Monday, February 11, 2013

2D Platforming and Music Come to Life in Sound Shapes

Quick Note: Such simple execution and concepts help Sound Shapes shine through. Having a quick, fun and easy to approach campaign followed by Death Mode for the hard core 2D platformers and a smart and simple level editor, the game works well for just about any type of gamer. Add in the Cross Buy and Cross Save between the PS3 and Vita, and it's a solid package of gaming for only $15.

The 2D platformer has had a Renaissance of sorts over the past couple of years. From LittleBigPlanet to Rayman Origins to Super Meat Boy, it's hard to not be excited, especially growing up with the original Nintendo and Super Nintendo. What's unique is how each of these games differentiates (or doesn't differentiate) from the original platform champions. In Sound Shapes case, it differentiates in a unique way: the sound.

In each level of Sound Shapes the world is made up of colorful and creative props and characters. Each object or creature that is dynamic adds a sound to the background. There are also small collectibles within each level that the player is able to gather to add more sounds to the level (though they don't do much else). So, as the player progresses his/her blob across the level, the music slowly builds up and eventually winds down at the end. On paper, it sounds like such a small mechanic, but it adds so much to the game.
One out of the Many Crazy Levels
The actual game play itself is very simple. Move your blob from start to finish. Within the level there are different colored objects. Red objects are bad and instantly kill the blob, respawning back at the last check point. These check points are graciously placed within the level, often appearing at the far left and right of the current frame. Some objects are black, which means the blob will not stick to it. Everything else is stick-able, so the player can jump up to the bottom of a platform, stick, and shift themselves around the platform. By holding the R button, the blob becomes solid and unsticks, allowing for faster travel.

All of this lends itself beautifully to the well designed levels. Including the tutorial, there are five levels with different stages within each level. Each of these levels have different graphics and music from different artists, including Beck and Deadmau5. The variety is amazing, with each stage using the graphics and music with smart level design to make the player feel like it's almost an entirely different game.
All of That Red!!!
This is great, though the game is short. The campaign mode can easily be beat in over an hour by a seasoned player, and two hours for someone less experienced. After the campaign, there is also Death Mode. The player is plopped down in the middle of a level section and given a timer. Within the time limit, gather all of the collectibles. One hit equals instant death and the player starts over again. Each level is amazing, though it can make you feel like throwing the controller from time to time. Given the simple but snappy controls, it's never because of the game and more because of your incompitance.

There's also the Level Editor mode to craft your own levels with a simple interface, which works amazingly well. Once you feel you've mastered level creation there is Beat School, which challenges the players sense of sound. Given a small tune and the number of notes, place the notes in the right spot on the screen. This is another great distraction that adds a different type of game play that is also completely optional if the player hates it or is just too lazy.
Oh Death Mode, you Cruel Bitch.
Sound Shapes is simple but different. The combination of music and 2D platforming makes the game great and the added modes after completion keep the player enthralled. The difficulty system (making the campaign accessible and the Death Mode hell) is an incredibly different way to handle difficulty and really comes out as a smart way to do it. For anyone who needs a quick game for bus rides or loves music and simple art or just loves 2D platforming games, Sound Shapes is definitely worth the playthrough.

9 out of 10

Here's a Few Links: 
IGN Review:
Official Game Website: 
How Sound Shapes Shines:

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