Shuffleboard doesn't get the love it deserves. Often overlooked by curling, its more exciting cousin, shuffleboard has been relegated to the world of retirement homes and craft breweries. Despite its lack of fans, that hasn't stopped Sennep Games from taking the core concepts of the table game and turning them into OLO Loco - a bizarre casual title for iOS and Android. And, thanks to a simplified scoring system along with several fast-paced game modes, it’s a thrilling take on the neglected shuffleboard format.
Real shuffleboard comes in a few different flavors, but the goal is always the same. Players take turns sliding pucks across a board, aiming to land them in various scoring zones at the other end. Depending on where it lands, you'll score a certain amount of points. It's not a difficult concept to wrap your head around, but OLO Loco makes things even simpler - in two of its three game modes there is only one scoring zone. All you have to do is slide a puck down to your opponent's side of the field to earn a point. Throw it too far, and it'll end up in a non-scoring zone and your enemy will claim your puck, giving them an extra throw.
Three game modes are present in OLO Loco (Classic, Reverso, and Boolo), all of which are an absolute blast. The physics engine created by the team is second to none and sliding pucks across the board has a real weight to it. The best is when, at the end of a match, you desperately try to knock an opponent's puck out of a scoring zone - there's nothing quite like taking the lead on your final throw.
While Classic and Boolo are fun on their own, I found Reverso to be the most compelling reason to keep playing. It's a mode that revolves around smacking other pucks on the playfield to change the team they belong to. This means you can easily score multiple points on a single throw if you manage to ricochet off several enemy pucks, switching them to your team and hopefully pushing them into the scoring zone. The last few throws can become a desperate attempt on both sides, where players are wildly sending their pieces across the board hoping to knock pucks out of the scoring zone or reclaim pieces by hitting them into their end of the field.
The other two modes are still fun, but pale in comparison to Reverso. Classic is the game at its core - players slide their pucks across the board and the winner is whoever has the most on their opponent's side at the end. Boolo, on the other hand, has players aiming to land their pucks in small zones that grant points at the end of each turn. Things can quickly get out of hand in this mode, as all it takes is a few pucks in a high scoring zone to run up the scoreboard. It's fun for a few matches, but I quickly found myself diving back into Reverso when playing with friends and family.
All game modes can be played with either two or four players in local multiplayer, but online play is limited to two player Classic. I've also found that the online play isn't the most robust, with long wait times between each player's turn. It feels like each match was designed to be played in a single sitting, but players are given multiple hours to make each move before the game times out, turning each battle into an asynchronous showdown. It's not terrible playing online, but games would certainly be more compelling if each player only had a few seconds to make each move. At the very least it would be nice to have some more options for online multiplayer.
OLO Loco manages to do the impossible - make shuffleboard exciting. Hilarious graphics, a minimalistic UI, the ever hilarious OLOmoji (used to taunt your opponent), and simplified gameplay make this one of the best local multiplayer experiences in recent memory. It would have been nice to have some unlockable content or a better way to track your online stats, but for what it is OLO Loco exceeds with flying colors.