So, there I was playing this 'breakout clone'.
"This isn't made by Q-Entertainment, this isn't a Tetsuya Mizuguchi game, this isn't made by the same genius as Rez, Lumines and the chap who decided to cleverly adapt PC freeware game 'Every Extend'..."
Listening to the BGM music, "This isn't Daft Punk, this isn't Justice, but it just sounds so..."
I must admit, this game had me confused and overjoyed. I expected Shatter to be good, but this not THIS GOOD, this was a total surprise for me because I hadn't even heard of this game in development until E3, I saw one trailer and saw the promise, this game looked as if it contained something which I love in games; the combination of sound and imagery as one product; synesthesia. This is exactly the opposite of Sidhe's previous PSN game annoyingly, urban soundtrack infused racing/puzzle game, Gripshift.
Shatter is Rez as a breakout game, quite simply if Mizuguchi sat down and thought of making a Q-Entertainment breakout type game, this is the game he would set out to make. Shatter is the ultimate arcade style breakout game, perhaps paving way for more innovation in this genre since the like of Arkanoid.
Shatter also does not separate itself to much from being an Arkanoid clone, it accepts it and embraces it's fine heritage of a series and imitators of games with the player in the role as a spaceship co-incidentally shaped as a bat trapped inside of worlds and dimension of coloured brick walls. Shatter realises that is is an album of all the best innovations in the breakout genre to date, it also corrects Atari's god awful console version of Breakout, proving that Breakout on a console can be done and can advance from it's predecessors and shames the developers the toned down games of Arkanoid Live and Arkanoid DS.
Shatter takes on board the concepts drawn from classic indie and freeware breakout games such as Megaball, the DX-Ball series and the seminal BreakQuest.
Interesting and controversial game mechanics which Shatter has which seperates it from most breakout type games is the 'Suck and Blow' mechanics available to use from your bat right from the start of the game, most would think that sucking and blowing the ball around would cause the game to be easy. NO, that is wrong, so very, very wrong, you see, Shatter seems to have similar concepts to Nurium Game's BreakQuest and has also implemented physics into a seemingly normal breakout game, most of the bricks move. The bricks FREAKING MOVE and bounce around like Geometry Wars type enemies, so if you try to suck in the ball, chances are, your miniature whirlwind will such bricks towards you too. This can be dangerous, but can be avoided thanks to another ingenious game mechanic I'll mention later. Another small piece of genius, is that you don't have to break all the bricks, you can also destroy them by getting the bricks to float out the bats boundary, much like when you lose a ball in most other brick breaking games. Speaking of balls, if you have the spare lives, you can send up to 3 balls in the arena and cause some real chaos whilst collecting power-ups such as lives, multipliers and other various ball changing power-ups, but don't expect a lot of variation in the power-ups like in other breakout games.
Sidhe have also taken onboard gameplay concepts from series such as Geometry Wars with the recent 'Geoms' introduced from Geometry Wars Galaxies for ingame currency and also in Geometry Wars 2 as score multipliers; 'Fragments' are little shards of blue released from broken bricks which NOT ONLY multiply score, but allow you to activate a shield with the collected energy to shield from attacks from bricks which head you way and charge up a lazer shard gun which can help out with end of world bosses.
That's right. Bosses. For the first time in ages in a breakout type game since about Arkanoid we have bosses once again, these aren't just bosses that you hit with the ball over and over again, a certain amount of strategy is involved and this had to be figured out just by pure experimentation, you know where the weak point is, but sometimes you have to figure out how to cause or take advantage of an opening.
The story mode of Shatter is somewhat, as I mentioned earlier, reminiscent of the visual style of Rez, even beginning with the bat escaping from a somewhat cubic cell. There are ten worlds and most worlds have about 8-10 levels and then to face a boss. Ahh, but wait, this is once another bit of innovation courtesy of Sidhe. Not all the levels have the same shape arena, some are the normal vertical breakout type gameplay, some are horizontal with the action on the screen sometimes fooling you into feeling like you're playing a 2D sideways shoot 'em up and finally, we have circular enclosed levels which when using the 'suck and blow' controls can go insane in a fast amount of time. This game will make you fear bricks heading your way as much as losing the ball out the boundary. Additionally, there are bonus modes after each boss where the idea is to keep a certain number of balls bouncing to multiply your score.
Shatter also has online scoreboards, a mode entirely focused on the bonus levels and a boss mode and I demand an possible expansion pack soon as possible, that is all. Oh yeah, one last thing. BUY IT and possibly the soundtrack.