Pokémon Shuffle combines Match-3 Puzzle gameplay with Pokémon Battles, and the aspect to capture, train and evolve the little monsters to make a dynamic and deep original Puzzle/RPG game worth trying out for hardcore PokeFans and casual players alike.
Pokémon Shuffle is a Match-3 puzzle game where you line up icons of the pocket monsters either horizontally or vertically to battle against wild pokémon or other trainers. You have a grid with PokeIcons, you touch the screen over the pokémon you want to move to highlight it, and then place it where you need it, anywhere on the grid. The pokémon will trade places, and if you line up 3 or more, they’ll disappear, making an attack to your opponent. Everytime you move an icon, you spend one turn, and you have a limited amount of turns to complete the level or the wild pokémon will escape.
The Attack Power depends on the stats of the pokémon you line up, and also its element. If you match 3 icons of a level 1 Squirtle (water), against a level 3 Bulbasaur (plant), the effect will be much weaker than matching 5 icons of a Level 6 Charmander (fire). When you start the game, you’re given one pokémon, and at the end of each level, you have the chance to capture the wild one you’re battling with. Depending on the number of turns you have left, you’ll get more % change of catching it in a pokeball.
At the beginning of each level, you select which pokémon to carry into battle, and there’s an “Auto” button that selects the best ones to fight against the pokémon in that specific level. Wild Pokémon don’t really attack you, you just have to beat them in less that a given amount of turns, and there are also special events where you don’t have to worry about your moves, but have limited time. Wild pokémon can create blocks on the grid to make it harder for you to make matches. Also, some levels start out with blocks already in the grid, making things more challenging.
Finally, in every level there’ll be a pokémon icon that you don’t equip, that will be very weak against the opponent, such as a dark element pokémon that doesn’t damage a ghost one. You can also equip items to have a better chance of winning, such as getting 5 extra turns, 15 extra seconds, or get rid of an obstacle on the grid.
Overall, Pokémon Shuffle is the evolution of Pokémon Puzzle League, a popular Match-3 game based on Tetris Attack that has been released in consoles, but didn’t have a RPG element, or featured capturing and training. Here the PokeUniverse is nicely adapted, but it’s not necesary to be a fan of Pikachu and friends to enjoy the game, it’s made for old players and new comers alike.
Pokémon Shuffle features mostly 2D character art over a 3D isometric world. In Story Mode you can see trainers talking to you in hand drawn portraits, in the same style as the Anime, and on the World Map you see the same Pokémon faces as the icons when you’re playing.
The grid is just a brown background with the pokémon faces on it, and while they rotate and change in size, they don’t have different frames of animation. Other similar games have expressive characters, like Jelly Splash, where the jellies eyes move and they look at where you’re placing your finger. Here the grid looks a little plain, but there are some lighting effects and star sparkles when you create a match, and the pokémon elemental attacks like fire, water, thunder and such look nice.
The menus are really simple, just some rounded squares of a single color with overlayed text. It looks pretty plain, and the animation for phrases that appear such as “Great Combo” and such, could be more eye cartchy. They just appear with a fading effect and that’s it.
While the visual experience it’s not on par with other popular games of the same genre, it should be said that hundreds of pokémon appear here, and it certainly would be a huge task to animate them individually… Also, the game is still being updated, so there’s room for improvement.
Production Quality 85%
Pokémon Shuffle is a port of a Nintendo 3DS title, but since it’s free on that portable system, here you see the quality that you’d expect from similar mobile games, and not console production value.
While it’s a good game in it’s own right, it still seems to be king of incomplete. Gameplay wise it works, but it definetely could have more animation, better menus and more eye catchy text. Also, you won’t hear the pokémon shout their names or something, which could been nice for the audio department, since popular Match-3 games have voices, many sound effects and variety in music.
Still, the gameplay is perfect, and the way the PokeUniverse is adapted works great. You can even train and evolve your pokémon and there are different dinamics of gameplay when you do a MegaEvolution in the middle of a battle. There’s also a shop where you can buy better pokeballs, lives and evolution stones for a better chance to continue story mode, and the special events with unlimited turns are a great addition. There you can keep moving icons around and creating matches even while a line up is already dissapearing from the grid, resulting in a very dynamic play.
Value for your Money 85%
Pokémon Shuffle is free to play in Android, iOS and Nintendo 3DS, but there are microtransactions. The bad news is that you need lives to play, even if you win a battle, you spend “hearts”. You start out with 5 hearts, and you get another one every 30 minutes, unless you buy more. If you play everyonce in a while, there’s no problem, many games also apply this life feature, but if you plan of puzzling for hours in one go, you’d have to pay.
Pokémon Shuffle is recommended for everyone looking for a free Match-3 puzzle. Many games feature close block switching, or making a line over same colored blocks, and this game has a gameplay style that’s not seen so often, and being able to catch and train pokémons certainly makes it stand out from other similar puzzles. You should try it out for yourself even if you’re not a PokeFan.
Simple touch controls with excellent smooth gameplay
You’re able to catch and train pokémon, adding an original play mechanic to the puzzle genre