Game #19: Shatter (2010)

standard_Shatter_04director: Andy Satterthwaite
length: ten “worlds” of about ten levels each
finished on: 25 Nov

I bought this game in a humble bundle a while back, but I only started playing it again this November after I got a table in my bedroom, and actually had the computer at an appropriate height for me to use it.

The game is at its heart a Breakout clone, but it has a couple of important differences, mainly that you can indirectly control the path of the ball while it’s flying via the “suck” and “pull” functions. Thus it usually takes less time to get that final brick on a level, and Shatter is a lot more fast-paced than a classic Breakout clone. It also has 3D graphics, giving it a different overall look, and later on, the bricks are not static.

This is reflected in its music, perhaps the best part of the game. It also has a very high tempo, and by using synthesized instruments, gives the game an old-time arcade feel.

Also adding to the arcade feel is the presence of limited lives, and the periodic boss fights which appear at the end of each “world”, which I thought were a great way to spice up a Breakout clone. Scores can rank into the millions quite easily.

In terms of Breakout clones, it’s very innovative in these ways and more – as well as the boss fights, which very obviously test the format’s limits, and the suck/pull function that I haven’t seen elsewhere, you aren’t constrained in your ability to use multiball (although I’m not very good at this) and you get plenty of powerups, including one where the game goes into bullet-time and your paddle shoots destructive shards across the screen (resulting in a quick death for more than one boss). In terms of Breakout clones, it’s just about the only one I’ve been able to enjoy, too, because classic Breakout gets boring for me very quickly. That plus the excellent soundtrack makes this a wholehearted recommendation.

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