The lights are on
Sound Shapes is one of Sony’s secret weapons. You can’t get this innovative music platforming experience on a system that doesn’t have a Sony logo on it, and its impressive user-creation tools ensure it always has a plethora of fresh content waiting for you every time you boot it up.
Since its release in August last year, Queasy Games has provided a few new downloadable creation tools for players, but this is the first time it has added new levels to the game. The new mini album, which is called “Do You Wheelie Want to Hurt Me,” adds three new levels, introduces two vehicles to the platforming mix, and of course features new music. As with all Sound Shapes content, purchasing the DLC once gives you access to it on both the PlayStation 3 and Vita versions of the game.
The vehicles are best described as motorcycles. They have the same controls, but the skull-shaped one automatically kills you if you land upside-down. You can’t hop, or stick to walls while riding in the vehicles like you can on foot. Instead, you use your boost and the shoulder buttons to rotate as you fly off the ramps arranged throughout the levels.
The new music isn’t particularly memorable, with the second level having heavy-metal leanings that are accompanied by the roaring engine of your skull-shaped vehicle. Even as a fan of the metal genre, it can be a little grating when you get stuck and have to hear certain loops repeatedly, but overall the new music stands next to the previous albums’ high quality.
Sound Shapes feels much different when you’re controlling a vehicle, jumping off ramps, and speeding through musical notes as fast as you can. Sound Shapes is not a rhythm game (even though it has rhythm and music in it), but the vehicles make it feel like one as you try to speed through the levels without stopping. The levels have a much greater sense of speed than the originals, but can come crashing to a halt when you’re trying to get that oddly placed note.
Sound Shapes’ campaign was disappointingly short, and “Do You Wheelie Want to Hurt Me” is no different. Of the three new levels, one purely trains you how to control the vehicles. The other two can be completed in less than five minutes apiece. What we originally believed to be a batch of developer-created levels is more of a training ground for level creators who want to use the new vehicles, objects, and sounds. I enjoyed the vehicles, but it’s up to the community to put them to good use.
The best new Sound Shapes content is the Community Milkcrate, which is a separate and free download that appears when you update the game. The Milkcrate offers a meaty selection of 6 albums and 35 levels handpicked by Queasy Games as some of the best the community has to offer. They aren’t quite as good as the main campaign levels, but amateur builders completed them with pre-existing assets so it’s hard to be too judgmental. Despite the design restrictions, the community has created some great levels, many of which last longer than the entire “Do You Wheelie Want to Hurt Me” mini-album. The levels also include brief liner notes from the creators outlining their thoughts on the design process.
Overall, Queasy Games’ new Sound Shapes offering disappoints. The $1.99 car mini-album and creator pack is essentially a training ground for budding level designers interested in using the vehicles, and though the free Community Milkcrate collection of user-created levels is nice, I wish the developer spent more time creating levels designed around the new vehicles.
Email the author Kyle Hilliard, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.