Geometry Wars: Galaxies
For: Nintendo DS
Genre: Action, Retro, Shooter
ESRB Rating: Everyone (6+)
Geometry Wars: Galaxies
It's fair to say that Geometry Wars, a downloadable staple on Xbox Live Arcade -- now for Window, too, and there's a skimp version available for mobile phones --, is one of the most popular arcade style shooters to come out in years; ironic, as it was originally just a test environment for a programmer working on Project Gotham Racing 2.
If you're expecting a sequel in this here Geometry Wars: Galaxies for DS, you won't find it. Instead, it's a buffed up version made specifically for Nintendo's portable that takes the tried and true Geometry Wars formula, gives it some refreshing little twists, and throws it into a veritable galaxy full of different arenas. It isn't revolutionary, but it sure is fun -- and addictive, to boot, as always
As for new twists, that old square arena is gone, replaced with a whole map full of planets to unlock, each one presenting a new layout and unique enemies. Perhaps its biggest change is the way the game's point system now works. Just killing enemies will still net you some points, sure, but almost everything drops little floating "geoms" that build your multiplier and act as the game's currency.
But wait, there's more: Taking a tip from 80s shooters, they've added something special that really changes things up. No longer do you head out into that neon abyss alone; no, now you have a roster of little drone buddies to pick from. These little companion drones come in a variety of flavors to suit your play style, from mundane -- like drones that defend you or snipe enemies -- to the exotic, like a drone that turns into a stationary turret every thirty seconds or collects your geoms for you.
Galaxies even goes so far as to implement a light role-playing game (RPG) system to complement those drones. If you want that turret drone to hunker down and spit out shots faster, for example, then you have to bring him along for the ride and start leveling him up. It's this kind of persistent involvement that, surprisingly, makes Galaxies more engaging than its console and PC counterparts, because there's something to come back for besides that high score.
As for controls, the game works well with the DS stylus, where you're moving with the D-pad and scribbling away on the bottom screen to shoot, and it feels right, including the bomb mapped to the left bumper; usually a spot that leads to severe hand cramping.
Admittedly, the graphics suffer a bit -- some of the special effects present in Retro Evolved are nowhere to be seen on the comparatively wimp DS -- and the game can bog down and chug when the action gets intense.
But fear not, arcade shooter fans; the same addictive gameplay holds everything together so well that you'll barely notice any hiccups -- probably because you'll have already killed all those pesky enemies that were taking up screen space and CPU resources.
That said, Galaxies is really a stopgap between the same old and the next iteration of Geometry Wars, a milking of the current phenom for all it's worth. If you want a peak at what's in store for the future, pop Project Gotham Racing 4 into your Xbox 360 and check out the mini-game, Geometry Wars: Waves, where they really change it up and truly advance the franchise. Of course, if you don't own an Xbox 360, Geometry Wars: Galaxies for DS is certainly excellent enough.