What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sound Shapes is a downloadable platformer and music creation game available for both PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. It includes a simple but powerful level creator that encourages players to tap into their creative side and design their own levels, which double as musical tracks. Players can then share their creations with the game's community. It has a small amount of violence in the form of spiked traps and glowing red enemies that can cause the player's blob to disappear, as well as a level that depicts some very cartoonish missiles and explosions in the background. Parents should also note that while this game never grows too difficult, it does employ an unusual system of movement that may prove a little frustrating for some kids, at least until they get a feel for it.
What kids can learn
Thinking & Reasoning
- making new creations
- producing new content
- digital creation
- using and applying technology
Engagement, Approach, Support
Game design is top-notch, with stunning graphics and unique sound palettes. Players unlock new sounds and shapes to use in their own songs by finishing game levels, which is a very effective way to engage.
Kids learn by experimenting in a very forgiving and encouraging environment. Kids don't learn formal music notation but can easily apply the principles of rhythm, pitch, and timbre they learn to other musical pursuits and projects.
Tutorials explain the basics, but kids learn by experimenting as well. There's an extensive online fan community, accessed through the game, that lets players share their original musical tracks.
What's it about?
SOUND SHAPES is a quirky little platformer in which levels double as evolving musical tracks. Each level, comprised of a single screen, is filled with simple two-dimensional obstacles. The player's blob character can stick to light-colored objects, but not dark-colored ones. Touching red objects and creatures will cause your blob to disappear and reset at the most recent checkpoint. Sounds play as a sweeper bar tracks across the screen, touching music making objects. These sounds create a song that grows in depth and richness as players collect coins scattered across the environment, each of which adds a new noise to the constantly changing soundscape. As players work their way through multiple musical levels grouped together as albums, they unlock elements that they can use to create their own levels via a simple editing kit. Kids can then share their musical video game creations in a safe online community.
Is it any good?
Where many modern platformers pride themselves on their unforgiving difficulty, Sound Shapes offers an experience focused on fun, creativity, and music. Make no mistake; some levels demand a deft hand at the controller, and it takes a while to become comfortable with the game's unusual stick-to-certain-surfaces mechanic, which can prove a little aggravating at first. However, frequent checkpoints allow players to keep progressing at a steady pace. This allows kids to fully enjoy the game's great original music, and, eventually, create their own. The level editor is wonderfully easy to understand and use, letting players create playable levels with looping tunes in just a couple of minutes, then upload them for others to try as well. And with an almost limitless number of player-created levels available to download, this $15 PlayStation Network game is well worth picking up.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the use of music in video games. What sort of music do you like? Do you enjoy playing traditional instruments, or do you prefer electronic instruments? Has this game made you more interested in creating your own music?
Families can also discuss creating digital media. Do you ever feel shy about sharing? What might make people hesitant to let other people see the things they make? How do you overcome this shyness?