Shuffle Party review [Windows Phone]
We review Shuffle Party, a great value shuffle board game from Babaroga
The first two free Xbox Live games offered by Microsoft may have been worthy of your attention, but it's hard to get too excited about Minesweeper and Sudoku. Shuffle Party, the third free game on Xbox Live, is a little different.
Technically, it's still just a variation on Shuffle Board (think Curling but without the ice and Scottish ladies with brooms) and Bowling, but the presentation and execution are of a high enough standard to make it worth your time.
There are four modes in the game: the aforementioned Bowling and Shuffle Board, as well as Challenge and Pass-the-handset multiplayer. The aim for all modes other than Bowling is to flick your shuffle board down the shiny wooden board at just the right power and direction to land in the high scoring zones.
Before mindlessly flicking your puck down the board, you can set up by dragging either above the item (to rotate the camera) or below (to move the view from side-to-side). You can't spin a shuffle board puck like a bowling ball, so any changes in direction when you hold back and flick the object translates instantly to the new direction.
Physics-wise, Shuffle Party feels fair without being too predictable, especially when it comes to the power of the shots. While it won't take long before you're slapping down a few Turkeys in bowling, judging the correct power to hit the magical 15 point area without going off the end of the board is satisfyingly tricky.
Things get considerably harder in the Challenge mode, which puts up barriers, switches and oddly placed zones that require both a deft hand and a bit of thought before flicking. It's this mode that provides the longevity for the game, with 33 tough levels, each one graded between one and three stars (in true mobile gaming fashion).
Each decent shot on any of the game modes awards a small amount of cash, which can then be used to purchase incredibly expensive customisation items from the self-stlyed Pro Shop. Those hoping for another easy 200 achievement points are advised to stay away from this particular title, as a number of achievements are tied into the purchasing of these items.
For everyone else though, Shuffle Party offers up a simple, yet surprisingly deep, casual sports game. The presentation of the menus may still be the same utilitarian look as the other free Xbox Live-enabled titles, but the quality of the graphics and the gameplay shines through.