Sound Shapes

Sound Shapes, as the name cleverly implies, is a game primarily about sounds and, you guessed it, shapes. It is part rhythm action game and part old school 2D platformer.

The simple basis of the game is that you, as a sticky blob that can stick to certain materials, move around the levels from screen to screen collecting coins and looking for the exit. The musical part of the game primarily comes from collecting coins, as each coin you collect adds a different sound to the in game music. The screen works as a sort of virtual musical instrument, with coins found higher up the screen representing higher notes than ones found lower down.

Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a challenge without some pitfalls, so the game gives you one simple rule: if it’s red, it’s deadly. This includes everything from scenery to walking, bouncing, flying and shooting enemies. All of these pitfalls also add sounds to the mix, so everything from the slamming down of crushers and the shooting of enemies all adds together to create the soundscape. It’s clever, and means that listening to the music actually helps you to find the correct rhythm to make it through each screen. If you die, there’s little punishment other than the fact that your overall time suffers, and you go back to the last checkpoint you passed, of which there are fortunately many.

It’s available on PSN, and buying it on either Vita or PS3 gets you a version for the other console for free,  too. With its stylised, bold 2D graphics and funky bass heavy soundtracks, it reminded me of Pixeljunk Eden, another title also available on PSN. In fact, it reminds me of a lot of other titles in different ways, too. If Lumines, Loco Roco, Pixeljunk Eden and LittleBigPlanet had a gang bang, this could be the musically talented offspring produced.

Why LittleBigPlanet? Sound Shapes has a level editor, allowing you to create and share you musical creations with fellow Sound Shapers (as I imagine they are called). The level editor is quite decent, and I expect that once the creative folks who make the LittleBigPlanet user content get their hands on it, there’ll be some fantastic levels. Which is lucky, as the main game is actually quite short, and not really too challenging. As a platform game, it does fall a little flat, as it isn’t all that original or challenging, but to review Sound Shapes as just a platform game is missing the point. It’d be like reviewing a musical based entirely on all the bits between the songs. Much of the charm of Sound Shapes is playing it and enjoying the music as you work through the levels. There’s a level with music by Beck which was a fantastic experience, if not that fantastic an actual platformer.

Finishing the campaign unlocks some extra hard challenges called Death Mode. I tried one and found it to be harder than diamond tipped nails, so if you’re looking for a tough challenge this (and the user created levels) might be where to look. There’s also a mode called Beat School where you have to use the editor to match music that the game plays for you, which plays out like a sort of musical Minesweeper as you try to locate the correct notes.







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