When Shatter came out in 2009 it was one of my favourite games of the year. It revolutionised the bat and ball genre because with one gameplay mechanic is stops players getting stuck on the last few blocks to clear as you get your wrecking ball to clear the screen. Flash forward to 2022 and we get Shatter Remastered Deluxe, the seemingly definitive version of the game but I’m not entirely sure it is… just yet anyway.
So what makes Shatter such a great game? It’s suck and blow mechanic. Using wind power from your bat you are able to change the trajectory of your ball on the playing field. This means you can airbend around blocks, push your ball back into play and as other powerups become available you can really use this to your advantage. Want to play old school? Its all there but you won’t want to for long as the game is designed around the wind. Each the types of blocks you need to shatter with your ball reacts to the wind differently. Square blocks are easily swept up by the wind so you can’t suck too much or you’ll get tens of blocks flying at you, ramming you off the screen. Similarly you can put more than one ball in play if you are feeling bold. The challenge is up to you but each ball is a life so you’ll need to keep them in play as long as possible.
The other risk/reward factor related to wind comes from the blue shards you collect from shattered blocks. These need to be sucked in to increase your multiplier but the more you leave on the field, the more likely you are to trigger the ricochet move. This allows you to suck and put up a temporary shield to use the shards like a spreadshot gun to blow up blocks in play. You can also just collect the shards and chain up ball bounces from your bat to launch a shardstorm. This acts like an uzi gun to shoot blocks out of play too. These moves are tied to big scores and so Shatter incentivises being aggressive and on the front foot.
This plays out with excellent controls across horizontal, vertical and circular levels – the latter of which was quite new to the genre. It’s here where the remastered deluxe edition runs into one of a few issues. In the original game, controls felt smooth and responsive. On circular levels here the bat seems overly eager to move quickly and its difficult to make smaller adjustment moves. This results in the player often overshooting where you expect or meant to go and this wasn’t a problem in the original. Without a fix, it doesn’t matter how clean and 4K the graphics are, Shatter Remastered Deluxe fundamentally plays slightly worse than the original. I hope it gets fixed as its the only set back in what is a stunning game.
With 4k graphics and easily unlocked time attack, endless (both in solo and co-op) and boss rush modes – there is a lot to play and replay. Online leaderboards can push you forward too, especially friend leaderboards. I also want to shoutout the amazing soundtrack by Module. Apparently the soundtrack has had some subtle changes but as I bought the soundtrack separately that’s so ingrained in my brain, I honestly didn’t hear much difference. Sound effects have changed though and not really for the better – just different.
This ultimately brings me to an odd conclusion. This is a flashier looking version of a classic game that plays ever so slightly worse than the original. The original Shatter is still sublime and doesn’t feel aged either – so why would you buy this remastered version? I think if you are console only and don’t have the PS3 version – this is a no brainer buy for any arcade gamer. Shatter just works on every level. If you have a PC though, the original Shatter is a third of the price and offers control perfection. I’d take that over some cleaner graphics any day but that’s my preference. The score I’ve given is based on coming to this game for the first time rather than being a lover of the original. I think you’ll be a bit underwhelmed if you are expecting something that leaps the game forward. In some ways, that speaks volumes for how stunning the original game was and still is.
Shatter Remastered Deluxe
Whilst this needs a patch to be the ultimate version of Shatter, it is lovely to see it in its full glory. The original has barely aged though so if 4K isn't a priority - grab that version instead.
Still feels like one of the best breakout style games ever made.
Soundtrack has subtle changes that whilst aren't overtly obvious, still give Shatter a superb dance-rock soundtrack.
Plenty of modes and replayability with endless and time trial modes.
Co-op modes are fun.
Movement on the orb/circular levels is too fast and imprecise leading you to constantly overshoot simple movements.
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