Published on April 20th, 2015 | by Don Parsons0
Pokemon’s Entry Into F2P: Pokemon Shuffle
Pokemon Shuffle is Nintendo’s answer to the hit mobile genre of match-three games. There’s a board full of cute little Pokemon faces and the idea is to match them, which then does damage to the enemy. All of the typical Pokemon mechanics are at play, including type-advantages, leveling up (though on a smaller scale), and capturing the opposing Pokemon, but with Pokemon Shuffle everything feels fresh again.
Capturing a Pokemon is no longer a simple matter of whittling it down on health and throwing a Pokeball. The match starts with you picking a few Pokemon to take into battle. At first, the choices are slim of course, but that’s typical. Those four or so (depending on the level) Pokemon are scattered across the board. Players drags a Pokeface around the board to swap with another and make a match of three or more in a row, at which point the opponent suffers corresponding damage. This is a super simple concept, and the game does little to change this procedure. The only variable to this concept is that some stages are timed instead of having a set number of moves.
Defeating an opponent though is not enough to capture it. After the “battle”, each Pokemon has a set capture percentage, which then increases based on either turns or time left from the encounter. Of course, those awesome legendary and powerful Pokemon have a super-low capture rate and require multiple plays or just dumb luck. In my case, it is usually the former. Items can be purchased before the battle to make things easier, but money comes in small doses, so you usually can’t use items before every battle when you need them.
All of this is compounded by the usual “wait for turns to play” setup many free-to-play games have adopted. in this case there is a lot of waiting for hearts to regenerate. The major flaw here is the amount of time to regenerate a heart is absolutely absurd by the standards I have become accustomed to in other free-to-play games. Usually, I can wait about 10-15 minutes and play another round if I want to, however, in Pokemon Shuffle you have to wait roughly 25 minutes. You can buy hearts, and I have done so, but after awhile it all just gets super tiresome, especially as you get further in, and the capture rate is drastically lower than in the beginning and require several playthroughs. This alone is my biggest issue with the game.
On the plus side, Nintendo has done a wonderful job keeping things interesting by rolling out special events on a regular basis. I was able to acquire the rare Mew at launch, and just recently caught Rayqueza in a special event. I missed a few, being incapable of completing one and not having high enough level Pokemon to get in a solid leaderboard position to earn some Mega Evolve stones.
I’m only in the early 100’s as far as the regular stages go, with a solid handful of Pokemon to use but I’ve found Pokemon Shuffle is a fun facelift on the match-three genre. It is a good first effort on behalf of Nintendo to bring it’s wildly popular Pokemon franchise into the free-to-play market. And had a few other free-to-play games not come out recently, I would probably still be playing this regularly. Hopefully I can find some time between those other games to bounce back to Pokemon Shuffle, because despite it’s few flaws, it’s a great little free-to-play title.