Pokémon Shuffle

Pokémon Shuffle is a puzzle game that is available free on the iTunes App Store. The gameplay is somewhat similar to other Pokémon games in that you find a different Pokémon in each level and “battle” it by making matches with the Pokémon that you have on hand. Once you’ve cleared a level, you have the chance to catch the Pokémon that you just fought. It starts out with a certain “catchability” (say, a 20% chance of being caught) and if you have moves left over, this percentage increases. If you fail to catch the Pokémon on the first try, you can spend coins to buy a “Great Ball,” which doubles your chances of catching the particular Pokémon. “Expert” levels and “Special” limited-time levels are also available.

The main strengths of Pokémon Shuffle are the cute graphics and simple interface. It’s not a complicated game by any means; it’s just challenging enough to keep things interesting, but not so difficult or confusing that you feel like giving up after only a few minutes of play. It increases the difficulty gradually, so the game doesn’t become stale.

The main drawback of the game, in my personal opinion, is the “heart” system. To attempt a level, you have to use one heart. At any given time, unless you earn more from a gift or a special level, you have five hearts maximum, so generally you can only attempt five levels at a time. One heart takes thirty minutes to replenish, so if you use the game to pass time, you really can’t play Pokémon shuffle for any long period of time. This, however, can be useful if you (like me) tend to get hooked on your mobile games and need a forced break from them. The game does offer in-app purchases for hearts, coins, and “jewels” (used to purchase special powerups, etc.) but the offer of paid goods doesn’t seem as forced as some other games I’ve played.

I would also add that this is probably not a good game for perfectionists. You might be catching every single Pokémon for the first twenty or so levels, but after a while, you’re lucky to clear the stage. If catching ‘em all is your main goal, it’ll take you quite a bit of time.

Overall, I really enjoyed Pokémon shuffle. The allure of the constant stream of cute characters was enough for me to deal with the timer and the sometimes impossible nature of catching them. I’d recommend it to any fan of the brand or anyone who is a fan of more “cutesy” games.