Instax Mini Link Pikachu Special Edition and Nintendo Switch Compatibility Review
Back in 1999, the Pokémon Snap Station was a brilliant idea that attempted to intertwine an evolving digital medium with players on a personal level — at least in terms of physicality. For a Nintendo 64 game about photographing the turn of the century’s biggest up-and-coming phenomenon, allowing every photographer of roaming Pokémon to print their shots was nothing short of a no-brainer pleasure. While it may not be returning in the same format as before, the latest Instax Mini Link update and Pikachu Special Edition bundle is not only a wonderful way to celebrate a comeback of Pokémon’s photogenic days but gaming’s visual beauty that can finally be cherished in another medium of art. As it adds a spice of modernization to its prior results, this new way of printing Nintendo Switch pictures from Fujifilm is no doubt something fans of Pokémon and tangible photos will both want to capture — assuming they can even find it as demand runs high.
For those unaware of what Fujifilm is, this photography company known for creating cameras is part of the digital and instant photography industries — one of the brands part of the latter they helm is known as “Instax”. Rather than utilizing SD cards and internal storage devices like most modern cameras, Fujifilm’s Instax brand continues the classic way of taking and printing photos directly on the spot. As to be expected with these devices, there are no do-overs or viewing a photo you have just taken (at least for the majority of their products) before it gets printed. The Instax cameras simply direct you to insert a film pack into the device then point, shoot, and wait for the print. However, the Instax Mini Link device changed that longtime sentiment for fans of the nostalgic printed photo look as the company released a way for users to choose whatever pictures they would like to create directly from a smartphone device’s camera roll in 2019.
The Mini Link is the only means of printing any photo you desire in the unique Instax photo format the company has paraded over the last decade. The small printable photos that come in at a measly 2.1 × 3.4 inches are both adorable and presentable as they can be used for small handheld albums, wallets, phone cases, or even collections on a wall. Knowing all that information though, the recently announced Pikachu Special Edition bundle may be exciting for incoming Nintendo fans, but it comes with quite a few realities to embrace. The bundle packs in an electrifyingly desirable silicon case and a standard Instax Mini Link printer, which ultimately gives unfamiliar customers a bright dab of new and a whole lot of old. On the physical front, the silicon Pikachu case being advertised is technically the only new aspect of the bundle. However, there is indeed a quirky and fresh Nintendo collaboration waiting to be utilized.
Sticking with that new sleeve first, the overall design of the Pikachu silicon case that is exclusive to the bundle is as simple and cute as it gets. It does not present itself as tacky whatsoever, despite upholding a bright yellow coat and extruding details. With Pikachu on the front and a cut-out Poké Ball on the back, the only aspect of this latest Instax Mini Link case that can seemingly come off as redundant is the fact that you have to take it off to charge the device. This may sound like a tremendous issue, but the only time you will ever need to charge it is likely when inserting a new film pack after printing a bunch of photos. Unless you are the type of person who will leave your device on as you edit photos for hours, the missing space for the charging cable will never be a practical issue — and to reiterate that point, it is not like the case can stay on forever as inevitably you will have to replace the film pack by opening up the back of the device.
On to the device itself, as stated before, the included Mini Link is the standard white-colored device with no additional Pokémon designs or upgrades — the Pikachu silicon case is the only physical exclusive extra to this entire package. Outside of the fact that the Mini Link is compact and convenient for making Instax photos, there is still nothing to complain about regarding the device as it continues to make a strong footing in the industry of rising photo-dedicated printers. Where the Mini Link’s tech shines in originality is the available “instax mini link for Nintendo Switch” application on the App Store and Google Play. This new version of the regular Mini Link application — that can actually be used with any Mini Link device model — adds a way to instantly transport Switch screenshots to the editing phase of your creation and a handful of Nintendo-themed frames to mess with.
As for the photos themselves, the quality of the instant print is great — as to be expected with Fujifilm and their vibrant variety of products. If you are a reader who has never picked up a single Fujifilm or instant print before, to put it lightly, the company is already known in the industry for being one of the best there is alongside Polaroid when it comes to creating products in the genre of tangible photography. Outside of wanting larger sizes for your prints, you absolutely cannot go wrong with choosing the brand as your dedicated way to instantly make retrofitted photos.
Fujifilm’s products have been hailed for taking pictures of the living for so long, but of course, with the presence of Pikachu and that aforementioned app, there are going to be expectations with printing screenshots of Switch games. In terms of printing screenshots for Nintendo Switch titles, the result aligns one to one with creating any other photo. Sometimes the brightness and exposure can be a tad too high or low, but with proper editing and a couple of test prints the barrier is easy to conquer. Screenshots from a game look just as great as any other photo you could print — there really is nothing else to say. The vibrancy, contrast pallet, and every other aspect of the Instax film work the same with your digital captures. The only real advantage the Mini Link offers for printing photos that will be appreciated by handheld players is the fact that the small size helps sharpen up some Switch titles that can visually falter. The 2 x 3 inches of space you have to work with may cut what is shown from verticle images, but those set to horizontal truly do thrive.
The only area where the Mini Link’s latest application can suffer is its variety of Nintendo-themed frames available for printing. With the latest Pikachu Special Edition bundle, Fujifilm has been advertising a handful of Nintendo frames fans can use to their heart’s content, yet the catalog available can feel underwhelming. Hopefully, Fujifilm will continue to expand upon its collaboration and offer more unique and diverse frames from Nintendo’s range of titles and iconic characters in the future. Still, as it stands, the result is rather questionable. Why are there only a few select random dates for the Animal Crossing frames? How is there seriously not a standalone Pikachu-themed frame in this application when its selling point is a silicon case featuring the mascot himself? Considering this is not the first collaboration between the two, it is baffling how their latest partnership does not shine in individuality — or creativeness for the frames specifically.
The thematic possibilities stemming from this collaboration are glowing everywhere — especially with New Pokémon Snap and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Perhaps in the future, Fujifilm, Nintendo, and The Pokémon Company will partner up to make more film packs and digital frame add-ons for their new application. Nonetheless, what is available is mildly disappointing though not completely inadequate by any means. Some great frames can be used in many instances, but a large handful can come off as tacky as they have too much going on. The image is supposed to be the focus of the print, and when you are already working with a minuscule amount of space, frustrating problems persist with larger frames.
The Instax Mini Link is already a step into a niche genre of modern photography, but it also presents a striking new way of combining this art with that of video games. In an era where photo modes in gaming have become extremely popular for developing desktop backgrounds, digital snapshot collections, and smartphone wallpapers, Nintendo and Fujifilm’s collaboration yields a sentimental (if pricey) way of making memories. Yes, it is a shame that the bundle does not offer more originality in terms of building upon its Nintendo collaboration, but there was nothing to fix with the Mini Link itself. Fujifilm’s device offers an optimal and enjoyable way of printing photos for both realities that are fiction and nonfiction. Its extension into the video game market though has given it a purpose that specific gamers will relish for years to come.
The Instax Mini Link is certainly not the first instance of being able to print video game screenshots, but it is by far one of the most reasonable ways of doing so — and that does not just pertain to Nintendo. Its connectivity to the Nintendo Switch via QR codes adds more convenience to creating prints with the device. If you love tangible photos and enjoy crafting albums whether they are flip calendar-styled pieces on your desk or full-on books packed with events to peruse, you do not even need to question why you should purchase the Instax Mini Link. If you are a Pokémon fan looking for an excuse to buy the device and build a physical Poké Dex or collection of photographs from the newest Snap entry, then there is no better way of doing so than with this investment. For Fujifilm fans looking to pick up a Mini Link, the Pikachu case is a bonus and to Nintendo fans, it’s a route of jumping in.