Well, this is a rarity. An Xbox Live title which costs the princely sum of zero pounds; something achievement hunters will no doubt rejoice to hear. The question is – will anybody else? Considering the questionable quality of the previous week’s full-priced Xbox Live effort (Farm Frenzy 2), things don’t seem too promising.
The concept sounds a little simplistic, too – shuffleboard is a fairly bland game in real life, the enjoyment of it coming from the physical skill involved in judging the strength and angle of your shot; it’s not clear that it would make for a particularly enthralling computer game.
And indeed, it isn’t. Playing shuffleboard on your Windows Phone is entertaining for a few minutes, but you’ll tire of it quickly – judging the speed of a thumb-flick in the attempt to get your pucks to rest within the 3-point zone on the board (or, even better, teetering on the edge of said zone) doesn’t hold the attention for long.
Just as well, then, that the game includes two other modes. The first is a concept as easy to grasp as shuffleboard, but manages to offer a little more in the way of thrills: ten-pin bowling. Alright, so ‘thrilling’ may not be a word regularly used to describe bowling, but don’t underestimate the simple pleasure of watching a series of pins clattering and falling – compared to the clinical game of shuffleboard, it’s an absolute riot.
It’s also a lot of fun – most people know how to play ten-pin bowling, and it makes for a great little game to dip into while on the go. Using the same controls as before – flicking forwards to launch the puck, while able to alter your aim and placement of the puck by dragging it – the game is easily transplanted to a shuffleboard environment. The fact that the game saves your progress, should you need to quit without completing all your frames, makes it particularly good for whiling any short periods of inactivity in your day.
Even so, this is another slight mode, only really suitable for short bursts. Which makes the game’s Challenge mode a real plus.
Made up of 3 blocks of 12 stages, this is ‘just’ another variant of shuffleboard… albeit one where the target zones are in different places; where various barriers, rebounds, ramps, launchers, switches and even moving objects are strewn about the track; and where extra points can be earned by passing over coins littering the area. With the each stage awarding you between 0 and 3 stars, the game challenges you to really up your game for the highest scores, requiring you to make use of rebounds, take advantages of launchers and ramps to get your pucks into just the right position, and generally work hard to make the grade.
The 36 levels pass by quite quickly, and getting 3 stars on all of them should keep you occupied for a good while. While it would be nice to have a few more, in a game which costs absolutely nothing and features no advertising the amount on offer is already very generous, and in combination with the other two modes makes for a wonderfully rounded package – perfect both for short bursts and for more prolonged gameplay. This is all topped off by a gentle series of unlocks – every time you pass a level, score points, or otherwise do well you’re rewarded with in-game dollars, which you can use to purchase new textures for the different items in the game – the puck, the board, the frame, and the pins. It’s a little thing, but another nice inclusion which does nothing more than add a little extra incentive to do well in the game.
The bottom line is this: I would have happily paid for Shuffle Party – perhaps not the standard rate expected for Xbox Live titles, but certainly something. As it stands, downloading this is an absolute no-brainer – this is a lovely little game, it’s absolutely free, and it even has full Xbox Live integration, meaning extra gamerscore for those who care about it. A game to help wash away the bitter taste left by Farm Frenzy 2. Go grab it.
Shuffle Party xBox Live Achievements
- Challenger (5 points): Complete a Challenge Mode Level with 3 stars.
- Conqueror (5 points): Complete all Challenge Levels.
- Challenge Master (5 points): Earn 3 stars on all Challenge Levels.
- X marks the spot (5 points): Perform a strike in Bowling.
- Gobble Gobble!!! (5 points): Perform 3 strikes in a row in Bowling.
- Over 175 Club (5 points): Obtain a Bowling score of 175+.
- Roadhouse Billy (5 points): Obtain a Shuffleboard score of 5 or more in a single round.
- Hanger! (5 points): Get a scored “Hanger” in Shuffleboard.
- Payday! (5 points): Purchase an item from Pro Shop.
- Shop-o-holic (5 points): Purchase all items in Pro Shop.
Shuffle Party Gameplay Video
Shuffle Party Screenshots
Version Under Review : 126.96.36.199
Shuffle Party is a FREE game for Windows Phone 7
Our Rating for Shuffle Party