Ever since the Super Nintendo game "Mario Paint" let you put together a short melody that would loop while an animation played, people have been trying to figure out how to actually make music composition a game. Almost exactly 20 years later, "Sound Shapes" comes closer than anything to reaching this elusive goal, and does it by being less "Mario Paint," and more "Mario."
"Sounds Shapes," downloadable to your PlayStation 3 and hand-held Vita for one price, is on its face a simple 2-D platformer in which you control a ball that rolls and jumps through levels. The major twist on the platforming formula involves coin collection. Here, coins don't add up to an extra life; instead, each coin you collect fills in a note in a short snatch of music that plays over and over. Let's say a certain level's song was the refrain of "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Collect three coins, and you'd hear "Mary had" and then silence for a while, until "Mary had" came round again. The goal is to complete not just the level, but the song.
Of course, no game that wants to sell would be accompanied by "Mary Had a Little Lamb," so "Sound Shapes" comes packed with works by everyone from Beck to deadmau5. Still, "Sound Shapes" would be little more than a curiosity without the ability to create your own tunes, and your own levels, arranging coins and obstacles as you see fit.
Making this much more rewarding is the ability to share your creations with other "Sound Shapes" players -- and play their levels -- over the Internet. You can imagine this involves a healthy amount of copyright infringement. The game's been out less than a week, and already there are sophisticated levels built in tribute to everything from "Psycho" to "Terminator" to, of course, "Mario."
|» System: PS3, Vita|
|» Price: $15|
|» Rating: 4 out of 5 stars|
Kinda makes you want to design a level around your favorite song -- or maybe even write an original.