Developer: Sidhe Interactive
Release Dates: July 23rd, 2009 (PlayStation 3), March 15th, 2010 (PC)
Available on: PlayStation 3, PC
Editor’s note: I originally wrote this review October 8th, 2009 for my Giant Bomb account. I decided to clean it up and move it over here to have all my reviews in one place. This review was also written for the Playstation Network version of Shatter. The Steam version seems to have extra features added that are not accounted for in this review.
Reviving old and forgotten genres of games seems to be the new thing as of late. We have Geometry Wars reviving the duel-stick shooter genre or Braid and Trine bringing back 2D platformers. Shatter is the newest attempt at this, with Sidhe Interactive attempting to bring back the long forgotten and dormant brick-breaking genre. Some of you may remember past games like Breakout and Arkanoid being major games in this genre from the 80’s. So how does Shatter hold up?
Shatter actually does have a story, albeit a very simple one. It focuses around a paddle called Bat 1138 breaking free of its cell at the Kinetic Energy Harvest Plant and going on to free its friends from the Xenon, evil robots that took them over and forced them to work. That is about as deep as the story gets, and even then it’s based on a bit of guesswork. There is no spoken dialog, no written dialog after the opening cut scene and no cut scenes until you beat the game and see the (rather humorous) ending. The game is, honestly, better thanks to this. There is really no way on earth they could have done anything with what they had. Really, if you’re looking for story then this is not the game you should be playing. Granted, I’m sure most of you can tell that from just watching a trailer, but for those that missed it then here’s your warning.
The gameplay in Shatter manages to be rather simple, yet it’s pretty engrossing. Like most block breaking games the objective is hit the ball with the bat into the blocks, and don’t miss the ball on it’s way back. Unlike most block breaker games, Shatter lets you blow and suck the ball to give you some control over it after it’s left your bat. Get your giggles out now. Blowing and sucking balls. Tee-hee. You can also launch out as many of your balls as you want, so long as you have extra lives to spare. So yes, you will be blowing and sucking multiple balls over the course of your adventure. This manages to give you control of the ball after it leaves the bat, making the game avoid those moments when you only have just one block to hit and can’t get the right angle to hit it.
Adding to things would be the fact that some blocks can float around the play area, even able to hit you and stun you for a couple of seconds. To counter this you have two special abilities that you can charge up by sucking up shards the blocks leave behind. The first is a shield, which can destroy any blocks that hit it, or the shield can be used to reflect the shards back at the blocks. Your other ability is the shard storm, which shoots a ton of shards at the blocks in a form of a beam that fires out of your bat. Also, to mix things up a bit, Shatter has 10 boss fights that require you to hit the ball into weak spots on a moving enemy. These boss fights are highly creative and require a good amount of skill to beat.
Presentation wise, Shatter has nice clean graphics that look great. The effects are pretty nice, with some awesome particle effects when you break blocks and . The soundtrack stands out too, with fun techno music that fit the theme of the game. Actually the techno music is really good and I’m not even a huge fan of techno. It’s the kind of music that sells soundtracks.
The game does suffer from two pretty big issues though, and that would be it’s short length and low replay value. After you beat the story mode, something that could take 3-5 hours, that’s pretty much it. You can aim for higher scores and you do unlock a boss rush mode, but otherwise there is little reason to go through the game again. Still, for $8.00 it’s really worth it.
Overall, Shatter manages to meet its goal of revitalizing the brick breaking genre of games. With it’s simple yet fun game play and great presentation, Shatter should be a definite buy for those that are looking for something on the PsN and have the money to spend.