Toronto-based independent game developer Jonathan Mak rose to prominence with his 2007 downloadable game Everyday Shooter, a critical and commercial success for the PlayStation Network and Steam. Four years later, Mak has debuted his follow-up title, an innovative musical platformer tentatively called Sound Shapes—and the wait appears worthwhile as the game is already picking up significant buzz. At the E3 Expo happening in Los Angeles now, Sound Shapes picked up best of show nods from outlets like IGN, 1UP, and Electric Playground.
Sound Shapes is a collaboration between Mak and electronic music artist Shaw-Han Liem, better known as I Am Robot and Proud. Mak is well-known for his integration of sound and music into gameplay and, for the PlayStation blog, he describes the game as “both a musical instrument and a classic 2D platformer. You can use it to make music, but then you can ‘play’ that music like it’s a video game.” Players build levels in the game and at the same time build a song, since each component has a musical element to it. Music, instead of being a passive element, becomes an active part of gameplay. Notes scattered around a level map can be accumulated to build up the background music in the game. A laser beam is not only an obstacle, but might correspond to a beat from a snare drum.
The biggest downside for fans of Mak’s work will be the wait until Sound Shapes‘ release. The game is set as a launch title for the new PlayStation portable console Vita, which won’t appear in stores until Christmas 2011.