PAX Prime Hands-On: Sound Shapes
On the first day of PAX Prime 2011, Chris and I got invited to an off-site Sony press event to check out some of their upcoming titles. There was a buffet of far-off PS3 exclusives including Sly 4, StarHawk, PixelJunk Sidescroller, and more. What I was most excited for, though, was to get my hands on the PlayStation Vita. Three titles were being shown off on Sony’s next generation portable console: LittleBigPlanet Vita, Resistance: Burning Skies, and Sound Shapes, a quirky 2D platformer from Queasy Games (Everyday Shooter). I had heard all of the hype surrounding Sound Shapes, but to be honest I skipped the trailers and multiple write-ups, so was unsure of what it was. Everything I played at the event was good and fun, but no title possessed the monstrous potential of Sound Shapes. Seriously, believe the hype. At first glance, it reminded me quite a bit of The 2D Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character. You play as a circle with sticky tentacles that are used to attach to walls and other surfaces and move from one screen to the next. There are orbs to collect on each screen, and once you start collecting them you’ll likely be sold on the whole package. Though you can’t see it, there’s a sweeping vertical bar that moves from left to right (think Lumines) and counts 16 beats. Collected orbs sound off when the bar touches them. At first I was trying to speed through the screens. It’s a habit of mine to get through platformers as quickly as possible. (Perhaps that’s why I like Explodemon! so much?) After completing a few screens, I quickly began slowing down and listening to the music being created by my platforming. To boot, most of the platforms on the screen, when touched by your finger, make different sound effects. The whole single-player campaign experience is extremely chill. As soon as I thought, “okay, I get it, pretty cool”, I was shown the level editor. Mind explosion.
The editor features so many tools to create intricate platforming levels that it’s almost unbelievable that it houses even more tools to create top-notch tunes. The trailer is rather descriptive, actually. The notes that he is placing on the screen (by pressing down on the Vita screen for a second) become the collectible orbs when you switch to play mode. That big square platform also makes sounds when tapped, and there are a ton more usable objects. By the time I was done playing around with the music loop generator, I knew for sure that Vita would be a day one purchase for me, just as long as Sound Shapes comes out at launch.