Shatter Review

I know you're dying to hear about the boss fights. How do they work? What is a paddle and a ball's worst enemy? Are there any Whammies involved (Big money, no Whammies)? All good questions, but impossible to answer. The boss fights must be seen to be understood. For example, knowing what you do of the brick breaking formula, how would, say, a fight with an octopus - who's only weak point is his head - play out in a game where your ball's trajectory is tough to determine? A week ago, I wouldn't have known either. Now, that very battle is right up there with Punch-Out!!!'s Mr. Sandman and Ghostbusters: The Video Game's Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man as one of my favorite fights of 2009. (By the way, the boss' name? The Bloctopus. Awesome.)

People who know me and my musical tastes won't believe this one, but Shatter's techno inspired soundtrack serves as the glue that holds the whole wonderful package together. Usually, if it ain't European metal or 80s/90's punk rock, I have no use for it, but this game's soundtrack has bounced (pun intended) into my brain and it simply refuses to leave. There are no words, just upbeat, energetic electronica that PERFECTLY fits the mood and style of the game. Each of the ten worlds has its own style, both audio and visual, and I'm sure those versed in the genre could describe the tunes much better than I can. But if the guy who can't stand anything but wailing guitars and faster-than-a-heartbeat-after-a-marathon drumming was won over, you probably will be, too.

As I was finishing the game, I toyed with the idea of giving it only my third ever perfect score. Yes, Shatter is great. Perfect score great. But I felt I needed to dock it a handful of points because once you're done, you're pretty much done. You unlock a Boss Rush mode, which is actually very welcome and engaging, but other than that, you'll only be perfecting your high scores and placing on the online leaderboards. Scores and the amazing soundtrack aren't enough to bring most people back day after day, week after week. If they had included, say, a level editor and the ability to share your creations over the PSN, Shatter would have been a solid 100/100. As it stands, Shatter is too short and offers little reason to play through multiple times, thus no perfect score.

Also, and I might be the only one who cares about this, but I would have ignored the lack of replay if the game could have been transferred to the PSP and played on the go. In a lot of cases, playing less-complex downloadable games can feel like a compromise - why play a 2D action/puzzle game when a full disc-based 3D FPS or action/adventure title is just sitting in the system? If the game was transferable to the PSP, I would have played it at work and thus, finished it a lot faster. I guess the lack of this feature is a blessing AND a curse.

Barring some huge surprise from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles remake or Shadow Complex (you can't select the "classic" sprites in the Turtle game, so that's out; Shadow Complex does look pretty good, though), Shatter is hands-down my favorite downloadable game of 2009 and tied with Monster Hunter Freedom: Unite as my favorite overall game of the summer. For eight dollars, you simply can't do any better than Shatter. It, in all honesty, is about as perfect a game as you'll see anywhere. Download this one right now.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 97%.


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