Version Reviewed: 1.0.5
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Pokémon is always one of the first things I think of when someone talks about mobile games. It was one of the first smash hits for a handheld console, and has continued to be ultra popular to this day. This is what got me intrigued by Pokémon Shuffle, a Pokémon-themed puzzle game, when it appeared on the App Store. Unfortunately though, itisn't much more than a poorly realized match-three game that doesn't really capture the spirit of Pokémon very well - if at all.
In Pokémon Shuffle, players battle for the opportunity to capture pokémon by matching three or more creature heads to create combos and damage wild pokémon foes. As players catch more monsters, they can customize their team to make sure they are dealing the proper elemental damage for "super effective" attacks.
On any give stage players are given winning conditions, which are typically move limits, though in special modes like Expert mode time limits become the primary challenge. If they pass the winning conditions, they get a chance to capture the pokémon. The success rate for capture is largely dependent on how quickly ahead of a prescribed goal the player defeated the pokémon: for example, if they win quickly the chance for capture is higher. If a capture fails players can either purchase a master ball to increase their chances, replay the level, or otherwise move on to the next.
While this structure is totally functional, it isn't ideal - particularly because it doesn't really capture the spirit of Pokémon. In fact, beyond the presence of pokémon faces and foes, very little of the game feels like Pokémon at all. There are no trainers, no iconic music, no familiar environments, etc. While this wouldn't necessarily save Pokémon Shuffle, it might make it feel more like a properPokémon game.
Really though, the real problem with Pokémon Shuffleis its free-to-play structure. With a stamina system, tons of things to spend currency on, ads, and the constant need for a data connection, it's essentially using every free-to-play strategy there is in a game that already feels pretty soulless.
Pokémon Shuffle isn't really a Pokémon game at all. If someone replaced the art with something else, and that was the only change they made, it would have nothing to do with the franchiseanymore. Add that to a whole host of free-to-play shenanigans and we're left with a game that isn't particularly special or great.