Now that I’m out of backlog*, I have been playing around with a few f2p games that had been on my radar but that I hadn’t wanted to delve into while I was trying to play games that I’d actually paid for. There will be a few posts in the next few days as I give my impressions of each, starting with the Switch version of Pokémon Café Mix. Apparently it’s also available for iOS and Android devices but there’s no cross-save functionality there.
Side note: I’m not entirely sold on the é in Café but it’s that way on the title screen so what the heck. Have I been spelling this word wrong all my life?
Anyway. I’m just going to refer to it as PCM for the remainder of this post because it will be shorter to type and will help relieve the anxiety I am feeling about the accent mark.
I’ve played a couple of the portable Pokémon games, and will probably eventually pick up the latest Switch game, but I don’t have a particularly strong attachment to the mythos as it presents itself through the Epic Journey Of A Young Boy (or Girl) As They Subjugate Many Small Creatures And Battle To Become The Best. I’ve also been actively turned off every time I’ve dared browse forum threads about the games, because they tend to devolve into a morass of impenetrable acronyms and jargon.
However, the actual critters are cute. There’s no getting around this. And I am weak to cute, and so I have a modest amount of Pokémerch in my house.
PCM, as far as I can tell, does not lend itself to complex theorycrafting about Pokémon and training and matchups and all that nonsense. It’s a simple puzzle game that puts the player in the role of running a restaurant that caters to Pokémon and that employs Pokémon as chefs and servers and it lets you dress Pokémon up in hats, and frankly that’s enough for me.
Heck with it. Prepare for MORE POKÉMON IN HATS.
According to Bulbapedia, which I am given to understand is something of an Authority-With-A-Capital-A on All Things Pokémon, Celebi is “a Mythical Pokémon, known in legend as the “Voice of the Forest.” It is able to travel through time and exist simultaneously throughout time, and plant life flourishes wherever it has been.”
In PCM, Celebi just wants to make pancakes and Celebi is DAMN GOOD at making pancakes. Honestly, the food in this game looks delicious.
…OK, some of it looks suspiciously like Pokémon butt. MOST of it looks delicious.
The gameplay loop is pretty simple. Pokémon walks into a restaurant, Pokémon orders some food…
Snubbull would like a Rowlet-shaped pizza.
Also, she would like you to KILL ALL THE JEDI.
…you have to play a little game where you match up strings of icons so they explode with all kinds of happy little pops, eventually food comes out of this somehow.
A typical goal screen looks something like this:
And matching up icons looks like this. They aren’t your typical match-3 icons that stay put while you make your selection, these bounce around and move other icons around and can be a little annoying at times actually. Sometimes you need to use this to move icons around the screen to complete goals.
Side note: PCM is a touch-only, handheld-only game, so you won’t be playing it on your TV. I think this is the first Switch game I’ve run across where that’s a THING but I can’t see how they could have done the controls any other way.
For a F2P game, it’s pretty generous with what it gives out. There’s no real “stamina” bar unless you fail puzzles, so you can easily sit down and knock out 15 or 20 of these in a row for a happy little dopamine hit without spending a dime. There’s a in-game currency (“golden acorns”) that you can use to get a few extra moves if you need them, and I’ve done this on occasion, but you get a decent amount of acorns from just playing the game.
You can pay four bucks for some acorns AND a Pikachu-in-a-DIFFERENT-hat, and I can totally see people dropping four bucks on that, I guess.
Note: Not my picture, I stole it off twitter. I did not spend four bucks on “Sweets Pikachu”, but I am not going to judge anyone who does.
To condense all of that into a shorter version: It’s a cute little time killer that will probably make you smile. If that sounds good, I recommend it.
Also apparently there is an actual Pokémon Cafe in Tokyo. Going to have to check that out the next time I’m there.
* When I say “out of backlog”, I am ignoring the fact that I was weak and bought Luigi’s Mansion 3 during the most recent eShop sale.