August 7, 2009

Shatter is a newly released update to a classic, developed by the rather unknown Sidhe Interactive, and it may be one of the surprise downloadable titles of the year. It’s an update of the classic arcade title, Breakout. For those unaware of Breakout, it had a basic gameplay pattern: move the paddle to hit the ball towards the blocks at the top of the screen until you destroy them all. It spawned many sequels and spin-offs, but Shatter is one of the better ones.

The game’s look (as well as the music) feels like a more “futuristic” version of Breakout, which is what the game is trying to be. But aside from the act of breaking blocks and trying to continue to hit the ball, there are plenty of other things added to the game to make it a brand new experience.

As you hit the ball towards the multi-colored and multi-shaped blocks, they create blue shards, which you can absorb to add to your score and fill up a bar to unleash a special attack. You absorb the blue bits with a suck function, which is done by pressing the L1 button on the controller. This, as well as the blow function, can be used to also pull and push the ball towards or away from you, and allows you to maneuver it more outside of simply hitting it with the paddle. You can also release multiple balls onto the playfield at once, but once your lives hit zero and you lose all of the balls, it’s game over. 

With the addition of boss fights and different kinds of blocks that can almost “attack” your paddle, there is an added level of depth and challenge to the classic formula. The boss fights seem simple at first, but as you progress through the game’s ten levels, you find that some require many different strategies to defeat them. It turns Breakout into something much more; an action game that plays less like the original and more like a classic shoot ‘em up. There is even a boss rush mode that allows you to face all ten of the bosses in a row, which is a nice addition to the game.

Outside of the main game, the boss rush mode, and a very basic but addictive bonus mode, there isn’t much to the game. No options for any kind of multiplayer, and no reason to replay the game once it is finished. Trophy support adds some replayability, but it’s nothing that will have you coming back to the game as often as other downloadable titles. It’s a bit disappointing, but I guess it’s what you can expect from such a cheap title. At only $8, you don’t get a lot, but what you do get is well worth the cheap price point. 

Shatter is well worth the money, but outside of a few challenging areas and boss fights, there isn’t any reason you’ll get more than 2-3 hours out of the experience. It’s a shame the developers didn’t take it any further with any kind of multiplayer support, even for a higher price. But for the price it is offered, and for the basic, yet addictive formula that is still successful even today, Shatter is a success. 

ESRB: E for everyone; it’s just a simple, fun Breakout update, with nothing objectionable. 

Pros: Basic, yet very addictive gameplay; new mechanics that add a lot to a classic game; bosses add even more challenge to the game; cheap price point; the game’s look is fantastic, and the music adds a lot to the experience

Cons: Not much else to do once you finish the main game

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.