Match three games may well be my guilty pleasure. I know that they are a massive time sink, but they are really good at drawing me in. Pokémon Shuffle is no exception. I was initially suspicious that it would just be a cop-out, all theme and nothing else. I was wrong. This is a Pokémon spin-off done right.
Pokémon Shuffle has everything you could want from a match-three game.
A decent match system. Swap two pieces anywhere on the board to match three or more of the same Pokémon face. By doing this you deal damage to the opponent Pokémon. Deal enough damage and you win the stage.
Simple and easy to learn strategy that takes time to master. You need to beat your opponent within a specific number of turns. This means maximising your matches and adds an unexpected layer of strategy because elements play their part. Each Pokémon, like in the main series, has their own elemental strengths and weaknesses. Match a Squirtle (water) against a Charmander (fire) and you will do more damage. Simple, yet it requires you to plan which Pokémon to take with you into combat and which moves to make. Oh, and the more moves left at the end of a battle the more likely you are to catch the Pokémon you were just facing.
A levelling system. The more you play, the better your Pokémon become. Numbers go up, opponents get harder, and you feel like a boss when you overcome them. It really gets you hooked into playing quite basic a game and that it uses iconic Pokémon like Bulbasaur and Eevee, is really just icing on the cake. Each Pokémon has different effects that can trigger for a whole range of reasons when you are playing. So, crafting your team requires a bit of thought. Although, there is always the optimise button if you can’t quite decide.
Adding in more mechanics as the game goes on to stop the gameplay becoming stale. Pokémon Shuffle has a whole host of other elements that it throws in to keep the game fresh and exciting. There are expert stages where you can make as many moves as you like, but you need to win within the time limit. Some enemies throw rocks on the board that can only be removed by matching next to them. You can Check In to get access to any updates. This can give you a shot at rare Pokémon and adds yet another area to the game.
That is not to say that Pokémon Shuffle isn’t flawed. There is a thing that casual games do which really, really annoys me. They give you this brilliant game that is full of wonderful mechanics that oozes theme and gives you a frankly terrible choice. Stop playing or pay up.
Now I understand that people need to make money, but in-game purchases? Really? Can’t I just buy the entire game and then play to my heart’s content? Nope. I can play 5 levels and then either wait 30 minutes or lay down some real world money for gems to buy myself some extra hearts (that is the currency the game uses).
Will these things stop me from playing Pokémon Shuffle? No, but they will limit my enjoyment. With 158 Pokémon to capture and level, the game has quite an offering. Add to this mega-evolutions that trigger after matching the specific Pokémon enough times, each having a totally different effect on the board and there really is plenty to play in Pokémon Shuffle. However, you won’t get to enjoy it easily unless you are willing to fork over some cash.
This article was originally published on GamerTime UK but unfortunately, that site no longer exists, so I’ve republished it here.