Pokémon Shuffle is a fun game and all (despite my expectations getting into it), but here’s what annoys me about it:
Some of the music in the game is really annoying to listen to. Like, I’d say only one track in the game (specifically the Mega Mewtwo Y battle music) is above average, and everything else is either average or below average. To make matters worse, the mega evolution theme, which is probably the most prominent track in the game, is one of the worst tracks in the game, maybe even the worst. As much as I want to avoid saying the music is crap (because I’m generally lukewarm when it comes to bashing any form of art) and saying its music is the worst of any game (In Love in Guitar Hero 3 is even worse), I can at least say with confidence that Pokémon Shuffle has one of the worst OSTs of any game I’ve ever played.
2. Grinding for coins
This is no problem to those who have the money and/or StreetPass encounters to obtain more gems (which can be exchanged for hearts (which are required to play levels) or coins) than there are available in the game, but the best way to obtain coins without these luxuries is to go all the way back to level 37 (which usually requires a buttload of scrolling) and battling Meowth over and over. In the battle, you can get 30 coins, 130 coins, 330 coins, 530 coins, or nothing, resulting in an expected coin yield of 204 per heart used. (You can also get 230 coins, but it requires a 5-coin L-shape, which is 0% worthwhile because it’s literally no better than lining up 5 coins in a straight line.) Don’t be deceived by this number, however; it’s actually really difficult to get 530 coins, maybe impossible depending on the RNG (Random Number Generator, basically the luck of the draw in a video game). First of all, you have to purposely avoid bringing Fighting-types (too much damage), Ghost-types (too little damage), and any Pokémon with abilities that delay the production of, or destroy, coins. (You don’t have to worry about Mega Pokémon whose mega abilities destroy coins because, ideally, mega evolution should never happen.) Second, a very specific formation is required for 530 coins, which should resemble the following image:
This formation must be completed by turn 6 for maximum safety (I’m not excluding the possibility of completing it on turn 7, but it requires extremely good RNG), and it’s very RNG-dependent. There are so many things that could go wrong: too much damage, not enough damage, not good enough RNG to even get the specific formation (the common response to which would be to go for a less valuable formation—i.e., a 3-coin or a 4-coin—and even then there remains the possibility of too little damage), or poor execution (after all, we’re only human).
What are coins useful for? Power-ups that facilitate catching Pokémon or S-ranking battles (to unlock EX levels), such as Great Ball (worth 2500; doubles capture rate, sometimes increasing it further), Mega Start (worth 2000; does what it says on the tin), Complexity -1 (worth 9000; removes a species from the board (especially useful against Pokémon like Steelix and Aegislash, who are annoying to fight with those species (Onix and Doublade, respectively) around)), and Disruption Delay (worth 1500; paralyzes the enemy Pokémon for several turns).
RNG everywhere. Through my experience with Shuffle and Rumble World, I have to say freemium Pokémon games have some of the worst RNG ever. This game in particular is about as RNG-dependent as a game of Yahtzee. RNG controls just about everything: the types of species on the board, the types of species that appear after part of the board is cleared, the activation chance of some abilities (notably those that destroy disruptions), Mega Ampharos’ lightning patterns, the attack patterns of enemies (which may very well sabotage a potentially awesome matching combo), and, worst of all, the chance of catching Pokémon. Trying to catch Weavile especially frustrated me; I had a 70% chance to catch it and failed (waste of a Great Ball), had a 65% chance to catch it and failed (waste of another Great Ball), and ultimately had to have maximum percentage (9 turns left plus Great Ball with increased catch rate) to finally be able to catch it. I was furious at the 70% and 65% misses, but the highest percentage I’ve ever had fail is 85% (or 90%; my memory is a bit hazy), which happened when I first had the opportunity to catch Tangrowth. It’s like with all Pokémon games; percentages cannot be taken at face value. More recently, I failed a 69% chance to catch Salamence. It’s rolls like that that just get under my skin. Heck, there was even a time when I used Mega Start and Complexity -1 against Mega Glalie and still couldn’t get higher than A-rank; what a waste of 11000 coins… Also, as mentioned, RNG interferes with money grinding quite a lot.
Despite all the things that annoy me about the game, I still play it to this day, and it’s pretty addicting with its 5-heart capacity and its 30-minute heart recharge rate compelling me to come back to it every 2 hours tops. You could argue that it’s not a good game (and matching games are nothing new), but at least it’s good for a game that doesn’t require payment (except, of course, for a 3DS).
À la prochaine! (Until next time!)