This is the weirdest game design I have ever seen considering the developers seemed content to hide the best bit of the game behind some incredibly basic and easy platforming
I picked up Sound shapes because of the cross buy feature (Another feature XBL should adopt) meaning that I could now download the game on my PS3, PS4 and Vita after just one purchase. I was on holiday so the Vita was my platform of choice to play this highly rated Sony exclusive and see what the fuss was about. I have been playing platform games more often so my skills had been heightened and I was looking forward to a new challenge. That along with the sound track written by Daft Punk, Beck, Deadmau5 and others meant that it was the first game I booted up when I got settled on the plane. The soundtrack and the mechanic involved in listening to it in it’s entirety is indeed interesting and at least gives you a reason to play through the levels long after the boredom sets in due to the lack of challenge. Each location is filled with discs that once collected adds beats and loops to the sound track.
It is satisfying collecting all the discs included in the level you’re playing but other than hearing the song (Which do vary wildly in terms of quality) there seems to be no reason to go out of your way. In fact you’d find it harder to actively not pick them up as it’s so easy to do. Considering how at no point did I have to replay a level to pick up a missing disc. I don’t know if their collection is required to open up later levels but considering how easy the game is this shouldn’t be a problem. There isn’t even an achievement for collecting each disc during the playthrough of the campaign. Odd, considering how vital to the appeal of the game the sound track is and listening to it fully should be at the forefront of the designers mind.
Once you complete the campaign (and ignore the emptiness left in your soul from the lack of celebration) two new modes are opened up to you which make the purchase of sound shapes actually worth it.
Death mode and Beat School lets you play Sound shapes in completely different ways and I really wish the whole game was this entertaining. The warning the game gives you when you start playing Death Mode states that “this game may cause you to tear your face off” and it is not wrong. I thought, however, that due to the ease I completed the main game these “extra” levels would be a walk in the park. They are not. They require such extreme control and mastery of timing that it may, actually, cause you to rip your own face off, douse it in some kind of fuel and set fire to it while laughing like a hyena watching Police Squad for the first time. They are short but also perfectly formed levels of frustration that can take 5-30 minutes to complete. They are unforgiving and a lot of fun. Good job each completed level holds a silver trophy behind it.
Beat school is far and away the most fun I had in Sound shapes as it makes the most of the music creation suite and asks you to copy a created track. A simple track is played over a note grid and you have to fill out the exact notes and in the correct time. This works especially well on the Vita due to the touch screen, requiring you to tap and fill in the notes required. Different styles of music are used including jazz and Hip Hop. The trial and error is sweetly done and makes you want dozens more levels like it. Unfortunately only 12 are included but they stand out as the most interesting idea contained in the Soundshapes package.
This ransoming of good ideas puts me in a strange position when recommending whether you should buy it. Should I say that the few hours of absolute boredom are worth it for another few hours of absolute fun? Or should you not bother at all? Was this tactic designed to make fun of the modern gamer who only plays a game for the first third before going out to buy another game without reaching the end and really reaping the rewards?
After all I feel glad to have played Sound shapes. If that sounds like a recommendation to you then definitely pick it up. Just make sure you see it through to the end.
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