Sound Shapes is a fairly simple side-scrolling platform game. Your little rolling ball jumps and collects coins to make music. Seems basic enough...
But wait, that music sounds really good, I wonder who made it? What the? BECK?! DEADMAU5?! And some of the levels are designed by PixelJam and the Superbrothers?! This is amazing!
The game really is pretty simple. You’re a squishy little ball that can stick to walls and ceilings (that are the same colour). You can also make yourself into a non-squishy ball that can move faster and jump further but can’t stick to things.
Everything red can kill you. Touching red means instant death and a respawn from the last activated checkpoint (there’s at least one per screen). And sometimes, there’s lots of red.
Your goal is to get from the start point - a turntable - to the end point - also a turntable - many screens away. Adjacent screens can be above below or to either side of you. Along the way you encounter a number of bad guys and helpful critters all of whom make music. Sometimes it’s a staccato crab thing that carries you on its back, other times it’s a beatboxing bird-turtle-thing.
Even the world itself makes noise, and it’s all in time to the beat.
Platforms made from Beck’s lyrics appear and disappear based on the timing of the song, space Invader style alien elevators carry you along a series of drum beats and volcanos shoot out deadly lava with the bass line.
The graphics are the other big deal in this little game. Many visual artists have lent their unique style to Sound Shapes and every set of levels (called an “album”) have their own theme. For example the Beck album was created by Pyramid Attack and the levels take the form of a city destroyed by war.
There’s not so much of a puzzle solving aspect to the levels, more jumping and timing. This means that sometimes you may find yourself frustrated trying to make the same jump over and over. But nailing that jump does give you a thrill when you get it.
The final cool thing about Sounds Shapes is you can create your own levels and share them with the online community.
Much like Little Big Planet, when you finish a level (and depending on how well you do) you unlock more elements to use in the editor. Once they are up online other users can play them and rate them.
Editing is incredibly simple too. Move elements around, resize and rotate all with the analogue control sticks. You can create the path to any adjoining area and give your level any theme you want. Most importantly you can create music in your level. Your level, your song.
Overall, Sound Shapes is a fun game to while away the hours with. Kids will love it and so will older gamers looking for a fun challenge. But the real love will come in enjoying playing inside a wonderful piece of art, and then creating your own.