Sound Shapes Preview (Vita)
Also, speaking of music, it doesn’t just provide atmosphere for Sound Shapes — it can be an integrated gameplay tool as well. In some areas, players can use the music as a guide to avoid obstacles. In one area, metallic beams repeatedly slam downwards on the floor. Players are free to use their eyes to navigate the obstacles, but the beams slam in tune with the flow of the music in the area as well, so players can listen to the audio and then avoid the obstacles if it suits them — yet another example of how Sound Shapes uses seemingly basic elements to enhance accessibility.
Sound Shapes doesn’t leave all of the music-based gameplay fun to just the developers, though, as the game has its own level creator. Players will be able to create their levels and share them online via PSN. Not only that, but they’ll be able to share their levels on both PS3 and Vita, meaning that any level created is playable on both platforms. Players create levels via a simple 2D level creator with a music scale (with notes ranging from low at the bottom to high at the top), a starting point, and an ending point. The player can then create whatever kind of level they want, with whatever music arrangement they want (regardless of how well it flows, just by holding their finger on the screen to place a note), and the level can be whatever length he or she would like it to be. A level can have many notes or just a few, span several areas or just one, and a player can choose whatever kind of instruments they’d like to have providing music for the level (some of which are from music artists).
Once an object (such as terrain) has been inserted into a level, it can be scaled and rotated via the rear touch panel. Players spread their fingers across the back to scale an object upwards and contract them to scale downwards. Rotation is achieved by players moving their fingers in opposite directions. Completing the creator tutorial — which spanned a single screen — took no longer than ten or fifteen minutes at the very maximum, demonstrating that anyone can create their own simple level in Sound Shapes in next to no time at all. Also, players can go into “Play” mode just by selecting the option, which enables them to test drive their own created levels and see how they are. Players can just as easily swap back to “Edit” mode and make whatever improvements they deem necessary. Having a level creator that accessible and user-friendly bodes well for Sound Shapes‘ user-generated level community.
Sound Shapes is, in a word, effortless. The game is a 2D platformer that just simply flows, with its own unique art style, music, and brand of platforming. From playing the game’s levels to level creation, Sound Shapes has prioritized the user experience first and foremost and is a better game for it. Queasy Games’ decision to use the music element as a stylistic enhancement instead of turning the game into a rhythm-driven platformer is a good one and helps make Sound Shapes everything it is. Anyone who owns a Vita or PS3 should do himself or herself a favor and keep Sound Shapes on his/her radar as its PSN release window of August 7th looms closer — it’s a game they’ll definitely want to check out.
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