If someone asked you which gaming genre was the most addicting, match-3 would most likely be in your top 3. How could a genre that has so many similarities with gambling not be one of the most addictive? If you had to think of one of the most addicting franchises, you might even mention Pokémon. Collecting cute little monsters, roaming the world to find them, and leveling them up to evolve them. The game features everything that stimulates our brains to want to play it more. What happens when you combine the two? Well, since the world hasn’t ended, we don’t think it’s quite as bad as that, but see for yourself.
A Game to Occupy All of Your Time
Believe me when I say that I really didn’t want to like Pokémon Shuffle Mobile. It seemed like a generic match-3 game that just hopped on the bandwagon. Only when I downloaded the app and delved into it for the first time did I realize that the Pokémon franchise and the match-3 genre were a dangerous match - in a good and bad way. First of all, the puzzle game truly hits the human brain’s neurons for satisfaction (I don’t know how scientifically accurate this statement is, but it sure feels like the game does). I get to combine cute and colorful tiles, see them tumbling down in nice combos that constantly increase my highscore, and I get to fight against Pokémon and catch them afterwards. It makes me want to delve into the game as soon as I have a heart to spend. Pokémon Shuffle Mobile gives you five hearts. Playing a level – whether you win or lose – uses up one of those hearts. One heart replenishes every 30 minutes. This gives you just enough time to play the game in order to make you want to play it longer. You don’t have a chance to oversaturate on the game and always feel like you haven’t been able to play it for long enough - until you decide to spend diamonds on more lives. This is where the mobile game truly gets dangerous.
Microtransactions as Far as the Eye Can See
See, the problem is this: Pokémon Shuffle Mobile is a great match-3 game. It is fun, challenging, and rewarding. It is also highly addicting. I often found myself wanting a Pokémon so badly that I considered spending my in-game currency on them. That in itself wouldn’t be all that bad, since I can earn the currency for playing the game, but the game features a dangerous combination. You are not able to play the game very often (due to the hearts-situation pointed out above), it is often extremely difficult to catch Pokémon without a Superball, and it is addicting to catch all of the monsters. Basically, almost every single part of the title feels like a microtransaction trap. Every single frustration in the puzzle game can be resolved with a microtransaction (which I might point out are quite expensive). Players are tempted to satisfy their needs by spending money – be it for more hearts, moves, a higher chance to catch a Pokémon, etc. That is just a great shame in my opinion.
- Catch Hundreds of Pokémon
- Addicting and Fun Gameplay
- Diverse Levels
- Great Music
- Various Types of Pokémon
- So Many Microtransactions
- Five Hearts Are Used Up too Quickly
- Hearts Only Replenish Every 30 Minutes
- Not Always Easy to Catch Pokémon just by Playing Well
My rating is actually a shame, since the franchise and the game are fun and worthwhile looking into. I still play Pokémon Shuffle Mobile every day. I ignore all microtransactions and simply take the game for what it is. It is a walk down memory lane for me, as I can spend a few minutes here and there collecting my favorite Pokémon and solving some match-3 puzzles. It is a fun game with adorable music and a cute presentation. I cannot, however, give it the high rating it might deserve, if it wasn’t for all the ways in which the studio behind the app wants you to spend your money. I would’ve preferred to pay a few bucks in the app store for a more well-balanced version of the game instead of having a free-to-play game that asks you to spend money all the time.