Developers: Queasy Games, SCE Santa Monica Studios
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Dates: August 7th, 2012 (Ps3 & Vita), November 15th, 2013 (Ps4)
Available on: Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita
With 2D platformers hitting their stride again, it’s nice to see some new takes on the genre. Sound Shapes goes for a blend or platforming and rhythm with a music/level creation tool wrapped around a 2D platforming game.
The game features five different zones, which are composed of 3 to 5 levels each. Each zone has music from one of four different artist. The game has music by I Am Robot and Proud, Jim Guthrie, Deadmau5, and Beck, which leads to a pretty well done soundtrack. Each level has you trying to collect notes and get to the end with as many as possible. You don’t need to collect all the notes to finish a level, but with each note you collect you add more instruments and noises to the music. In fact, every single object in the game, be it enemies or platforms, make their own unique sound that adds to the music. You have the abilities to stick to lighter surfaces and can turn into a ball to speed yourself up a bit. It doesn’t sound like much, but each level is really creative with how it handles these abilities.
Of course, rolling and jumping isn’t all you do. Sometimes you’ll take control of a spaceship and fly around a level, using a boost to speed up and avoid traps. Other times you’ll be swimming through water, having to rise and fall to get around things. These segments don’t last too long, but they’re a nice little change of pace from the regular stuff. Once you complete the campaign you’ll unlock two new game modes. Death Mode tasks you with collecting all of the notes on a small level under a time limit and without getting killed. It’s difficult and requires you to have precision skills while still going fast. The second mode is called Beat School and it’s a complete departure from the rest of the game. Beat School is a puzzle mode instead, where you listen to a beat and place notes on a grid to recreate that beat. It’s a fun little distraction, and helps with teaching you how to make beats for the in game level editor.
Really, the level editor is the star of the show here. While it’s not quite as in depth as LittleBigPlanet is, the tools available to you allow a pretty wide options on how to build your levels. More importantly though, it also allows you to create your own music with clever use of the items. They weren’t slacking here and the things you can find in the level editor easily rival the main game itself. The tools aren’t tough to use either and before long you can be making some really interesting stuff. The best of the best get featured in “milkcrates” which are pretty much just a way to play select levels one after another, similar to the campaign levels. These are the levels you want to be playing, as they’re the best example of what you can do with the editor.
Just for those curious, the only difference between the Playstation 4 version and the others is a few negligible features on the controller. The light on it flashes in beat with the music and changes colors to fit the mood of the level, but it’s nearly impossible to notice. A few sounds, like picking up notes and the cymbal crash when you die, has been moved to the speaker on the controller but that’s not really a major change. Finally, you can use the touch pad in the menus to spin the records to speed up or slow down the music, but this is just a little silly thing rather than an actual feature. Luckily, if you bought one version of the game you get all three so if you’re making the upgrade you can grab it again.
Sound Shapes is really a great game. The music is fantastic and the platforming is really slick. Combine those with a great level editor and you have something to keep you busy for a long while. I highly recommend this game for anyone even barely interested.