by Blackened Beans
reviewed on PS3
Block-breaking games Ė like just about every puzzle game Ė have been around for a very long time, and after many years of similar-style games that fail to break free from the crowd (no pun intended) it is hard to really care about new ones. And that is why Shatter is such an achievement: it is a block-breaking game, no doubt, but it is incredibly fresh and insanely fun. The ability to suck, blow, shield and fight bosses is an interesting concept, and it isnít overused to a point that it becomes a boring gimmick. Instead, it makes the game feel entirely unique, and the gameís beautiful art style and excellent soundtrack make it a joy to look at and listen to.
Shatter doesnít come loaded with features. You only have three modes: story, Boss Rush and Bonus Mode. The story mode doesnít actually have a story, but itís the best of the three modes, allowing you to play simultaneously through a series of levels before facing an epic boss fight at the end of each world. The boss fights are the highlight of the game because they are a unique idea for the genre and require a good amount of reflex and strategy. Sometimes it is best to launch two balls at once, while other times defensively rather than offensively play is better. The other modes are good if you are after some specific trophies, but other than that they donít do a whole lot to give the game extra legs.
The gameplay is what you would expect from a block-breaking game: you move a paddle back and forth and try to knock a ball into blocks to break them and move on. But what makes Shatter so much more fun than other brick-busting games is that it gives you the ability to push and pull balls and objects, giving you more control over the game and making hitting that last block that much less frustrating. It also helps that story mode will bring you through various colorful levels while also changing the perspective in ways that keep the game feeling fresh. One minute you will be moving up and down, the next from left and right or in a circular pattern. It works great, and it keeps the gameplay interesting throughout.
As you play the game you will fill up a meter in the top left corner, which once full allows you to unleash a Shard Storm or use a shield. The Shard Storm is a rain of shards that you unleash from your paddle that can blow up bricks and are extremely effective against bosses. When you use it everything goes slow-mo and you can move around and blast everything up for a very limited time. It is a cool way to spice up the gameplay, and it works. The only problem is that with all the flashy effects going on during the attack itís easy to lose track of your ball. When you hit certain bricks they will come towards you and knock you out for a second, which allows the ball to pass you, causing you to lose a life. Activate the shield, however, and you can blow the bricks up upon impact.
Graphics and music
Shatter is a somewhat easy game. You will most likely lose all your lives several times the first time through. But because it is a brick-breaking game levels donít go on for long, so failing isnít a huge deal anyway. The boss fights are undoubtedly awesome, but they are also somewhat simple as their attacks are easy to avoid and they constantly spit out 1ups. Of course this is good news for trophy hoarders because the game gives you a bronze trophy every time you finish a world, and a silver one for finishing them all. Trophies are also handed out for things such as beating Boss Rush in less than ten minutes and destroying the last brick with a reign of shards.
Shatter is a very pretty game, with lots of flashy effects and very unique cell-shading-style backdrops. They change between levels and range from dark blue environments to bright yellow ones. In addition to these gorgeous backgrounds, there are some great effects going on between the paddle and the bricks. Unleashing a Shard Storm looks excellent, and the boss fights are all animated nicely and show a lot of creativity. But despite all the crazy effects and colors flashing on-screen, there is never a moment of slowdown. The soundtrack also helps to compliment the gameplay with some of the best techno beats I have ever heard, and perhaps some of the best music in a game to date. It is both catchy and epic, and it perfectly compliments the flashy art.
For $8, Shatter is totally worth your time; it is beautiful, unique, and most of all, fun. It takes a tired genre and turns it into something new and original, and it might just be one of the PlayStation Networkís best exclusive games to date. Unless you are into high scores, itís not the longest lasting game, but it lasts about as long as a block-breaking game should, and the promise of DLC has me pumped. Shatter is another must-own PlayStation Network title, and puzzle game fans will find plenty to love in its retro gameplay and art style. Buy it!
Epic boss fights, catchy music and a changing perspective.
It is a somewhat easy game.