When the news hit that Nintendo would be getting into the mobile market, I wasn't surprised to learn that PokÃ©mon Shuffle was going to be a free-to-play title. I also wasn't surprised to learn of its match-to-win nature, putting it in the same league as games like Candy Crush Saga or Puzzle and Dragons. It's derivative, forces you to pay to advanced in some cases, and frustrating as all get-out to wait on while you're jonesing for your next fix. But surprisingly, it's a lot of fun, too.
There are plenty of PokÃ©mon you can catch with the game, each represented by a floating head unattached to the monster's body. It's your job to match three of the heads by shifting them on the play grid. You can use the stylus to drag and drop them, while making several matches in a row. These will form combos, and you'll have to rely on said combos in order to damage boss enemies and other monsters along the way.
As you move forward, you'll capture additional PokÃ©mon for use within the game. Depending on which element of PokÃ©mon you use, i.e. water, fire, electric, etc. you'll find that you do better or worse against others. Some will allow you to pull off combos that eventually unlock Mega Evolutions, meaning the PokÃ©mon you've chosen for a specific battle can power up enough to where it can take out any challenger in its way.
There are tons of opportunities to catch PokÃ©mon after you've defeated them, but this always depends on your score rate, Coins, and chances to capture -- just because you complete a stage doesn't mean you'll be rewarded with a new companion, but you at least have the chance. It's all a very simple setup, and the game itself is cute, vibrant, and familiar as-is.
PokÃ©mon Shuffle is absolutely abhorrent when it comes to microtransactions. It's so bad, in fact, that you have to wait up to 30 minutes for one heart to refill when playing (if you lose a specific battle or need another chance.) There are also three different types of currency: Hearts, Jewels, and Coins. You can exchange the three currencies out between them, but there simply aren't enough to go around unless you pad your experience with money.
Even when you've done that, there's no guarantee you'll bag the PokÃ©mon you want to. Common PokÃ©mon start out with higher catch rates, but they go ever lower the further you advance, going down to a whopping 3% or less in some cases. It's a terrible case of "free-to-play" syndrome, and one that's built to wring every single last dime out of you that it can.
PokÃ©mon Shuffle is cute, but don't let that fool you. If you've got a bottomless wallet full of cash to spend on the game, you'll find that the entertainment value is pretty up there. If not, you'll want to skip out on this outing for something more substantial -- like putting down the money to own one of the actual PokÃ©mon games instead, where you'll have markedly better luck capturing one or two. Heck, you could capture them all for less money than it would take to best PokÃ©mon Shuffle.