I often ask myself “Nacho, what would it be like to play Arkanoid in the year 4026 while tripping on space ecstasy?” “You handsome devil,” I reply. “Only time will tell.” Well, the time has come.
Shatter is a PSN downloadable game by developer Sidhe which takes the premise of old school block breaking games like Breakout and Arkanoid and turns them on their heads with beautiful HD graphics and some new gameplay elements not traditionally seen in this type of game. However, don’t file this under “another old school remake”. Shatter cranks things up to eleven.
The basic premise is simple: clear each level of the colorful blocks opposite of you by bouncing your ball off of your flat spaceship. In Shatter though, you are actually controlling a “kinetic energy harvester robot thingy“, your “balls” are actually missiles and “blocks” come in a variety of shapes and sizes, each with its own behavior and physics. Yeah, I said it. PHYSICS! This is actually where Shatter sets itself on a podium and beats its chest with the fury and strength of ten gorillas.
Blocks can behave in a few ways. Some blocks are your standard fare of motionless target, while others will tumble towards you should you destroy their support blocks. There are also blocks that multiply in a cell-like fashion, explode on impact or take off like rockets to create some dazzling fireworks displays. There are even blocks that project a force that can alter the trajectory of your missile, which serves to complicate things a bit more. Your robot is capable of exerting the same forces as well, either repelling or attracting forces, which alters the trajectory of not only your missile(s) but of blocks in the level. This provides for some dynamic play and some especially hectic yet fun moments on the more difficult levels. Another element added into equation are “shards” that are collected from destroyed blocks which increase your energy meter, thereby allowing you to either project a shield to protect you from other falling blocks, as they can stun you, or fire off a flashy slow motion salvo of laser blasts to clear a level faster. You also have the option to release multiple missiles at once, provided you have any reserves, should you decide to ramp things up and attempt to clear a level faster and rack up bigger combo points. Suddenly you’re not just sitting there waiting for a stupid ball to come bounce off of your head, are you?
There are also power-ups to gather which can boost your score multiplier or alter the properties of your missiles, but the other unique thing that Shatter throws at you to mix things up are end world boss battles, which force you to change gears a bit and actively strategize on how to attack your robotic enemy’s weak point by using force techniques and timing.
I don’t know if you can tell how hard my nipples are over this game, but the last thing I’ll tell you about is how fantastic the soundtrack is. Sidhe really did a great job here of getting electronic artist Module to come up with amazing ear candy to play this game along to (which you can download or stream for free here). Seriously, it’s fantastic. I always find myself tapping my feet and bobbing my head to the beats as I play this for hours on end.
I LIED! THERE’S STILL MORE!
In addition to the block-breaking story mode, there is a boss rush mode which pits you against all ten of the game’s bosses one after the other and an eyeball-exploding bonus mode which has you keeping multiple missiles in play for as long as possible while a brain-melting space vortex visualization cycles in the background in an effort to vaporize your synapses. Both these extra modes and the story mode have leaderboard support as well, so that you can easily get into pissing contests over your high scores and fastest times with your friends and internet strangers alike.
If you’re a fan of Arkanoid/Breakout, then you shouldn’t hesitate to pick up Shatter, but even if you’re not, at $7.99 on the PSN store, Shatter is well worth the price of admission.