Pokémon Shuffle (3DS)

SHUFFLE_BOXPokemon Shuffle is a puzzle game downloadable for the Nintendo 3DS.  It plays similar to other puzzlers like Candy Crush, Bejeweled, Puzzle Quest, or Puzzle & Dragon.  The game is also free-to-play, with in-game purchases, which is unusual for a 3DS eShop title to have.  So is it worth downloading anyway?  Read on to find out!

Use the stylus and touch screen to drag and match Pokemon heads of three or more to make them disappear, allowing for chain reactions.  You can place Pokemon anywhere on the field, but you have a limited number of moves to finish the puzzle.  Your goal is to ‘defeat’ the Pokemon on the top screen by making matches to whittle away their hit points.  Once you beat the Pokemon, you can try and catch it in a Pokeball.  The more chain reactions you make and the fewer moves you use, the higher the chance of you catching the monster in the Pokeball will be.

You can then use the Pokemon you caught in future stages.  This is important, because Pokemon weaknesses and strengths apply here.  So if you are battling a fire-type monster, you’ll want to bring a few water-types with you.  Every so often, you’ll battle a trainer who uses a Megastone on their Pokemon to make them Mega Evolve.  If you defeat them, you’ll earn a Megastone that you can use on certain Pokemon.  As you make matches of that Pokemon, a meter will fill.  When it is full, that Pokemon will Mega Evolve and will have special skills like clearing out nearby Pokemon and such.  There are tons of regular stages, as well as special challenging stages where you can catch very rare Pokemon like Mew.

The game is free-to-play, but it does have in-game purchases.  Like many free-to-play games, you can only play five times in a row, and then must wait a while before playing again.  As you play, you can earn coins that you can use to buy items that’ll help you out in battle, as well as jewels that you can use as currency, too.  You can also use coins and jewels to buy more powerful Pokeballs if the Pokemon you’re trying to catch escapes.  You can buy coins and jewels via the eShop with real money, but that’s it.  Only problem I had was that it takes a little too long for your hearts to refill so you can play again.

While many people’s reaction to this game is that Nintendo has gone off the deep end, it’s really not as bad as it seems.  Nintendo is just trying a strategy that has worked for mobile games, and it’s not like they do this all the time.  In most free-to-play games, there comes a point where you just can’t go any further until you buy power-ups, but I haven’t gotten to that point yet.  Right now I’m nearing stage 50 and have more than 30 Pokemon, and I haven’t felt like I’ve hit a roadblock yet.  Plus, they don’t bombard you with pop-up ads and don’t pressure you to buy anything.

I don’t like being nickeled and dimed when it comes to gaming, so I won’t support Nintendo by buying anything extra with this game because I don’t want to encourage that sort of behavior.  But as a freebie, I felt like I got my enjoyment out of it.  Luckily, in May supposedly, Nintendo is releasing a cartridge version of a popular mobile puzzler called Puzzle & Dragon Z, and it’ll even have a Mario version of the game on it.  So if you like the idea of Pokemon Shuffle but don’t like the in-game purchases part, you can always wait for that game around May!


Kid Factor:

Pokmeon Shuffle is rated E for Everyone with ESRB descriptors of Mild Fantasy Violence and Comic Mischief.  The violence is really only implied, as you don’t see any Pokemon attacking each other.  Reading skill is helpful for the text, and parental supervision is recommended for the in-game purchases.

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