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A biased review: Pokémon Shuffle

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Pokémon Shuffle is a free download from the 3DS eShop and its gameplay is derived from the popular Puzzle & Dragons formula. The goal is to match at least three Pokèmon tiles of the same kind horizontally or verticallyon a 6x6 grid in order to issue an attack from the corresponding Pokémon in your party. There is only a limited amount of turns in each stage, but you can carefully plan your moves because there is no time limit. Unlike in P&D where the tile you drag over the touchscreen changes the position of all tiles on the path to your goal, Pokémon Shuffle is limited to a simple swap of two tiles. Preferably both of the tiles you swap lead to a match and if you are lucky, the new tiles that drop into the field of play to fill the void create additional combos. Enemies have a countdown next to them, so every few turns they will act and mess up your grid to make things a little bit more difficult. Once the health of the enemy Pokémon is depleted, you get a chance to catch it and make it available to your party. The more turns you had left, the higher your chances for a successful catch.

So much for the basics. Since this game is free and gets continually updated with new stages and more Pokémon to catch (there are 180 stages at the time of writing), it's designed to encourage microtransactions, because money has to be made some way. The most obvious limitation for players is the amount of lives. Each time you start a stage, your life count gets immediately reduced by one. You get a life for every 30 minutes that have passed in real time, but that holds only true if you have four or less lives. Essentially, you can play for about 15 minutes, then you have to wait for about 2.5 hours to play for another 15 minutes. If you don't like waiting, you can trade gems in the in-game shop for lives (or the in-game currency which allows you to buy items before battles). These gems are obviously rare rewards for certain battles, so players are poised to hit a wall quickly. At that point you either put up with waiting or you buy gems from the eShop with real money. A single gem is worth five lives and costs 99 cent. You get a discount if you buy a higher volume, I think the highest option is 80 gems for 48 Euro. Likewise, if you trade in 12 gems at once, you get 80 lives. There are benefits to buying more at once, so that people are encouraged to spend higher amounts of real money.

Verdict:

Controls: Good.
Gameplay: Addictive.
Graphics: Okay.
Sound: Nice.
Value: Acceptable.

Final Opinion: Disgusting.

Pokémon Shuffle is an addictive concept, but it doesn't take long until it becomes clear that there is a lot of suffering involved. The player gets constantly bullied by the limited stock of lives and there's no option to pay a one-time fee to lift the restrictions of microtransactions and be in full control of the game. I don't give this game a score because it's free, but free doesn't mean good. In this case it really means the opposite. Thankfully, the upcoming Puzzle & Dragons Z is supposed to be devoid of microtransactions and after the experience I had with Pokémon Shuffle over the last few days, I have to say that that alone is already worth paying for.



Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

A Biased Review Reloaded / Open Your Eyes / Switch Gamers Club

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I would also gladly pay once to get unlimited lives, but for them it's either a constant stream of disproportionate amounts of money considering what type of game it is, or nothing. So I choose nothing.

It wouldn't be nearly as bad if, like most other similar games, you only lost a life when you lost a match. I keep going back to play more, then getting frustrated and quitting again. I mean, combine the life thing with the fact that some of the stages are over in five moves. It's a game I badly want to play, and would gladly pay money for, and yet they just continually push me away. Someone explain how this is a good business model (considering that there are very few unlimited-disposable-income folks playing this, as opposed to smart phones, where it makes perfect sense).



Currently playing:

Bloodbath Paddy Wagon Ultra 9

DerpSandwich said:
I would also gladly pay once to get unlimited lives, but for them it's either a constant stream of disproportionate amounts of money considering what type of game it is, or nothing. So I choose nothing.

It wouldn't be nearly as bad if, like most other similar games, you only lost a life when you lost a match. I keep going back to play more, then getting frustrated and quitting again. I mean, combine the life thing with the fact that some of the stages are over in five moves. It's a game I badly want to play, and would gladly pay money for, and yet they just continually push me away. Someone explain how this is a good business model (considering that there are very few unlimited-disposable-income folks playing this, as opposed to smart phones, where it makes perfect sense).

I don't think it's a good business model, but I doubt that it is a complete failure. Supposedly around 95% of players don't use microtransactions in smartphone games, so if a similar ratio holds true for Pokémon Shuffle, then it's not that bad of a money maker. Let's say 4% used microtransactions and these 4% averaged $10 per person. At over 2.5m downloads, that would be 100k people or $1m. That should cover the costs for development and continued updates.

On the other hand, if Nintendo had released this game for $8 like the similar Pokémon Link Battle and sold 200k units (I'd say that's a feasible number, considering that Shuffle is a solid gameplay concept with the Pokémon IP attached to it), that would be $1.6m. That's certainly a better model despite a considerably lower amount of users. And it works, because people who buy dedicated gaming hardware expect and don't mind to pay for games. But Nintendo made Shuffle the way it is because the game is an experiment for different payment methods. They've tried plenty of things over the past three years.



Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

A Biased Review Reloaded / Open Your Eyes / Switch Gamers Club

I actually don't have too much a problem with the limited tries. I play my five levels and then put it away until tomorrow. What bothers me more is the limited in-game money (and I traded the gems I got in normal gameplay into money), because some later levels are ridiculously hard. The levels with only 5 moves were named, there were also levels where you start with most of the grid frozen so that you can basically do nothing and stuff like that. I tend to use ingame money to buy more moves or a mega-evolution from the start. Also if you want to catch Pokemon, you get into buying Superballs for a lot of ingame money. Didn't pay real money so far and doubt I ever will. But as Rol explained, free-to-play usually has a low percentage of paying customers.

The new Pokemon Rumble is also free-to-play and uses another concept to encourage people to put real money into it.



3DS-FC: 4511-1768-7903 (Mii-Name: Mnementh), Nintendo-Network-ID: Mnementh, Switch: SW-7706-3819-9381 (Mnementh)

my greatest games: 2017, 2018, 2019

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I don't play long enough for the restrictions to bother me.



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You did the review!! The game is very addicting as you say but I lost interest pretty quickly as the chance for capturing the pokemon gets lower the more you play, forcing you to replay the same stage several times until you get it, halting your progress (if you are a completionist bitch, like me). The special stages are very hard too and they have a time limit...

I might try Puzzle and Dragons if it doesn't have any of the bullshit that plagues Pokemon Shuffle.

A funny tip: If you didn't update your 3DS yet you can get a hack for unlimited lives with a QR code!



"I've Underestimated the Horse Power from Mario Kart 8, I'll Never Doubt the WiiU's Engine Again"

Anfebious said:

You did the review!! The game is very addicting as you say but I lost interest pretty quickly as the chance for capturing the pokemon gets lower the more you play, forcing you to replay the same stage several times until you get it, halting your progress (if you are a completionist bitch, like me). The special stages are very hard too and they have a time limit...

I might try Puzzle and Dragons if it doesn't have any of the bullshit that plagues Pokemon Shuffle.

A funny tip: If you didn't update your 3DS yet you can get a hack for unlimited lives with a QR code!

I had to update last weekend when I downloaded the game, so that ship has sailed.



Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

A Biased Review Reloaded / Open Your Eyes / Switch Gamers Club

RolStoppable said:
DerpSandwich said:
I would also gladly pay once to get unlimited lives, but for them it's either a constant stream of disproportionate amounts of money considering what type of game it is, or nothing. So I choose nothing.

It wouldn't be nearly as bad if, like most other similar games, you only lost a life when you lost a match. I keep going back to play more, then getting frustrated and quitting again. I mean, combine the life thing with the fact that some of the stages are over in five moves. It's a game I badly want to play, and would gladly pay money for, and yet they just continually push me away. Someone explain how this is a good business model (considering that there are very few unlimited-disposable-income folks playing this, as opposed to smart phones, where it makes perfect sense).

I don't think it's a good business model, but I doubt that it is a complete failure. Supposedly around 95% of players don't use microtransactions in smartphone games, so if a similar ratio holds true for Pokémon Shuffle, then it's not that bad of a money maker. Let's say 4% used microtransactions and these 4% averaged $10 per person. At over 2.5m downloads, that would be 100k people or $1m. That should cover the costs for development and continued updates.

On the other hand, if Nintendo had released this game for $8 like the similar Pokémon Link Battle and sold 200k units (I'd say that's a feasible number, considering that Shuffle is a solid gameplay concept with the Pokémon IP attached to it), that would be $1.6m. That's certainly a better model despite a considerably lower amount of users. And it works, because people who buy dedicated gaming hardware expect and don't mind to pay for games. But Nintendo made Shuffle the way it is because the game is an experiment for different payment methods. They've tried plenty of things over the past three years.

The problem is I just don't think the same percentage of people are paying.  Probably nothing even close.  The smart phone crowd and the 3DS crowd are really different, mostly because of kids vs. adults.  It would be cool if they released some financials on it.



Currently playing:

Bloodbath Paddy Wagon Ultra 9

This is one of those games that should have been on IOS and Android instead of 3DS



I'm not a fan of Pokemon but I'm really enjoying this game. Currently trying to beat level 180, and just unlocked Exp level 18. Like 15 hrs playing and haven't spend any money on it, not bad for a free game.

There are some frustrating moments to be had, with very difficult scenarios where you'll be forced to buy items with in-game coins, but other than that is a fun game to play and very addictive. Is a good to play casually a few minutes, so I don't have any problems with the limited tries per day.



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