If you enjoy gimmicky puzzle games that have great art and sound design, Pokémon Café Mix will likely be the perfect bite-sized experience to tantalize your tastebuds.
Obviously, Café Mix was developed in the same vein as Pokémon Masters, Pokémon Quest, and Pokémon Shuffle, where it is designed to be played in short bursts. And that is perfectly fine for the cute little puzzle game. In Café Mix, you are put in charge of a small Pokémon-themed eatery that starts out only serving coffee. As you serve more customers, you will unlock new items for your Café, like a Tea Shelf or Tomato Planters that will help you expand what dishes you can make. You will unlock these new items by completing orders in the form of matching puzzles.
Each puzzle gives you a certain score, a number of icons, or “gimmick” items you need to collect to complete the order properly. Pokémon icons can be dragged to rearrange the layout of the puzzle and you can connect as many of them together as the stage allows. You do have a time limit once you pick up an icon, so you will need to act quickly once you start an action. The “gimmicks,” as the game calls them, have to do with the different dishes you will be making. For tea, you will have to break sugar cubes by completing combos around them. Likewise, tomatoes need to be dropped to the bottom of the screen into a “basket.”
Along with the different items and recipes you can unlock, certain Pokémon will become returning customers, and if you perform well and complete their orders, they might want to help you out around the Café. Each Pokémon has a special ability that can help you clear out the various puzzle elements, Charmander in-particular is very useful because he can clear out multiple rows at once. They also provide bonuses depending on what dish you are preparing: Charmander is good with drinks, Snubbull is better for sandwiches, and Minccino is great with cakes.
Another selling point in favor of Café Mix is that it doesn’t have a traditional energy system in place like most free-to-play games. Instead, you have hearts that act as lives while you work on orders, and they will only be taken away if you fail an order. Those hearts replenish by one every 30 minutes, so you won’t be waiting long to play if you run through all five on a hard level and don’t want to buy more.
As for microtransactions, nothing is really overly intrusive about the offerings for Café Mix, as you will mostly find bundles for more Golden Acorns, which are used to get additional moves if you fail an order or buy more power-ups. The main attraction of the in-game shop will be the Special Pokémon Packs, which will offer new helper Pokémon, some Golden Acorns, and power-ups for around $3.99. At launch, there is a Special Pikachu Pack that will get you the Sweet Pikachu helper, and admittedly, he is adorable.
Compared to Masters and even Quest, the premise of Café Mix is pretty shallow, but because the gameplay is fun and easy to get used to, that doesn’t bring down the experience. It is a nice mix between the more traditional puzzle titles, like the Pokémon Trozei line of games, while also changing things up enough to be its own unique experience.
The newest addition to the Pokémon franchise is available now and can be played on both Mobile and Nintendo Switch, but whichever way you play it, you will only be using the touch screen.