Review: Shatter (PS3)July 27th, 2009 | Written by Chris Selogy | Topic: PlayStation 3, Reviews
With a distinct lack of Arkanoid clones on PSN, Sidhe Interactive looks to take advantage of that hole with its latest game. Shatter takes the concept of the brick-breaking game and flips it on its side, literally, by adding new abilities to your paddle and getting away from the rigid style of stages that you’re used to seeing in most Arkanoid clones these days. Shatter does a great job of being a fresh experience in a genre that hasn’t really changed much in the genre over 20 years ago.
Though Arkanoid-style games don’t usually have much of a story, Shatter does have a minimalist story in the story mode with its tale of a drone breaking free from being a slave to try to free all of its kind from tyranny and oppression. The story mode is broken up into ten worlds of about eight stages each including a boss fight and bonus level at the end that caps off each world. The bonus level gives you the task of keeping up to three balls in play for as long as possible while they get faster with each hit for 100,000 points per hit for as long as you can stay alive with no penalties for doing poorly. The story mode is a fairly easy, but very fun mode in that it offers plenty of 1ups to help you when you need them, but will take some skill to beat all ten worlds without losing all of your lives for that trophy. The extra modes, outside of the story mode, focus on the boss fights and bonus levels to result in the Boss Rush and Bonus modes, which are pretty much what you expect them to be from their names.
Breaking free of the classic thin, rectangular stages that the genre is known for, Shatter offers more HD-friendly stages where the stage is situated portrait-style where your paddle can be situated on the left side or on the bottom along with trippy, circular stages that require a bit more skill to succeed. The physics that are injected into the level design also changes the way you play this type of game quite a bit, as you now have bricks that aren’t stuck in place that can be drawn towards you or blown away so your ball has a better chance of hitting it. The level design makes great use of the floating bricks and a bit of gravity and physics so that there are a variety of ways to change up how those are used, from chain-like structures, swinging cannonballs, chambers that hold a bunch of those floating bricks back, and even a neat adaptation of a Plinko-style board using those mechanics. Of course, new bricks are introduced that are more complex along with explosive bricks and others that have their own ability to suck or blow to require more skill to attack their weakness.
Shatter’s gameplay seems fairly simple, but there is definitely a lot more depth to it beyond the basic ball/paddle interaction you’re used to that makes it a fun and refreshing experience. The sucking/blowing mechanic allows for an extreme amount of control of the ball’s trajectory beyond the English you can add to the ball by hitting it with the edge of your paddle, but it also feeds into the power bar portion of the game. The power bar can be filled up by sucking fragments that burst from within bricks when you destroy them to let you use the shatter storm attack to destroy a lot of bricks quickly, which is ideal for a few of the bosses or some of the more complex stages. Collecting fragments also adds to your multiplier, which can be destroyed by letting those floating bricks fall past you, so blowing them back into play can be essential for getting better scores. Adding to that, you have a shield that can not only be used to keep your paddle from being knocked out of the way by floating bricks but to also shoot out small shots if you let fragments hit your shield.
Shatter definitely stays away from the plain presentation that Arkanoid games offer and goes for more trippy backgrounds that games like Lumines, Everyday Shooter, and Space Invaders Extreme have made very trendy in the past few years. Each world seems to fit part of the light story that the story mode has, as you’ll focus around one location and rotate around it for each stage to signal progression towards the boss. Everything just looks as simple as it needs to be along with having enough style that helps it stand out amongst the other games that have this kind of visual style. The music does a great job of adding a great vibe to the action, which can be purchased separately for those that enjoy Module’s score that much. Having the option for custom soundtrack would be great for those times that you want to listen to something else that fits the game just as well or even better than the default soundtrack.
For the odd but slightly below average price of $7.99, Shatter offers an extremely enjoyable game with a great personality that has potential to be one of the best original offerings on PSN this year. The only real issue is that the amount of modes and worlds, which you can get through fairly quickly since the game is paced a bit faster than other brick-breaking games. Good, well-priced DLC support can help extend the game’s life and appeal, so Shatter is a good leaderboard competition game with friends for now much like Super Stardust HD and Geometry Wars before it.
Final Score: 9 | Recommendation: Buy It