Review by Rob Roberts

Game Review: Sound Shapes

Game Review: Sound Shapes

Break a little...
Move a little...
Hurt a little...
Turn a little...

"Cities" by Beck could be to the Playstation Vita what "Shinin'" by Mondo Grosso was to the Playstation Portable. Ironic, I know, as the Vita already launched with an excellent Lumines title. However, where Lumines brought us a familiar sequel to a new system, Sound Shapes brings a breath of something new to a system that has needed a little attention over the past six months since the Vita's launch.

Sound Shapes is described by many as a music game. While music is an important element of the game that you are playing, yes, Sound Shapes is probably best described in execution as a platforming title. The simple controls and numerous checkpoints felt more like a Super Meat Boy than, say, a Guitar Hero. It's an enormously easy game to understand. Get from start to finish, don't touch red things, and you can sprint your character or stick to certain surfaces (but not at the same time) when needed. Speaking of your character... I'm not really sure how to describe it. It's certainly a shape... if a fried egg is a shape.

I bet more people are here for the sounds than the shapes though. When playing Sound Shapes, music is something you are interacting with more so than something you are creating. Want to create music? Okay, there's stage creation mode and an Online universe Little Big Planet style that you can interact with.

Bouncing on cubicles to make music
Bouncing on cubicles to make music
Each stage in the campaign of Sound Shapes is based off a single song, with your standard fare of in-house tracks as well as contributions from signed label artists such as Beck and Deadmau5. It should be noted that each stage doesn't just contain a music credit, but an art credit. The premise of the game remains the same... a bare bones loop plays in the background, and you collect items that add music and sound to the loops. Reach the goal as fast as you can while collecting all the items and you can top the online leaderboards! What varies from stage to stage however is the art styles. For example, a Deadmau5 stage with a hint of chip-tune might have a space invaders style theme. Another set of stages, "Corporeal" by Jim Guthrie, invokes an Office Space style setting, where you will find yourself bouncing off heads of drone employees to collect every last item. 

Turn a little...
Turn a little...
It is the environments that put not just the challenge into this music game, but the style as well. The before-mentioned "Cities" is one of the best examples of this. As Beck sings the lyrics "Break a little... Move a little..." a platform will break apart and move. You probably don't want to still be standing on this platform when it's time to "Hurt a little". Our guest on Orange Lounge Radio this past weekend likened this mode to what you saw the koopa troopas and backdrops in "New Super Mario Brothers Wii" doing when they danced to the background music. Indeed, Sound Shapes is taking those cute interactions, and making an entirely new game out of it.

Sadly, there are only a handful of stage themes present in Sound Shapes. However, at a cost of $15 ($12 for Playstation Plus) for not just the Playstation Vita version of the game, but the Playstation 3 as well, you aren't left feeling that you paid too much for the game. Quite the contrary, one might hope for more DLC to add professional calibur stages in the future.

The top rated songs on online mode seem totally original... (taken 8/16/12)
The top rated songs on online mode seem totally original... (taken 8/16/12)
 To fill the gap, Sound Shapes has a creation mode as well as online mode present. Remember, Sony is big on Play, Create, Share now. Think Littlebigplanet or ModNation Racers. Soundshapes has it built into it's game too, however it sadly doesn't raise the bar from what has been accomplished by previous games. The interface of Sound Shapes doesn't lend itself too well to the online mode at the present time. The popular stages are filled with silly mish-mash art and songs of familiar tunes, making it hard to find new quality content outside of friends lists and constant browsing of the new stages on the server. However, I still appreciated the attempt at valuing the money spent on the purchase even further. Speaking of value, those that play Sound Shapes to completion might find even more incentive to create tracks and master default songs in "death" mode to win shiny silver trophies. 

Sound Shapes is a worthy standard platformer game that brings a new twist and great visual sensations to the Sony platforms. I preferred the experience on the Vita, where a dark room and headphones can allow yourself to be immersed even more, but I appreciate the PS3 version's inclusion if for no other reason than creation mode felt MUCH more precise and workable with a controller as opposed to the often erratic back touch pad.

There is even more I would like to see with Sound Shapes in the future, such as multiplayer experiences and extended creation tools. I think though that it's a good thing when an artistic experience well beyond it's value leaves you wanting more. As a long time music game fan, I knew I'd probably enjoy Sound Shapes, but I think there is a lot here for people who don't really want to create music, but immerse themselves in it.


Our Grade:
A-
Your Grade: A-
(Based on 2 grades)
The Good:
* Outstanding Value with the game available on both PS3 & Vita for one price
* The varied art style adds a great depth to the included stages
* Online mode and Trophy Challenge modes add a continued value to the game even if all stages have been beaten
The Bad:
* Online mode's presentation could be improved.
* Many connection & network issues the first week of release, cloud syncing between PS3 & PS Vita not working too well
* The art styles don't work as well with the online stages often feeling mis-matched, when not going for cheap votes with pop-culture catching names.

Rob Roberts, AKA Skie, is one of the co-hosts of Orange Lounge Radio here on the VOG Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @skie

Review by - 8/16/2012 6:34 PM342 views

Your Responses

Flaco_Jones
Flaco_Jones
CONCURRING OPINION

Grade: A-
I've spent the weekend in the world of Sound Shapes, playing through over half the campaign so far and spending some time with community levels too. I have to say, I like what I see. There definitely need to be improvements made to the online interface. Also, I was a little disappointed that it appears to award the majority of the trophies for the more hardcore gameplay modes. Overall though, the great music and the unique level design for each "album" has me hooked on this fun Platformer.
See 1 More Concurring Opinion
PkerUNO
PkerUNO
CONCURRING OPINION

Grade: B+
Pretty much agree with all the above, although I would add that this is definitely a platform game first and foremost, with good music - there's certainly no interacting with the music à la Rez and I think the best part of the game is hearing the stage build up as you traverse it. I just wish there wasn't as much emphasis on speed since the game is best when you take it slow and let it sink in.

Registered Participants can leave their own Concurring/Dissenting Opinion and receive Points and Loot! Why not sign in and add your voice?

Gallery


Comments

OrangeRight
OrangeRight
8/16/2012 7:08 PM

2 0

Reply
Reminds me of Game Game Game and again Game.

With this, Pinball Arcade, and Cross-Play, I'm really glad "get the PS3 version, get the Vita version for free" is becoming a trend.
Flaco_Jones
Flaco_Jones
8/17/2012 5:38 AM

0 0

Reply
This trend of giving the games on both has me much more serious about purchasing a Vita. Something I had no plans to do when it first came out.
Flaco_Jones
Flaco_Jones
8/17/2012 5:36 AM

2 0

Reply
Okay, I need to buy this game. I usually stink at music games but if this is primarily a platfomer then I should be fine. Plus, that's a great price.
VxJasonxV
VxJasonxV
8/21/2012 8:30 PM

1 0

Reply
I'm with you, Flaco. I LOVED Rob's on-air review of this game, and now that I'm home I really need to check it out. $15? I'm down.
Flaco_Jones
Flaco_Jones
8/21/2012 9:52 PM

0 0

Reply
Hoor you like it. It was a combination of Rob's review and Shane's raving about it on Facebook that convinced me. I usually wait on download titles, but this one was too interesting for me to hold off for a sale.
Bobby Blackwolf
Bobby Blackwolf
8/17/2012 10:13 AM

1 0

Reply
The thing that I didn't realize until I booted up the game is that this is a Queasy Games/Jonathan Mak title. He did Everyday Shooter, which was a music-based twin stick shooter...So this was right up his alley.

I like it so far, but i've only gone through the first album...Some of the enemies annoy me to no end, but so far that's my only complaint.
Flaco_Jones
Flaco_Jones
8/17/2012 10:59 AM

0 0

Reply
After playing through the first Beck level I went back to the first album and played through it. I know exactly the enemies you're talking about.
Flaco_Jones
Flaco_Jones
8/17/2012 9:06 AM

0 0

Reply
K, I just bought the game and beat the Beck Cities level you guys were raving about. That was awesome. I'll save any more comments for my review response once I've played a majority of the game. Maybe I'll beat the campaign this weekend. Who knows.
TigerClaw
TigerClaw
8/18/2012 4:47 PM

0 0

Reply
More games like this needs to get artists like Deadmau5 in them. I love it when a game gets music from established EDM artists. :)
Flaco_Jones
Flaco_Jones
8/20/2012 9:16 PM

0 0

Reply
6 levels to go! I'm finally up to the Deadmau5 levels and I can't wait to play them. Then it's the Beck album (definitely playing through Cities again) then I'll be done with the campaign. Looking forward to trying whatever "death mode" is to see if it ads enough longevity to the game.
TravisDonovan
TravisDonovan
8/24/2012 9:35 AM

0 0

Reply
It's a game with Sounds and Shapes.
Bobby Blackwolf
Bobby Blackwolf
8/25/2012 12:33 AM

0 0

Reply
For those trying to get the Cloud Sync to work on the PS3, the workaround is to log out of PSN before launching Sound Shapes. Do this by hitting Triangle on the "Account Management" icon on the XMB and select Log Out. Then, launch Sound Shapes, go to Settings, Cloud Sync, and allow the game to log you in. Then, you'll be able to Cloud Sync.

Apparently, the underlying issue is that the Vita doesn't log into PSN until the game tells it to, whereas the PS3 will log into PSN when it's turned on. This causes problems if you're already logged into PSN when you boot up the game.

Hopefully this will be fixed in a patch...
Log in to add your own voice and receive points by leaving good comments other users like!