Let me start right off by saying that "Sound Shapes" is one of the most satisfying games I've played in a long time. There is no story, and there are no long-winded cut scenes. Nothing blows up. The game is platforming at its simplest, combined with a musical component that is raw unadulterated fun. If you own a Vita, you must own this game.
As I mentioned, "Sound Shapes" is a classic side-scrolling platformer at its core. The player controls a round ball as you navigate past dangerous objects and maniacal little creatures. It's simple. The ball can touch anything as long as it isn't red. If you touch anything red, your avatar disintegrates and you start back at the last check point. Check points are never far apart, so most likely you'll have to repeat the last few seconds of game play.
As your little ball scrolls across the landscape, you can stick to most surfaces, or hold down the square-right triggers to lose your stickiness and speed up the ball. Pressing another button causes the ball to jump. In some cases you can float through the screen, making sure to avoid any evil obstacles. That's pretty much it. Stick, run, float and jump. You don't get any more basic than that.
Every action you take in the game results in a beautiful musical arrangement. The levels start off with a couple beats, but then your actions cause more beats, and then more. Soon, everything you touch sets off more notes, and a whole symphony is born. Each level contains a specific amount of "coins" one must collect. With each coin, new beats are added to the musical experience, adding yet another fantastic dimension to the game.
All the music in the game is original and has been written by I Am Robot and Proud, Jim Guthrie, Deadmau5, and Beck. That's right, even Beck has contributed three original tracks to the game, and they're amazing.
Let's stay on the whole Beck thing for a minute. "Sound Shapes" contains three previously unreleased full-length tracks from Beck. Each track is its own playable level within campaign mode. Once you beat the levels, you can then use these original Beck titles or any other tracks you've obtained to create your own world. I've played through all three of these levels and I can honestly say the tracks are awesome.
The artwork of each level is beautiful. All of it is original and done by notable artists Capy, Queasy, Pixeljam, Superbrothers and Pyramid Attack. You'll find yourself immediately pulled in by how simple the level design is, but amazed at the beauty of it all.
Completing each level unlocks the tools players need to build their own "Sound Shapes" levels. Players can compose full levels and music easily with the touch-screen interface and back-touch panel. Players can upload their levels and share with friends as well. There is no limit to what one can create. The campaign mode might only contain 20 levels, but it's the ability to create your own that gives "Sound Shapes" infinite replay value.
"Sound Shapes" is one of the most beautifully creative games I've played in a very long time. I marveled at its simplicity and brilliance as I played. The music you create as you complete each level is magnificent, and being able to use that music to create your own world is exceptionally fun. Like the game itself, I'll end this on a simple note. Of all the games I've played over the years, this is the first one to genuinely make me smile.
"Sound Shapes" was developed by Queasy Games and is available for $14.99.