Nintendo’s foray into free-to-play games is a pimple puzzle game where you match three or more of a Pokemon to “attack”. Pokemon are simplified into single types, and you typically have a set number of moves for each battle. Winning a battle gives your support Pokemon experience points to level up and increase their attack, as well as coins that are used to purchase in game power ups.
Each time you start a battle you spend one heart, which recharge at a rate of one every thirty minutes up to five hearts at a time. There is also the option to buy hearts with Gems, another in game currency. Gems can be exchanged for hearts or coins. Gems are occasionally earned, but can also be purchased from the Nintendo eShop starting at $0.99 each, up to 75 gems for a whopping $47.99. That’s right, you can spend over the cost of a full release game for Gems to reduce your time waiting for Hearts to recharge or avoid having to save for Coins to buy power ups.
While being entirely beatable for free, Gems make the game feel decidedly pay-to-win. Some levels are annoyingly restricted by giving few moves and almost requiring power ups or playing multiple times to beat.
On the plus side, Pokemon Shuffle is a fun matching puzzler that is available for free that is simple enough for anyone to play. If you have a 3DS give it a look on the Nintendo eStore or the Official Site.