By Dan Ciocca of Dan’s Gaming News (Edited by Iris Tat)
People have been skeptical of Nintendo’s ventures into the free-mium games market ever since they first announced Pokémon Shuffle over a year ago, for the 3DS. Now that Pokémon Shuffle Mobile has been out for over half a year, I think it’s about time that it gets a review of its own, now that it has had time to develop and add new features.
Pokémon Shuffle is like your standard match 3 game, except you can catch the Pokémon that you face off against in each level, and use them in future levels, à la main series. To catch a Pokémon, you must beat their stage. The more moves you have left, the easier it is to catch them. If you fail, you can spend 3500 coins to buy a great ball, which doubles your chances. Like in most Pokémon games, type advantages still exist; fire is super effective against ice, water is super effective against fire, et cetera. Pokémon level up and become more powerful, but they do not evolve. Instead, you must go and catch their evolved forms in different stages. If you’re having trouble beating a stage, you can use coins to buy items, or jewels to buy coins. Jewels cost real money, and are rarely given for free. In order to start a stage, you must spend one heart, and the hearts regenerate over time, being one heart every half hour. The mobile version also features Facebook connectivity, a quick and easy way to get free hearts. The main issue I have with this game is the fact that things are more expensive, and catch rates are lower compared to the 3DS version.
There are three types of stages in Pokémon Shuffle: Main, Expert, and Special. Main stages are levels where you have a set amount of moves, and you have to beat the Pokémon to unlock the next level. Expert stages are timed, and are unlocked based on how many times you S ranked stages. In order to S rank a stage, you must beat it with a set amount of moves left, or a set amount of time left. The more moves or time you have, the higher your rank. Special levels are there for a limited time, and are constantly changing. They are timed or have a set amount of moves. Pokémon there are rare, so don’t miss your chance to catch them while you can!
The game also features Mega Stones, like the main series games from Generation 6. They can be won from boss stages at the end of each area in the Main Stages, or from competitions in the Special Stages. Mega Speedups can also be won for Special Stages-little candies that let your Pokémon Mega Evolve faster- to give you their special boost in battle faster.
Pokémon also have special abilities that help you in battle. For example, Articuno inflicts bonus damage if it is in a match of four. The most notable part of what makes Pokémon Shuffle feel fresh and fun is the event stages. The event stages are updated every Tuesday to add new competitions and stages. Being a completionist, I always look forward to seeing what new Pokémon they will add every week, and to try to catch them all before they’re gone for a few months, or even permanently.
People complain about this game because of the fact that it has microtransactions, some going as far as not even playing it because of that.Well I’d like to quell these rumours. Technically, yes, there are microtransactions, but they do not feel pushy in any way, shape, or form. You never feel obliged to purchase hearts because 5 feels like just enough before you want to stop playing naturally. This game is meant to be played in small bursts of free time, unlike a game like Xenoblade Chronicles X, where you sit down on the couch for a few hours to progress through the story.
Also, the game looks great. Sure, most of the gameplay just has icons on a screen, but they’re the ones from Pokémon Battle Trozei, a game that looks great as well. The music is extremely catchy, and I for one truly enjoy it. The song that plays once your Pokémon has Mega Evolved gets you pumped for a battle, but isn’t too intense. The only thing that makes the music a bit worse is the fact that it sounds like it’s still coming out of a 3DS’ speaker, rather than that of an iPhone or Android phone. The sound effects don’t seem to have this problem for whatever reason.
In conclusion, Pokémon Shuffle isn’t the best game on phones, but it’s far from being a quick cash grab. I see so many people knocking it before they try it, and I implore you to not do the same. It has provided me with hundreds of hours of fun up until now, and nothing parallels the excitement I get every Tuesday to see the new Pokémon.
-Refreshing take on the old formula
-Events keep game entertaining
-Music is low quality (as in output quality, music itself is great)
-More unfair compared to 3DS version