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Shufflepuck Cantina

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad, Steam

Darth who?

Product: Shufflepuck Cantina | Publisher: Agharta Studio | Format: iPhone | Genre: Arcade | Players: 1 | Version: US | App version: 1.2
Shufflepuck Cantina iPhone, thumbnail 1
Few things in life are as satisfying as smacking something with a mallet.

Whether this occurs in a game of polo or a round of croquet, the excitement of sending an inanimate object hurtling into your opponent's face is a pleasure that can be enjoyed by anyone.

Shufflepuck Cantina extends this simple pleasure to characters from a galaxy far, far away.

Pucker up

At its core, Shufflepuck Cantina is a homage to the 1989 Macintosh game Shufflepuck Café, in which you had to compete in a sci-fi version of Pong using an air hockey table as a battlefield.

The basic gameplay of Shufflepuck Cantina will be immediately familiar to anyone who has dabbled in the game of air hockey before. For those who haven't, a tutorial presents the finer points of the game in an easy-to-follow fashion.

A puck is placed in the middle of a table, and you strike it with your mallet to send it past your opponent's mallet to score a point. Score enough points and you win the match.

Each opponent has a special 'strike', which will send the puck at you in a signature style - curved shots, corkscrews, and teleporting pucks are all possible.

While annoying to deal with at first, these strikes help keep the game challenging, and break up the tedium of volleying a puck back and forth in what is ultimately a reprise of the first commercially successful video game.

What? The puck.

The gameplay of Shufflepuck Cantina - intuitive, fun, and fast-paced as it is - would prove relatively boring after awhile if it weren't for the excellent graphics, storyline, and missions that make up the game's fictional world.

Set in an intergalactic bar that looks strangely familiar to a cantina from a 1977 movie about wars that take place among the stars (with a riff on the iconic music to match), the game presents references to various works of science-fiction with its tongue planted firmly in its cheek.

Each opponent that you can challenge in the cantina is more than just someone that you face off against with pucks and mallets: each of them has a backstory that unfolds episodically.

While you're rewarded with in-game loot (exclusive pucks and mallets) for delving into each character's backstory, those who like a bit of lore in the games will find that learning about the characters and their various motivations is rewarding enough in its own right.

It's true that Shufflepuck Cantina presents a gorgeous 3D world from the outset, but it's the addition of interwoven backstories and plot that really makes it stand out.

The puck stops here

In order to unlock chapters of a character's backstory or progress to higher levels of the cantina you have to spend a good amount of in-game currency (Credz). You can earn these through standard matches of air hockey against NPCs or purchase them with your own money via IAPs.

Thankfully, making purchases isn't necessary to progress through the game and unlock every feature, but it does speed up the process significantly. You're unlikely to resent sending money back to the developers for the time and polish that they put into this freemium title.

If you're looking for a simple game to play on the go and have ever owned a mock lightsaber you'll have a ball with Shufflepuck Cantina.
Shufflepuck Cantina
Reviewer photo
Matthew Diener | 24 September 2012
Great graphics and a catchy (if familiar) soundtrack contribute to the overall excellent game atmosphere
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