Sound Shapes is a musical side scrolling puzzle platformer designed by Jonathan Mak and Shaw-Han Liem, and developed by Queasy Games for the PS3 and PS Vita. This review will feature mainly on the PS Vita as that it is the version I predominantly played (but they are almost identical).
Sounds shapes is a beautifully stylised game that has music at its core. In the campaign you control some squidgy, round, eye looking thing in a side scrolling adventure that has no story to it. The object is to get from A to B with a music twist in the middle. There are five worlds with each having a different musical and visual theme to it which keeps the game fresh and interesting. Deadmau5 and I Am Robot score some of the levels which show there is varied feel to each level. The “musical twist” I mentioned early comes in the form of orbs. One the outset each level has a skeleton track playing which you can fill in by collecting these orbs. It gives you a sense of accomplishment and a target to reach than just getting from A to B. The levels themselves are really vibrant and move the rhythm and by completing the tracks you feel very much a part of that level
The simplistic, stylistic approach this game has makes the game very intuitive to play. You are told that red means bad and you can attach to light/similar colours to yourself. The differencing challenges of getting through the levels are slowly introduced so when things get a bit hectic you know exactly what to avoid and where to go. That is good level design and a lot of developers try and fail to achieve this quality level of design.
Graphically this game is superb. It uses simple colours but the environments feel varied and a joy to look at. The game many not be pushing any technical barriers when it comes to its graphics nor does it need to. Simplistic in this case is good. The music on the other hand isn’t simplistic but is still equally as good. The way the sounds come together and create some beautiful music is remarkable. You know the music is great when you spend hours trying to see if there is an official soundtrack. This game may have the music and graphics/art style that makes platformers fun but a platformer is only as good as its controls. Luckily for Sound Shapes this is not a problem. The controls of this game are excellent responsive and tight. The touch screen and back touch pad are used in the editor mode (which I will get onto in a moment) which do not feel gimmicky which is often the case with these type of features.
The standard campaign isn’t difficult to complete but there is another mode once you have completed the game that really makes this game challenging. The appropriately named Death Mode is a really good addition for those players wanting a challenge. They are small mini games that require you to get a certain amounts of orbs in a small amount of time. It may not sound difficult but with the enemies on top of that makes this is a challenging mode which is very frustrating, yet addictive, to complete. Another mini game in Sound Shapes involves you trying to see if you can copy a set tune being played to you. If you don't have a musical bone in your body (like me) you will find this difficult, if not impossible.
Sound Shapes has gone down the root of LittleBigPlanet with its online features. The game features an editor mode where you can create level yourself. Items are achieved by completing certain levels in the campaign which makes the editor a fantastic addition. You can put in objects, move it around with the back track pad and rotate with the touch screen. It is very intuitive and something the PS Vita version has over the PS3 version. Obviously Sound Shapes is very music orientated (as I have previously stated) so in the editor mode you create your own tunes. I warn you now it is quite difficult to get something sounding, somewhat, decent and does require practice but, trust me, the practice will pay off.
Obviously these user created levels can be submitted so the online community can play it. Like LittleBigPlanet some of the best levels are online. It is remarkable what user can come up with and really adds to the longevity and overall experience you get with Sound Shapes
Overall this is a fantastic game. The art style is brilliant and the musical twist t the game really makes a side-scrolling platformer interesting. I would recommend picking up the Vita version over the PS3 version purely when it comes to the editor mode as the touch screen controls become invaluable then. It is a shame Sound Shapes didn’t come with a story to match this amazingly designed game and I do often question why this isn’t a Vita exclusive as this would have been the cheapest (possible) system seller to date.