Indie dev’s joke gets adorable poker game temporarily banned from Nintendo eShop

The field ahead sunshine shuffle, a new indie game coming out this week is a really good one. You play as one of many cute animals playing poker together on a boat. As you play, you learn that, as in Reservoir dogs, said cute animals just committed a robbery together. Poker, animals and crime – a compelling mix for a promising indie game due out this week. The problem is that some people can’t play it for a few days because a pretty funny prank from the game’s developer got a little out of hand.

Xalavier Nelson, Jr., who runs the Strange Scaffold games development label, is known professionally for his quirky narrative games (An airport for aliens currently run by dogs, Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator) and his occasionally tongue-in-cheek online presence where he goes to great lengths to make extremely lame jokes. (To consider this thread with 93 tweetsa rough dog story in the service of a terrible, terrible pun.)

One of Nelson’s last jokes went off Sunshine shuffle. As he explains in a video, he came up with a recurring joke that the game “teach kids how to gamble” because of its combination of cute animals and poker – which, to be clear, the game doesn’t. Unfortunately, this meant that people started taking him seriously at the 11th hour – with the result that, while Sunshine shuffle is out now on Steam and itch.ioIt is currently not available on Nintendo eShop in North America and has been completely banned from the Republic of Korea, according to Nelson.

Hearing that his game was banned from its largest potential market on the eve of launch was “not that funny,” Nelson tells Polygon on a phone call after 24 hours of frenetic communication and also a lot of Lot 2. “And a few hours later it was the funniest thing in the universe.”

According to Nelson, the impetus for his prank was to anticipate potential criticisms of bad faith sunshine shuffle, where people would take the game out of context and say it was distasteful to have a game with cute animals gambling because it would teach kids how to gamble. In fact, Nelson says Strange Scaffold even tried to invent a new deck that didn’t use regular playing cards, but “it didn’t work for the gameplay and narrative dynamics we wanted.” So poker stayed in because it worked best and because it serves as a tribute to Poker night in the inventoryTelltale Games’ now-listed 2010 narrative poker game.

Through it all, Nelson has remained good-natured and confident in the publishing process and still makes the joke that got him into this mess. He also makes lemonade and uses it as an opportunity to interact with people, including those who have the wrong idea of ​​his game.

“Someone on TikTok said, ‘I’m not even watching a game with microtransactions and loot boxes, glad Nintendo is stopping it,'” says Nelson. “And I said, ‘We don’t have microtransactions or loot boxes, checkmate, you have to buy our game.'” This interaction (another joke!) that Nelson says led to a sale might explain why he can’t quite stop playing joking about his games, even though he remains sincere that he is genuinely not trying to mislead anyone.

“I think a lot of people want to be treated with dignity, and there are a lot of incentive structures in our world to remove that human dignity and reduce people to utilitarian concepts, rather than people with souls and experiences and ideals,” says Nelson. . “And yes, because [Sunshine Shuffle’s banning] is unusual, because it catches the eye. And because, frankly, it’s one of the most stressful things I’ve encountered in my career, it gives me a fantastic opportunity to speak to people as people. And in rare cases where people react negatively or abrasively, sometimes you turn that around completely.

There is also a happy ending: after our conversation, an email from the PR agency that represents Sunshine shuffle announced that the game will be released on the North American eShop on Wednesday, May 31. It remains banned in the Republic of Korea.