Game developer “goofs too close to the sun” and gets game banned in South Korea
Xalavier Nelson Jr. of Strange Scaffold may have told one too many jokes about teaching children to gamble in new game Sunshine Shuffle, and now the game is getting banned on multiple platforms.
When Xalavier Nelson Jr., game developer, Denny’s survivor, and studio head of Strange Scaffold, took to TikTok to assure people that his game about cute animal criminals playing cards on boat “definitely wasn’t teaching kids to gamble,” we doubt he thought it would result in this kind of issue.
But as the developer himself posted on Twitter in the late hours of May 23, a day before new game, Sunshine Shuffle, was due to release on Steam and Nintendo Switch, he admits he may have “Goofed too close to the sun.”
Nelson, the co-creator of games such as Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator, An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs, has been making viral videos about the upcoming game Sunshine Shuffle for months. And in them he’s made it abundantly clear that the game, definitely, 100% doesn’t encourage or teach kids to gamble.
Except now, hours before its supposed release time, Sunshine Shuffle was banned from the North American Nintendo eShop, and, perhaps more impressively, the entirety of the Republic of Korea (South Korea). This was due to confusion over whether Sunshine Shuffle did, in fact, encourage children to gamble with real money.
What is Sunshine Shuffle, and how did it get banned?
Sunshine Shuffle is an adorable looking game where you discover the checkered pasts of a series of cute animals that just robbed a bank. Now, floating in the ocean, the animals are playing some cards and talking. To get them to talk, you play poker. Not with real money. Not with any microtransactions. Just some Texas Hold ‘em.
But, in order to play the game, the player needs to play Poker. And to play Poker, you need to learn to... well, play Poker. So Xalavier Nelson Jr.'s (now-backfired) viral marketing campaign had him obsess over the ethical and practical terms of teaching children how to play a game primarily used to gamble.
These videos perhaps worked a little too-well, and now, with game having released at 6:00 a.m. PT across the world, is currently temporarily banned from the Nintendo eShop in NA, and in South Korea.
Backfired viral campaign, or genius marketing?
Honestly, though, we say it backfired, but as anyone who’s ever been told they’re too young to watch a movie or can’t read a banned book will know: Banned stuff is cool. So while you now may not be able to buy the game in Nintendo eShop in the US, you can pick it up on Steam. Or Itch. And on the eShop in a bunch of other countries.
And we recommend you do. If only based on Strange Scaffold’s existing work. The aforementioned Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator is a frenetic sci-fi stocks and shares-trading game that somehow forces you to remember visual clues to size up organs. And Strange Scaffold’s next game, El Paso, Elsewhere, looks like a neo-noir homage to shooter classics like Max Payne, TimeSplitters, and others. We'll drop the trailer to that last one below, because it's one of our favorite game trailers of the past year.
Honestly, if you're getting a bit of tonal whiplash between these different genres, so are we. But we're also definitely trying Sunshine Shuffle. As huge fans of the now-ancient Valve-supported Poker Night at the Inventory series, this might scratch our single-player Poker itch in just the right way. If the game manages to remain unbanned, that is.
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