Don't know much about geometry...
Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m not super-good at math. I mean, I’m not an idiot, but I’m no mathimagician either. Fortunately for me, beyond its title, Geometry Wars: Galaxies has very little if anything to do with math. Sure, the enemies are geometric shapes but knowing a right angle from an obtuse one does not make the game any easier or give any tactical advantage. As a matter of fact, even if you were the kid trying to bang the star shape through the square hole in kindergarten, this game may be right up your alley.
[image1]Some of you may be familiar with Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved. It was one of the most popular Xbox live Arcade downloads way back in the beginning of the 360’s life span. The principle was simple enough. You are a spaceship-looking wire outline trapped in a giant rectangle. Your mission is to survive a never ending onslaught of purple pinwheels, green diamonds, gravity warping red circles, and other such mathematical shapes. There was no plot, just a marathon of shape destruction in a race for the highest score. It was almost like asteroids if it had been designed by a demented cereal-hawking leprechaun.
Galaxies takes this basic idea of classic arcade gaming and runs with it making a few tweaks here and there to create an even more enjoyable experience. They’ve added a decent amount of new features that gives more depth to what was a one-level game before.
First they’ve added more levels in the form of various wire-grid solar systems contained within a larger spiral galaxy. You’re still trapped in a box, but the shape of the box is different each level. Some are around the size of the original Retro Evolved arena and some are dramatically smaller. There are corridors or moving blocks in some levels to make for seriously frustrating shootouts. Sometimes you get three lives and some bombs and then others challenge you with one life and no bombs. The only guarantee is that you’ll be constantly assaulted by enemies.
[image2]In classic arcade style, the whole point of each level is to get the highest score. There are medals for bronze, silver and gold score but you can continue beyond those until you run out of lives. They don’t make it easy on you though. Galaxies not only has all the old shapes your used to but a few new ones as well. Worm holes that send waves of baddies at you and paper airplane things that move in a spastic pattern are huge pains in the ass. Unfortunately, since levels can go on forever and get more and more intense you'll see most of the enemies in the game in each level.
The sheer volume of baddies thrown your way (and the intensity of it all) has not been matched since the gore-infested Smash TV. To offset that difficulty a bit they’ve added a drone that follows you around doing your bidding, like a helper monkey. At first it can only attack but as you collect geoms, which are the gold coins of this game, you can unlock new abilities for it. Some are extremely helpful like the turret gun option, others seem a bit odd, like “swoop”. The more you use a certain option, the more efficient it will become at assisting you, almost like a little RPG character. The pod is the best new idea in the game and the abilities you choose for it can help or hinder you in certain levels.
The control options are pretty good. You can use the stylus to aim your shots on the touch screen or use the ABXY as a D-pad. While the Wii lets you choose between the Wii-mote or the classic controller. It’s nice that they give you the option of choosing how to play but since it’s impossible to aim well with the stylus or the Wii-mote you're almost forced into the more accurate options, assuming you have the classic controller.
[image3]The new two-player mode is fun but there is not much there as far as depth. Essentially you’re just playing Retro Evolved with a friend and it can get boring fast. It’s like hearing a song on the radio and liking it, then after hearing for the 10,000th time, hating it. A little more variation really could have added some meat to the multiplayer.
The other problem I had with the game was the fact that you need to have both the Wii and DS version of the game to unlock both in their entirety. I think it’s great the Nintendo has made it possible for their systems to work in tandem, but videos games are expensive and having to buy two copies of the same game to get the full experience is ridiculous. Sierra was closer to the right track with the option to upload the original Retro Evolved onto your DS from the Wii version.
After all is said and done which copy you plan to pick up is a matter of personal preference since both versions are essentially the same. If you play a lot at home go with the Wii since the graphics are better than the DS, and you’ll have the option of taking a basic version on the go. If most of your gameplay is done in the streets, grab a DS copy. Either way there’s hours of old-school arcade fun to be had.