Another Pokemon puzzle game, another free-to-play (or more correctly, “free-to-start”, as Nintendo themselves likes to call these games) for mobile and Switch, this time with a cutesy pastel cafè aesthetic, as you manage a Pokemon cafè, operated by and for Pokemon, alongside a human girl, who acts as a general assistant-tutorial figure.
This is done via puzzle challenges, thankfully not of the “match 3” kind (we already had plenty of those with a Pokemon license), nor or the Panel The Pon/Puzzle League variety, but in turn based grid-less form, with the objective of linking together chains of pokemons, in order to activate an ability, destroy special blocks, or because of a stage requiring a certain quota of Pokemon pieces/icons to be matched.
Each pokemon has a specific ability, a specialization for a certain kind of dish (drinks, sandwiches, desserts, etc.), and as you progress you unlock more critters but also more recipes and new expansions for the cafè, which in turn introduce new elements and stage objectives, with some random chances of increasing the friendship level with a certain pokemon, who will join the staff.
The gameplay is decent, but the more free-form, grid-less style of level design makes it too reliant on abilities and consumable objects, a bit too helpful in this case, especially because you can also activate them during the stage, not just before. All to push you into buying the premium currency, which happens a bit too fast, it won’t take long to realize so with the limited energy system, timers and the extra turns costing a lot of “gems”.
While i’ve seen worse monetization schemes and freemium economies, there’s also the fact i’ve seen and played way better puzzles game. This is a very cute distraction (with a tad manipulative freemium economy), but not much else.