|System: DS, Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Kuju Entertainment / Bizzare Creations||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Sierra||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 27, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1, multiplayer||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
For a whole generation of gamers who cut their teeth on high octane coin-op arcade classics like Asteroids, Galaga, Centipede, and Robotron, there's still an immense level of satisfaction to be gained from frantically jamming on the joystick and hammering at the fire button until your wrists are about to fall off as you blast away endless waves of pixelated foes.
In the earlier days of gaming it was hard to imagine the amazing possibilities several decades of technological advances would eventually bring to the industry, yet here we are. With a glut of games featuring stunning graphics, state-of-the-art gameplay, and all manner of previously inconceivable complexities, our hearts still occasionally yearn for the times of old - primal and ugly as they may be. It is for this reason a simple game like Geometry Wars: Galaxies can elicit such a powerful hold over a wide swath of the gaming population.
The original Geometry Wars got its humble start as a Bizarre Creations generated mini-game playable via the in-game garage in Project Gotham Racing 2 on the Xbox. The game was later updated and subsequently released as Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved on Xbox Live Arcade for the Xbox 360 where it enjoyed a good deal of popularity as the number one downloaded game for a time. As of this fall, Retro Evolved was still high on the list among the top 10 games downloaded through XBLA. With the recent release of Geometry Wars: Galaxies for the Wii and DS, Nintendo owners now have the opportunity to see what they were missing out on since the game includes a copy of Retro Evolved in addition to the greatly expanded single-player campaign mode. The Wii version has its charm, but for DS owners the capability of taking this insane shooter with them to play on-the-go for the first time is priceless (at a price tag of $30).
You can't get much more old-school than the gameplay found in Geometry Wars. Players must pilot a small claw-like ship in a small closed off arena as various configurations of geometrically configured neon foes fly at them from all sides. No attempt is made to provide a plot or give a greater context for the mission at hand other than the fact swarms of geometric shapes seek to obliterate you from the cosmos. Your ship can simultaneously move and fire in any direction independently, and a limited supply of bombs lets you clear the screen when you're about to become over-run. Your sole task is merely to survive against wave after wave of enemies while accruing bonus multipliers and racking up a whopping high score. The game starts out slow, but soon enough as more and more enemies erupt on-screen it quickly evolves into a tensely hypnotic, zen-like experience. It's the kind of game where looking up from the screen for even a split second means instant death.
Galaxies builds greatly on the basic foundation laid down in Retro Evolved primarily through the addition of tons of new content. No longer will you be confined to the same old box-like playing field since the game now holds over 60 un-lockable planets each with their own unique assortment of enemies, interesting play physics, and strange geometric shapes. You'll run across a variety of maze-like levels, large open fields, a circular arena which churns about like a washing machine, and areas which feature split-second meteor showers in alternating directions among other oddities. Some planets will throw you for a loop by starting you out with a single life and no bombs. Others contain moving blocks, special large enemies which erupt into smaller clusters of foes when destroyed, and more. The range of colorful angular foes is also greatly increased. In addition to the original enemies, there's new baddies such as impervious mine-laying beasts, red darts which weave around randomly, wormholes which suck players in, orange cell masses which cluster together, blue squiggly mutators which spit out small biohazard-looking creatures, and many more.
This time you'll fight the good fight with the help of a faithful little robot drone which closely follows your ship's movements and reacts to enemies in a way that corresponds with its current behavior setting. Initially, your drone will be equipped to simply attack, but you will be able to unlock additional behaviors for the robot as you progress through the single-player campaign. These include the ability to defend, collect, snipe, sweep, ram, turret, and bait. Using any particular behavior frequently will earn experience and eventually upgrade the effectiveness of that behavior. Frankly, the drone is an awesome addition.
Instead of merely increasing your score, destroying enemies will cause them to drop precious Geoms which are mainly used to purchase new drone behaviors and unlock new galaxies and planets. Zipping around through throngs of enemies to collect Geoms adds some extra challenge to the game. It's also quite rewarding to mow down a field full of foes and snatch up the spoils of war. Geoms also slowly boost your score multiplier up to a max of 150 which makes it possible for some potentially huge high scores. They're necessary for meeting the high score benchmarks to earn bronze, silver, and gold medals for every planet.