Retro-style arcade games are definitely "in" right now, and the new title Shapes & Sound: The Shape Shooter is a great offering in this quickly expanding genre. Shapes & Sound brings a clearly well thought-out game from end-to-end, with awesome gameplay, soundtrack, graphics and performance that all add up to a great experience.
Oh, and did we mention this is an Android-exclusive title? Read on past the break and see what it's all about.
Shapes & Sound is extremely minimalistic in its design and execution, and it works really well here. The entire game is in grayscale and set to smooth and wonderfully composed music, which really creates a complete experience. The gameplay is something that will remind you of an old arcade game though, and is an interesting contrast to the style of music.
The gameplay couldn't be simpler to pick up, but has a lot of room to expand and become a very challenging game if you want to continue with it. You control a white shape (go figure) in the middle of the screen -- a circle, square or triangle -- and are faced with incoming black shapes that will either hurt or help you. You tap on the screen where you want to "shoot" to hit the bad shapes, and ignore the good shapes to let them hit your character.
You receive points for hitting the shapes before they hit the character, and additional points for letting shapes corresponding to your character's shape hit you. There are also some special shapes -- like the radioactive boxes and health boxes -- that well help or hurt you more than a regular shape will. The larger the incoming shape the more shots it will take to break it up, which means you'll have to prioritize to hit it even if there are smaller shapes that are closer to impact.
You're not limited to the shape the game starts with, however. At any point in the game, you can use a swiping gesture to change between the three different shapes -- left for square, up for triangle, right for circle -- to take the biggest advantage of the incoming black shapes. For example, if you have three triangles coming towards you at the same pace, it may be easier to just switch your character to a triangle and absorb them, rather than try and hit all three before they hit you. This adds a very interesting angle to Shapes & Sound that you can easily just ignore to keep things simple or take advantage of it if you have the dexterity to do so.
When you (inevitably) get hit a few times by the opposing shapes, the game doesn't necessarily end. You get knocked down to 0 points again and the game continues onward. The only way to "end" a game is to hit the pause button in the lower right hand corner and go back to the main menu. If you do go back to the main menu, you can check out your high scores, but that's it, there are no settings to be found here -- I'm completely okay with that, especially in such a clean game.
Shapes & Sound: The Shape Shooter is a fantastic example of what a minimalistic and clean arcade-style game can be. There's nothing that says there have to be flashing neon lights and 8-bit techno music just because it's in the arcade genre, and this game proves that.
Best of all, Shapes & Sound is only $0.99 in the Play Store, and I surely think this game commands much higher of a price considering the extremely high level of quality.