of various Border Worlds Militia bases in order to determine where a prisoner was being held.
  • The "World Adventures" expansion pack for The Sims 3 adds the Photography skill. You can buy a camera, take pictures, and put them up around your house or sell them.
    • In the base game, you can also take pictures with your phone, although there's no skill-set around this.
  • Nancy Drew and the Warnings at Waverly Academy (2009) was such an offender with this trope. You have to, at one point, take photos of the students around the school, as well as the school itself. If you are one centimetre out of what the AI thinks is dead perfect, you have to try again. And again. And again. Not to mention that the characters taunt you if you take too long to line up the shot, and one of the students isn't even at the school, so you have to take a picture...of her picture. Gah!
  • Frontier: Elite II has a class of military missions that involve taking pictures of an enemy installation on some uninhabited planet several light-years away.
  • Medal of Honor: Underground has a Stealth Based Mission where you masquerade as a press photographer. Play Station 2 sequel Medal of Honor: Frontline similarly features a level where part of the mission is to photograph blueprints for a German plane prototype.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has a quest where you have to take pictures of landmarks to give to Michael Angelo, an agoraphobic neon sign designer in need of inspiration.
  • Snapping photos is a plot element of The Lost Crown: A Ghost-Hunting Adventure. A bit more interesting than most examples, as the photos often reveal supernatural phenomena you can't otherwise detect.
  • Afrika is a photography Simulation Game.
  • Amazingly, the PlayStation 3 and 360 versions of Sonic Unleashed include this. At night, you can travel the hub worlds and snap a picture of someone who isn't exactly the same temperment when you speak to them in the daytime. Doing so will cause you to enter a mini-level to defeat Dark Gaia's mooks within a time period in order to free the person from Dark Gaia's influence.
  • The Idolmaster 2 - You can take pictures of the girls during the stage performances after the Auditions or during the encore during Lives and Festivals.
  • The iDOLM@STER Gravure for You - That's the whole premise of the game.
  • In one level of Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, you are given a camera and instructed to photograph two thugs after killing them.
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