Video Game of the Day is a daily show available on Amazon Alexa devices and here on this website. Each day, we briefly discuss the history of a single game, randomly chosen. If you would like to listen on your daily flash briefing, you can enable Video Game of the Day here: https://amzn.to/2CNx2NJ.
Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day!
Most everyone listening to this show has probably spent some time with at least one Mario Party game. The classic board game style game mixed with minigames to compete in inspired a whole subgenre and love it or hate it, its staying power is undeniable. What you may not be familiar with is the one and only time that Sega tried to copy the Mario Party formula with their famous blue hedgehog. Today, let’s talk about that game and maybe look a bit at why we never got a follow-up. Today’s game is Sonic Shuffle, developed by Sega and released on the Dreamcast in 2000.
Sonic Shuffle features Sonic the Hedgehog and friends as they are whisked off to Maginaryworld, a land of dreams which is in danger. A girl named Void is going around destroying the Precioustones of Maginaryworld by… touching them, I guess? Anyway, this splits them into several pieces which Sonic and friends must collect and put back together to protect everybody’s dreams.
It’s fine that Sega wanted to incorporate a plot into their party game debut but it probably would have helped to have some reason why Sonic and friends are competing with each other for the Precioustones and moving around a board game map but whatever. Plot aside, Sonic Shuffle looks very familiar to Mario Party veterans but there are some major changes in the formula. Just like Mario Party, players pick from their roster of Sonic characters and move across the game board to the Precioustone, this game’s Power Stars. Only four characters are available at the start: Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy but there are four more unlockable characters as well. Each character does have a couple small differences. Everybody but Sonic has shortcut spaces on each board that may give them an edge in certain situations. Sonic is able to double his movement if he gets the same number two turns in a row.
This ability isn’t as random as you might think. Unlike Mario Party, where movement is determined by rolling a die, Sonic Shuffle deals out a hand of seven cards, each card containing a number. You can see your own hand but everyone else’s cards are hidden. Despite this, you can choose any card from any person’s hand on your turn to move that number of spaces on the board. This adds a layer of strategy and probability assessment to movement. Also, unlike Mario Party, minigames are only played when a minigame space is landed on, not at the end of every turn. This means that some turns may have multiple minigames while others may have none at all. The game has five boards to play on.
Sonic Shuffle had some interesting ideas but ultimately, it was a flop. Many of the minigames were considered too complex and not fun to play. The load times were also extremely long, causing a few critics to wish they could simply turn off the minigames altogether. The AI was also criticised for being simultaneously stupid or unfair. Still, the card movement system was often praised as were the maps and environment graphics. Sonic and friend used the same cel-shaded graphics technology as Jet Set Radio, and received mixed reception, with some praising the look while others disliked it. Modern retrospectives often state the art did not age well. Ultimately, Sonic Shuffle failed to sell and released only two months before Sega announced the discontinuation of the Dreamcast console. For both of these reasons, we never saw a Sonic Shuffle 2.
Thank you so much for listening! If you want to see and judge the art style for yourself, head over to our Instagram @vg_oftheday where we’ll have screenshots of Sonic Shuffle. You can follow me on Twitter @vg_oftheday for up to date streaming schedules and other projects. Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day!
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