May 7, 2001
Sonic Shuffle (DC) - Review
Almost everybody enjoys playing a board game now and then. Be it Monopoly, Game Of Life, Sale of the Century or whatever there are few pastimes that generate so much fun and competition when in the company of family or friends. What then could be better then combining an all-new board game with Sega's most loved game character, Sonic The Hedgehog. It seems like the perfect match with plenty of potential for a lot of fun. Initial impressions indicated that Sega were on the right track with Sonic Shuffle. Nice graphics, a great 3D board and plenty of variety. It doesn't take too long however to realise that there is something dramatically wrong with this game.
|Cell-shaded graphics are impressive.|
It's not hard to see where Sega got the inspiration for this game, it's direct from Nintendo's (mildly entertaining) Mario Party and Sony's Crash Bash. The bulk of the game is played on a 3D board which is covered in different squares. The most common will give you rings or make you loose some. Some of the positions on the game board take you to battles with enemy creatures or mini-games with the other 3 competitors on the board. The ultimate goal in the game is to be the first to reach the Precious Stones, which are randomly placed around the board. When you begin the game the computer deals a deck of cars between the 4 players. Movement occurs by selecting one card from you hand, or from an opposition player (although you can't see what card you are picking from an opponent). As you would expect picking a 6 allows you to move 6 places, however, you lose that card and will not be able to use it again.
|The 3D board in all its glory.|
While moving around the board you will land on mini-games squares which takes you to a new area where you compete with your opponents. These mini-games usually require a lot of skill, as well as a little luck. One thing that is impressive about Sonic Shuffle is the variety of these mini-games. There are dozens of different games to play and mastering them will take a lot of practice. Encounters with enemy monsters are also common, and they also take place when you reach the Precious Stones. Battling a monster is as simple as picking a card and then stopping it rotating as it increments 1, 2, 3, etc. You must stop the card at a higher number then the opponent.
|One of the many mini-games.|
So what is the problem with the game? Initially it's the confusion. There are so many rules to learn and mini-games to get the hang of that your head will be spinning. After managing to get to grips with the gameplay it then becomes painfully annoying with the load time. I'm not just talking a few seconds either. I'm talking about a 10-20 second wait between mini-games and encounters with monsters. When you look at games such as Skies of Arcadia and well, almost every other Dreamcast game, this is quite a shock to the system. Another minor disappointment is that Sonic Shuffle is generally a 4 player game, and sadly the developers have not taken the opportunity to make this playable online, which would have made this game so much more enviable.
Definitely the most enjoyable part of this game is the graphics. Using a cell-shading technique, similar to that in Jet Set Radio, Sonic Shuffle looks impressive and the animation is very smooth. The 3D board is delightfully colourful while the textures are as good as can be expected. The music and voices are both quite impressive and add an exciting atmosphere to the game.
|Yet another fun little mini-game.|
It's sad to think that with all the extra time we have had to wait for the PAL version of this game that Sega couldn't have done something with the horrendous load times. It totally ruined the Sonic Shuffle which could have been a great little multi-player (and internet) title were a little more planning put into it. This is one of the biggest letdowns on the Dreamcast to date and falls well short of most other Sonic branded games in the little guys 10 year history. Save your money for Sonic Adventure 2 instead.