Geometry Wars: Galaxies

Geometry Wars: Retro Explained

Bizarre's Stephen Cakebread does the maths.

It's not just the look and gameplay of Geometry Wars, Bizarre Creations' series of Live Arcade shooters, that hark back to gaming's earliest days. Its creator Stephen Cakebread is a games programmer from the old school, making games the old-fashioned way.

Geometry Wars: Galaxies

Geometry Wars: Galaxies

And now the Wii bit.

Like the DS version (and we certainly did like the DS version), Geometry Wars: Galaxies on Wii is a collection of 60 or so levels built around the controls and enemies used in classic Xbox Live Arcade game Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved - which is itself bundled in both the Wii and DS versions. In fact, the content's mostly the same. "Galaxies" mode, as it's called, changes things like level shapes, enemy spawn routines, enemy types (and there are lots of new ones), and more to give each of the 60-odd a distinctive feel. Also like the DS version, Galaxies on Wii proposes an alternative to dual analogue stick control - which is just as well because the Wiimote doesn't have any analogue sticks and the Nunchuk only has one.

So what's Geometry Wars then? Good point, suspiciously well-informed and photogenic grandma interviewed about Wii in a national newspaper! It's a shoot-'em-up where you move around shooting things that are coming for you until you run out of lives. Your goal is to get a high score - on the Wii, that score may then be worth a bronze, silver or gold medal. You don't even have to stand up to play it, really, which must be a relief after all those photo-calls.

If you stick to the Wiimote and Nunchuk scheme, you will be using the latter's single stick to move your little spaceship around, and pointing at the screen with the Wiimote to tell it which way to fire. There you'll see a red line emanating from your ship to wherever you're pointing, with an aiming reticule positioned somewhere along it to illustrate exactly where you're pointing. Hold A to fire, hit Z to smartbomb, clearing the screen for a bit of respite. It takes getting used to (well, holding A doesn't), but then so do computer and videogame control schemes in general. Remember when you were crap at WSAD? Again like the DS version, however, your effectiveness will be diminished if you're a southpaw. Unless you're a twisted mutant southpaw like me who writes with his left hand and plays tennis, points and 'other's with the right. Watch out for that.

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Geometry Wars: Galaxies

Geometry Wars: Galaxies

The handheld half of Kuju's shape-shooter.

I write with my left hand. Not that I ever write, really, apart from scrawling names on padded envelopes containing Christmas presents that I was too busy or drunk to send. It's one of the poetically enjoyable things about The Future; writing is only necessary when I let things slip into The Past. Anyway, writing with my left hand singled me out for abuse from craggy old Mrs. Alexander when I was 10, so I hardly miss it, or being called "Smudgie", but it wasn't until I picked up the DS version of Geometry Wars: Galaxies that the shame and humiliation of my genetic predisposition toward being a wrongbrain redoubled its attack on my aspirations. Basically, I cannot play this game with the stylus because my remaining right hand is not programmed to operate a spaceship's directional movement.

In theory, and according to people on the Internet even in practice, Kuju's stylus-and-directional-pad solution to moving a spaceship around the screen and firing in another direction works brilliantly. There's a learning curve for people brought up on shoot-'em-ups that use a pair of analog sticks, but that's to be expected - buying a DS version of a two-stick shooter and complaining that it's different would be like hauling your skis from the snow to a lake and then complaining that you can't throw snowballs or dress up like a tea cosy and that it's wet. You're wet.

So, your ship appears in the top screen's gamespace, and, while using the d-pad (righties) or face buttons (lefties) to manoeuvre it, your writing hand prods or scrubs the stylus around a ship-shaped centrepiece on the touch-screen to send bullets in the direction of your choosing. Tap left of the ship and it fires left. Etc. The lack of tactile feedback about stylus position from the touch-screen surface can lead to minor mishaps - as it was all the way back with Super Mario 64 DS, you may remember - but as with much in life this can be overcome by behaving more assertively.

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Wii: 12 Games of Christmas

My true love gave to Wii.

The nights are so long these days (sorry, nights) that you could dress them up in angry forum posts and call them the delay between major Wii releases. Of the 12 Games of Christmas features we've done so far, this line-up saw by far the most chins stroked and calls placed in search of suitable candidates.

Geometry Wars: Galaxies

Universal excitement.

Everybody already knows Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved is brilliant. It's all wireframe, neon, mad fuzzy, whizzy stuff that's looks beautiful. It's insanely and increasingly intense, and everybody knows it's brilliant. So how do you make it better? After it originally appeared within Project Gotham and become an instant classic on Xbox Live Arcade, where can Bizarre Creations take it next? Well actually they're not taking it anywhere. Someone else is. Vivendi Games and Kuju Entertainment are. They're taking it to the Nintendo Wii and DS, creating a sequel of sorts called Geometry Wars: Galaxies.

Geometry Wars on Wii, DS

Mission mode adds spice.

Vivendi Sierra Entertainment Games Whatever has finally revealed that Geometry Wars will be heading to Wii and DS, having made such a name for itself since it launched alongside Xbox 360 in November 2005.