When the Xbox 360 launched it did so without sales chart destroying Halo 3, but there was this little $5 XBL Arcade game called Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved. Mixing dual-stick shooter a la Robotron with a neon-infused Asteroids to create the slickest arcade-style shooter ever created outside of Japan.
If you're unfamiliar with the game or the genre, here's all you need to know: shoot everything. Left stick moves your ship, a white "C"
shaped death bringer; while the right stick controls your never empty turrets. Every so many thousands of points you'll get a new life, and so many more thousands of points will earn you a screen clearing mega bomb.
If you're willing to forgive some slowdown in your shooters and if you were ever a fan of the first two Geometry Wars games then this is one DS game you shouldn't pass up.
To everyone's great surprise Microsoft didn't follow up the "Halo of XBL Arcade"
with an exclusivity contract. Thus Geometry Wars: Galaxies was born… on the Nintendo DS? Could a game that uses dual analog controls work on a system that doesn't even sport one analog stick? Surprisingly, yes! Stylus controls work just like Metroid: Hunters, which means that after about half an hour you may find your hand going numb. There is an option to use the face buttons in place of the touch screen for aiming, but I only found it palatable on some levels.
Did I say levels? I meant "planets."
Each planet serves up a unique twist on the standard "shoot everything" gameplay of the original GW. Along the way you'll deal with black holes that pull everyone towards the center of the level, walking block walls, mine laying spiders, and even menacing red meteor showers. Slowly new enemy types are revealed and they never feel out of place with the original cast of geometric shaped foes.
Not that you'll be fighting off these new foes all on your lonesome. Cue the "Battle Drones!"
Think of them as your customizable pets. New ones are unlocked by cashing in GEOM Points, and are then leveled-up by taking them into battle. Like all pets some are more useful than others, but you'll probably find that there's a situation meant for each of them.
There's just a small problem with all this frenzy of activity... the… game… tends… slow… down… at… times. When? Pretty much any level that involves scrolling past the edge of the screen. This slowdown isn't that deadly because you'll still be able to aim and shoot, but it does make the game easier than it would be otherwise. This must be why the developers added a slew of "one life"
Slowdown in a shooter is a sin, but given the sheer amount of content they've packed into this cart, it's tempting to forgive the developers. While battling across the galaxy, I wished the planet names were more descriptive of foes/situations, but that would demand a user interface that wasn't stylistically barebones. This is also a problem in multiplayer where a smorgasbord of game types (for a DS game anyway) are incredibly unclear to first time players.
My personal favorite was a competitive mode where one player "paints"
enemies into the playing grid while the other player attempts to survive. The scoring system didn't make a whole lot of sense, and I wish you could drop in more enemies at a time… but it was incredibly fun. The standard co-op and challenge modes also appear. Along with a single-cart download option.
If you're willing to forgive some slowdown in your shooters and if you were ever a fan of the first two Geometry Wars games then this is one DS game you shouldn't pass up. Otherwise, you'll probably be happier picking up one of the many old school 2D shmups that have been ported to the DS… but of course they won't have day-glow vector visuals and a pumping techno soundtrack.