On-screen Headache

Shape Shifter is a unique puzzle game that generates a decent amount of gaming fun, but players should perhaps expect seizures from a visual overload of brightly colored moving shapes.

The best way to describe Shape Shifter is to compare it to the classic, time based, board game Perfection. Players must grab different shaped pieces and place them in the appropriate slots before time runs out. There are two modes of play on offer: Beat the Clock, and Shape Speedster. Beat the Clock’s objective is to place all the shapes in the corresponding slots before time elapses. Shape Speedster will have players scrambling in hopes of filling all the rows with shapes before they reach the top.

The player grabs different shaped pieces at the bottom of the screen with the stylus and drags them onto the moving corresponding slot. But to make the game more difficult, each slot is placed within a moving row. Plus, to compound that difficulty, each row moves in a different direction. The combination of the five moving rows, the six pieces placed at the bottom of the screen, things moving in different directions, and the varied colored pieces will induce an instant headache – literally. Playing Shape Shifter is certainly entertaining, but the mass of on-screen moving color will hurt players’ eyes, even after only a short time.

Helpful bonus pieces can be found and activated by placing a glowing piece in the proper slot. A ?Reveler’ bonus will help the player by adding a glow to a slot when a piece is picked up. This makes it easy for players to quickly find where a piece is meant to go. Wild pieces, which can fit in any slot, can also be found and activated, but these bonuses only last for a short amount of time.

Negatively, sometimes the stylus is not as accurate as perhaps it should be. On occasion, the game will grab what seems like a random piece from the bottom of the screen. However, this may be player error as seeing nonexistent shapes soon becomes the norm when looking at the frenetic on-screen colors.

Also, after each stage has been completed, a circus character poster will pop up on screen. These posters will display strange people like ?Wonders the Clown?World’s Greatest Juggler,’ or ?Bruno the Strong?World’s Strongest Man’. But why a bizarre circus theme was added to this puzzle game is anyone’s guess, it stupefied this reviewer. Without a doubt, the creepy and freakish looking posters should have been removed from the final product, especially as they serve no viable purpose.

It’s in the graphical department that Shape Shifer’s encounter’s its biggest problems, though. The masses of on-screen animation adds up to one big literal headache. Looking at the constant color movement is just too much for most human eyes to take in at one time, especially if you try and play the game for extended periods. It is not that Shape Shifter’s graphics are bad, there is just too much going on simultaneously and it therefore damages their delivery and execution.

If you liked playing Perfection as a child, then you will love the unrelenting fast pace of Shape Shifter. However, it’s hard to recommended the game as players will likely be struck by intense migraines after any more than ten minutes of gameplay. There is just too much movement on screen at any given time. If you are looking for a solid puzzle game to play on your Palm, your money would be better spent on a copy of Zuma or Tetris instead.

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