Geometry Wars: Galaxies • Page 2

The handheld half of Kuju's shape-shooter.

Mostly, anyway. Galaxies presents a few novel scenarios, but in its more diluted state it has less character than Retro Evolved. You still take great pleasure carving paths of desperation and survival through packed screens, and there are some clever conceits - enemies that can move out of harm's way outside the screen boundary and enemies that need to be broken down many times over, among those that spring to mind - but individual levels drag on in a way that the core Retro Evolved game didn't. You won't survive forever, but sometimes - millions of points beyond the Gold medal requirement, and I'm not the Retro Evolved megastar you might imagine, by any stretch - you do start to think about flying a bit too close to that vortex, or not paying too much attention to where you're flying. Dark thoughts for any shmup.

Is it easier, then? On a few levels, yes. An underrated element of Being Good At Geometry Wars is being able to fly and fire in exactly the same direction. Not as easy as you would think on an analog stick, but quite as easy as you would think on a pair of digital d-pads where up is completely and utterly up. The firing arc doesn't snap to new directions instantly, so on-screen the effect is analoggy, but when it needs to be it's as straight as an arrow, since that's what you're pushing. This has subtler effects, too - for instance, the green squares-with-diamonds-in will dodge away from bullets that fly to either side of them, but won't move for direct hits - much easier to achieve on the DS. There's also something about the way your aiming adjusts between compass points that makes it easier to sweep greenies against the side and kill them. Also helpful is the DS' inability to completely handle all the processing going on behind the scenes; the slowdown you experience when things become hectic, as they so often do, softens the demands on your reactions, allowing you to survive where often you would not.

3
Couple of new enemies here.

Even so, Galaxies mode is a fun few minutes every time you go on the bus or during ad-breaks, and a good deal longer initially. Beyond that, Retro Evolved is Retro Evolved with the same differences, and where you can see less of the screen than you can on Xbox 360. The benchmark test is how my DS score relates to my 360 one; well, I beat it in one go, which says it all. But there will be those who found the 360 game too punishing who find that oddly alluring, and while the proper multiplayer bits of Galaxies on DS lack Internet play through Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, leaderboards will hook you up to the rest of the globe to help compare performance. Woo!

But wait, multiplayer bits? Yes indeed! Best of all, you can do them with one cartridge (although they don't advertise this very well - you have to "game share" the Retro Evolved demo to the other player in order to facilitate this, rather than relying on the Multiplayer menu). There's Retro Evolved co-operative play, where you work towards one score, and this presents all sorts of new challenges (developing new strategies for certain enemies is paramount - blowing up a pink square-with-cross-in-it near your friend might spit mini-squares in their face, for instance - whoops!), and the competitive modes - Simultaneous and Versus, to give them their real names - are also enjoyable. The former is a straightforward who-can-score-more where each of you plays your own game, but Versus is the more delightful: a game where player 1 plays while player 2 uses a custom stylus interface to deposit a rapidly replenishing stock of enemies on the other one's screen. Detailing the intricacies at work here would take ages, so I'll simply say that it has the same kind of long-term appeal as the oft-ignored asymmetrical multiplayer element of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, and is therefore lovely.

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For some reason all the press shots show Retro Evolved, not the Galaxies mode stuff. Sorry about that.

Overall though, Galaxies DS will prove hard to rate accurately, full as it is of little quirks and counter-quirks that will have a different impact from player to player. It also probably needs to be put into the context of its big brother on Wii, so it's a pity we can't do that yet because (are you ready to step behind the curtain?) Ellie has the Wii debug system at the moment, she lives miles away, and I'm obviously not letting her review it. The main points of distinction are that the Wii has a wacky magic wand thing for pointing - hence the need to address that separately, probably while standing up - and that you can hook the games up to one another to unlock an additional set of levels in each. For now then, 8/10, because between Galaxies' moreish every-ad-break appeal, Retro Evolved's continued brilliance, the control system's effectiveness and the well-thought-out multiplayer modes, it's ever so nearly excellent. Unlike the inside of my stupid head.

8 /10

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About the author

Tom Bramwell

Tom Bramwell

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Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.

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