Indie game dev "goofs too close to the sun" and gets their game temporarily barred by Nintendo for joking about teaching kids to gamble

Sunshine Shuffle
(Image credit: Strange Scaffold)

Sunshine Shuffle is a "narrative poker adventure" in which you discover the story of a bank robbery over a game of cards, and everyone involved is a cute little animal. It was supposed to launch on PC and Nintendo Switch last week, but it got delayed after its developer "goofed to close to the sun."

In a TikTok last week, developer Xalavier Nelson told fans that he wasn't sure if Sunshine Shuffle would make its Switch release date. By way of explanation, he told viewers that he'd had to tell Nintendo three times "whether or not our new game enables child gambling."

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"The store page is being blocked, because the game we made about adorable animal criminals who robbed a bank for complicated reasons telling you their life stories over a game of cards sure does seem like it is enticing children to - without their parents' permission - spend real world money in order to gamble."

For the record, that is not the case. Nelson has explained elsewhere that there are absolutely no microtransactions or any other form of outward monetisation anywhere in the game. However, the version of that story he's been painting over the last few weeks isn't that simple - Nelson's "goof" is that he's been offering a knowing wink to camera every time he posts a video about his game that 'definitely doesn't teach children to gamble'. And when the game got caught in a documentation snafu, that goof came back to bite him.


♬ original sound - Xalavier Nelson Jr

Speaking with GamesRadar+ shortly after the game's launch had been entirely blocked by the Korean Ratings Board and while questions were still hanging over its release on the North American eShop, Nelson said the game was "very open to misinterpretation."

"It's objectively funny. It's also just one of the hardest things in my career. I'm confident that this will be resolved soon [...] it's just not there right now on launch day. And obviously that's both demoralizing to a degree but also very stressful for the team."

Nelson explains that when any developer launches a game, forms and documentation that say what it is and how it will appear within a storefront are submitted to the platform holder. For Sunshine Shuffle, an additional series of questions were missed with the final submission. In other cases, perhaps, that would have been fine, but in the case of Sunshine Shuffle, an eShop representative looking a little deeper into the game would be met with an interesting set of details.

"If someone was to do a quick little Google search of your game, they would find dozens of videos of you winking at the camera saying it doesn't teach little children to gamble. That puts you in a complicated situation [...] We haven't put ourselves in the most defensible position."

Fortunately, Nelson's trust in the process prevailed, and Sunshine Shuffle is set to launch on Switch on May 31. Whether it ever gets to launch in Korea is uncertain, as Nelson isn't sure he'll be able to appeal that decision, but the game is at least out on Steam, where user reviews have been absolutely trolling the living hell out of Nelson for his goof. 

Head over to our upcoming indie games guide for a look over all the other smaller games that definitely don't teach children to gamble.

Ali Jones
News Editor

I'm GamesRadar's news editor, working with the team to deliver breaking news from across the industry. I started my journalistic career while getting my degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick, where I also worked as Games Editor on the student newspaper, The Boar. Since then, I've run the news sections at PCGamesN and Kotaku UK, and also regularly contributed to PC Gamer. As you might be able to tell, PC is my platform of choice, so you can regularly find me playing League of Legends or Steam's latest indie hit.