IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT THE KILLER SOUNDTRACK YOU KNOW!
IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT THE KILLER SOUNDTRACK YOU KNOW!In 1986 Japanese developers Taito introduced Arkanoid to the gaming world, quickly becoming the much treasured and loved classic that it is today. Based upon Atari'sBreakout series of the 1970s, it tasked the player with using a small round ball to break colourful blocks in an attempt to achieve the highest scores. Since then developers around the world have reiterated this much adored gameplay formula, adding their own unique mechanics to help it stand out against the many Arkanoid inspired games we see today. The latest team to attempt this is New Zealand based developers Sidhe Interactive with the Playstation Network exclusive game Shatter.
Shatter can at first feel like a rather simple modern representation of Arkanoid with high definition graphics, but look deeper and you'll find that it brings it's own unique weapons to the table with it's physical gameplay presence and suck and blow mechanics. Now if I was childish enough I could make all sorts of 'sucking' and 'blowing' jokes in this review, but I'm sure they've all probably been done to death already so let's just talk about how they affect the way the game plays.
Sucking and Blowing is performed using the left and right triggers of the Playstations 3 controller, it's a mechanic that is rather simple to pick up, but as you venture through Shatters 10 themed worlds you'll quickly run into situations and puzzle-like stages where mastering the suck and blow mechanics are a must. They definatly add a interesting dimension to the familiar gameplay, especially coming into play when Shatter starts throwing more physics driven stages at you in each turn. Physics adds an extra unpredictability to each of Shatters theme worlds and many of the stages usually contain a smart puzzle like solution to achieveing the top scores. The downside of these physical driven stages is that at times, you feel as if luck plays to much of a part then actual skill.
In many of Shatters later worlds, physics get a little crazy and understanding what each type of block does is key to getting the best scores. You'll find blocks that blow out affecting the direction of other blocks and of course the players ball, you'll come across blocks that will spawn copies of themselves filling up the stage and even some blocks that will travel around causing havoc. Overall the variation of each stage is welcomed, though after multiple playthroughs things can get a little repetitive. Still each of the 10 themed worlds are unique enough to make them memorable, especially when each features such a stunning soundtrack to play along to.
While Shatters gameplay is both enjoyable and a challenge, there isn't a huge amount of content to be found and few modes. There is of course the story mode with it's 10 themed worlds as I have mentioned previously and a Boss Rush Mode which tasks you on taking down Shatters 10 rather intriguing bosses as quickly as possible, Bonus Mode is the final mode to unlock and simply consists of playing the three bonus levels as seen in the story mode with the job of achieveing 10 million points. There is no multiplayer to be found which is disappointing but when value for money is considered, Shatter isn't a bad little package for the price.
Shatter can at times stand tall against many of the current offerings on the Playstation Network, especially when it comes to the audio department, featuring a soundtrack worthy of mention. Each stage as both a visual and audio difference and while gameplay doesn't vastly change from world to world, the variation in sound and graphical backgrounds will allow gamers to have their own personal favourite stages. The soundtrack was created by Module and is defiantly one of the outstanding features of Shatter, helping to make it's sometimes repetitive gameplay a little less of an issue, though it would probably help if your a fan of techno music.
Overall Shatter is a worthy new addition to the Playstation Networks catalogue of downloadable games. While it won't revolutionize the classic Arkanoid gameplay with it's suck and blow mechanics, it is one of the more memorable modern interpretations of that formula and a stand out game on PSN. The lack of a multiplayer mode is disappointing and it's more physical based gameplay allows luck to play more of a part then the actual gamers skill. But theres much to like, and Sidhe Interactive have created a worthy modern tribute to that classic Arkanoid game with Shatter.
SCORE: 4 STARS OUT OF 5.
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