E3 2011: Sound Shapes First Look Hands-On Preview

Jonathan Mak serves up a musical 2D-platformer for the NGP that blends fun and cool technology.


Jonathan Mak, the indie developer who became widely known following the success of Everyday Shooter for the PlayStation 3 and PSP, has been cooking up a new title for debut on Sony's upcoming NGP. We got a chance to see it for the first time at Sony's recent pre-Electronic Entertainment Expo event in Los Angeles, where Mak gave us a taste of the unique new game that's one part platformer and one part...musical instrument?

Who's Making It: Jonathan Mak, indie Canadian musician Shaw-Han Liem better known as I am Robot and Proud, and a small assortment of like-minded folk.

What It Looks Like: Sound Shapes is a simple-looking game, in the vein of Mak's previous effort Everyday Shooter, that's big on bold colors and, unsurprisingly, lots of different shapes.

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What You Do: At its heart, Sound Shapes is an old-school 2D platformer. You control a rolling thing on a journey to the end of a level. The musical angle comes in via points you'll hit in your path that trigger parts of a tune. Once you hit them all, you'll be rewarded with the whole music piece playing. As with any platformer, your journey isn't a simple stroll. You'll find hazards aplenty, ranging from the environment to enemies, which will make your trip to the exit a challenge. In addition, the game will include a level editor that will allow you to create your own levels that you'll be able to share with friends locally and online.

How It Plays: Sound Shapes features simple, accessible controls that we expect just about anyone will be able to pick up and play. You'll use the left analog stick to move around and the NGP face buttons to dash, jump, and cling to certain objects in the environment to navigate the levels. The simple moves chain together easily, which is key to making it through the increasingly challenging levels. The music component is interesting and adds to the challenge as you get used to the game's logic, which often requires you to not move on the beat in a level to avoid a hazard.

The level editor is incredibly accessible, thanks to liberal use of the NGP's front and back touch screens. The demo we played made it incredibly easy to create a simple level, featuring a robust array of musical instruments, objects, and visuals to mix together.

What They Say: Mak modestly calls the game something "cool" he's been working on that features a music influence.

What We Say: Despite its simplistic visuals and retro gameplay, Sound Shapes is easily one of the most intriguing NGP games we've seen so far. The game's musical angle and the ability to create levels are smart showcases for the NGP hardware, and the platforming action in it looks to be challenging and addictive in all the right ways. Sound Shapes is slated to ship around the NGP launch. Look for more on the game in the months to come.

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