App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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King, the behemoth behind Candy Crush Saga, has come along with something new. Shuffle Cats ditches the saga moniker and focuses on a multiplayer rummy experience that looks and feels really nice.
Shuffle Cats, at its core, is a real-time multiplayer rummy game. For those unfamiliar with rummy, it's a game using a standard deck of cards in which players try to match at least three of the same card value (called a meld) or sequential cards of the same suit (called a run) to earn points. The first player to score a certain number of points wins the game.
These basic rules all apply to Shuffle Cats, but there are some twists applied, like a mechanic that replenishes your deck, equippable charms, and more. All in all, it still feels like rummy, but moves at a faster pace and provides a little more variety between rounds.
King also shakes up this rummy game by throwing a cat theme over it. Specifically, Shuffle Cats looks and feels like what a card den in The Aristocats universe might look like.
While it's visual stylings are just cosmetic, they help give the game a lot of personality. The character designs are all colorful and strong, and each house of play has it's own distinct look.
No more nine lives
Unlike Candy Crush Saga, Shuffle Cats opts to use a dual currency system over lives. This makes the game have a casino-vibe, since you have to buy in to play games and get payouts for winning. As you keep winning, you'll move on to card dens with higher buy ins and payouts.
Thankfully, you don't just have to win to get gems. Logging in every four hours, leveling up, and playing a mini-game called Hearts or Spades can all pay out gems free of charge. Of course, you can also purchase gems using gold too, which trickles in slowly for free players or can be purchased with cash.
As polished as Shuffle Cats is, it certainly has its issues, most of which are common problems of free-to-play online games.
For starters, if you're looking for any significant amount of single-player content, you won't find much here. There is a brief set of levels against AI that is setup to introduce you to how the game works, but aside from that the game is purely multiplayer.
To make matters worse, Shuffle Cats requires a constant network connection in order to play and drops you to the main menu immediately if your connection is disrupted. This makes playing even the brief single-player bits of the game frustrating if you are in an area that doesn't have a solid connection.
The bottom line
Shuffle Cats is a really good multiplayer rummy game that shows promise of getting better over time. It appears as though updates will come to the game providing more single-player content, and the connection issues should only get better from here. It may not be the deepest multiplayer card game out there, but it's dang fun and looks really nice.