Tuesday, March 10, 2015

F2P Pokemon Nonsense

I've never been massively into Pokemon.  I'm dating myself here, but Red/Blue came out in the US when I was in high school.  I've played some of Blue via an emulator, but never really got very far.

This is only relevant because I got a spotpass about Pokemon Shuffle, which is a free to play Pokemon puzzle game.  Being that it's free, I decided to check it out.  I know, F2P games are designed such that they're almost unplayable without burning a hole in your pocket, but... whatever.

So, yeah.  Like I said, it's a puzzle game.  You encounter wild Pokemon that you want to catch, and to weaken them, you have to match up three or more Pokemon in a grid to deal damage.  It also gives an extra bonus for plus shapes and L shapes.  Getting combos going adds extra damage.  You have a certain number of turns available to weaken the Pokemon.  Once you do, you have to catch it.  Your chance of catching it depends on how well you did on the puzzle, and how many turns you didn't use.

What makes it neat is that you can use the Pokemon you've already caught to help deal damage.  Each one has a special move that will trigger at some point during the fight, depending on what the move actually is.  For instance, the Squirtle I got has Power of 4, and deals extra damage if I match up four of it.  Types also matter, so people who're massively into Pokemon will be correct in instinctively taking the correct type to exploit type weaknesses.  I don't really know any of that besides the obvious, and thankfully, to make the game accessible to people like me, there's an "Optimize" button that sets your Pokemon up as well as it possibly can for the one you're about to go up against.  It helpfully labels Pokemon that will be at an advantage or disadvantage with up or down arrows, respectively.  There are also other gameplay mechanics that pop up every now and then, such as Pokemon that will put rocks in your puzzle field that you have to make a match next to in order to get rid of them.

Being a free to play game, it limits your gameplay so it can charge you real money to exceed that limit.  You have hearts that control how many puzzles you can attempt.  Each puzzle takes one heart, and you get a heart every half hour or so.  Thankfully, this clock ticks in real time even if the game isn't running.  It's got the standard F2P two-currency system, whereby one currency is obtained by playing the game and things cost a ton in that currency, so saving as much of it as you can is critical, and then it has the other currency that you get some of "as a gift" and then the rest you have to purchase with real money.  You can use this paid currency to buy more hearts, as well as buying the free currency in bulk (the options are 3000, 10000, 22000, and 48000, and of course 48000 is the most expensive and also the best deal).  The free currency can be used in lower quantities to buy per-puzzle bonuses for things like an experience booster for your Pokemon, to extra turns (which don't make the Pokemon easier to catch, it's just extra turns to solve the puzzle).  I haven't gotten far enough into the game to "check in with the server", so I don't know how much the paid currency actually costs.

Also, don't bother turning on the stereoscopic 3D on your 3DS, because the game doesn't use it.  As far as controls go, it's entirely touchscreen-driven.  None of the actual physical buttons or directional inputs on the 3DS do anything.  As someone who generally prefers the physical buttons, I find this kind of annoying.

The game has streetpass functionality, but I have yet to get a streetpass with data for it since downloading it, so I can't comment on that.

Overall, if you treat it like a game that's meant to be played in small sittings and ignore the real-money transaction aspect of the game, it's a fun but short diversion.  If you actually spend money in games like this, then you're a bad person because you encourage making more games like this.

Edit for Completeness

Okay, so I beat enough stages and unlocked the ability to "check in".  Basically, it opens up a special area with a bunch of limited-time challenge stages.  Beat the stage, get a chance to capture the Pokemon.  Also, every tenth stage gives you a Mega Stone for one of your Pokemon, so it can Mega Evolve.  The Mega Evolutions here have extra powerful abilities.  The very first one, on Mega Audino, takes out all Pokemon adjacent to the ones involved in the match.  You have to charge it up by matching Audinos a few times.  Also, Eevee (and probably other Pokemon) have the ability to increase the Mega Evolution gauge when they're matched, so you can work them into your combos for faster Mega Evolutions.

Also, one of the options is to enter a passcode.  I guess these are just being given out at random or something.  There's only one out right now, 20150007, and it gives you two Mega Starts, which when used before a stage will start your Pokemon that can Mega Evolve off in its Mega Evolution.

Another option is the Client Number, which is just a unique identifier that you need to use should you ever contact customer service regarding the game. Okay, fine.

So, the burning question... how much are the real money transactions?  Well, I'm not going to serve as an advertisement for them, because I don't like the practice.  However, you would be correct in assuming that the most expensive jewel purchase also stretches your money the farthest.  Curiously, you can also enter a download code, so maybe there will be codes at some point that just give you jewels.  Who knows.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I moderate comments because when Blogger originally implemented a spam filter it wouldn't work without comment moderation enabled. So if your comment doesn't show up right away, that would be why.