Pokémon Shuffle is a free to play puzzle game, available on Nintendo 3DS and I have to say it is quite addictive to play.
The aim of the game, like most of the Pokémon games, is to catch all the Pokémon. The difference is how you go about defeating and catching them.
The game mechanics are similar to tile-matching games like Bejewelled, where you match 3 or more tiles of the same Pokémon to use its attack on the enemy Pokémon; the more tiles you match in a row, the more powerful the attack.
The player will also have either a limit to the number of Pokémon allowed in their team for the battle (3 or 4 Pokémon) or a turn/time limit in which to knock out the Pokémon. These limits vary, making some Pokémon harder to defeat than others. For example you have 4 turns to defeat Grovyle or only being allowed to use 3 Pokémon against Raichu.
The variety keeps the game on a nice difficulty curve and it certainly kept me engaged.
While Pokémon Shuffle is not as tactical as the core Pokémon games, it still has tactical elements. Each Pokémon still has a type but there are no dual-type Pokémon, similar to generation 1 of the series.
The rock-paper-scissor mechanics of the Pokémon types is critical in beating the stages, as super effective moves do double the damage of a normal attack. Each Pokémon also has one skill which usually increases attack strength.
While you can’t evolve your Pokémon in the game, you can catch the evolved forms, which are naturally stronger than their predecessors. Throughout the game you will also face Mega evolved Pokémon; the ‘boss’ battles of the game. If you defeat them, you will be able to use a Mega stone to further improve your Pokémon.
So what’s the downside to this game?
Well, it’s the one that commonly affects free-to-pay games: micro transactions. And boy, does the game like to remind you about the micro transactions.
You see, every time to play a stage, you lose a heart and you can only regain a heart by either waiting thirty minutes or spending a jewel – a currency which you either earn every time you defeat a Mega evolved Pokémon or by spending real money.
Oh and there is a limit of hearts you can gather by waiting, five hearts. Yes, five hearts. Now bearing in mind that you don’t always catch the Pokémon first time, or even beat the stage, you can easily use those five hearts up very quickly.
And if that wasn’t bad, you can also use items to aid you in your battles, which cost gold. You can earn gold from battles (in small quantities) or by logging into the game each day. But as you can guess, most of the items are very expensive: about 2000 to 9000 gold coins each. So how do you get more gold coins? You guessed it, by spending jewels which you buy through micro transactions.
I get it, the game studio has to make money from the games, but when it can take you two and a half hours to catch a Pokémon, and you don’t want to spend any money, it can get very irritating and can taint the overall experience.
On a more positive note, the game does offer a lot of content. There are 300 main stages, 35 expert stages and a few special stages available on time limit, all with different Pokémon to catch.
The artwork is very unique and quirky which definitely suits the game. Each stage has its own themed backdrop, like a haunted castle or a beach, and each of which is paired with its own theme music; definitely adding to the game’s overall finish.
All in all, I simultaneously enjoy and hate this game.
I love the puzzle aspect and the game mechanics abstracted to the Pokémon theme, but I loathe the continual push for your money with the micro transactions. I think this is a game for Pokémon fans and people who need a quick, easy game for long journeys or long queues.
As long as you don’t spend any actual money, I would recommend this game.
Pokémon Shuffle is available on: Nintendo 3DS, Android and IOS.
Thero doesn’t want to be associated with Team Rocket, so she wants it known she didn’t steal the pictures on this page, in fact you can find them on bulbapedia here.
Last played, but not completed on 19/02/16, for 3DS.
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