Game Reviews Playstation Sound Shapes (PS3)
Sound Shapes (PS3)

Sound Shapes (PS3) Hot

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Accessibility At A Glance Sound Shapes (PS3)


Precision > No You will need precision to play
One-Handed > No Avoid this game
Deaf Gamers > No Ummm, I would read the detailed review
Subtitles > Yes Character text is present but not ambiant
Colorblind > Maybe Not so sure this is the game for you

About the Game

Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date
August 07, 2012
Licence Category


Play, compose, and share in a unique take on the classic side-scrolling platformer where your actions make the music. With equal parts musical instrument and game, Sound Shapes gives everyone the ability to make music and share creations with the community.

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Sound Shapes (PS3)
Sound Shapes (PS3)
Sound Shapes (PS3)

Editor review

Sound Shapes (PS3) 2012-09-11 19:54:07 Elizabeth Martin
Overall rating 
Elizabeth Martin Reviewed by Elizabeth Martin    September 11, 2012
Last updated: September 13, 2012
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews

Sound Shapes

2D platformers have been enjoying something of a revival lately, particularly from the indie scene, and Sounds Shapes is the one bringing the music to the party. It blends striking graphics with a music sequencer to create an experience that, when at its best, makes the player feel as though they're playing a music video. With the music coming from the likes of Beck and Deadmau5, and the graphics from Superbrothers and PixelJam, the sensory overload is never less than astonishing.

The core gameplay, on the other hand, is more mundane, and is mostly borrowed from other games. Thankfully, the developers have taste and have borrowed from the best in the genre. You play as an amorphous blob (LocoRoco) which can stick to surfaces, letting you move from floor to ceiling (VVVVVV) and there are instadeath-dealing dangers aplenty (Super Meat Boy). The gameplay may not be all that original, but it is still a whole lot of fun, and it is the style and music of the game instead that really makes it special.

Music is an essential part of the design of each level; every laser, monster and even platform has its own sound and beat, meaning that different combinations create their own rhythms. Items that you collect through each level also add notes to the tune, of different pitches and at different times, depending on their position within the level.

How this all works only really becomes clear once you start to play around with the level editor that comes with the game. When writing a new level it is as important to consider how it will end up sounding, as much as how it will play and look; you are composing a track as much as writing a level. That may sound daunting but the editor is user friendly and there is a helpful tutorial to ease you in.

If you don't fancy trying your hand at making a new level yourself, you can try out those made by members of the community instead. If the success of Little Big Planet is anything to go by then, with any luck, there should be a constant supply of new creations coming in for some time. The game is also ripe for future DLC; the levels within the campaign are grouped into albums, suggesting that more additions could come later on.

On a technical level Sound Shapes may not be the best platformer to ever grace a console, but it deserves every success and your time. The campaign levels show off the astonishing variety that can be produced from the editor, from space invaders inspired levels backed by a thumping dance track, to a Beck song drawn in a Beatlesesque cityscape; but as with LBP before it, the campaign is not really the point. The tools are in the hand of the community now and it is an exciting prospect indeed to see what outlandish ideas people will be able to use it to come up with.

Accessibility Issues

1. Visibility

During the campaign some levels are bright and clear to see but others are terrible. It has a particular habit of putting black platforms on a dark brown background, which are virtually impossible to see. The game often uses colours of slightly different shades which you need to distinguish between.

Dangerous objects are coloured red which will cause problems for colour blind people. Sometimes dangerous areas also throb, but not always, so it is not a reliable cue. It is often important to tell the difference between red and green areas, for example, some vines are green and some red so you have to choose the right ones. Some levels use red/green combinations for background and platform and one in particular ask you to move a red blob in a green background around red bullet-hell, which would be a nightmare for red/green colour blind people.

2. Hearing

Strangely, given the game’s reliance on music, it is perfectly possible to get through the campaign with no sound. The beat is clearly shown visually and you can watch patterns to figure out how to jump through the dangers present in each level.

Deaf gamers would not get as much out of the level editor, however, as it is designed around making music as well as a level. They will also not be able to play the challenges in the editor as they play some music and ask you to recreate it with the level editor.

The main campaign is therefore playable for deaf people, but I wouldn't recommend the game as a whole.

3. Subtitles

There is no dialogue and all important instructions and menus are given clearly in text. It is written in a sans serif font, normally in black on a light background. Occasionally things are not written clearly but this tends to be at less important times, for example, who wrote the music is written at the end of the level in white text on an orange background.

4. Precision

Precision is required to move your blob around as you must use the analogue stick or the directional keys to point it in the right direction. There are lots of hazards to avoid so timing is necessary to avoid them whilst moving through the levels. There are a few occasions when you have a kind of time limit within which to perform jumps but this is rare. Towards the end there are some bullet-hell sections where your protagonist is floating and you need to move precisely between the bullets.

5. Controls

The controls are simple. The left analogue stick or the directional keys are used for movement, X for jump and either square or R1 to make your blob non-stick, allowing you to move at greater speed. The keys are not customisable and, unfortunately, do not allow for one-handed play.

6. Difficulty

There is a very helpful tutorial at the start to explain all of the mechanics of the game and there is another to explain how to use the editor.

There are no difficulty levels; levels are simply as hard as they are. There are, however, difficulty spikes with the odd screen being much harder than others. Thankfully, checkpoints are extremely common, there are often several within a single screen, so you never have to replay more than a few seconds.


Sound Shapes is, regretfully, inaccessible for many people. Red-green colour blind people will have trouble on many occasions since danger is shown in red and the campaign often uses levels in green and red combinations. People with any sort of visual impairment will most likely struggle with it in fact, due to its use of similar shades of colour throughout. Deaf people would be able to play it but I think its reliance on music would be off-putting and it would seem like a rather ordinary platformer if you ignore that aspect of the game. The controls are simple but the use of the left analogue stick and the face keys, as usual, means one-handed play is impossible and the whole thing requires precision and timing to complete so anyone with low mobility will also struggle.

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About the Author
Elizabeth Martin
When I'm not busy at work (helping scientists do whatever it is they do), or at college studying sign language, I'm at home playing video games, reading about video games or writing about video games.

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