Everyone knows the gameplay of Breakout/Arkanoid and its various successors: the player controls a ‘paddle’ at the bottom of the screen and bounces a ball that takes apart a wall one brick at a time. Wellington-based developer Sidhe has re-released its take on that style of game for the PC after its warm reception on the PSN store.
While the idea of adding physics to a brick- breaker game is far from new, Shatter stands on its own by being a really well-polished game, if a bit short. The meat of the game is found in the story mode (no, there is no actual story), which is composed of 10 distinct worlds, each with a different backdrop and series of levels. All of this is backed by a great soundtrack, and smooth visuals.
The gameplay consists of, as you might expect, destroying the bricks making up the level with a ball. The addition of new brick types over time makes for a fairly decent difficulty curve, and along with horizontal, vertical and curved rails for your craft, helps keep the gameplay varied. Players can also push and pull game objects, allowing the player to manipulate the ball’s trajectory. Destroyed bricks release shards (hence the name Shatter), which can be pulled in to increase the player’s score multiplier, while charging a power bar for the player’s shields (helpful for when bricks start to drift) or a direct attack that comes in handy during the boss fights that cap off each world.
Yes, there are boss fights, and with the exception of a single, obviously recycled one, all of them are unique and really quite fun. The PC version also adds in a few new game modes, chief among them being Endless and its co-op version. It generates a level of unlimited length, as you might expect, by adding in new patterns of blocks periodically. It’s a nice feature, adding some much-needed replay value to the game.
Overall, Shatter is definitely worth a look. Its polish, reasonable price and low hardware requirements should appeal to a wide range of gamers.