Just take a look at games like Watermelon and Soccer Stealers and it’s obvious that GameGou makes every effort to separate itself from the pack. Song Shaker is no exception to the rule, and in some ways it’s one of the most entertaining games I’ve played in quite a while. Unfortunately, the same thing that makes it unique also tends to bog it down to the point where it can be as frustrating as it is fun. GameGou has a good thing going with Song Shaker – I just hope they work on refining the control somewhat to turn an excellent concept into an excellent game.
The premise is simple – pick a song and shake the device to play the song. It sounds easy enough, except that getting the rhythm down can be tricky, even if it’s a song you know intimately. This is the reason I’m not keen on games that use shaking the device as a play mechanic. It seems that sometimes the device will register a shake as two movements instead of one, and other times it doesn’t seem to register the shake at all, both of which will throw your rhythm off. Add to that the fact that sometimes the songs might not be played quite like what you’re used to, and it can be a bit daunting trying to match the tune. Fortunately you can listen to the song in full before you try anything, but there are a couple of songs I won’t even attempt.
On the plus side, it’s easy to get excited when you “shake” a song well enough to earn a Fantastic and four stars. The star concept is nice, but I think it needs to be fleshed out a bit, because right now you earn stars every time you complete a song, even if your most recent attempt was worse than your previous one. Also, there’s no indication on an individual song what the maximum number of stars is you’ve earned for that song. I guess at this point it doesn’t matter, but I think it could make things a bit more interesting if the stars actually did make some kind of difference.
The interface as a whole could stand to be cleaned up a bit. When I’m playing a song, it would be nice if it said at the top of the screen what song I’m playing (that way if I’m really bad I at least know what my goal is supposed to be). A “reset song” option would be nice as well. If I’m in albums mode, hitting “home” when playing a song should take me back to the list of songs for that album, not the list of albums. Finally, showing the max number of stars earned for a given song in the list would be nice, so I’d at least know which songs I’ve already done.
The visuals are pretty basic, but given the fact that you spend most of the time shaking the device you really don’t need much. The interface for selecting songs is actually kind of cool, with a bit of a jukebox feel to it. While actually playing a song you just get flashes of light, but once again, what else do you really need?
The only real “sound effects” are the clapping or booing depending on how well you do with the song. Of course the main draw where the audio is concerned is the songs themselves. For the most part I like the renditions of the various songs they perform, though a couple of them don’t sound quite right to me. There were also a couple that I wasn’t real familiar with or had never heard at all, but we’ll just consider that a cultural experience!
This game has so much potential. It’s a unique experience and would be entertaining to share with your friends. I just really think they need to work on the shake mechanism a bit more. I realize that part of the problem could be I’m just not very good at it, but I don’t think that’s the case. I just think that depending on the song, the game has a hard time dealing with the rhythm in certain spots. That can get real frustrating when you think you’re doing so well and suddenly you hear a bunch of notes strung together too quickly, or when you’re sure you shook the device yet no sound came out. I wouldn’t necessarily shy away from the game, but the more fickle users will get aggravated with this issue.