Shufflepuck Cafe

Title           Shufflepuck Cafe
Game Type       Sport
Players		1
Compatibility	All
HD Installable	Boot from disk
Submission      D.J.

      One thing I discovered in reviewing this game, as I took down info
from the intro screen, is that the opening music goes on for quite a while
and is actually rather good, even if the splices between sections are a
little raw. But the game itself is very well-done. It's quite simple but
Gross has taken what might have been only a sterile, pong type of arcade
game, and injected a lot of atmosphere, humour and playability.

      The intro screen is the grimy back alley entrance to a seedy dive
called the Shufflepuck Cafe. Inside you are confronted by a room full
of... well... people. A few people at least, including an egg-head, a
biker and a mystic chick, some aliens (too damn many) and a droid serving
drinks. If you click on the "Champion's Board" the game will present you
with the nine opponents in order of their skill (easiest first, of
course). Otherwise you may click directly on a person to choose them as an
opponent. Having done that, you are presented with the play screen. You
sit across the Shufflepuck board from your opponent. The board looks like
a heavily reinforced shuffleboard (a sort of table-top curling rink),
basically a chute with open ends. Or is it more like a narrow air-hockey

      Each player has a rectangular paddle which is controlled with the
mouse; it can be moved side to side and back to front. The paddle is used
to shoot the frictionless puck and to block your opponent's shots. To
score you must shoot the puck past the opponent's paddle, satisfyingly
smashing a plate of glass put there just for you to smash. Games go to the
first fifteen points.

      The qualities of the paddle can be adjusted. You can make it
impossibly narrow or have it fill 100% of the board width. You can add
power and heft to it, make it impart special zing on the angle shots or
have it power up when the mouse button is pressed. You can also add a
BLOCKER, a paddle that moves back and forth across the centre line,
complicating play and making it even easier to score on yourself.
Your opponents all have customized paddles and distinct playing styles.
Some are impossible to lose to, some are just annoying and some are a real
challenge. And then there's Bif, the biker, who takes great pleasure in
destroying you in scoreless games. If the selection of opponents are not
to your taste then you can play the Droid, which can be fully configured
as any thing from a klutz to a demi-god.

      So if you want to hone your hand eye coordination or just hang out
in a seedy, off-world dive, drinking and jiving with aliens, bikers and
mystic chicks, the Shufflepuck Cafe should be on your itinerary.

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