Sound Shapes Review

By: Jimmy Kovalski

Developer: Queasy Games and Sony Santa Monica

Publishers: Sony Computer Entertainment

Release Date: August 7th 2012 (America) August 15th 2012 (Europe)

Players: 1

Rating: E for Everyone

Platforms: Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita (Cross-Play/Cross Game Saves)

Does Sound Shapes hit the high note or does it come off out of tune?

Sound Shapes is a game that was in development for quite a while. When we first heard about this rhythm platformer over a year ago, it was said to be a Vita launch title. Many months later, we learned that the game would indeed miss the Vita launch window but would be available on the Playstation 3 as well. I am happy to report that the game has been worth the wait but it does strike a few bad notes.

As I stated above, Sound Shapes is one part rhythm game and one part platforming game. If you are familiar with classic side-scrolling platformers, you will feel right at home with Sound Shapes. It handles like you would expect. You control a little ball and you go from left to right jumping on platforms and avoiding any dangerous things that want to ruin your day. As you do this you will be collecting “notes.” With each note you collect on each screen, the music will change and add more beats depending on the notes you collect. The game never forces you to collect all notes but I highly recommended that you do because the soundtrack is stellar. The platforming for the most part is solid. However, I found the jumping to be a bit “floaty.” You also have the ability to stick to most surfaces and if you hold down a single button you will “unstick” and move much faster. This is a neat gameplay idea that allows you to avoid the games obstacles in different ways. Later levels do get somewhat challenging but the game’s normal story mode is by no means difficult.

After you finish the game’s story mode, you will unlock “Death Mode”. Death mode puts you in various different levels and you are tasked with collecting all the notes in a certain time limit while avoiding many different enemies. This is where the game somewhat falls apart. This mode is really challenging and can definitely frustrate you. This is a welcome change because most games nowadays are a breeze to 100%. However; this mode is also the game’s downfall. The notes you need to collect are randomly generated each time, so you never exactly know where the notes will appear next on the screen. This doesn’t sound so bad right? Well this leads to you doing everything perfectly but still coming up well short of the target time. You will find yourself re-doing some levels 100+ times until the game gives you a generous run of randomly generated notes. This can be downright frustrating and I found it to be very un-enjoyable most of the time. I love the challenge that the game presents, but whether you fail or pass a stage depends not on skill, but sheer luck. Oh, you like trophies? Well this game does have a full set and a platinum but you must complete each level in “Death Mode.”

Two of my favorite things about Sound Shapes are the artistic look of the game and the amazing soundtrack. The game sports a very pleasing cel-shaded look and is certainly a treat for your eyes. Each stage supports many various colors and it all “pops” off the screen gorgeously whether you’re playing on the Vita or PS3. The game’s soundtrack is by far its biggest draw. The game has an awesome techno/electronic soundtrack with a bit of dub-step in there as well. Even well-known artists like Deadmau5 and Jim Guthrie contributed many different tunes. All of which are stellar. This is definitely a game that you should play with headphones.

The game also comes with a mode called “Beat School.” In this mode, players are challenged with recreating beats that they hear by using the game’s various creation tools. This mode can be a bit overwhelming at first but it is a very nice touch that boosts the replay value up a bit. People that play and love music should have no problem with this mode but I do worry about the average everyday gamer and how they will react to the mode as it may be too difficult.

Sound Shapes is a very good game. If you have a Vita or Playstation 3 this is one worth owning. The plus here is that if you buy one, you get the other. The game also supports cross-game saves. Don’t miss out on this one of a kind game!

Pros:

+ Great visuals

+ Amazing soundtrack

+ A welcome challenge

+ Solid gameplay

+ Beat School is a neat mode

Cons:

- “Death mode” is more based on luck than skill

- Jumping feels a bit “floaty”

- Very short campaign mode

- Beat School could pose a real challenge to non-musicians

Final Verdict: 8.5/10

Price at Review: $15

This is a great price especially considering you get both Vita and PS3 versions of the game when purchased.