Friday, February 20, 2015

Nintendo Freemium and Pokemon Shuffle

Nintendo has joined the ranks of freemium game publishers, kinda. Nintendo dropped the free to download game on the eShop on Feb 18 with hopes of increasing their micro transactions (I suspect). As a any good Nintendo fan would, I downloaded it without question and launched it hoping for a clone of the N64 Pokemon Puzzle League. I was quickly disappointed that it did not resemble one of my favorite N64 games, but I was pleased by its cutesy aesthetic and the fact that they did not over stress the desire for your millions of $1 transactions. The second thing I noticed is that this game is incredibly easy early on. I've played through 30-ish stages and have messed up on two of them. This would sound like a good thing for a freemium game that limits lives, but since every level costs a life, you run through your five in no time at all. The puzzle challenges are straightforward enough, you line up matching Pokemon to knock out an opponent, who you then try to capture. Captured pokemon become yours to use in future puzzles. Simple enough.

It's not a great game, it's a little disappointing that Nintendo is going the freemium route, but it's free entertainment, so I'll play it some. That last sentence is in my adult voice. I have money to buy real games and I don't always need to go with the cheapest option. If I switch to the voice I had 12 years ago, this game is a great value for all kids who have a the console but can't afford games very often. I was always lucky enough to have game consoles, but often times, I had to scrap to get games. I would play the Gamestop system as well as I could and at 13 I started torrenting DS games onto a rom cart. A free game I could play several times a day featuring Pokemon would have made me very happy, so I am sure  Pokemon Shuffle has made some kids happy.

Perhaps we should look at freemium games as a sort of video game redistribution system. Those who can afford micro transactions ensure that everyone gets this game for free.It's not a perfect system, it doesn't lead to amazing games, but in this instance, I' not gonna complain about it.

Update: Past level 30 starts getting mildly challenging and more interesting. Also, the timed expert challenges are tediously fun. The pokemon you pick play a bigger effect when you get to the tougher challenges.

-Peter
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