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Avatar ImageGamer Limit Review: Shatter
By: | July 27th, 2009 | PSN
PSN |Review

1080425-gb

There are a lot of “decent” Playstation Network games out there right now, but only a handful that deserve to be called “great”.  These diamonds in the rough are not always completely new and original ideas, but instead tend to be fresh approaches to older, tried and true, gameplay styles.  The most recent example of this is Shatter.

Created by Sidhe Interactive, Shatter takes block-breaking gameplay mechanics and brings it into the 21st century with gorgeous visuals, a bass thumping soundtrack, and new physics enabled controls, all for $7.99.

At its core, Shatter is a simple game that will bring back childhood memories of playing Arkanoid and Breakout.  Just like those older games, you control a paddle which you use to bounce a ball off of to destroy a wall of blocks.  When all the blocks in one stage are destroyed you move on to the next stage.  While the core gameplay mechanic is simple, this is where the similarities between those older games and Shatter ends.

Shatter mixes things up by adding in physics based controls, power-ups, shields, and a shoot’em up gameplay mechanic.  The physics based controls come in two different, yet similar, forms.  The first is the ability to “suck” objects toward your paddle with the L1 button.  When blocks are destroyed they break into fragments, which the player can “suck” toward them to increase their score and to fill up their energy bar.  I’ll discuss more about the energy bar in a little bit.

The other physics control is the “blow” mechanic.  Using the R1 button, the player can use this to force objects away from them.  When used in conjunction with the “suck” command, these two control methods can precisely control everything floating around on the screen, from block fragments to the blocks themselves.  More importantly, these two commands can be used to control the ball.  By using “blow” and “suck” you can actually curve the direction the ball is moving in.  It takes a little bit of practice to get the hang of, but once you do you’ll be able to make the ball go in any direction and do anything you want it to.

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The other new gameplay mechanic introduced is the energy bar.  When blocks are destroyed they explode into fragments which can be collected by the paddle to fill up the bar.  At any point in time this energy can be used to create a shield, which protects the paddle from being destroyed by any floating blocks or enemy attacks.  If the energy gauge completely fills up, the player can unleash a devastating “Shard Storm”.  This shoot’em up style attack is extremely powerful, and can be used to destroy blocks, and more importantly: bosses.

The first time you load up Shatter, only one game type will be available: story mode.  This is where the core of the game lies, but as you progress through this mode you’ll eventually unlock two other game types; boss rush, and bonus mode.  Story mode will take you through 10 individual stages, each consisting of 7 waves, followed by a boss battle and a bonus stage.  Each wave is essentially a new pattern of blocks that needs to be completely destroyed before you can move onto the next.

No two waves in the entire game are alike and they all include multiple types of blocks which challenge the player in different ways.  The game also mixes up each wave by changing where the paddle is on the screen and what the shape of the screen is.  Sometimes the Paddle will be on the left, and the player can only move up and down; sometimes it will be on the bottom of the screen and the player can only move left and right; and sometimes the screen will be shaped like a circle which the player must move around.  All three of these different level designs are mixed in healthy doses to keep the game feeling very fresh.

The boss battles at the end of each stage are where the game really shines.  Each of the 10 bosses are completely unique and require different methods for defeating them.  Once you beat the story in it’s entirety you unlock the “boss rush” mode.  This mode gives you the opportunity to fight each of the 10 bosses in sequential order and in as fast a time as possible. Some of them are simple “hit the weak point” type affairs, while other bosses require the use of the “blow” and “suck” mechanic to finish them off.

boss-battle

The other game type you unlock as you play through the story is “bonus mode”.  Here, you control three balls at the same time, which you must hit as many times as possible to score points.  Each time a ball is hit it gets faster, making it more and more difficult to control all three.  While not very in-depth, this mode is fun to compete against your friends in for high score bragging rights.

Unfortunately, Shatter does not include a multiplayer mode, and is a bit on the easy side. While it couldn’t have been hard to just add another player to the opposite side and have a few extra coop missions, you’ll enjoy the game’s offerings so much that you won’t mind just watching your friend play for a bit.

As far as visuals go, Shatter is brilliantly beautiful, yet simple in its presentation.  While the blocks themselves create a dazzling array of color, it’s the backgrounds that are really on display.  Each of the ten stages has its own individual 3-D background setting, which is simple in design yet elegant in its use of color and lighting.  The simplicity of it all works because a complicated background would only get in the way of the already busy foreground.

The other great part of the game’s presentation is the completely original soundtrack created specifically for the game.  Crafted by artist Module, each of the 13 bass thumping tracks add an energy and vibe to the game which you’ll remember long after you turn the power off.  The soundtrack has actually been received so well that it’s already been released for download.  After playing along to the music, you’ll want to buy it; trust me.

Shatter has so many great things going for it that the minor gripes it has can easily be overlooked.  It mixes old-school gameplay with fresh new physics based control mechanics, beautiful graphics, an incredible original soundtrack and packages it all together for the reasonable sum of $7.99.   This is the must own PSN game of the summer, so what are you waiting for?  Go buy it!

Rating Category
9.0 Presentation
Shatter is brilliantly beautiful, yet simple in its presentation, and contains stunning graphics which are sure to delight your senses.
How does our scoring system work?
9.0 Gameplay
Shatter takes old-school Arkanoid style gameplay and adds physics based controls, pick-ups, and a shoot'em up gameplay mechanic for a fresh take on the genre.
10.0 Sound
The completely original soundtrack is one of best you'll find in any game, hands down.
8.0 Longevity
With three different modes, each complete with online score tracking, you'll keep coming back to best your friends. There's no multiplayer option, unfortunately.
9.0 Overall
Shatter mixes classic shooter gameplay with fresh new physics based control mechanics, beautiful graphics, an incredible original soundtrack. Somehow the developers were able to package it all together for the reasonable sum of $7.99. If you're saving up for a PSN game, this is it.

  1. Excellent review Shawn. I love this game. It like it that it’s a bit on the easy side. They just want you to play the game and enjoy it. It’s not like other “We want to rape you old school style” games. It’s a bit like Droplitz, once you get into the flow you will drift away into the awesomeness. The soundtrack really adds to that.

  2. I really need to get this game. You do a great job of explaining why it’s fresh, yet classic.

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