Pokémon Shuffle, now with more cash grabs! Just what we always wanted!
Hello, fair readers! A while ago, I did a review on Pokémon Shuffle for the 3DS. Nintendo’s foray into Freemium Land felt more like utter betrayal. It was an abuse of the audience’s nostalgia (a very common practice) with a free-to-play model that wielded the demand for money like a fine whip. It was horrible, manipulative, and I still managed to get sucked in.
Imagine my lack of surprise to see the exact same game pop up on the mobile market. They were clearly successful on a limited platform, imagine what would happen if the game, an official Pokémon Company product, was released on a much larger platform. As I write this, Pokémon Shuffle is currently 50th place on the iOS free app list, and advertised in the featured app section. I can only imagine how it’s going over on Android. I’m going to guess things are going well for this money sink.
Why am I bothering with this piece then? It’s the same game, right? Adorable art style, addictive puzzle gameplay, cute sounds, the unfortunate F2P model, nothing has changed, right? Big fat nope. In fact, I hope someone reads this and decides not to download the game.
The first problem? The managed to make their F2P model even more greedy. It’s as if the whip was upgraded from leather to steel cable; it is absolutely sinister. For one thing, the buffs you can buy with coins are now much more expensive. The difference can be anywhere from a couple hundred gold to thousands. Even the great ball, a second chance to capture a defeated Pokémon, has gone up 1,000 gold, a 40% increase. You’d think this would mean the game was going to be more generous, but it’s still on par with the 3DS version. Gold is still kind of a pain to get, but the game oh-so-helpfully reminds you at every chance it gets that you can buy gems and exchange them for more money.
To put it into perspective, 4,000 gold costs one gem. One gem costs one dollar. For one dollar, you can only buy one more second chance at possibly catching your defeated monster. Granted, you can get more gems when you spend more money, but then you’d be giving them money and supporting their terrible F2P model.
The second problem with Pokémon Shuffle Mobile is the social mechanic. With the 3DS version, you were rewarded for StreetPassing other players. Every few people would get you some sort of present in the way of gems or spare hearts. You didn’t have to share anything particularly personal, and you didn’t have to harass anyone for anything. I love StreetPass. This is just not the case with the mobile edition. Like many a mobile game before it, Shuffle wants you to sign in to Facebook and harass your friends. It’s almost like StreetPass, except you know the people you’re passing, and they have to actively try to not unfriend you.
If I absolutely had to say something nice about Pokémon Shuffle Mobile, it would be that it was translated to phone screens really nicely. They adapted the maps to fit with the phone’s orientation, the playing field looks really nice on one screen, and the screen makes my 3DS look a little sad somehow. The gameplay is enjoyable, and if it didn’t have the sadistic amount of pay-to-enjoy (not even win), I would definitely play the heck out of this game. If it weren’t for the probability of cross platform codes with the 3DS version, I would just delete it and move on to the next mobile game, just like many games before it.
There you have it. Pokémon Shuffle is still evil, its parasitic twin Pokémon Shuffle Mobile is even crueler, and I am going to go wash the filth off with a bit of Kirby Triple Deluxe. Mmm, hypernova powers.