Geometry Wars: Galaxies (Nintendo DS) - Review by Andrew
For a DS title, Geometry Wars has had something of a strange start in life, beginning not as a web game but as a mini-game embedded in Bizarre Creations' own Project, Gotham Racing 2. After this it became a game in its own right and was selected as part of the starting line-up for Microsoft's X-Box Live launch where it went on to sell more copies than you can wave a stick at. Now, after a third platform shift we have this DS version (there's also a Wii version) which promises more of what made the game so great in the first place. So what's being going on in the galaxy then?
On first viewing Geometry Wars you could be forgiven for thinking that it is a simple retro arcade game where destroying everything on screen is the name of the game. To be fair, this is partly true, but in addition to the Single Player Mode, Galaxies, you'll be able to select from the Retro Evolved and Multiplayer options. If you've played the original you'll recall that it's simply a case of endurance: destroying as many enemies as possible before they eventually get the better of you. The action here is a little more structured; not only do you have a never-ending supply of bullets but the action is also split into increasingly more difficult stages throughout the universe.
The developers have also added some new features: Drones and Geoms. Drones can be incredibly helpful in your quest as they can be kitted out in so many ways and you can assign a variety of behavior routines to these AI craft such as ordering them to attack all enemies or even act as bait, they can also be fitted with a whole host of combat specific weapons. However all this can only be achieved with the aid of Geoms: the in-game currency, which can also be used to gain you access to other universes as well as increasing your score.
The original X-Box live game can be enjoyed thanks to the Retro Evolved option whilst the multi-player offers up a generous amount of extended gaming with a Co-op Mode (one player controls the ship and the other the guns) and a more traditional high-score competition. Another, very welcome feature is the ability to connect the DS version to the Wii one (should you happen to own both). This unlocks an extra world and, although not the world's greatest unlockable, it's always nice to see developers trying something new.
While you have the option to use the d-pad, which some may favor, we felt that the touch-screen (doubling as an analogue control system) was much better suited to the action.
On the surface, you could be forgiven for wondering why a 1980s looking game is getting so much attention but the simple line drawings do the job they were intended for and the bright, vibrant visuals only help the gamer focus that much more on the gameplay. It does have its highlights too with some stunning particle effects thrown into the mix occasionally. Unfortunately this comes at a price with the action appearing notably more sluggish when there's too much happening on screen.
While there's nothing new about the Techno inspired soundtrack, it is better suited here than in some other games. Elsewhere there's the usual round up of special effects pulled from the generic gaming audio library.
With the absence of an analogue stick, you can opt to control your ship with the touch-screen. This will no doubt frustrate owners of the original X-Box version (which boasted dual analogue controls) but the outcome is actually quite satisfying and, more importantly, suitably responsive. That's not to say that you won't suffer from the odd hand cramp after prolonged playing periods but what would a good old arcade experience be without any pain?
While this could have easily have been a mindless port to milk the game a final time it actually ends up as far more than that. There's no doubting though that this is gaming at its most hardcore and while the majority of recent titles have attempted to be 'all-inclusive' this really is for the gamer who sees an arcade experience as more of a fully fledged workout. As there's also loads of gameplay options at your fingertips you could be lost in Geometry Wars for some time. It's not without its drawbacks, for instance the visual slowdown when the on-screen action becomes particularly intense really should have been dealt with at testing stage. Still, it's a welcome attention to the DS library of games and one that you'll just keep coming back to.
Pro: Frantic Gameplay with Great Multiplayer
Con: Some Slowdown with Visuals Occasionally, No Online Play.
Final score: 7.1