The mobile port of the 3DS title goes headlong into making you spend money
A few months ago, Neal lauded Pokémon Shuffle's ability to create an enjoyable, if time-limited, game without spending money. The CEO of The Pokémon Company, Tsunekazu Ishihara, recently gave an interview to Famitsu in which he mentioned that the 3DS version is aimed at middle schoolers, and that the recent mobile version of the game is designed for adults. As well, Ishihara said it is possible to clear the game without spending money - but what he left unmentioned is that it's way easier to do it on the 3DS than it is on mobile.
The biggest change made to the mobile versions of Pokémon Shuffle is in adjusted Pokémon catch rates. Although there are a few instances early on where the changes are usually balanced, such as in the second stage Sandy Bazaar where all adjustments in catch rate are balanced with higher/lower bonuses based on remaining moves, the generosity ends shortly after. By late in the Night Festival area, a key Pokémon (Volbeat) has had its base catch rate shredded from a base catch rate (winning on the last turn) of 30% to 0.5%, and the per-move bonus means you go from a potential 95% chance of catching Volbeat to 28.5%. And in case you thought it couldn't get any worse, one of the prized Pokémon in the game is Gengar, who has an extremely useful Mega ability but has an abysmally low catch rate on mobile. On the 3DS, his catch rate is a potential 58% (2% base, 14x4% if you get a one turn bingo, Flamingo.) On mobile, his catch rate starts so low the game expresses it as a question mark (it's 0.1%) and tops out at 28.1%... and that's if you manage to take it out in one move, which is 17% harder since they jacked up the score required to one-shot it from 6516 to 7819 (16.7% more). Suffice it to say, your chances of getting that major weapon without dropping coins are slim.
The mobile version's Mega stages - which serve as boss battles, essentially - have also been modified and not to the benefit of the player. Each Mega stage upon completion on 3DS gives the appropriate Mega Stone and a Jewel. Jewels are the convertible currency that can be used on hearts for level plays, coins for items, or a 5 turn/15 second booster if you're just a bit short in a stage. Mobile cuts off a prime source of these by making it so that the Mega stages just give five hearts. Sure, a level play is nice, but what if you want to cash that in for a few thousand coins or are saving up for a much larger coin purchase, especially since Mobile makes them more valuable no matter what you turn them into? The slight boost to coins or hearts on Mobile isn't enough to account for the fact that it's virtually impossible to get a Jewel. Plus, some of the challenge stages (Groudon, Kyogre, and Rayquaza) require two hearts to play, and bonus hearts handled by StreetPass previously now require a Facebook account.
Once you get into a stage and find it can't be beaten itemless, the temptation is there to spend some coins on items. Unfortunately for mobile players, that's going to be pricier as well. The most egregious price increase (gouge?) is for the Exp 1.5x item, which somehow managed to cost 167% more than its 3DS cousin (800 coins v 300). Attack Power+, a near mandatory item to put up high ranks in competitive stages or to get anything approaching a usable catch rate, is 5000 coins on Mobile. The other important items (Complexitiy -1/Disruption Delay/Mega Start) all randomly went up 500 coins, while Moves +5/Time +10 are 1000 coins, up from 800. At this point, buying Jewels seems like the only sane thing to do short of deleting the app.
The in-app purchases themselves are slightly lower priced on Shuffle Mobile, but Mobile gives less Jewels to compensate. Since all versions have a spending limit of US$80/£80/€100 per month, someone who spent to the limit would end up a few gems short on the Mobile version (118 to 115 assuming you spend up to the limit). Both versions do block in-app purchases under a certain age, but Mobile lowers the limit to 13 while the 3DS version - which runs on the system's parental controls - blocks purchases completely if parental controls are enabled. Running it unencumbered on 3DS assumes the player is over 18. The 3DS had a "buy some get some" sale just before Mobile came out, and it's not known if these will be repeated, but they do represent a better value for 3DS owners overall.
So Pokémon Shuffle Mobile has a plurality of levels harder than the 3DS version, charges more than the going rate for some stages, requires an internet connection so good luck playing on an iPod Touch, and doesn't even give you as much value for in-app purchases. Clearly, The Pokémon Company is hoping to make it up on volume - and considering the 3DS version got 5 million downloads on a 60 million userbase, imagine what they can get on a few hundred million. If you want a better experience overall though, the 3DS version is the one to get.