Recently Nintendo released a free to play title on the Nintendo 3DS, Pokemon Shuffle. Being free-to-play it is sure to be met with skepticism, especially when dealing with a beloved franchise, as such. I tested it out to see if this game is worth your time, and possibly money.
The art style of Pokémon Shuffle is about what you would expect from a line-them-up puzzle game. The game still displays the classic visuals of the Pokémon franchise all while formulating the Pokémon into actual round beings. Moving pieces around the screen is very simple and very rarely with any issues. Mixing the visuals with classic sounds of the Pokémon universe was done perfectly for the game. Each round is almost as if you are engaging in a battle with your set of chosen companions.
This is a free-to-play game that operates off of a wait to play mechanic or pay to play now. Each round you play will cost one heart. Over time you can earn hearts after the counter goes down but the timer will cap out at a max of 5 hearts. You can however purchase more than 5 should you wish to buy them with gems. Gems are the in game currency that you use for things such as hearts, gold and extra moves. So far I have been able to surge through nearly 50 levels, including capturing the timed special Mew Pokémon, without spending a dime.
What is unique about the puzzle game is the mix of utilizing Pokémon types to take on each round and attempt to capture your next companion. If your round features a grass type Pokémon then your best option of a lineup is to pick those with fire type. When playing the game you want to line up all the fire types to do a higher score value which relates to a higher damage value. Each round has a limited amount of moves so it does require that you survey the field in order to maximize your potential score. You’ll want to do this because at the end leftover moves translate into roughly 500 additional points. Before each round you do have the ability to select from various items to help you win the round by adding moves, starting with a Mega Evolved Pokémon and even preventing move disruptions. Yes, that is right, you can obtain Mega Stones for some of your Pokémon to deal additional damage.
There are also two coinciding different level types: Special and Expert. Special consists of limited time Pokémon available to play against that offer a high reward in money and experience, but also might be a small chance to capture. So far I’m 2 for 2 with capturing special Pokémon, although Mew needed several replays before I could successfully capture. Expert also has its array of hard to get Pokémon, but rather than rely on limited moves, you have a limited time in order to deliver knock out damage.
If there were a downside for this free to play title it is the lack of noticeable change, if any, when leveling up characters to capture others. Sometimes when I found Pokémon that were evasive to capture I would return later with higher level Pokémon only to be delivered with the same results. Sometimes I found myself awestruck at a string of success capturing at only a 20% chance only to lose out on another with a 90% chance of success.
Being that it was released to play on the 3DS, it was surprising to see that it lacked any 3D capabilities. This is definitely a letdown especially with an enhanced 3DS model releasing earlier this month.
Pokémon Shuffle is definitely a fun, addicting game. In many aspects I would compare it to a mix of modern day Candy Crush meets Puzzle Fighter, from the PlayStation era. It is a time filler if you want to have a quick gaming fix, so the 5 hearts time cap works nearly perfectly. While the game is not ground breaking, it is definitely a nice risk I enjoy seeing from the franchise. I would definitely recommend trying it out if you have a Nintendo 3DS, like Pokémon and enjoy puzzle games.