It might have a name duller than a rusty bread knife, but Sound Shapes is probably the most interesting title currently announced for PlayStation Vita.
The idea to Sound Shapes is simple; roll a sticky globule of unknown matter around a series of 2D mazes with the intention of creating music. As you amass disc-like collectibles dotted about each level, a new layer of audio is added to the soundtrack.
So, you might start off with nothing more than a simple snare loop, but as you collect more and more you’ll add thumping bass drums, trippy high-hats and the odd symbol. It isn’t long before you’ve amassed enough to add melodic synths and a bass-line to the mix. The aim is to complete a level with the full song restored.
Having now played five games for Sony's new handheld - the gorgeous Uncharted: Golden Abyss included - it was Sound Shapes that lingered in my thoughts once E3 2011 was all said and done.
This struck me as odd. Unlike Golden Abyss, Sound Shapes doesn't boast stunning visuals, an interesting control scheme or a protagonist as effortlessly cool as Nathan Drake. But it does do something different, and this is becoming increasingly important in catching my attention.
The game takes advantage of block colours and simple geometry, resulting in a very clean aesthetic. It's like a slightly less organic version of LocoRoco and only slightly less charming. The platforming was equally simple, but objects move and pulse in time to the beat, which is a nice touch.
Ultimately, Sound Shapes combines 2D platforming with music creation, a simple concept with immediately gratifying results.
A level editor allows you to organise different collectibles - each with its own instrumental theme - around your own ensemble of platforms. Using the touch screen, you can position items in such a fashion that the music builds exactly to your liking. As such, this also acts as a music creation tool of sorts.
As the brainchild of Jonathan Mak (the creator of Everyday Shooter), Sound Shapes has been getting a lot of attention for its unique fusions of ideas. Whether it makes full use of the Vita hardware, however, is another question. While it might lack the spectacle of something like Uncharted or WipEout, it's definitely one of the more interesting titles currently in development. One to keep an eye on.