Shapes of Gray

7.4 Overall Score
Gameplay: 8/10
Visuals: 6/10
Replayability: 7/10

Simple controls | Challenging gameplay | Extra modes

Short | Confusing menu interface

Game Info

GAME NAME: Shapes of Gray

DEVELOPER(S): Secret Tunnel Entertainment

PUBLISHER(S): Secret Tunnel Entertainment

PLATFORM(S): Wii U

GENRE(S): Action, Arcade

RELEASE DATE(S): May 21, 2015

Remember the good old days when Galaga ruled your video gaming time, and all you could think about was beating your high-score in Donkey Kong? If so, then Shapes of Gray might just be up your alley.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I started playing Shapes of Gray. When you start the game, you’ll quickly discover that this will be a no-fluff experience; there are no tutorials, no introductions, and the main menu is virtually non-existent. Luckily, Shapes of Gray is not a complicated game – you move your character using the left control stick, and change the direction he’s facing with the right. Attacking is done with any of the four shoulder buttons (L, R, Lz or Rz), which is represented on-screen by your character swinging a little sword, not unlike how Link attacked in A Link To The Past. Upon jumping into the game, these controls will quickly become second-nature.

WiiU_screenshot_TV_019A1Like most arcade games, this one starts out easy enough: a few different enemy types appear, and your goal is to eliminate all of them before you run out of time. Doing so sends you to the next level, where you must dispatch a new collection of foes. Eventually, you’ll need to have overcome 50 levels to complete the game and emerge triumphant on the other side. In the first few levels, things couldn’t be simpler. In fact, when I began playing the difficulty level was so low that I was nervous the game would be completely without challenge; how wrong I was.

The levels are quick, and you quickly advance past the first half of the game. Then things get tricky; new enemies start appearing with new attack patterns and, before long, this simple title begins to push you to your arcading limits. One misstep and you’ll end up on the receiving end of a pixelated enemy projectile, which sends you back to your last checkpoint to start again. While the levels each only take a few seconds to complete, the final gauntlet of 20 levels without a checkpoint will force you to memorize the enemy patterns and respond with lightning quick reflexes. And to add to the challenge, the enemies always spawn in random locations, so no two rounds will be entirely identical.

WiiU_screenshot_TV_019A1Shapes of Gray actually consists of 3 different game modes: the straightforward Normal Mode that I’ve been describing, an Arcade Mode and (believe it or not) Hard Mode. Unfortunately, you won’t actually be able to play either of the other two modes until you beat the normal mode. It’s a shame, because old-school arcade purists will no doubt be spending most of their time in Arcade Mode, trying to beat their old high scores. In fact, Arcade Mode will probably be the mode that keeps you coming back for more, since it has the most replayability. It’s also worth noting that Hard Mode features all-new enemy types, which will challenge you in ways Normal Mode enemies couldn’t even dream of.

The game itself is clean and professional. As the name implies, the game is presented entirely without color, which is visually appealing when presented alongside the game’s simple, polygonal enemies. The music, while lacking in complexity, works well with the game. There is only one area I’ve noticed where the frame rate drops significantly, which is in level 3. There are just too many enemies on screen, which results in the game lagging. Fortunately, the error is minor and shouldn’t cause any otherwise avoidable mistakes.

The Recommendation

All-in-all, Shapes of Gray is a simple yet challenging title that will appeal more to older gamers who grew up in arcades than modern ones who play their games on tablets and smartphones. In a world filled with games like it, Shapes of Gray might struggle to stand out amongst the crowd. That said, I went into it a skeptic and came out a fan: something about this game’s simplistic presentation taunts me, egging me on until I finally finish the challenges it set before me. If you’re looking for a game to get lost in that isn’t overly complex, this might just be the game for you.

Summary

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Author: Lukas Termini View all posts by
An amateur game designer and lover of all things Nintendo, Lukas studied digital arts and 3d animation at the University of Tampa before graduating in 2013. If he isn't playing a video game, you can bet he's probably thinking about it.