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Nintendo experimenting with free-to-play, cross-buy for Mario and Pokémon spin-offs

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D and free Anime Channel also dated.

Nintendo is set to experiment with free-to-play mechanics and a Cross-Buy scheme for two of its biggest franchises.

First, the publisher will launch a free Pokémon puzzle game, Pokémon Shuffle, via the 3DS eShop in February.

The match-three title will cost nothing to download, but you'll be able to pay in-game to download power-ups.

It's not the first free-to-play game from Nintendo (3DS submarine title Steel Diver is another recent example), but notable in that it features such a high-profile franchise.

Next, Nintendo will launch platform puzzler Mario vs Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars as a digital download for 3DS and Wii U on 20th March.

The game is effectively a cross-buy title - buy a version for one platform and you will be gifted a download code for the game on the other.

In other 3DS news, Nintendo has dated another match-three puzzler for launch on 3DS - Puzzle and Dragons will launch in Europe during May.

The EU version of the game will include Puzzle & Dragons Z and Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition, which launched in Japan separately and sold lots of copies.

Meanwhile, a free 3DS Anime Channel will launch on 13th February and stream episodes of the Pokémon, Kirby and Inazuma series.

Finally, Xenoblade Chronicles 3D - the Wii role-player's New 3DS-exclusive port - will launch on 2nd April.

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