It must be even more heartbreaking when you have a finished game, but no one knows about it as there is no money left for PR, or it hasn't caught the attention of the hardcore gaming community on the net.
This unfortunate fate could have been true of Shatter, but that would have be a proper shame as the developer Sidhe from New Zeeland have capture the very essence of what a downloadable title should be.
The concept is neither new or innovative, and you won't need a second look to realise it builds on coin-op classics such as Arkanoid and Breakout. You are the paddle a with a ball you break bricks - lose the ball and you lose a life. Simple and thoroughly entertaining.
But Sidhe weren't satisfied with just giving a classic concept reinvigorated graphics and sounds. They put just as much effort into the gameplay, and the rules we knew have been drastically altered.
Using the L2 and R2 buttons it is possible to suck in, and blow out the metal ball, giving the player control over the angle. This eliminates the situation where it takes forever to break that last annoying brick of a level. But that is not all it is good for.
Every brick eliminated leaves a few drifting particles in its wake and these can be absorbed by your paddle if you suck them in. The particles charge a battery that can be used to shield your paddle or as a destructive particle cannon for instance. To catch these particles you have to be quick and sucking them in also affects the metal ball and there is a nice risk versus reward balance to it.
Sidhe have also done a great job designing the levels. Sometimes your paddle is at the bottom, sometimes to the left, and then there are circular levels as opposed to the more common square ones. This variation keeps the levels from seeming repetitive and the ever changing rules also help keep it fresh.
Special bricks forces you to always reconsider your strategies, and some levels can almost be cleared with one well placed ball to set off an chain reaction of exploding bricks. Other bricks are affected by gravitation and will fall towards your paddle if they are knocked loose from the other bricks.
It is no surprise that the meaning of the game boils down to your high-score, just like its predecessors in the arcades. You will soon be reminded of your ranking in a gaming world ruled by perfectionists, no matter how good you might have thought you were. Sidhe have included plenty of depth in terms of gameplay techniques, that will allow the experienced and skilled players insane scores.
How about using up all of your balls (lives) in one go, hoping to be able to keep them all up there long enough for a high-score? Another way of earning massive points is to destroy the bosses in record times.
Despite only being available as a digital download Sidhe haven't cut any corners when it comes to the graphics or sounds. The visuals have a very striking and fresh appeal, great use of colour and a minimalistic and clean design. The music is a perfect fit, and is a splendid mix of Daft Punk inspired, French techno relaxation.
If you keep up with the latest trends in independent gaming you might be aware of another Arkanoid inspired, somewhat similar and brilliant game called BreakQuest that has been on the market for years. Therefore it would be wrong to claim that Shatter is doing something entirely new with their update of the classic brick breaking genre. But nonetheless this is one of the most entertaining PSN titles to date. For just a fraction of what you would normally pay for a new game you can get a polished gem, with countless hours of entertainment, great music and gameplay that suits both casual and hardcore players equally well.