Shatter Hands-On

A new twist is added to an old classic in this PlayStation Network exclusive, and we've got a hands-on.

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There's been a wave of classic arcade remakes in the past few years, and while Shatter isn't necessarily a '70s arcade game enhanced with psychedelic visuals, it is very much like the old arcade game Breakout with new gameplay elements and a funky soundtrack. Shatter is available exclusively on the PlayStation Network, and we had a chance to try out some of its levels and found we were immediately hooked on the old-school brick-breaking mechanic. By now, everyone is probably familiar with at least one version of the classic game, but Shatter introduces an interesting vacuum-and-blower mechanic that will change the way you play.

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You control a high-tech-looking paddle that slides around with the left analog stick. The levels vary from one another, and you play as goalie by bouncing glowing orbs of energy from the left side of a rectangular play area, from the bottom of the screen, or around the lower third of a circle--if you happen to be playing in a circular level. The goal is to break or shatter all the colorful shards on the screen without letting the ball get past you.

While your eyes are keeping track of the ball, power-ups will be flying toward you, which you'll want to snag before they pass by you. When you hit the different shards onscreen, they shatter into the shape of a small "s," which you can then suck toward you using the L1 button. This sucking affects your bouncy ball too, so you should use this mechanic to your advantage. The R1 button blows a gust of air away from your ship, so you can swap between sucking and blowing to maneuver your bright ball of energy. By collecting as many mini "s" shapes as possible, you'll build up a power bar at the top of the screen, and when it's full, you can unleash a flurry of glowing shards into the remaining pieces of the level.

Once an area is cleared, you'll keep clearing new areas until you reach the world's boss fight. These fights are by far the highlight of the game because you'll be dodging dangerous debris and launching all the firepower you have once your meter is full all while ensuring that your ball doesn't get past you. Things can get a little hectic here, but luckily, power-ups are plentiful and obvious, making them easy to snag when everything appears as a jumble of colored lights. The square button will also allow you to bring up a shield in case you need protection from space debris.

Fight cool bosses at the end of each world.
Fight cool bosses at the end of each world.

Leaderboards are available for you to gloat on, so you'll want to take advantage of the bonus stages to rack up your total. Three glowing blue balls of light come at you in the bonus stage, and as long as you can keep some of them going, your score will continue to climb. After beating the first world, a bonus level will unlock for you to practice. There are a total of 10 worlds, each with its own unique style. The upbeat yet hypnotic soundtrack will motivate you as you progress through the stages, which also fits the visual style of the game incredibly well.

Shatter looks to be another enjoyable arcade game that you'll be able to add to a growing collection. It's simple, fun and addictive, and it's set to be $7.99 when it is released July 23 on the PSN.

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