There are a ton of card games out there today. So if you’re making a card game of any sort in the year 2023, you’d better stand out. Well, Sunshine Shuffle stands out in a couple of ways, but the main reason is that it has a story connected to the gameplay. It takes about three hours to beat the story mode, and after that, you basically have free reign to play cards with these loveable furry friends.
Let’s start by talking about the gameplay. You’re essentially playing Texas Hold ‘Em Poker. Thankfully for anyone not familiar with the game, they give you all the instructions, PLUS it automatically shows you what pairs you have, if you have a straight, a flush, etc. This makes it super easy to pick up and learn quickly while focusing on the story. At first, my biggest issue with the gameplay was that if you’re trying to progress the story and check at the same time, it would either skip the dialogue or check when you didn’t want to check. Thankfully, this was actually recently patched in the game and is no longer an issue! Overall, the gameplay is simple, intuitive, and is a lot of fun for someone just wanting to play some cards without the risk of losing money.
What separates Sunshine Shuffle from other games is the fact it has a story. You play as the investigator. Your job is to meet these furry friends and figure out if they’re dangerous and need to be taken out. During the gameplay, you’ll get each character’s backstory telling you everything from what they did, how they felt about it, why they did it, and what they’re doing now. You have Jordan, Andie, Billy, Peter, and Captain Fidelius on the boat with you. Each one, except for Fidelius, plays against you until they go bust, and then they sit there and continue the story conversation.
Here lies one of the issues I had with pacing in Sunshine Shuffle. In between matches, the story halts as cards are passed back out and then someone says something like, “were you saying something?” Then the last person to say something about the story repeats what they said. That isn’t bad when all four players are still playing, but as people go bust, the time between rounds is much shorter, leading to them repeating A LOT of the plot conversations until everyone goes bust. It started getting to a point where I would sometimes lose on purpose so I could keep someone in the game. While this doesn’t ruin the game for me, it does slow it down quite a bit for seemingly no reason. I would get really invested in what someone was saying and then it would just halt, then restart the sentence. On a smaller scale, sometimes the players would talk about the game itself instead of what they were talking about, which is normal in card games I’ve played in real life, but it stops progress in the game, which leads to some frustration. They also have a lot less text about the game, leading to them repeating themselves about what I did with a check or a fold, and less about the story, which I wanted to hear about.
The characters are adorable, leading to some heartbreaking or hilarious moments between them. This is truly a found family situation with a Fishy Mob holding a lot over the character’s heads. I really loved hearing everyone’s backstories and then getting each character’s reaction to those backstories. It was like being a part of a TV show and being the reason they die or live.
A BIG reason I enjoyed sitting down and playing Sunshine Shuffle was the soundtrack. They have a Ska themed soundtrack written and composed by Skatune Network. I have been a fan of JER from Skatune Network for a LONG time, and I immediately recognized the music style when the first theme song and gameplay music started. It gave me a lot of nostalgia as a long time fan of the Ska genre. I honestly wish that the soundtrack was longer so I could hear more throughout the gameplay, but it was fun overall for how long the game is in total.
I did hit one major snag that seemed like it was just the wrong place, wrong time. After winning the first tournament, I actually turned the game off before going into the second tournament. Doing this, I came back in and the characters didn’t talk to me about the plot anymore. They just talked about the card game itself. When I mentioned it to the development team, they did let me know that wasn’t a normal glitch, they were taking a look at it. When I played again, it had no issues moving forward with the plot.
Once you beat the game and see the credits, you can actually go back and keep playing cards. I don’t want to spoil the story, but you will be able to keep going as long as you want. I think this is always a fun idea for a game since it keeps people going and makes it a relaxing experience.
I appreciate Sunshine Shuffle for what it is, a card game with an adorable story. Even though it has some small things I wasn’t a fan of, I really did enjoy my time playing and learning about each character and what their reasons were for joining the gang. If you like Texas Hold ‘Em and cute characters, Sunshine Shuffle is for you.
Adam is a musician and gamer who loves his partner in crime, Regan, and their two pets Rey and Finn. Adam is a fan of Star Wars, Mass Effect, NFL Football, and gaming in general. Follow Adam on Twitter @TheRexTano.
If you like Texas Hold ‘Em Poker and stories about found family, this is the game for you. You take on the role of an investigator, working for… well, you’ll find out. Your job is to investigate if the creatures on the ship are dangerous and worth taking out. Seems weird, yeah? Well Sunshine Shuffle has plenty of heart. Each character has a back story and with a couple story twists, it’s really fun. There are some minor issues when it comes to pacing, but in general, if you like card games and cute stories, you’ll enjoy Sunshine Shuffle.