Get It Right: Go Simple With The X-Men

Those of you old enough to remember filling arcade cabinets with machines probably have at least a handful of games that you couldn’t stop playing. For some, it was all about getting the high score on Ms. Pac-Man or Galaga while other flocked to the competitive nature of Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. But for me? It was all about the beat-’em-ups, particularly those in the comic book realm. While Punisher remains a classic and close to my heart, I have especially fond memories of playing the X-Men arcade game for hours on end. It’s with that in mind that I have to ask: Why haven’t we seen another game like that starring Professor X and his crew of mutants?

In addition to recently thinking about the arcade game, I have not been able to get the awful taste of X-Men: Destiny out of my mouth since playing it three years ago. It was just an absolute mess of a video game that should have never left the developer’s studios, which is actually something that Kotaku covered in depth in this article. For those unfamiliar with it, though, X-Men: Destiny attempted to fall into the category of action-centric role-playing games, which would have been fine had it been executed properly. Instead, we were left with button-mashing madness that wasn’t even reminiscent of what can make button-mashing games fun. It really just tried to do too much.

Maybe, then, the best thing potential X-Men game developers can do is keep it simple. What’s funny is that there have been well-crafted X-Men games in the past few years, just not on a console! As seen here, slot developer Playtech was able to successfully integrate scenes and imagery from the first X-Men film to create a unique and fun take on an otherwise sterile gaming experience. It’s simple, sure, but that’s kind of the point of slot-styled game, right? Of course—but it’s that simplicity that needs to carry over to full-fledged console versions of titles based on the classic Marvel franchise.

Stop trying to give us over-the-top games where the graphics and appearance are top priority. The focus needs to be on what made those aforementioned classic games so memorable: the gameplay. Ditch the nonsense and go for something straightforward. Then, and only then, can developers even attempt to try a more complicated approach. After all, retro games have had a hell of a year, what with Shovel Knight recently winning Best Indie Game at the Game Awards, per this tweet from Nintendo.

Why can’t we just get something like this year’s X-Men mobile game, Uncanny X-Men: Days of Future Past, on a console? I can’t even imagine how quickly it would get eaten up by people with some money to spare on Nintendo’s eShop, the Playstation Network, or Xbox Live. It’s a shame that the best X-Men game around is only available on your smartphone but hey, at least we have that, right? Superman fans, on the other hand…

*This is a guest post written by Paul Donegan. Paul is an avid gamer and freelance blogger. In his spare time, he enjoys hanging out in his local comic book shop or rewatching episodes of The Wire.*

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Our 5 Most Wanted Games From The PS4 Conference.


Sony came to the stage last night with a man questions to answer. Could they keep the momentum they had from their initial conference almost six months ago? What would their next-gen console look like? Would they have games that would wow not only their fanbase but those gamers who were on the fence? They finished the night in firm command of the conversation and possibly a hold on holiday sales for this upcoming year. The PS4 had a bunch of games that perked interest and here are the five I’m most interested in getting my hands on.

The Order 1886

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  • Steampunk monster hunters, with a knights twist.
  • Initial story seems really interesting.
  • Cool looking weapons, let’s hope with lots of variety.
  • Hoping actual gameplay keeps some of this trailer’s style.
  • Multiple protagonists maybe?

Indie Games

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  • Huge deal that Sony is continuing to foster the relationship with Indie Devs.
  • Bringing their games to the Sony platform will just bring more to the fold.
  • Don’t Starve, Secret Ponchos and Mercenary Kings all looked great.
  • Indie Devs can self-publish, again huge incentive.
  • Games look easily portable to Vita as well, many getting a PS+ push from the start.

KillZone: Shadowfall

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  • The game looked better than the initial showing.
  • The new open, bright environments will do that game and the Guerrilla engine justice.
  • New Combat options including the “Owl” personal combat drone should be very cool.
  • Mutiplayer should be amazing as well.

Infamous: Second Son

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  • Graphics looked amazing, crazy particle effects.
  • Really emotive characters.
  • Protagonist was a snarky bad-ass (New DMC Dante-esque)
  • Felt like a playable version of the Chronicle movie.

    Quantic Dream Demo

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  • EXTREMLEY impressive detail.
  • Kind of graphics we really want from next-gen.
  • This kind of technology can help to create the emotionally deep gameplay we have been dying for.

Let us know what we missed and what you are excited for. Are you buying a Ps4 day one, if so tell us why in the comments below.


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PixelJunk’s awesome 4A.M. contest is underway

I rolled on to my Facebook feed yesterday and to my surprise saw that PixelJunk was promoting a really cool contest for their game 4 A.M. If you haven’t heard of it, I posted a overview of the game some time back that had a great interview with Rowan Parker the lead designer of the game. Honestly I think this game’s existence is still the only reason to own a PS Move controller and is one of the best motion/music mash-ups games you can have with that peripheral. It is truly a one of a kind experience that you shouldn’t miss.

They are giving away a PixelJunk customized Sony Pulse Elite Headset and a Move controller signed by the whole 4 A. M. team!

Check their Facebook page for details: 

After seeing this sweet swag I have to get my skills back on point. If you would like to see me perform check out and follow me on PSN under the name KAHJAH1



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God Of War Multiplayer? YES PLEASE!

We are back from vacation and want to wish you all a Happy New Year, we hope you all had a safe and prosperous 2012. We thank you for your support and plan on this being a great year as well.

This year is slated to have some of this generation’s most anticipated games: “The Last Of Us”, “Bioshock Infinite” and “Dead Space 3,” just to name a few. But I have another game that you might want to keep your eyes peeled for. “God of War: Ascension” from the fine folks over at Sony Santa Monica might have a sleeper hit in the making, at least on the multiplayer side, that is.

The multiplayer beta dropped last week on the PSN and at first I thought, “This can’t be any good can it?” But to my surprise it’s not just good, it’s very good. Good enough to perk my interest when the game comes out later this year.

You jump into the MP and find yourself in a palatial setting with the camera set behind a hulking mass of a man. From the start you can tell that this God Of War team is on to something new, but things feel familiar in a way. The role of gladiator is yours to undertake while you play these modes. You pledge your allegiance to one of four of the mythical gods—Poseidon, Ares, Zeus and Hades—each with different weapon types and “blessings” to bestow upon their champion.


Each gladiator will brandish a different melee weapon depending upon with whom they align themselves. Followers will have swords and huge hammers at their disposal to begin with. Each weapon type so far has a very different feel to how they swing and interact with players. At first I played with the sword and loved how nimble you felt slashing your way through players, but once I got my hands on a mighty hammer I changed my tactics and play style to compensate for the heft of my weapon.

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What makes this so much fun so far is that it doesn’t play like a hack and slash kind of game. It honestly feels more like the classic Dreamcast game “Power Stone.” Bouncing around the gorgeous multi-leveled playfield while dodging traps filled with fire or spring loaded pikes feels extremely good. At the same time, the controls feel familiar for long time fans of the GOW series. Combos are implemented the same way as in other games with new wrinkles thrown in here or there for fun. The parry system makes the game feel like you are fencing: you step toward your opponent, then make a split second decision to parry or feint. When an opening in his/her defense shows itself, you strike and hit them for damage.

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When you figure out what the game is trying to show you, it quickly becomes evident that they developers are not trying to fit the multiplayer fighting engine into the GOW mythos; they are actually trying to do the inverse. It’s exciting and with the four-on-four gametypes, a lot of fun. You will totally be hooked when you trigger a trap that catches a pursing enemy, or when you finish one off with a super cinematic “Brutal Kill.” I just hope that there are more of those brutal kills per weapon or that you have the ability to unlock more while ranking up, because they are beautiful gory masterpieces to watch. I want more gore, SonySantaMonica.

This GOW team has a big hill to climb to overthrow the reign of Kratos with Ascension. An iconic videogame character with three huge critically acclaimed games to try to overtake. With that said, this gamer is ready to give you the benefit of the doubt after putting out a pretty damn good multiplayer beta that shows you not only are showing respect to the source material but are also willing to go out on a limb and try new and exciting things. For that alone you’ve so far earned my $60.

If you’ve played it, tell us what you think in the comments or if this has peaked your interest and you have questions hit us up on Twitter at @Spawnpointblog.

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The Sound Shapers-D_Mise

Speed runs have been a part of gaming for as long as I can remember. Playing through a speedrun to challenge yourself to get the best time tests both your motor skills and patience. This week’s Sound Shaper has figured a way to make his levels some of the most played and enjoyed ones in the community by applying a deft touch when creating his soundscapes. Many of his levels have the flow and feel of some of our favorite platformers but with, in my opinion, better music.

This week’s shaper is D_Mise.


“When We Were Stars” – With over 1000+ plays this level is an easy level to complete. I really liked the way the super chill music comes together in the level. Some well-placed catapults, tractor beams, and a diverse art style make up most of this level. I can see why it would be so popular because it lends to speed runs and is pretty straightforward. It’s a great palette cleansing level.


“Prepare to Launch” – D_Mise created a very cool aesthetic, in this level with all of its intricate ornate details. I don’t know why I love the “Space Invader” catapults so much but they are really awesome in this particular level. I would say though the star in this space-themed level is the music. With each note it opens up into this really dope almost R&B track. I loved the music in this one and appreciate the level of detail D_Mise put into it. I can tell that he really cherishes the experiences he wants his players to have in his levels. I appreciate that greatly.


“Hurricane Refugee” – Again, attention to detail is the key in this level, not only in the platforming but the care D takes with the music and art – it’s beautiful to behold.  The level sounds like something from the climatic end scenes of a Tron movie. Little flourishes here and there that mash up multiple types of games and a heroic soundtrack make this a delight to play. I like the fact that D_Mise makes pretty short concise levels. The fact that they are so full of character is a testament to him and his creativity.


After playing through some of his levels I asked D_Mise to hangout and speak with us.

TSP: Give a little background on yourself and why you decided to play Sound Shapes.
D_Mise: I’m a 25 year old college student from New York City, and I grew up in the 8-bit era, full of bloops and bleeps. I create a lot of abstract art in my spare time, usually while listening to music, so Sound Shapes is a natural fit for me. I’ve never tried my hand at making music (unless you count the 3-ish years of trumpet/drum lessons when I was younger), and music has been my main focus in this game.
I bought Sound Shapes with the intent of playing it on a flight over the summer. I tried it the night before, and by the time I hit the airport, I was up to Beat School and Death Mode challenges. The flight took 3 hours, but it seemed like 15 minutes!
TSP: How do you plan out your levels? (Music first or art?)
D_Mise: Like most have said, music first. When I make a level, I tend to wrap it onto itself, joining two separate music sequences that fit together. I often start a new level and create audio, save it, and forget about it until week later (I have published 6 actual levels, and I have audio for 6 others). When I finally get around to starting, I try to imagine what the music reminds me of, and jump off from there. I sometimes sketch out design possibilities during my classes, since it’s usually on my mind all day.
Because audio is the primary focus of my levels, I tend to make them less challenging, with emphasis on flow of movement. I try to make them speed-run friendly, with lenient checkpoints and ample opportunity to hold the run button!
The art comes last, and I try to make nice looking stuff, especially in the rooms that are more challenging. The way I see it, if you’re gonna die 10 times, you might as well do it to some nice tunes and with some visual encouragement. Sometimes, my stuff turns abstract, and makes sense only to me. I’ll explain one of them later.
TSP: Do you make your levels on the PS3 or Vita?
D_Mise: Vita, for a lot of reasons. When I made my first level (“It’s Not Godzilla”), I made it on the PS3. Then, I uploaded it and later played it on the Vita, only to find that there were inconsistencies with audio and framerate. It’s almost unplayable toward the end! I never went back to try and fix it for the Vita, but it was a lesson nonetheless. Also, I’m rarely home (full time student, full time job), and I commute a lot, so the Vita is far more convenient, and Sound Shapes is my bread and butter.
TSP: What are your favorite levels that you’ve made and why?
D_Mise: “When We Were Stars” – This was my first “real” level. I wanted to tell an abstract story of a fallen star finding its way back. It starts out in the wreckage of collapsed stars, and then goes on to five dudes trying to recreate a star, then to a colder environment, and eventually ends on a collapsing frozen throne, before joining the stars. It ended up with a lot of plays in a short time, and I was flattered that the community liked it so much. So then I got cracking on a new level, and I released “Permission to Launch”. Both managed to break 1000 plays each, which I didn’t expect at all!
“Hurricane Refugee” – Was first called Hurricane Refuge (one letter makes a big difference to me). I had a lot of time on my hands during Hurricane Sandy, so I figured what better way to commemorate the occasion than to release a new level. I decided that the best way to make it through the actual storm was sleep (and Sound Shapes), and so, I mirrored that. You start in the clouds, enter a pipe into the night, and then enter another pipe into a dream. I used the deadmau5 orbit creatures to give it a hurricaney/cycloney feel, and there are 3 instances where you get hurled through the air. I like it because it’s a bit personal to me; it marks a natural disaster that kept me indoors for way too long, during a time where I felt I needed a break from the whole work and school grind. Creating became my outlet.
“Buggin’” – Man, this level was my first attempt to participate in the Theme-A-Week, and I chose #CRES, but I was nowhere near done by the next Theme-A-Week’s reveal. I suck! I decided to release it anyway, two weeks later without a fancy hashtag. While creating the track, I felt it reminded me of skittering sounds, so I chose some insects as a theme. Then, I made a spider, and called the level “Insectinoids.” Then, I realized that spiders aren’t insects, so after a grueling renaming process, I called it “Buggin.” The music ramps up toward the end, since the theme was #CRES. There’s no plot, no real continuity between segments; just some bees and earthworms and fire ants. I thought the music buildup was cool, especially the honeycomb room.
“Save The Princess! #ASYM (Symmetrical)” – I wanted to participate in a Theme-A-Week before the end of the world, and so I finally did with this level! My plan was to make a boss battle of some sort, along with a retro homage on the final screen. Once these ideas fell into place, the level and music created itself. I added a layer of urgency and tension through chat bubbles and sphincter moments. I’m strongly considering making a princess saga.
TSP: What is the favorite level you’ve played and why?
D_Mise: The very first level that floored me was the notorious “And I To Fire” by Jordanbuster. There’s a lot of depth to it, and I remember thinking to myself, “How much time did this take to make?” The more levels I create, the more I appreciate it. If there were a Sound Shapes vinyl, this would be track 1.
Also, there’s this way cool Metroidvania stage I remember playing that felt less like Sound Shapes and more like a Super Metroid 2 demo.
There are lots of others that I’ve played (I try to keep up with the Greatest Hits and levels on recent activity board), but I mainly watch my girlfriend play through the community levels. I help here and there, but there’s still a lot of rage quitting!
TSP: Any tips or tricks that you’ve learned?
D_Mise: A basic level making tip: make a blueprint. Lay out your sounds, and then put up giant sticky shapes to see how your level could progress. Toy with the BPM and scale, and if something interesting just isn’t working for your level, don’t be too proud to remove it! You can reuse ideas for future work, where it might just fall into place. A piece of advice I was given: if something is good, you can use it more than once. If something isn’t good, don’t use it ever again. Do what you want to do, and have fun!
After you have your blueprint, save and quit. Play your level and figure out if the audio/framerate dips and why. The answer is usually a clashing of two audio tracks that might play smoothly while editing, but for a freshly loaded playthrough causes lag. Another cause is the timing of getting certain notes, and the triggering of memory-heavy creatures and stuff.
Also, play test as often as possible! Force your friends, co-workers or whomever to play through it. Lure them with candy, beer, whatever it takes. I would get feedback like “I liked the other one better” from one person, with another saying the complete opposite. Take criticism well and often!
One trick: If you place a note and then place a duplicate note on top of it, it sounds louder for that slot (note: it can effectively stack ~4 times). You can use this for added emphasis on desired sounds within a loop or sequence. It’s very situational, but can bring something soft to the forefront in a major way.
TSP: What would you like see added to the game in future updates that would make your creations even better?
D_Mise: I’d love for more artists to lend more audio to play with. Maybe some Flying Lotus, Grimes (go Canada!), Anamanaguchi, or even Ronald Jenkees (awesome YouTube pianist) and Module (the guy who did the Shatter OST). Make it happen!
In addition to what a few others suggested (collaborative options, group rotating, screen by screen BPM editing, etc.), one update I’d like is a sort of chain trigger, which would hold off on playing a note/sequence until the entire chain is complete. I’m a fan of games that have some sort of huge payload, like getting a bajillion points at once, or massive critical hits. Perhaps this can lead to a scoring mechanic?
I’m just nitpicking though. I appreciate the simplicity (complexity?) of the creation engine, and the limitations encourage more original work.
Thank you for this way cool opportunity to talk about all this!

Big thanks to D_Mise and the Sound Shapes community for taking part in the series. The support has been really awesome especially from so many places around the world. Sound Shapes is truly an international phenomena and is bringing people together to create beautiful art. I’m happy to be a part of it and you should be, too.

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The Sound Shapers – Anoy337

The “SoundShapers” is a series of articles and interviews that spotlight a different member of the Sound Shapes community weekly. Check out other posts here.

The outstanding thing about the Sound Shapes community is that levels will bubble up through various means. Between chatter amongst the heavy hitters on PSN or the different filters on the Sound Shapes community website there are dozens of ways for players to find great content. While digging through my “following” list I saw that many of folk’s favorite levels were from this week’s shaper Anoy337.

Some of his stand-out levels that I have played include:

“Fatal Progress” – Levels like this are special because they take the usual platforming conventions and flip them on their heads. Usually you try to avoid things that can kill you, but in FP you embrace death by jumping into the red hearts on every screen. It also makes the save points (usually a good thing) into a total annoyance to run into. Hitting some of them will have you re-spawn in a part of the level that takes you away from your goal. It makes this level really challenging and almost Vita-chucking. The payoff is well worth it if you can keep pushing.

“Breakdown” – Breakdown sets you up to believe that it won’t be a pain in the arse, but you soon see that it’s devious, treacherous and beautiful. You can see that going into making this level Anoy had a plan, and it was to push players to think before you leap. Besides the actual plaforming, there are a couple of screens that are really gorgeous to look at.

“Bonus Round_01” – So far this is my favorite Anoy level. It plays like a side-scrolling version of the classic game “Mousetrap”. I really appreciate craftsmanship and this one-screen level is chock full of it. What makes it cool is that you have to open gates all around the screen through quick movement, precision jumping, and sequencing. It’s extremely well thought out and is challenging and fun to play.

After playing his levels I had to ask him some questions about his method.

TSP: Give a little background on yourself and why you decided to play Sound Shapes.
Anoy337: Hi all, my name is Lee and I’m a tattoo artist by profession. I’m mostly drawing on people but pretty much whatever spare time I have usually gets donated to video games. Among the many I enjoy is the gem that is Sound Shapes. The ability to use such an amazing platform to freely create your own “songs” is what won my heart.
TSP: How do you plan out your levels? (Music first or art?)
Anoy: To be honest I try not to have a standard approach to making the song but rather choosing my underlying concept first and then approaching it in whichever way is more practical for concept of song. Sometimes however I take a more loose approach and sort of try to let the song just make itself, if that makes any sense.
TSP: Do you make your levels on the PS3 or Vita?
Anoy: I use my lovely little lady, the PS Vita. Sometimes I play on my PS3 but I have made all my levels on my PS Vita thus far. I prefer the touch screen over cursor.
TSP: What are your favorite levels that you’ve made and why?
Anoy: Well this is a tricky one because I have lost many a level before doing online backups and some of them are amongst my favourites. My top published level would have to be “FATAL PROGRESS”. I could maybe have done more with the music but I love how it can make you fear save points if you play it too long, which is usually evident when you play a normal level afterwards. Also I felt making the only thing that could kill you in the level a heart seems to help you embrace death easier.
TSP: What is the favorite level you’ve played and why?
Anoy: There are so many amazing songs and creators out there it would be unfair to choose only one. A stage I enjoyed very much recently though was the “Shape Invaders Song” by Gasssst. It had some innovative game play ideas and a really nice style also. But with guys like Daftbomb, Beejabides, TT, Jool, Gezouten, Earlee and all the many other amazing Sound Shapers working hard, it’s guaranteed another winner song will be uploaded probably while you are reading this interview. Thanks again for making this possible Queasy Games and Sony.
TSP: Any tips or tricks that you’ve learned?
Anoy: Mmmmmmmmm…don’t use elevators the other way around, no matter how tempted. I recently learned that shapes isn’t enough for a good level; sound is also very important. Think about the player objectively when making your song and know who you’re trying to make the song for, even if it’s just for yourself. Most importantly don’t over complicate panels and try to spread out the songs; I struggle a lot with this one.
TSP: What would you like see added to the game in future updates that would make your creations even better?
Anoy: I heard something about a curve pack 🙂 which was my only wish at first, but recently when getting into the sound side I find that a volume adjustment on individual game objects seems like something that could be very useful. I’m not too sure however on how the programming behind it would work so it might not even be possible. Other than that, maybe some weapons to fight back against the reds in Sound Shapes 2.

Anoy also gave us some shout outs:
I would like to thank Kahlief ‘kahjah’ and The Spawn Point Blog for this opportunity. You guys are doing an awesome job. Thanks also to all Sound Shapers for working hard at making dope levels and a very special thanks to all the queasies @Queasygames for making this amazing medium its truly the canvas of our time. You guys rule.

Thanks again to Anoy337 for sharing his great work with the community and taking time to chat with us at The Spawn Point Blog. We hope that you all are enjoying the #SoundShapers series and Sound Shapes. Check back here next week to see our interview with DUSTINISGOOD.

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The Sound Shapers – Gasssst

The “SoundShapers” is a series of articles and interviews that spotlight a different member of the Sound Shapes community weekly. Check out other posts here.

I’ve asked all the Shapers the question, “How do you plan out your levels? (Music or art first?).” In my other life, I dabble in the art of beat-making and always try to make a good soundtrack for each of my levels. This week I introduce you to a member of the community that I believe to be not only one of the coolest level designers but one of the most musically-talented  Shapers we have.

This week’s shaper is Gasssst.

I picked three of his levels to talk about this week that I feel really stood out from his collection and the first one I’ll discuss today is “Alien.”

“Alien” is a short but visually striking level that is an homage to the classic movie. You start out by falling to the ground and dodging shapes that eventually spell out the level’s title. It’s subtle but really works well to bring about the feeling of emptiness and the void of space.  The soundtrack adds to this really well and Gasssst used some interesting tricks to add notes in some fun ways. There are also some cool movie callbacks that I won’t spoil, but it must have taken a long time to create those surprises.

“Deja-Vu” is a fun little level that plays on its title by placing you in a continuous travel through the same scene over and over, cutting off sections each time to funnel you toward your goal. It’s a quick play and smartly done level.

Although the above levels are excellent I will say by far my favorite level is “Let’s Go”. If you were to strip away all of the geometry and gameplay, it would easily be one of the best-sounding levels in the community. The really cool thing about it is that although it’s very short, it’s pretty challenging, and trying to manage very intricate jumps through a cavern is made better by its lively soundtrack. Again, I can’t stress the music enough in this level and it’s a must-play.

I want to give a quick note: Gasssst is probably best known for his “Jam” levels.  I played them but couldn’t get to the end of them. It’s a testament to his level-building skills and my ineptitude in finding the hidden tunnels, but from what I played I loved the music and visual style.

Gasssst was awesome enough to sit down and answer some of our questions:

TSP: Give a little background on yourself and why you decided to play Sound Shapes.
Gasssst: 34 Years Old, Swiss made, I love music, movies, art and games. I used to play bass guitar and drums in a few local bands when I was younger. Now I am mostly doing Hip-Hop beats and experimental sounds on Reason. When I first saw Sound Shapes in the PSN Store it jumped right at me because of the word Sound. So I watched the trailer and really loved the style of the game. I actually buy a lot of PSN games but this one was one of the best experiences I’ve had. Playing the story mode and Death Mode were very hard. But it’s one of the platinum trophies I’m most proud of. I wasn’t really excited about the editor at first, but then I played a few community levels and when I saw what is possible it kind of got me addicted. So thanks, Queasy, for saving me some money because there’s no need for other PSN games anymore. 😉
 TSP: How do you plan out your levels? (Music first or art?)
 Gasssst: In most of my levels I started with the music first. Usually with a simple bassline in the beginning. But for some of my levels, like “Deja-Vu” for example, I had to make the design first. My levels are all kind of short and I rarely get over three minutes of playtime. I just like short little levels. Most of my levels are very easy to play. This might be a little selfish, but I just want to have a good time playing my own stuff. When I play community levels I often quit if I have to try more than ten times on one spot.
 TSP: Do you make your levels on the PS3 or Vita?
 Gasssst: I created all of my levels on PS3. I have a Vita and I created two levels on it, but I didn’t like the design so I didn’t upload them. To me it seems very hard to design a level with the touchpad and screen. I guess I am just too used to the PS3 controller. But one good thing about the Vita is you get a second Platinum. 😉
 TSP: What are your favorite levels that you’ve made and why?
 Gasssst: My favorite levels I made are the Jam levels because of the Optical Illusions, which took some time to create. I played the levels “Another Problem” from gezouten and “Triptych” from Daftbomb. I love geometric forms and so I said if they can do something like that, I have to give it a try and see if I can do it, too. I already had some beats prepared in the editor so I just had to make them playable. It was great fun to design them and I took my time when making some nice thumbnails for the level. “Kir 1SL” is one of my favorites. I said I love short levels and it was the only level in which I created the thumbnail first. I just found out how to stretch objects and I tried to do something graffiti-like. When I was finished I loved it so much that I just needed to upload it, but you can’t just upload a thumbnail right? So I quickly created a 1SL for it, and it was not bad for a level I created in around 15 to 20 minutes. “Heat 1SL” was the first level that I put some details in and tried to make it look less chaotic than my earlier levels. At the time, it was the only 1SL where you could not die. And since I’m a huge fan of the movie it’s become one of my favorites too.
 TSP: What is your favorite level you’ve played and why?
 Gasssst: This is a really hard choice, because there are so many cool levels out there, so I will just name the ones that changed my way of creating levels. “Problem?” by Daftbomb – First it was just a trollface and then he added more and more notes to it, which I thought was a really cool way to make fun of those creators that add notes to get their “pole position” back in the leaderboards. It also was the level that showed me the possibility of hiding tubes, which was essential for my Jam Levels. “Another Problem” by gezouten – A really nice level with a lot of details and amazing Optical Illusions with a really hard way to find the exit. Thanks to getouzen for that great inspiration. “Cowboy Bebop” by DUSTINISGOOD – I’m a fan of the Anime. In fact I believe it’s the best Anime series ever, especially because of Yoko Kanno’s Soundtrack. She’s a genius and this level is a great tribute to it. The way Dustin drew those characters is unlike anything else in Sound Shapes. I really hope he finishes it one day and adds Jet Black and Einstein to it. “RED” by Tony Tough, “I had that Bus Dream” by BeejAbides, and “Life is Too Short” by jool2306 are also three of my most favorite levels because these three great creators tell stories in their levels. I haven’t seen anything like it in the SS Community Levels. There are a lot more levels that come to mind right but these are just some of the gems you find in the SS Community.
 TSP: Any tips or tricks that you’ve learned?
 Gasssst: The best trick is to play a lot of community levels because it shows you what is possible and gives you some input, which makes your own creations better. In my own levels I always try not to mix up too many different objects and to not end up with a totally chaotic looking level. It helps to make a thumbnail if you want your level to be played, or at least a name because no one likes to play the unnamed levels right?
 TSP: What would you like see added to the game in future updates that would make your creations even better.
 Gasssst: I think the best thing for me would be if you could choose to place notes over two screens, which would give you the possibility of making longer melodies. Ones that run on 32 steps instead of just 16, and maybe a few more Instruments to play with, like for example a Violin or a funky slap bass guitar or more snare and bass drums. In fact just more of everything that sounds cool. 😉

Huge shout out to Gasssst for all of his help with the #SoundShapers project, you should check out his other levels here

Next week: come back to check out our interview with SoundShaper Annoy337

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The Sound Shapers-TheBeejAbides

The “SoundShapers” are a series of articles and interviews that spotlight a different member of the Sound Shapes community weekly. Check out our entries here.

 This week in our SoundShapers series we spotlight community member, TheBeejAbides.

 Beej was generous enough to share some of his time and grant us an interview. Here is how it all went down:

The Spawn Point (TSP): Give us a little background on yourself and why you decided to play Sound Shapes.

TheBeejAbides: I guess you could say that I’ve been platforming ever since they made platforms, so SoundShapes was a natural path to take.  From Pitfall (ColecoVision) to WonderBoy (Sega Master System) and Mario Bros. (Nintendo) to Sonic (Sega Genesis), and beyond, I have been trying to avoid the inevitable video game platforming death for over two decades.  I’m old school, son!  When I found out I was able to create my own platforming levels, I jumped at the chance.  I downloaded SS on day 1 and have basically been profoundly hooked ever since.  The fact that the game combines three of my loves (Gaming, Art and Music) has made it so I really haven’t had to play anything else since I bought it.  Damn you Queasy!   It’s so good!

TSP: How do you plan out your levels? (Music first or art)

Beej: I always create the musical composition first (unless it’s a 1SL, and then music is secondary).  I have found that a good song really adds a lot to your level.  The emotion or panic that it can evoke works with the color scheme and art to set a tone, and those tones dictate the experience that someone will have while playing the game.  You obviously want them to have a memorable experience when playing, so after the music, I start placing platforms in places that require the player to collect the notes in an order that makes sense for the music.  Sometimes I like to require the player to stay on a screen for a moment after all the notes are collected so they might hear the music for a couple of loops. After the rough platform ideas are in place, then come the dangerous red obstacles and moving parts (lasers, creatures, etc).  I basically play the level from start to finish after every screen I create, to see what the experience is like and how well it flows. This sometimes inspires vast overhauls or idea changes while I am creating, so I’ve learned to not rush a level to completion. I guess that’s where the artist in me takes over and I can obsess about the angle of a box or the placement of a vertical wall or sometimes even the tone of the music.  It’s rare my levels end up looking like what I had originally envisioned. I love the fact that you can go back and update your levels, too, because ideas never stop coming and sometimes you notice a third elbow on a screen that needs to be amputated. The surgery is relatively painless.

TSP: Do you make your levels on the PS3 or Vita?

Beej: I am one of the few that create and play on the PS3.  Most of the other shapers that I communicate with via the PSN are rocking the Vita. Shaper “Daftbomb” has tried persuading me to get a Vita, and he’s lobbied quite well, but I have yet to pull the trigger.  I’m guessing that creating on the Vita is a bit easier, but I’ve come to feel quite comfortable with the PS3 controller as my ‘paint brush’.  Oh, and I can’t receive picture attachments that are sent from a Vita.  Yo Sony, what’s up with that?

TSP: What is your favorite level that you’ve made and why?

Beej: This is a difficult choice, but I’d say “Plug Me In” is my favorite so far. The concept is sort-of-kind-of like you are rolling around inside a microphone or an amp (or something musically electronic) and all the while you are experiencing a very tame Def-Poetry type of arrangement. I worked with the idea of revisiting sounds by having the player enter parallel screens to the ones that they had already collected notes from. Each screen has a word or words that are intended to be part of a long statement or ‘groove manifesto’ that is really, in essence, the way I feel about the game of SoundShapes.  It’s long and difficult in certain spots, but it is definitely emotive for being kind of simple in appearance.  In short, it’s saying: “Plug Me In to this game so I can get funky!”

TSP: What is your favorite level you’ve played and why?

Beej: This is also a difficult choice because I just logged my 1,000 level played, so there are a lot to choose from.  I’m not super discriminate with the “like” button when assessing someone else’s level because if there is even one single aspect that I like about it, be it the music, the art, the play-ability… heck sometimes I just like the title… I will give it a “like”.  But when it comes to levels that are just plain awesome or memorable, these stand out:

     1. “Triptych” by Daftbomb – This level is super tough; it looks great, and has no checkpoints. It’s pretty typical of what you can expect from a Daftbomb level:  It’s a sharp as a knife but you want to take a bite out of it because it looks like a birthday cake. It combines all the skills of movement, and the sounds create an environment that puts the pressure on you to make no mistakes. Daft has been a driving force behind a lot of stuff going on in the SoundShapes online community.  He put together a discussion group of some of the most active creators and we’ve all been communicating and bouncing ideas off of each other such as the  1SLs (Daftbomb), the ESCs (Escape Levels) (gezouten), and maybe a new project yet to come (TheBeejAbides)? I guess we’ll have to wait and see…  but with over 500 fans following him, it’s no surprise that Daftbomb continuously cranks out awesomely challenging and aesthetically beautiful levels. He’s even created playable levels to explain some of these niche ideas, which are also pretty great. He’s a true master of Shaping. {I also suggest “Deathcom” by Daftbomb…. it’s long and difficult and oh so rewarding to finish!}

    2. “A Nightmare on Church Street” by TonyTough – It’s another great narrative from an original artistic mind. He creates depth very well and uses background objects to create landscapes unlike anyone else in the SoundShapes community. The slow and low music places you in a setting that is creepy and dangerous, and you aren’t sure what perils will come next. He’s really good at using objects in a non-literal way to create his scenes, like an ice sheet for a fireplace mantle and other such cool twists on platforming.  There’s also a kind of puzzle aspect to the level with clues to finding the ending, which are not immediately evident.  All of TonyTough’s levels are awesome and take a nice chunk of time to play.  They all have a replay value because the art and stories are pretty awesome.  I’m super excited for his new saga called “The Ninja”, because I have an affinity towards ninjas and he is experimenting with a new way to tell the story.  It’s pretty fricken sweet.

    3.  “Life is Too Short” by jool2306 – You don’t really “play” this one as much as you “watch it”, but it delivers in all the right ways.  jool2306 has an aesthetic that I love, which is kind of a child-like “cartoonishness” that goes along great with his storytelling ability.  He goes a little further in “The 8th Wonder of the World”, where he recreates iconic world landmarks that you tour while unlocking the portal to the final world wonder… I wonder what it is?  Hehehe. He is fast becoming my favorite creator and it’s worth paying attention to his “Egg” series, which is very creative and, so far, boundless in its aim.  I like when I am wowed by a level, and jool2306 certainly does that.

     4. “FATAL PROGRESS” by ANOY337 – Death is good? In this level, it is. You have to die in a certain sequence in order to make forward progress in this level, and it is fricken’ awesome! Very fun, frustrating, rewarding, and time consuming, but all the while you are totally engaged and determined. The platforming is creative, varied and challenging; just don’t accidentally trigger an unwanted checkpoint, because you will have to start all over again.   ANOY337’s other levels are great too; he will sometimes use giant-sized forms to create a miniature perspective in a macro world.

     5. “Escape From Guantanamo Bay” by Old_PopTarts –  This level isn’t overly difficult or even super artistic, but it just works very well as an environment and is fun to navigate as a platformer.  It’s arranged well and you certainly feel the coldness of the prison before you make your way out.  Unfortunately, Old_PopTarts has had some internet trouble as of late, but hopefully he gets it sorted out because I’d like to see a new level from him.  He’s one of the fiercest players (along with Milkmaniac) and his times are always some of the best on almost every level.  Tenacious is an apt description of both PopTarts and the Milkster, they can just flat-out get it done.

     Honorable mention:  Check out these users for more totally awesome levels-  Gannon767, gezouten, DUSTINISGOOD, TheFrostE, reinokid, VengefulTorture, pikathon, and yodalex.

TSP: Any tips or tricks that you’ve learned?

Beej: The more time that you take with your creation, the better it will be.  The more you play your levels while creating them, the better the platforming movement will be.  And remember people, it’s: “SOUNDshapes”. Make it sound good!  (Also, try to limit the amount of objects on a screen [especially creatures or moving parts] and try not to move around the start and finish markers while creating… this will help you avoid the dreaded “Script Error” for overmaxing… this is the primary problem with the game and I hope they can fix it with a patch or with DLC or with a SoundShapes2… I’m already salivating at the thought of it.)

TSP: What would you like see added to the game in future updates that would make your creations even better.

Beej: I’d like to see the kinks and bugs ironed out of the game (as mentioned above) and I’d like to see a more diverse instrument set.  I’m not crazy about using the loops so I’d rather have more tones and single-note noises that I can play with. I’d like the ability to overlay colors or shapes in whatever manner I’d like to, instead of the fact that my sticky substance always has to be on top of the red or on top of the non-sticky platforms.  Also, I’d eliminate the vocal tracks.  I’ve only used it one time on one screen, but some people just abuse the use of them.  I think even Beck would say that.

Before we wrap this article up, I wanted to take a quick stroll through some of my favorite Beej levels and have the artist himself share some of the inspiration behind them.


“Diamond Elephunk Factory” – This is the first level I ever played from TheBeejAbides. Its screenshot gave off the notion of airiness and light, an awesome level of asymmetrical detail, and great use of the embedded color themes SS has to offer. I had to play it, and once I did, I soon became a fan of his work. Although one of his earliest levels, Elephunk had a really cool style and a beautiful musical arrangement. There is a really distinct balance in this level that seems to always be at play. The platforming, which–although not super hard–is difficult enough to keep you on your toes, and the lovely Oriental zen garden-esque soundtrack is fun to listen to. Towards the end Beej drops perfectly placed drums to push you towards your goal. I appreciate this level and think it’s a must-play for folks.


“LazerDogAccident-1SL” – This level is a part of Beej’s “LazerDog” series in which LD is put in harrowing circumstances and has to make a way through. The first thing that has to be said is that this level is HARD, and as you will see from our interview, Beej made it that way for a reason. The pulsating lasers and bounce targets are one thing but the screw missiles and breakaway floor are another. Your dexterity and patience will be tested, but as a survivor of the level I can say there is a method to the madness. If you don’t go mad first, that is. I really think Beej should start giving out “I survived the LazerDog level” t-shirts upon completion. It’s only right.


“Clusterfunk Spelunking” – The Clusterfunk level pays homage to classic horror movie tropes as signage foreshadowing your doom. Along with suspenseful imagery, ominous musical tones provide a great background for a really well-thought-out level. Lots of jumps that seem just out of your reach, smart uses of the geometry and nice flourishes of style all around make the level great to play. I loved his “Beej Presents” text towards the beginning of his level, it brings that feeling like something cool is about to happen.



“Clusterfunk Spelunking” – I kept the song very simple with one loop (until the end where I bring a new loop in) and add one guitar tone at a very low tempo.  It felt dark and dank and a perfect way to emote the underground feeling. The part above ground part was added at the end of the creation to really help create that feeling of going somewhere nasty and scary. The colors darken as you move from screen to screen, then it gets dark and scary and lots of stuff tries to kill you. I got more into the manipulating of the rhythms of lasers and stuff on this one which was super fun and makes for a really tough level.  You really have to pay attention to the rhythm to advance without harm.  There’s a killer ice sheet platform screen that will test anyone’s skill and patience, and of course, rabbit flowers grow down in that dank hole.  Heh.

 “Diamond Elephunk Factory” – This was the first level I created, but not the first one I published.  After I published a couple “test” type levels I went back and reworked the whole factory, but the song is awesome so it stayed exactly the same. The platforms were essentially in place, but I didn’t really know how to work the editor that well at first, so the rework was key. I added all the red and cleaned up the platforms so that a gifted player could move fast through the whole level. No enemies or lasers on this one, just plenty of red design waiting for you to slip, fall, or jump a little too far.  I think it’s the level that got most of the attention for me early on, so it is very close to my heart.  I was shocked when people were finishing with better times than mine… I was like, “But I created it!  How could they beat me?”…. heh.  Needless to say it inspired me to make harder and harder levels. If you go to the soundshapesgame.com you will see that most of my levels are up at the top of the “Deadliest Levels” list.  I couldn’t be more proud of that.  🙂

 “LazerDogAccident – 1SL” – This is the fourth 1SL out of five in the LazerDog Series, and we can thank Daftbomb for this monster.  He had been poking me to make a single screen level for a while, but at the time I was working on “Ninja Seizure Fun Times Commotion”, so I finally finished that level and made my first 1SL.  I basically wanted to break people’s spirit with my 1SLs, or basically make them so hard that people might throw their controller or turn off their Vita, but do it in a way that was kind of endearing.  Enter: the LazerDog.  She (that’s right ya’ll, LazerDog is a ‘she’) is a feisty pup that won’t take no for an answer.  In “Accident”, the idea is that LazerDog is playing in traffic and the ensuing madness causes a bus accident, which you then must weave through to get back home.  Close calls occur and quick reactions are required, as in all of the LazerDogs. It’s no surprise that these levels are seldom finished, people just give up I suppose.  And that’s fricken hilarious to me.  I give respect to anyone who can finish all five, but so far no one has.  I’m looking in your direction, Milkmaniac, CrunchKupo, redespair, Old_PopTarts, and DUSTINISGOOD.  I know you guys can do it!  Tame the LazerDog!

 -TheBeejAbides says: “SOUND SHAPES LIFE”.  So start making music! Thanks to everyone who plays and likes my levels…. and hey, Queasy, “HIRE ME!”

I want to thank TheBeejAbides so much for all of his help with this article. The response to this series has been AMAZING, not only from our readers but also from the Sound Shapes community. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below and also follow us at @spawnpointblog on Twitter or TheSpawnPointBlog on Facebook or Google+.

We also have great news! After seeing our initial article, the fine folks over at Queasy Games asked if we could do some collaborative work on this front. We will be working together to showcase even more community members until the end of the year. If you aren’t doing so already, follow @soundshapes and the hashtag #SoundShapers. Look out for these stories to drop on our site and the Sound Shapes blog every Wednesday.

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Sound Shapes Is Coming NEXT WEEK!!

If you can’t tell by the headline that I am excited, let me just say…..I’M EXCITED!

Next Tuesday Sound Shapes comes out on the PlayStation Vita. If you have friends that have a Vita and love music, this might be the game that makes them love their handheld again. Made by Jonathan Mak of Queasy Games Studio (creator of Everyday Shooter) and renown musician Shaw-Han Liem (robotandproud.com) Sound Shapes combines platforming and music creation in a way I’ve never seen before. The essence of the game has you creating music within a level by platforming and “revealing” sounds in the gamespace. The sounds that you find can then be used to create your own levels and soundscapes.

From what I’ve heard in previews and promotional material the music in the game is both wide-ranging and offers lots of genres to choose from.  In addition to the music that Liem has constructed for the game, heavy hitters like Beck, Jim Guthrie and Deadmau5 have also contributed tracks.

If you’ve noticed, lately we have been profiling games with awesome music on SpawnPoint. Games that involve both using and creating music in new and innovative ways. Sound Shapes looks like it will be another game audiophiles and beatmakers will love! The music creation mechanics integrate so well with the platforming level creation that I can’t wait to see what people come up with. Let’s hope the ability to share your creations is somewhere in there as well.

Here is a video of Jonathan showing off just how easy it is to make not only a beautiful level but a great sounding one:

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You can pre-order the game on PSN for $14.99 and download it when it drops on Tuesday.

We would love to do an interview on this game with Jonathan and Shaw-Han. If you would like to hear it, share the article and send them a tweet at.



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It’s 4AM, Do You Know Where Your Children Are?

We want to give a  huge thanks to Rowan Parker, Lead Designer of 4AM. He was super awesome and took some time out to give us an interview about the game. Check it out below and then take a peek at our review.

Our Review

Over the years I’ve collected numerous games, spent hours traversing levels and killing bosses. Many of those games have gone by the wayside and into either the trade pile or the digital scrap heap. The few games I have kept are there because they are either artistically compelling, socially interactive or sensory feasts. 4AM from Pixeljunk hits all these notes beautifully. Powered by DJ Baiyon’s eclectic mix of trance and house music, the game puts you in the seat of virtual DJ. Using the Playstation Move as your only tool, you are able to mix and remix the tracks in the game with both precision and style.

4AM is both music creation tool and audio visualizer. You can play tracks from your PS3’s hard drive and delight in the gorgeous art the team put together, or you can go into the creator and get down to the nitty gritty. The aforementioned gritty takes place on what Lead Designer Rowan Parker calls the “Virtual Audio Canvas”. This canvas is represented on screen by different “tapestries” that move in sync with both the music and your motions. Each of the move’s four buttons correspond with each instrument of the different tracks. The square button might be a baseline while the circle might be a synth. Adding in solos and loops by holding a button or dragging in a instrument from the corners of your virtual space adds to the complexity or simplicity of the song you are performing.

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Everytime you launch into the create space your routine is being broadcast live to anyone who might be using the live viewer at that time. This is one of the reasons why I like this game so much: the ability to have what you are doing be heard by others in real-time adds a level of both excitement and a small bit of anxiety to the mix. People can follow you and also give you feedback in the form of “Kudos”. If viewers are digging what you are doing a set of equalizer type bars will rise from the bottom of the screen. The instant feedback gave me an idea if a specific drum loop or one-hit loop was connecting with the crowd. I think I would have made Girl Talk or Tiesto proud.

You can download the free viewer if you are curious or just want to be a voyeur, but if you want to gain international fame a price of $10 USD will get you a lot for your money: 10 tracks that you can manipulate, Twitter and Facebook integration so you can promote your performances, and a really sweet interactive audio visualizer that is way better than the vanilla one pre-installed with the PS3. I believe this should be a pack-in game with every PS Move. It showcases the precision you can get with the device, has lots of physical and visual feedback and great music. Let’s hope that Pixeljunk continues to support games like this via DLC and other extensions of the social media hooks that work so well within the game.

4AM is a game that hits all the right beats and is something that any music lover should own. Bravo, Pixeljunk, bravo.

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