Block breaking games have been around since the mid 1970’s and while many will recognise Breakout or Arkanoid, few Xbox users will know about the unique game “Shatter”, which was released on PS3 back in 2009.
Fast forward to 2022 and developers PikPok took the mantle and released a remastered version beside Netflix on iOS and Android earlier this year, and now Shatter: Remastered Deluxe finally brings the franchise to Xbox.
The aim is to complete each level by destroying all of the blocks, this can be done by simply knocking the ball back and forth, but there are plenty of other options for when the levels quickly become a little more complex.
With every block you shatter, a cluster of shards are released onto the screen, you can pull the left trigger to “suck” which pulls the shards towards your paddle, and use the right trigger to “blow”, allowing you to curve the trajectory of the ball, for hard to reach blocks. There’s also a power-bar, that fills up as you collect shards, and once full you can unleash a mini-gun style shard-storm which will quickly decimate large groups of blocks.
It might sound easy enough, but with dozens of blocks heading your way, you’ll need to utilise your shield, this slowly depletes the power, making a shard-storm harder to achieve, but pulling up your shield is sometimes the only chance you’ve got of returning the ball.
There’s always a multi-ball option as you can unleash as many of your balls at once, but when they’re all gone, you’ll lose a life and your score before restarting the level. Thankfully some blocks release power-ups, which can regain a ball, help boost your shards or by making your ball more manoeuvrable or more powerful so it smashes straight through blocks.
The the bulk of gameplay is within Story mode, where you’ll travel through 10 different levels, each with 7+ stages and a boss battle, followed by a quick-fire bonus round for extra points.
The first few levels are fairly straight forward, introducing you to vertical, horizontal and curved levels, as well as a variety of blocks, even these early boss levels are straight forward and pretty easy to finish off, but things change as you approach the half way point.
Suddenly things take a step up, you’ll find yourself needing to make better use of your shield, as well as being more selective on the order you try to remove blocks, and around the 4th boss battle, you’ll find you need to use your head a little and explore different techniques, rather han relying on the ball doing all the work for you.,
In all it’s likely to take at least a few hours for a single play-through of the story mode, and with leaderboards throughout there’s plenty of chance to return to set a new highest score.
You’ll also unlock Endless mode , Time attack, Bonus mode and Boss rush. Endless mode constantly brings new blocks into play with the challenge to survive as long as possible while increasing your score.
Time attack gives you three minutes of mayhem to earn the highest score, while Boss mode and Bonus mode let you play through the special levels at the end of each stage, to challenge for a place on the leaderboards.
There are also a few co-operative modes for Endless and Time Attack, allowing you to bring a second player to help you chase the highest scores.
There’s definitely longevity if you enjoy chasing scores, and while achievement hunters will easily unlock about 500 gamerscore within a few hours, you would have to master every mode, and set some ridiculous high scores if you want to get any where near the full 1000 gamerscore
Onward to presentation, and the first thing to mention is how bright and vibrant Shatter Remastered Deluxe is, there’s some fancy animated visuals in the background, which are enough to get your attention, but never a distraction mid-game. Running at up to 4k and 120fps (1080p/60fps on the XboxOne), there’s no issues with how things run at all, and while it’s clearly an updated port of the mobile version, they’ve done a great job of making everything look sharp and vibrant, though I would have loved to have seen even more special effects on screen for power-ups and exploding blocks.
The audio is a little less appealing, it’s never distracting, but there’s not a single track of the original soundtrack that stood out for the right reasons, the few times I actually found myself taking notice of the music, it was more because it sounded a little too repetitive or too similar to another stages track.
I’m sure some would praise the fact that the audio is nota distraction, but equally many might prefer to turn the volume down and put on their own music
So now for the important part, is Shatter Remastered Deluxe worth your time and money..
The short simple answer is yes, at just over £8, it’s an incredibly fun and unique twist on the Block-breaking genre, with some levels and bosses that really start to test your approach, and plenty of modes to sink your teeth into.
You’re assured of at least 2-3 hours of gameplay before you’ve finished the story and had a few goes on the extra modes before things start to feel repetitive. The lifespan thereafter is solely dependent on how much you like replaying content to chase higher scores.
Shatter: Deluxe Remastered
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