I have grown to really like my PlayStation Vita. That's not to say I didn't like it when I first started using it, but over the last couple of weeks, my respect for the system has grown into a real fondness. With that said, the system hasn't really had a game that feels "Must Have" to me. The launch line-up is solid, and I do play a lot of Hot Shots Golf, and WipEout 2048.
But mainly, I use the Vita to play PSP games; specifically Tactics Ogre and Persona 3 Portable (the amazing music of which I've already discussed a bit tonight).
I'm looking forward to there being a few proper Vita games that I want to play half as much as I want to play P3P. Fortunately, at least one of those is on the near horizon. That game is Jonathan Mak and Shaw-Han Liem's Sound Shapes, a super-cool music game that combines a 2D platformer with a functional music sequencer.
Jason deGroot of Queasy Games walks you through the game in the video above — I had a chance to play the game and chat with Jason at GDC as well, and was very impressed with what I saw (and heard).
The collectibles in the world all trigger notes, beats and tones on a sequencer that plays across the background of the screen. Depending on where they're located on the screen, the notes will play at different times in the measure. After you've collected them, you can see them loop in the background; collected tones keep playing for several screens in either direction.
Often times, the later parts of a level will have a whole mess of notes playing over one another, and as you move to new screens, the chord underlying the notes will change, adding a lovely sense of growth and musical development.
Sound Shapes also features a full suite of creation tools, which is where things get really interesting. Of course, there are a bunch of levels included, which range from the simple to the very difficult (See the level at around 3:30 to get a sense of that), but the ability to create your own level/songs and easily share them has got me even more excited.
The game itself uses the Vita's analogue controls, but the level editor smartly uses the touch-screen. This allows for a much more fluid, easy-to-use creation process, much closer to a PC sequencing program than a clumsy game-console one.
Even a game like LittleBigPlanet, which features only rudimentary tonal creation tools, has generated some very nice musical levels. So, I'm very excited to see what players come up with in Sound Shapes. Like Pixeljunk 4AM, this is a game that I could easily see someone taking onstage to actually perform with.
That's partly because the tones themselves are very cool. A sequencer is really only as good as the sounds it's making, and these sounds come from a bunch of great electronic musicians (including Deadmau5), each of whom contributed tracks to the game.
Sound Shapes looks to be yet another in a growing trend of creative indie music games that fuse traditional gameplay with music in ways that move far beyond the Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution model.
The game was originally set to come out as a launch title for the Vita, so it should be finished and released in the very near future. Between this (and yeah, the coming of Persona 4: The Golden), it looks like I won't be putting my Vita down any time soon.
Groovy leaping blob
Sticky walls and sticky beats