A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Encourages players to think strategically.
Positive Role Models
Few on-screen characters serve as behavioral models, save a cheerful, helpful instructor. Constant procession of varied Pokémon fight but don't communicate.
Ease of Play
Very easy to start, grows much more challenging quickly. There are times when play, progress not possible until either a half-hour timer counts down or players spend money in the game shop.
Violence & Scariness
Smiling Pokémon faces get struck by elemental attacks, never shown seriously injured.
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Products & Purchases
Part of Nintendo's sprawling Pokémon franchise, which has spawned branded toys, collectibles, movies, TV shows. Players encouraged to make in-game purchases with real money to keep playing, gain an advantage in harder puzzles.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Pokémon Shuffle is a downloadable match-3 puzzle game starring Nintendo's iconic Pokémon characters. There's no real combat, but smiling Pokémon faces on the top screen are repeatedly struck by elemental attacks as the player solves puzzles. Parents should note that although this game is free to download and play, it encourages players to spend real money on items in the game shop, including crystals and coins. If players use all their hearts (one is required to initiate a new puzzle), they won't be able to play again until either a half-hour timer counts down to zero or they use a crystal to purchase five more hearts.
Is It Any Good?
Pokémon Shuffle is a thoroughly average match-3 game with a bit of a sour flavor, thanks to the way it hounds players to spend money to keep progressing. To be fair, some strategy is involved. Players need to pay close attention to the type and level of the Pokémon they send into new battles and figure out which Mega Evolution species' powers will be most useful, especially in more challenging fights. Plus, effective use of special single-use items (such as one that removes a single type of Pokémon from the gameboard, making it easier to make chains that do more damage) can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
However, as the game progresses and puzzles/battles become harder, players may find these items necessary to win. You can purchase them with coins earned in the game, but it takes a lot of playing to earn enough to buy the most useful items. This pushes players toward the game store, where they can spend real money for more game coins. Just as frustrating is the need to use hearts to start a new game. If you run out, you either need to wait a while for a new one to appear or head to the store to buy a crystal with real money, which you then can spend on more hearts in the game. The puzzle action isn't terrible, and Pokémon fans will eat up the authentic atmosphere, but it's a shame Nintendo doesn't offer a paid version of the game that removes the need for in-app purchases.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.