Throughout the years there have been many arcade shoot-em-ups that people have loved and appreciated. Games like Space Invaders and Centipede in the 70s and 80s eventually led to newer releases with different gameplay hooks, like the bullet-hell Ikaruga with its vertical shooting and phasing through light and dark projectiles, and side-scrolling shooters like Cuphead with its 1920s cartoon aesthetic.
Usually, a good shoot-em-up provides the right amount of challenge and enjoyment that players crave. Back in the PS Vita era, Shatter was a compelling mix of brick-breaking and shoot-em-up, and now the Shatter Remastered Deluxe comes to modern consoles, the best version of the venerable PS Vita classic that will make you want to progress higher up the leaderboards.
Easy to Pick Up and Play
Shatter's gameplay is fairly simple, making it easy to pick up and play but requiring some skill to master. You move your ship around on a grid in either a vertical or horizontal format depending on the level. Your main objective is to destroy all of the objects in your path by using different power-ups like having the ball be unbreakable or by turning it into a maneuverable object like a kite flying in the sky.
You can also use the "suck and blow" mechanic (wherein you can bring the ball closer or push it farther away) to move your ball around the grid to reach those hard-to-reach areas of the level, breaking more objects and acquiring more shards to increase your multiplier. It sounds weird when I say it, but you want to time your sucks and blows (that sounds out of context), as you want to increase your shard meter to unlock useful abilities like creating a shield around your ship and unleashing a hail of laser fire with Shardstorm that destroys all objects in its path.
Shatter's Variety of Modes
There are several game modes to choose from as you play through the game. In the story mode, you will initially play through 71 exhilarating stages across 10 levels while batting against each boss after every level. These bosses are challenging enough to make you use the suck and blow mechanic to your advantage, like exposing a boss's weak spot or having to time your strikes to specific areas of the level.
There's an endless mode where you have to survive an onslaught of objects and enemies for as long as possible to get the best high score. Boss rush mode is as it sounds, testing your skills to see how fast you can defeat each boss within a time limit. One of my favorites is bonus mode where you have to bounce several balls in quick succession to get the highest score without losing a single object across three sections. Finally, you have a time attack mode where you only have a few minutes in which to get the best score you can possibly achieve.
What is neat about the modes is that you can also play them with a friend by your side in couch co-op which brings that sense of comraderie and trash-talking that you expect in a lot of games of this style.
Look and Feel
The visuals feature a nice 3D retro-futurist art style that pops onto the screen where you can bask in its glory with a compatible 4K display running at a full 120fps. This is surprising coming from a game that was originally released back in 2009. The soundtrack has a varied mix of electronic synth and rock music that blends together to create an engaging and intense rhythm, hyping you up for the next round of objects and enemies that will come your way.
After playing through Shatter's variety of modes, I wanted to keep trying to achieve the best rank possible in the leaderboards. Each mode gives you a sense of satisfaction and relief after each run, making the next one much more exhilarating.
If you want to play the game with a friend, the action gets intense very quickly. Mastering the game's mechanics is the name of the game, changing the projectile's attributes to fit the situation and increasing your shard multiplier to get the highest score as fast as you can.
If you're looking for the next arcade shoot-em-up with some brick-breaking mechanics then I would absolutely recommend Shatter Remastered Deluxe. This is certainly the kind of game that you can just chill out and play by soaking in the electronic, ambient music and watching the colorful visuals that get caught in your retinas.
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