Sounds and music make up a very important part of the game. The idea then came to make game based around music and rhythm such as Parappa the Rapper, DDR and Guitar Hero, to name a few. The guys over at Queasy Games decided to make a music/rhythm platformer, an interesting combination that actually works out great. Seeing as Sound Shapes is cross-buy, we will be looking at the Vita version today.
Sound Shapes is broken down into 5 albums with a few levels inside each album, working very much like a world/level setup. Sound Shapes plays like a 2D platformer, but what really sets it apart is that the hazards, platforms, enemies, and everything in the game responds and works with the music, allowing players to use their ears to tell when they can navigate around a hazard. The character you control is a little ball that sticks to most surfaces, allowing for plenty of control around the levels. You can unstick him, resulting in a roll, making him move faster and jump. Anything bright red will kill you, and if you do die, you’ll show up at the last checkpoint you touched. Around the levels are little music notes for you to collect, that will complete the music playing in the background, adding instruments and effects, and securing a higher score. That’s pretty much all there is to it. On a few levels you’ll get a vehicle that will either make you float, or a hovercraft. They both work the same way, they allow you to fly unhindered around the level, but you will still need to avoid obstacles. The difficulty is just right, although there is no life system, and therefore, no game overs. Each time you die, you just pop at the last (very forgiving) checkpoint to try again. Once you complete all the stages, you unlock Death Mode, which gives you a very hard, challenging, and frustrating stage where you must collect the randomly generating (to a point) notes within a certain time limit, rewarding a trophy for each. There is also an in depth level creator mode, which you can then share for others to play. Also to note is the Beat School mode, which requires you to listen to and match the beat using the level creator notes.
Music and Presentation
A music/rhythm game would fail very quickly if it had poor musical choices. Sound Shapes does not. With each of the 5 albums varied with different musical styles from different artists, the music in this game is catchy, and very memorable. Popular artists such as I Am Robot and Proud, Jim Guthrie, deadmau5, and Beck come together to make this wonderful and varied soundtrack, absolutely bringing Sound Shapes to life. What’s also interesting to note is that each of the albums graphics are done by a different person or group, making each of the albums feel as though they have their own world to immerse you in. From a crumbling city, to the hellish life of a cubicle worker, to galactic battles in space, Sound Shapes and its awesome presentation have you covered.
Unfortunately, this is where Sound Shapes falls short. With only 20 stages, and completing them all in about 5-10 minutes apiece, you can complete all the albums, Death Mode, and Beat Schools pretty quickly and easily in less than 5 hours. Although, one could argue that with the user created content it could last forever, but that’s up to you, isn’t it?
There are a few DLC packs, but unless you are really into level creation, definitely skip out on them. The Car Pack (1.99$) adds three levels that mostly just teach you how to drive the cars and is over in about 15 minutes. It does add the cars to the level creation and also adds new Beat School lessons. The other three packs that are currently out are .99$ a piece and simply add new sounds to level creation and new Beat School levels.
Why the Vita?
Sound Shapes is cross-buy and cross-save and it plays very well on both systems. The level creation works a little better on the Vita because of the touch controls, but that’s all the Vita has to offer over the PS3 version. All the PS3 version does better is load times. The game is equal on both systems. That being said, the short, digestible levels work well on a handheld, to pop in for a quick session.
The Bottom Lines
- Fun, simple gameplay.
- Beautiful graphics and wonderful music to bring the game world alive.
- In depth and interesting level creation.
- Just right in terms of difficulty.
- Over far too soon for such an awesome game.
- Limited game modes.
Final Score: 8.5/10
A great platformer and wonderful music/rhythm game, Sound Shapes is a must have for any gamer, let alone Vita owner.