Another free available exclusively on Windows Phone 7 (WP7) devices, Shuffle Party is developed by the experienced mobile team at Babaroga. Coming from the same studio responsible for the fantastic mobile adaptation of the classic Zombies!!! board game, Shuffle Party is a somewhat a change of pace, but no less a welcome experience given it’s price tag.
Shuffle Party is essentially a series of shove ha’penny, giving the player control over the power and direction a puck travels along a board with different goals along the way. The first gameplay mode is an adaptation of ten pin bowling, using the traditional two-bowl, ten turn scoresheet and rewarding the player with cash bonuses for spares and consecutive strikes. Cash earned can then be used to purchase new items, such as colour and design variations for pucks, pins and table surfaces.
Cash can be earned in any of the gameplay modes, including the Shuffleboard, which is a slight variation on the British rules for the aforementioned shove ha’penny, wherein players have seven rounds to attempt a high score. Pucks propelled too hard can knock other pucks out of play, so players must balance scores already achieved and the risk of attempting to go for more points.
The final gameplay mode is entitled Challenge, and features three chapters of twelve individual set-ups. Ranked out of three stars, players must achieve a high-score by collecting coins and landing their four pucks in score zones. Just as with the Shuffleboard mode, previous pucks remain in play demanding players pay attention to the board layout as well as their current score. The Challenge mode is arguably the most entertaining part of Shuffle Party simply due to it’s typical videogame structure, placing demands on the player that other gameplay modes don’t even seem to have considered, and therefore giving the player more to achieve form a very similar set-up.
The visual quality of Shuffle Party isn’t exactly stunning, but it doesn’t ever need to be. The 3D design is perfectly suited to the gameplay and the inclusion of Xbox LIVE Avatars is a surprisingly welcome addition, while the sound effects are perfectly competent. While Shuffle Party hardly pushing the Windows Phone 7 hardware to the limit, it is a very reasonable product in both organisation and presentation.
Microsoft Studios are keen to push Windows Phone 7 as a legitimate gaming platform, and as a comparison to iOS and Android, it’s videogames like Shuffle Party that’ll help it take pole position. Many of the titles currently available on the Zune Marketplace are simple conversions or high priced franchise adaptations, but Shuffle Party is an elegant Xbox LIVE enabled product offered completely free. As far as mobile gaming goes, you simply can’t say fairer than that.