Sound Shapes was never going to be a huge hit for Sony in terms of sales. Queasy Games and Capybara Games tiny fever dream of a game, a cross between a KORG synthesizer, a pop art playground, and Super Mario Bros. always had a glass ceiling above it. Its pre-built levels were spectacular, but the game’s raison d’être was always as a creative tool, not unlike Media Molecule’s LittleBigPlanet. It’s hard enough to make a fun video game level though, let alone a catchy song that it sits on top of. Yet Sound Shapes has persevered. It’s not a best-selling hit on PlayStation 3 or PS Vita, but the community is thriving, building levels that are so wildly different than those pre-built into the game that it’s sometimes hard to pick out which of the original assets were used for what. Sony, Queasy, and Capy keep bringing more to that group, expanding the palette and adding to the pre-built campaign levels already in the game.
Sony announced on Tuesday that it’s bringing an enormous swath of new content to Sound Shapes that effectively doubles the size of the game. The free update introduces some much asked for features, including the ability to pick and choose user made levels to save to your PS Vita or PS3 for playing offline. More significant however is the introduction of the Community Milkcrate.
A call back to DJs hauling around plastic crates of vinyl records, the Community Milkcrate is a new curator tool. Jonathan Mak, Shaw Han-Liem and the rest of the design team have handpicked a selection of user made levels and re-cast them as six full new albums of levels, just like the six albums pre-built in the game’s campaign. These 35 levels have an overhauled look as well as liner notes from the game and level designers, turning sound shapes into a sort of Pop-Up Video (for you old-schoolers out there) style game.
Then there’s the paid DLC. The $1.99 Car Mini-Album and Creator Pack puts a ton of new level creator tools into people’s hands, like loop-de-loops and speed boosters, perfect for using a car. These come with another selection of brand new campaign levels based around driving. This DLC also comes with a new teaching content in Beat School to help transform your Sound Shapes skills.
This update could, under other circumstances, count as a full sequel to the game. As it is, it’s the best reason to dive back into 2012’s best game that always needs new players.