Brick breakers. They’ve been around for decades, pushed along by the success of the likes of Breakout and Arkanoid. After a few lean years, it’s a genre that has slowly and surely wormed its way back into the gaming consciousness, as developers try to inject new ideas into the bat versus ball scenario.
That’s where Shatter Remastered Deluxe comes in, as it attempts a rather unique take on the norm. Whilst a remaster of an oldie, the new ideas that Shatter brings certainly helps to liven up the playfield.
In your standard brick breaker, you’ll no doubt be left to move a paddle left and right, sometimes up or down, as you continually push a ball into a playfield full of destructible blocks. Smash the bricks, remove the blocks from play and you’ll find yourself moving on to the next arena; tasked with doing the same again, mostly as the wall mixes up its design.
It’s a genre as old as time, but many brick breaking frustrations occur as you try and try again to navigate a single ball towards the final few bricks in the wall; distraught as you continually miss the shot by mere pixels. Yes a variety of power ups may help, but I’m sure we’ve all been there.
It’s here where Shatter Remastered Deluxe comes in. See, not only do you have total control of a bat/paddle/ship, but Shatter allows you to blow and suck those balls (yeah, we are actually writing that) around the arena ahead, curving their usual arcs to ensure that you’re able to pinpoint specific bricks. We don’t think we need to tell you just how helpful that is.
That one simple mechanic, attached to the left and right triggers depending on whether you wish to suck or blow, means the frustration levels of Shatter Remastered Deluxe rarely cross the line. And that in turn means that, whilst coming across as a little easier than standard genre bearers, it’s a game that can be hugely enjoyable.
For the most part Shatter will have you playing through square arenas (there are the odd circular ones, but they don’t work nearly half as well), with your ship firmly attached to the bottom or left lines. Sliding along that axis is great, whether that be as you utilise a thumbstick or make the most of the D-Pad. And because you can constantly and consistently push the balls you fire away from you for decently lengthy periods of time, there’s a much more relaxing vibe that takes hold as you smash your way through those bricks.
Don’t think that Shatter Remastered Deluxe is a simple affair though and as you progress through the Story mode, smashing a variety of brick types, you’ll occasionally find yourself struggling to get the upper hand on a multitude of bosses. All sitting pretty at the end of a certain segment of levels – or worlds as Shatter likes to call them – some of these bosses can be right buggers to understand, particularly those in the latter stages of that Story. But understand what is needed to take them down – and whilst we’ll not spoil out or give too many hints, be sure to use those suck and blow buttons to help – there’s a decent little test of your gaming skills required in order to take down each one.
It’s that Story mode of Shatter that will take up most of your in-game time, perhaps running to a few hours in length. But then accompanying that are Endless, Endless Co-Op, Time Attack and Time Attack Co-Op modes. All are pretty self explanatory but work neatly, especially as they come complete with global leaderboards which can help push the bragging rights.
There is also a Bonus Mode (to be honest, this feels pretty lacking, leaving you to rely on reflexes more than anything else) and, should you complete the Story, a full Boss Mode. Yeah, boss, boss, boss. It’s not something that is particularly new, but for those looking for a few minutes extra with Shatter, it should be a neat addition.
The extra modes ensure that Shatter Remastered Deluxe is able to cater for additional play hours once that Story is over, but for the most part, once you’ve set a few high scores, will probably find the excitement waning. That’s not to say that this couldn’t and shouldn’t be a game that you drop into party rotation for local play, as the cooperative options work nicely, but the lack of an online mode could well prove to be a bit of a sticking point.
Whatever mode you play in Shatter Remastered Deluxe though, it certainly looks good enough to keep you interested. Visuals are clear, full of colour and contain enough explosions and power-ups to excite the eyes. And the fact that level progression is occasionally rewarded via a collected-shard shooting mini-gun, it makes picking off those final blocks all the more easier.
We guess that you could well be drawn in further by the soundtrack too, yet whilst it fits in well with the nature of Shatter Remastered Deluxe, it’s not something that you’ll be overly concerned by.
There are many brick breakers out there, but few have the unique feature set that has been applied to Shatter Remastered Deluxe. The whole ball manoeuvring works really well, especially on the square playfields – we don’t like it quite so much on the circular arenas – and the inclusion of a good few game modes help extend playtime.
We’d suspect that many will smash through the Story, get teased a few times by the leaderboard chasing elsewhere and then look to move on to a different game, but Shatter Remastered Deluxe will still be there, tempting you in as a game that is occasionally picked up for a few minutes at a time.
Shatter Remaster Deluxe is on the Xbox Store
- Story mode is quite exciting
- Blow and suck mechanic works well
- Less frustrating than many brick breakers
- Global leaderboards are always tempting
- Circular arenas are much more annoying
- Aside from leaderboard chasing, it may give up the ghost
- Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - PikPok
- Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, Switch, PS4, PS5
- Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
- Release date - 2 November 2022
- Launch price from - £8.39