I’ve played many free mobile games that function almost exactly like Pokémon Café Mix, but none that prominently feature a super-adorable Charmander who I would follow anywhere and give my life to defend.
Available now on Switch, Google Play, and iTunes, Pokémon Café Mix is a Disney Tsum Tsum or Yo-Kai Watch Wibble Wobble style game in which players match character heads by frantically rubbing their fingers across a touch screen (thus it can only be played in handheld mode on the Switch). It’s all laid out in stages with various goals, like collecting a certain number of Squirtle heads, cracking sugar cubes, collecting dumplings, dropping tomatoes to the bottom of the screen, et cetera. It’s simple enough that a small child can play, with opportunities for strategic play that should keep veteran mobile players swiping.
It’s a familiar formula, but not necessarily a tired one. It’s been a couple of years since I last played a match mixing game. I’d say I am about due. And I can’t complain about the scenery.
The goal in Pokémon Café Mix is to grow and expand the player’s pocket monster restaurant. Completing orders endears Pokémon patrons, who eventually wind up joining the staff. Each Pokémon has a special power to help clear icons during the puzzle stages. Each also has an affinity to a certain type of dish—drinks, sandwiches, sweets—which makes their power meter fill faster when working on meals that match their specialty. As players advance through stages, the cafe earns new equipment, unlocking new recipes and new furnishings, attracting new Pokémon.
I am in love with the Pokémon Café Mix art style. It’s so sickeningly sweet I just can’t help it. I don’t know how deep the visuals will carry me into this icon-matching madness, but I’m 35 stages in and show no signs of slowing. I even spent $3.99 on a special Pikachu bundle, because look at him.
I probably won’t spend any more on golden acorns, used to score additional moves in a level or buy power-ups. I need these adorable pocket monster friends, but not so much that I can’t wait out a life timer instead of paying to continue.
Pokémon Café Mix is nothing new, but it’s definitely something cute. Also, it is free. Free chibi Charmander is the best Charmander.