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Sonic Shuffle  

The Dreamcast's four built-in controller ports make it a natural system for multi-player games. Sonic Shuffle attempts to exploit this feature by offering a board-style game where up to four players seek to save the land of Maginaryworld by collecting fragments of the Precioustone. The familiar characters and simple concept could create an entertaining game if not for the extremely unfair computer controlled opponents. Due to the irritating CPU characters, Sonic Shuffle provides little enjoyment unless exactly four people play.

The general game rules are mostly simple. Players can initially choose Sonic, Tails, Amy or Knuckles. The characters have slightly different abilities, but fortunately none of them hold a great advantage over the others. Each player receives a handful of cards that let the characters move around the board or possibly cause an event to take place. Players can either select a card from their own hand, or if no choices appear desirable, take a chance and blindly choose another person's card. The different types of spaces on the board also result in varying actions. Spaces might change the number of rings a player possesses, initiate a battle or mini-game or lead to a few other events.

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In addition to the basic moves, players can also buy and win various jewels. These stones give a character some extra powers, such as the ability to use multiple cards for the same turn or impede an opponent's progress. Mini-games are also prominent. Sonic Shuffle's wide variety of mini-games includes some that pit all four players against each other and some that require cooperation. Although a few of them are fun, a lot of the mini-games also feel completely random, with no clear winning strategy.

Unfortunately, an unbalanced CPU makes the game frustrating for any less than four players. Sonic Shuffle displays all of a human-controlled character's cards on the screen at the beginning of each turn. Thus, people can see and memorize their competitors' decks. However, they never get to observe the computer's cards. On the other hand, the computer-controlled opponents appear to possess near-perfect knowledge of everyone else's cards. The CPU characters also rarely lose a battle and manage to nearly always beat the other players to the Precioustone fragments.

Sonic Shuffle's graphics feature a mixture of standard-looking 3D graphics for the board and backgrounds and cel-shaded characters. The combination looks somewhat awkward, as the characters stick out from the rest of the level. The graphics overall exhibit a largely simple design, which makes sense given the nature of a board game. Strangely, the tiles still suffer from a bit of drawn-in when a player flies across the board. Most players won't pay attention to the game's minimal sounds. Sonic Shuffle contains some spoken dialog, but people will also spend a good amount of time reading the conversations.

Most players will feel disappointed by Sonic Shuffle, especially if they expect a game of the same quality as other Sonic ones. Overall, Sonic Shuffle isn't awful, but the Dreamcast's library offers plenty of better choices. System owners who desire some multi-player action will be better off with a different game such as Power Stone 2 or Virtua Tennis.

-- Rachel Lewis


Review By
Rachel Lewis

Grade
C
Average


Review Guidelines
System: Dreamcast
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Medium: GD-ROM
Players: 1 - 4
Online: (n/a)
ESRB Rating: n/a


Media

3774
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