A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, a spaceman stumbled upon an intergalactic café filled with all sorts of aliens and robots. These inhabitants passed the time laying a modified version of air hockey known as shufflepuck. Shufflepuck Café it one of those games that remains iconic due to its quirky characters and the fact that there wasn’t anything else like it. Now a new version of the game has arrived a host of new and old faces to pit your wits against.
The plot is that you have crash landed on a planet and need to raise money to buy the parts to put your ship back together. You head towards the nearest building and inside discover a friendly robot, a musical homage to Mos Eisley and the game of Shufflepuck. The original game had you simply picking one of the café patrons to play against from the off but here things are a little bit more tiered.
The cantina is set out into a number of floors with a boss character at the very top. Each floor contains three people to play against and they all have their own traits, paddles, pucks and special moves. Your biggest barrier is money as it can be slow to accumulate and you need to pay large amounts to unlock new floors and equipment.
To break things up there are three ways of playing your opponent. You can undertake a simple one on one duel, bet on the match to try and increase your winnings or undertake the survival mode. In survival you are simply trying to score as many points without reply as possible in order to earn money multipliers. There are also missions of increasing difficulty to try and complete. Most these involve winning by a clear amount of points but it’s a good attempt at variety in a game where the premise is hitting a hockey puck up and down a table.
The modes may be similar but the characters you face are different enough to keep things fresh. Each has their own special moves which need to be learned and countered in order to have any success. Early specials consists of shots that snake up the table or curve but later on they are deviously fiendish to try and stop.
As you progress you can buy new pucks and paddles and win characters equipment by collecting all their back story pages. This then allows you to bring your own special shots to the table and gives you a fighting chance. Shufflepuck Cantina is fairly tough to begin with but once you get the hang of the speed and the way the paddles move it becomes much easier. The biggest problem is that saving up for anything takes a long time and you’ll probably be playing the same opponents multiple times in order to reach the total to go up a floor or buy a new paddle to give you a chance.
The game started life as an iOS title and we can see where the in app purchases would have been. There’s none of that here but a lowering of the money required to get things would have been welcome as there are a ton of things to buy and not that many opponents to play against in order to get them. It would have also been nice to ahve the original game somewhere in there but then you can't have everything.
Issues with money aside, Shufflepuck Cantina is a loving homage to the original game. There’s a lot of attention to detail and the game plays well. Much like the original we would suggest it isn’t something you’re going to spend hour long sessions playing but it’s certainly great fun in small doses. It’s not the most complex game but what it does it does well and we’re glad to see someone taking a slightly obscure cult hit and creating something that actually deserves to be played. It should put a smile on old fans and people new to the series and it’s really much better than we could have hoped for.