Review: Pokemon Shuffle (3DS)
When it comes to Pokémon, mainly the games, I’m somewhat of a fan. That is also somewhat of an understatement. Being the resident Pokénut, I was given the task of reviewing a new free-to-play Pokémon game. I could sum up this entire review in one image, but since we need to put words together, I’ll try to make this as painless as I can.
The game is similar in both look and feel to previous Pokémon Battle Trozei games. In a nutshell, you must fight your opponent by using Pokémon in a Pokémon matching gaming. Matching a set of three or more will initiate an attack from a matched creature, damaging the opponent.
In order to win, you must build up combos and matches to damage your enemy. It sounds easy, but there’s a catch, you only have a certain amount of moves.
Some stages are more puzzle based, usually the ‘three moves only’ levels, where there’s a correct way to move your Pokémon. As an added twist, Mega Evolution is introduced to this sub-series of Pokemon games. Include a specific Pokémon capable of mega evolving in your team, and if you match enough of the creature, they will Mega Evolve and become more useful in the battle.
In the main campaign you have access to well over 100 levels, not including expert and special events. You can also gain daily bonuses by clicking on “checking in” while you’re in the hub.
Since it’s free-to-play, the need to upsell is important. That’s how it works, and I’m fine with that. But the things you need are expensive and the free bits of the game are very limiting.
Similar to Facebook games, you can only play for a certain amount of time before you need to wait to play again. In this case, you’re allowed to use five hearts – which is the energy you need to do battles. Once you’ve used your hearts, you need to wait 30 minutes to recover one heart. A maximum of five can be recovered. The problem is, on average, the battle will last about 1-2 minutes. So after 10 minutes, you have to wait another 30 minutes to play another game of 1-2 minutes.
If you want to recover some hearts, the financial way, you need to buy jewels. You can earn jewels through the game, but they are very rare. One jewel will get you 5 more Hearts – which isn’t a lot. There are more options, but you get the drift. There’s some trial and error with the levels, so the strict free number limit, if you manage to get closer to the end, becomes hard to manage since you’ll need 2-3 hearts to figure out a stage.
The next issue is the bonus items. Quite far into the game, you realise that it’s extremely difficult to proceed without using battle coupons. These coupons do different things, such as allowing you to use more moves, decreasing the complexity, preventing your opponent from delaying you and a few more. The problem is, they’re damn expensive and not a real option if you don’t want to spend money on the game.
To top it all off, catching new Pokémon is a total rip. At the end of your battle, you have a chance to catch that Pokémon. The catchibility rate is calculated through your performance and how many moves you have left. However, it’s completely nonsensical. One stage I earned a combo of 38 with a good score and three moves left, my catchibility was between 30-40% (very low). Other times I had 8 moves left and my catchibility only improved by 8% (also very low). Then you randomly get 87% with a piss-poor score and 2 extra moves. Like, what? And if you fail to catch the Pokémon, you have the option to use a great ball to improve your chances. Great balls, however, are expensive, once again reinforcing the sales pitch.
I wouldn’t mind forking out some cash for a game that was useful or rewards me for it. Buying jewels just doesn’t offer you enough to enjoy Pokémon Shuffle. If there was a connection between shuffle and Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire, such as trading rare Pokémon, then I’d be more willing to spend my cash. But there’s no link, only the expectation that you, as a Pokémon fan, will spend money on a spin-off version of Battle Trozei, which is already a spin-off of the main series.