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Hands-on: Sound Shapes

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PlayStation Vita may be offering many familiar faces from established franchises, but the software that truly makes a piece of hardware unique and standout for years are the quirky games that can’t be found or replicated on any other entertainment medium.

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Queasy Games’ Sound Shapes is one such title as it takes music & perfectly blends rhythmic gameplay with player friendly platforming, yet continues to entice with a level creation tool that opens up limitless possibilities for not only level design, but music creation as well.

Sound Shapes plays like a typical platformer, think Mario, as you jump over obstacles, pound enemies, and collect music notes, the coins of the game, which are carefully placed throughout each level. The game itself has no background music, but as you collect notes you’ll notice the game's music grow & that is because the track is formed based on the notes you gather and environmental objects or enemies populating the level.

Our short time with main game felt like a refreshing take on the platforming genre, but the game’s greatest appeal is the level creator.

Putting Vita’s touch capability to grand use, the level creator is packed with content for you to explore, experiment, and waste time with. Getting started is as simple as placing a music note. Based on where you place it, it’ll have a different pitch and tone as the game accurately replicates the music scale. While in the creation tool you’ll hear how each note sounds in your song/level, so you can easily make any adjustment to the level score to satisfy your musical tastes.

Unlike the level creation tool in LittleBigPlanet, which is fairly complex, Sound Shapes is simple, fast, and well-designed. Each note is in-sync & stays in rhythmic harmony, so even if you place piano and key-tar notes randomly across the board, it’ll still have a pleasing sound – though it may not be the best musical composition every crafted.

After placing the notes in desired locations, you must build a level around them & doing so is very easy. By placing platform shapes that perform various actions, your level comes to life. You control how one will explore your level and collect the music notes that you designed. You may place enemy types that provide more bass & other sound effects to further enhance your music track and level difficulty. Experimenting with different instruments & level designs makes this an addictive mode.

Although I found myself taken with the level creation tool, I fell in love with the music composition aspect of it. Making different songs and tracks was my motivator & Sound Shapes delivers the freedom which allows you to spend hours making different tracks in the creation tool before ever finalizing your level.

Those who love music will adore this mode because it gives so many tools and different instrument combinations to test. I may have only spent twenty minutes crafting my track and level, but I could have spent hours making different levels & songs.

Sound Shapes is a musical delight & an exciting Vita game that demonstrates the wonderful game experiences that Vita can offer. Unfortunately, Sound Shapes won’t be a Vita launch game but it should see release soon after.

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