Shatter is a 2D block-breaking Arkanoid type game, developed and published by Sidhe Interactive, which tries to remake an old genre into a modern title.
Shatter is not exactly a new game. It was initially developed for Playstation 3, back in 2009 and it enjoyed a moderate success.
A year later, it was ported for the Windows platform and distributed through Steam. Now, with the help of the Humble Bundle initiative, it was ported for the Linux platform.
We shortly reviewed the block-breaking Arkanoid genre last week when we analyzed another title similar with Shatter, called Wizorb.
These types of games were really popular 20 years ago, but they slowly disappeared over the years. The rise of casual gaming and social gaming, over the last couple of years, helped this genre get back on its feet and make a nice impression in the community.
Sidhe Interactive has provided a single .sh file that can be easily executed from a terminal. Keep in mind that the version we exemplify here can change if developers choose to update the game.
We tested the game in Ubuntu 12.10 and the installation didn’t present any problems. The developers warn the users that it’s a 32-bit only game and it requires 32-bit compatibility libraries, on 64-bit Linux distributions.
Also, the users might not have permission to execute the file. This is an extra step needed before running the installer. You will need root access to install Shatter.
sudo chmod a+x shatter-linux-1347954459.sh
Just follow the on-screen instructions and everything should run smoothly. If you are running a 64-bit operating system, the game will need a lot of additional packages. Fortunately, it’s very simple to do it. Just enter the following command in a terminal:
sudo apt-get install ia32-libs
This will provide the game with all the necessary dependencies to run this 32-bit app in a 64-bit environment.
Story and Gameplay
The story is non-existent and the gameplay itself doesn’t need one. Unlike Wizorb, which tried to provide a framework for the gameplay concepts, Shatter is just made up of a series of levels, with ever increasing difficulty.
Some games can benefit from a story, but Shatter is not one of them. It would just encumber a game built like a pyramid that is just challenging the player’s reflexes.
As for the gameplay, it’s the standard block-breaking bonanza we’ve all seen in the past. There are a couple of differences, but there is nothing revolutionary.
Unlike the classic Arkanoid recipe, the ball can move on the horizontal, on the vertical, and in even in circles, and the players musters two additional actions, blow and suction.
Every block that is hit by the ball leaves behind shards that act like the game currency. They can be absorbed with the paddle, slowly powering up the Shard Storm that can be used with devastating effects.
The blocks can also be destroyed with the paddle itself, with some penalties, or by deflecting shards with the paddle shield activated.
The two actions that can be activated from the paddle, blow and suction, have quite a big influence on the gameplay.
Usually, blow can be used almost constantly to push the ball and the shards back, and suctions to gather as many shards as possible, and the end of the level. It would seem to make the game too easy, but some of the later levels can’t be completed without them.
One of the interesting additions to the gameplay is the fact that there are no negative power-ups. Usually, in games such as this, some of the power-ups have bad effects, like making the paddle smaller. Shatter has dispensed of this problem and it allows the user to concentrate on what’s important, and that is gathering shards.
The game is divided into several modes: Story (just a figure of speech), Endless, Endless Co-op, Time Attack, Time Attack Co-op, Bonus Mode, and Boss Rush.
Each world ends with a Boss fight, which can be replayed in the Boss Rush mode. The other ones are pretty much self-explanatory.
The first and biggest problem a user will face is installing the game on a 64-bit platform. If you know your way around a Linux operating system, you will also know that you'll need the ‘ia32-libs’ package to run the game, but less experienced users will have a tough time playing the game.
The installer only warns that the game will need 32-bit libraries, but it does not provide them. This aspect clearly subtracts from the game’s appeal. Spending time on forums, trying to find out what libraries you need is not fun.
Another issue with the Shatter is the fact that it sometimes gets too crowded, with hundreds of shards on the screen at the same time. It would have been nice to assign different colors for shards and blocks in order to make them more distinct.
Shatter is ultimately fun. If you manage to get it working, the constant challenge of the levels will keep even hardcore gamers hooked. The music and the apparently simple gameplay are a great match.
Shatter might not be a ground-breaking game and it’s not revolutionary in any way, but it does possess an appeal that other, more complex games lack.
Maybe it is the constant challenge of the levels or maybe it is just the constant testing of the reflexes, but there are few games capable of keeping players interested for so long, without a story and a complicated gameplay.
Simply put, Shatter will provide all the necessary ingredients to remove the stress at the end of the day in a non-destructive manner, by shattering virtual blocks.