If there's one thing I've learned from puzzle gaming, it's that blocks will fall from the sky at every opportunity. Whether it's shapes, colors, or symbols, no force on earth will stop them. Luckily for us, though, imposing a bit of order on whatever it is that's raining from the heavens this time will make them all go away. Other than the consequences of failure being the end of the world and maybe the annihilation of all life in the universe, Meteos follows the usual formula to a T.
Death Rains From Above!
In Meteos, the multicolored blocks are meteors that have been raining down and destroying planets across the universe. The evil planet Meteo was emitting matter in an endless stream, and these meteos were crushing all the planets that they came into contact with, as well as the life they harbored . One day, as yet another planet was about to be obliterated, three blocks of the same color came into alignment and blasted back the way they came. The key to survival now in their hands, the remaining races of the universe begain fighting back, constructing The Metamo Ark out of pure meteos in order to take the fight back to the planet Meteo itself.
As puzzle game stories go, it's definitely the most epic one yet, and that sense of epic pervades every aspect of the game. From the title music, to the theme of warring planets, to the "Annhilated, Game Over" screen, everything in Meteos is larger than life. All this "epic" wouldn't have much value if the gameplay wasn't there to back it up, though, but Meteos is, hands down, one of the best puzzle games available.
Return To Sender
The basic gameplay of lining up three blocks to send them shooting off seems simple enough, but there are several twists to complicate things. Blocks are moved by touching them with the stylus and can only be slid up and down. Getting three in a row, either horizontally or vertically, makes them blast off, taking any additional blocks above them along for the ride. Those blocks have weight, of course, so they most likely won't go flying off the screen immediately, and that's where comboing comes into play. While the mass of blocks is in the air it's still possible to play with it, and setting off a second three-in-a-row while airborne will probably send everything into space. It's also possible to arrange things so that, when the mass settles back to earth, there's another ignition waiting. This not only shoots the newly-ignited blocks up in the air, but also the entire original mass as well. By working that angle properly, it's possible to clear off the entire screen in one enormous burst. Of course, all the while meteos are raining from the sky in a neverending torrent, so paying attention to just one section of the screen while working a combo practically guarantees Annhiliation. Learning to properly balance the pressures of the ongoing rain of death is just the first step to mastering the game.
And the depth doesn't stop there. Each new planet has its own set of rules governing how the meteos move. Some planets have the meteos shoot up quick and settle back slow, which is great for setting up a combo, while the next planet may have the blocks rise up at a normal speed but settle back quickly. Gravity, inertia, and even the basic game rules change from one level to the next, and figuring out how to make each one work to the best advantage is just another challenge to the game. The standard Star Trip mode, which involves travelling from one planet to the next, causes the player to constantly shift playing styles and strategies.