I never got into the Polaroid fad—even as Outkast was telling me to shake things like that kind of picture. While the notion of capturing little moments and printing them instantly to share with friends, or pin on your 90’s movie memory-board is quaint; I was always more interested in advancing camera technology. However, there was a time when one form of Polaroid printing did interest me, and that was due in large part to Pokémon Snap.
Kids these days will never know the nostalgic joy of snapping some particularly good photos, then taking your memory card to the local Blockbuster and spending a dollar to print off a Photo Booth reel of game pictures. In the modern day however, game consoles have deeply integrated social media into their consoles making the sharing of moments or pictures both accessible and instantaneous.
“Their “newest” offering isn’t so much a new product, but some Nintendo flair on their 2019 Instax Mini Link printers. “
This rings particularly true for Nintendo’s New Pokémon Snap, however for those who long for that nostalgic connection, Fujifilm has your back. While the line of Instax products is nothing new—even their Mini Printers dating back to 2005—their “newest” offering isn’t so much a new product, but some Nintendo flair on their 2019 Instax Mini Link printers.
For those who may be unaware, Instax Mini Link printers are portable printers—coming in at 3.5”X1.3”X4.9”—that are made to link with your smartphone in order to print photos. The units are lightweight—weighing in at 7.3oz—and easy to use, thanks to its proprietary Instax Mini Link app. However, what separates the “Nintendo Edition” of the Instax Mini Link from its predecessors is primarily a cute, silicone Pikachu slipcover for the device; and a new app which somewhat streamlines the process of bringing photos from the Nintendo Switch to your smart device.
As most Switch owners may know, bringing photos from your Switch to your phone is a bit of a process. First you have to go to photo album, select “send to Smartphone,” then you have to scan a QR code, wait until it connects to the network; then once it has, scan a second QR code, and after you’ve been brought to a browser page containing the image, you can manually save it to your phone.
However, the Instax for Nintendo Switch app streamlines the process allowing you to seamlessly scan both QR codes within the app, immediately placing whichever picture you wish to print within the app’s edit/print screen. From this screen, users will have several options such as adjusting colour balance, brightness, contrast, and position; adding text, or—exclusively to this version of the app—adding Nintendo themed frames overtop (at time of writing, this is limited to Animal Crossing, New Pokémon Snap, and the Super Mario series).
Aside from this, the app itself contains all the same features as the basic Instax Mini Link app—including Simple Print, which allows you to quickly print any image in your photo gallery; and the Instax Camera; which allows you to easily shoot and print. Also included are some fun little modes like “Match Test,” which rates a photo of two people either through questions or through chance and prints a compatibility result.
But what of the photos themselves? Well, they’re 2.4”X1.8” Polaroids, so most users know what to expect. These are simple, somewhat muted photos that evoke a bygone era—printing at 318 dpi, with 256 levels per colour in RGB. And if I have one problem with the Instax Mini Link, that might be it—though I acknowledge it’s more a problem with me and less with the unit itself.
I think my issue comes specifically from printing images from the Nintendo Switch. Most of the best-looking games on the Switch utilize a combination of crisp graphics and high-contrast colours, creating vibrant atmospheres that almost jump off the screen. However, when loaded into the Instax Mini Link app, they appear as they would on a Switch, or even Smartphone screen—in full vibrancy.
When I printed my first photo, I expected it would come out looking the same way it did on the screen, only to be slightly disappointed when the colours were so muted. For the next ones, I had to fiddle with the contrast settings in order to get something more closely resembling what I was hoping for. But, like I said, I acknowledge that this is the “look” of Polaroid prints, and generally what most users look for.
While I may not have actively sought out the Nintendo Edition Instax Mini Link printer—though the nostalgic appeal of printing New Pokémon Snap photos may have split the jury on that—I enjoyed the unit for what it was. If you happen to find one of these Pikachu sleeved printers, I think you’d find something fun with them. Priced at $179.99 CAD and individual 10-packs of film costing 11.95CAD, it may seem a bit abrasive for new adopters. Even if you can find a plain Instax Mini Link—priced at $129.99—and you’re a fan of old-school photos, you’ll definitely find something of value here.