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Sound Shapes Review

Sound Shapes Review

During last year's E3, Sony announced a new PlayStation Vita exclusive called Sound Shapes. It merged the catchiness of music with spot-on platforming to create a unique combination. After slipping from the handheld's launch window in the West, the game has finally arrived on the Vita alongside a PS3 port. Queasy Games may have made people wait a little longer than they may have wanted, but it was most certainly worth the wait.

In a refreshing change, Sound Shapes lets the player dive in right away with only a 3-5 minute tutorial. It explains the controls and the bare basics of the level and beat editors. There's a ton of other options available, of course, but Sound Shapes lets you choose how to progress instead of forcing a certain route. Ideally though, you'll gravitate towards the campaign first as completing each level unlocks more objects which can be used in the editor.

Each of the game's five worlds feels distinctly unique from one another. Instead of incorporating different styles, the developers instead decided to contract different musicians to each album and create an art style centered around their music. One world is rather bland as the corporate environment runs supreme and this features Guthrie of Superbrothers' fame. In another you have a visually stimulating ride through the city tied together with the music of Beck. In addition you also have works by ixelJam, Colin Mancer, Vic Nguyen, I Am Robot, Proud and deadmau5. All in all it's an impressive list of talent.

As far as gameplay is concerned, Sound Shapes has a bit of an old-school touch incorporating the side-scrolling platforming genre alongside its music. The ball that acts as you in the game can switch between two modes. One mode allows you to stick to certain objects and rotate 360 degrees around them if possible, while the other mode un-sticks you, but lets you move at a much faster clip around the level. Tying into the musical aspect are numerous little circles which can be collected. As each one is collected, more and more features are added to the background music. Growing in robustness, certain noises gradually fade away while others come to the forefront, eventually crescendoing into something particularly enthralling once all of the objects have been collected. Of course you can simply dodge all of the hazardous objects and reach the goal and keep on going, but part of the fun is building the music and seeing how fast you can complete the level with everything achieved.

This is why Sound Shapes is particularly interesting. It's simple enough for a novice music lover and platformer gamer to pick up and enjoy, but those who excel in either category (or both) will find a lot to enjoy in the post-game content. For music lovers, there's a fully-featured editor which opens up as each of the levels are completed. It utilizes a easy-to-use drag and drop editor, although some aspects are a bit easy to perform on the Vita as the PS3 version requires multiple functions to be tied to the same button at times. Complimenting the level editor is a music mode which allows you to generate your own music on the fly and includes a set of trophies for completing each of the various musical challenges that teach you the ropes.

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