I think it's safe to say that most gamers were disappointed that Nintendo went the micro-transaction route with their Candy Crush Saga clone, Pokémon Shuffle. It would've been nice if Nintendo had not had to stoop to such low tactics, but these are hard times for casual video games, and although I'm skeptical that pandering by trying to emulate smartphone successes will pay off, I don't begrudge them too much for trying.

Anyway, I tried to go into the game with an open mind. I've played Shuffle's predecessor, Pokemon Trozei, and although the sprites are similar, the mechanics are quite different. Whereas that game was more about quick reactions as opposed to skill in setting up combos and chains, this game really is like a typical match 3 game like Candy Crush Saga and for the most part you're not timed. It's nice to not have to rush to make your next move, although the options of next moves are so limited that I got by just fine with making optimal best single moves and not having to bother trying to plan anything in advance.

The game does a pretty good job of balancing letting you play for free vs. encouraging you to buy credits. Credits recharge one every half hour for a maximum of 5, so for me most sessions lasted about 25 minutes: 5 free credits to play about 20 minutes, and then 10 minutes of waiting before playing another few minutes. The game periodically gives you bonus extra credits, and I never felt tempted to spend real world money, although I suppose I can see how people could get sucked into it if they were fixated on "catching 'em all" as many of the pokemon seem to have fairly low catch rates. As usual Genius Sonority did a pretty good job of incorporating Pokemon mechanics into the game, in particular by including mega evolutions, although the levelling-up system is somewhat underused since the pokemon you catch don't evolve and catching the next evolution of a pokemon is invariably more powerful than its pre-evolution.

Anyway, there are also special daily challenges and a group of bonus stages that are timed, and although I was somewhat addicted to it for about a week I'd pretty much had enough after getting about a third of the way through the main levels. It was an okay time-waster for my daily commute, especially since it's free and I didn't have any need to spend real money. I wasn't nearly as offended by it as Destructoid was, and in general felt somewhat positive about it, similar to NintendoLife, but as a gaming experience it was all pretty bland and forgettable despite the cute Pokemon trappings. Hopefully I'll be getting back to something a little more substantial in my next entry.

Shuffle these Pokémon Shuffle links:
- As usual Bulbapedia provides all the info you'd need
- Entry at Wikipedia

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