Genius Sonority’s Pokemon puzzle games have decreased in complexity as time has passed. Pokemon Trozei was the most thoughtful and strategic of the lot and titles like Pokemon Shuffle and Pokemon Cafe Mix have pulled more from more contemporary, free-to-play matching puzzle games. While the more strategic elements may have decreased with time, there’s one sphere in which the company has really amped things up: appearances. Each new spin-off has played up the friendlier elements, which means Pokemon Cafe Mix is now the cutest of the lot.
From the moment you “enter” the restaurant, Pokemon Cafe Mix kicks things off with a figurative “sugar rush.” You see a full patissier packed with all sorts of people and Pokemon enjoying desserts together. The wait staff, like the Charizard, is uniformed. Your own companion Eevee is enthralled, which transitions to a scene where you see it in its own hat and kerchief as the two of you prepare to open your very own cafe. It is very much relying upon how cute it is to lure people in and establish an ambiance.
It’s one that remains consistent, to Pokemon Cafe Mix’s credit. All characters are rendered in the same style, which makes eyes a little wider, proportions a little chubbier and shorter, and gives everyone rosy cheeks. Everyone, I say! It also means eventual costumes for everyone, with each new recruit having a dedicated scene where we see them “suit up” for the first time. While part of the reward is having a new character that perhaps as a helpful new means of clearing garbage or meddlesome items from a screen, another is seeing exactly what they look like when they don their uniform for the first time.
The adorability is cranked up in the puzzles as well. Genius Sonority’s Pokemon puzzle games have relied on exaggerated depictions of characters’ faces for quite some time. There were some elements of this in the original Pokemon Trozei, but it really came into fashion for Pokemon Battle Trozei and Pokemon Shuffle. Pokemon Cafe Mix goes to even more exaggerated extremes, especially as it mimics the Disney Tsum Tsum and Yo-Kai Watch Wibble Wobble style. approach to big, friendly faces.
Not to mention the approachability factor of each character’s special skill. Every Pokemon you “recruit” as a staff member has their own ability that can be used in a puzzle to aid in clearing clutter and meeting objectives. Every one involves things like hearts, sparkles, and adorably elaborate finishes. It’s almost like an extra bonus for managing to trigger them.
Of course, getting to see the completed food is a similar sort of “reward.” Given this is a Pokemon cafe, every drink, meal, and dessert draws upon other characters. You could see a Buneary Frappe or Dugtrio Sandwich Trio. People have even taken to recreating these foods, like the Fluffy Eevee Pancakes, in real life. Powering through the increasingly demanding level means getting to expand the menu. (As well as hire more Pokemon.)
Pokemon Cafe Mix will not fill the gap left by the original Pokemon Trozei. It probably won’t replace Pokemon Shuffle either. It’s a very different and sometimes imprecise thing. But what it does have going for it is an abundance of adorability. It’s almost excessively cute, and the thought of more Pokemon in its style and new “recipes” could help keep it in peoples’ good graces.
Pokemon Cafe Mix is available for the Nintendo Switch and both Android and Apple iOS devices.