Hey, I’m squeakypants, and I’ll be posting stuff here on Buttonbasher on occasion. Here’s what I think of Geometry Wars Galaxies on Wii and DS.
In the midst of Halo 3, Super Mario Galaxy, the Orange Box, and Rock Band; hundreds of games have come out in the past month for the Christmas season. Geometry Wars: Galaxies is one of said games. I’ve played both the DS and the Wii version. What I don’t have is a 360, so this was my first outing with the game besides a PC ripoff I tried awhile ago and hated. However, this game is so immensely popular I figure it should have some solid grounding.
So I’ll start off with this: the game is spectacular. I find myself playing it as often as I had been playing Picross DS. For those who have never heard of me and wonder why I’m so surprised by this, I’m a huge shoot ’em up fan. Ikaruga is easily up there with Zelda and Mario in my mind, and games like Progear and Giga Wing come up in my every day conversation (that’s an exaggeration, I swear!). However, until Geometry Wars, I’d never found a 360-degree shooter I liked. I hate Asteroids. However, Geometry Wars hit the sweet spot.
A friend of mine saw me playing and couldn’t believe that I’d like it. I told him the design and graphics were great, and he responded that “It’s too simple to be done badly.” Of course, he hasn’t played shooters enough to know how they could be. What makes 360-degree shooters so horrible is that the design is completely different from a normal scrolling shooter. In a scrolling shooter, it’s all about patterns. However, patterns don’t work when the AI’s target can go anywhere. Dodging and shooting is completely free, so there’s no challenge in any pattern. It becomes completely dodging and no shooting, which is best left to boss battles in manic shooters.
However, Geometry Wars has a spawning system that works perfectly. It’s reminiscent of the fight scene in the Matrix Reloaded, where Neo is fighting the hundreds of Agent Smiths. You’re constantly pushing the crowd of enemies away (or destroying them, in which case more spawn and attack you) and creating what feel like escape routes through them. You rarely dodge, and when you get in a tight spot you can bomb really quickly to avoid death; a harder feat than you may think because the reflexes needed are incredible.
Earlier I mentioned loving the graphics. They’re just done so well it’s hard not to appreciate them. The way the bullets bounce off the walls, the enemies crowd around, the black holes and explosions everywhere. All the bright colors… It’s just so great to look at. However, in the Wii version (and I’m guessing original 360 version), the effects get out of hand. In a game where bits are going on everywhere, and I mean everywhere. You need to be able to see everything. With the bullets creating rifts in the background grid, the spawning-circle-things blinding their surrounding areas, and the far-back angle the game is presented in, it’s very hard to concentrate on the movement of the enemies.
Where the game has its problems is in the control department. The DS version allows several control options. You can use the D-pad for movement and the face buttons in the same way for shooting. The L and R buttons bomb. The touch screen can be used for either shooting or movement, though I can’t see anyone using it for movement. Shooting works perfectly with the touch screen, though. It feels great, and it’s second nature after about 30-seconds adjustment. You can have the “action” on the top or bottom screens, but I prefer top so I don’t have to look through my hand. However, like the FPS’s before it, your hand cramps up when playing it. Maybe I’m just pushing the d-pad too hard, but I prefer to think it’s because you have to anchor the DS between your middle finger and the corner of your palm. Seriously, I think I could get way higher scores if my hand didn’t hurt like hell after 3-5 minutes of playing.
The Wii version of the game doesn’t help at all. To my surprise, the pointing method doesn’t work at all. While with practice it does become natural, having to keep your hand that steady contradictory to the game’s twitchy, fast-paced nature. I really don’t enjoy playing it. It’s very strange to request this, but if there’s ever a sequel I really hope it has the ability to use the DS touch screen with the Nunchuk. Seriously, it’d work perfectly, though you’d have to have the DS at a very specific angle.
Another problem I have with the game is the fact that some of the best levels are in the locked system that requires both the Wii and DS version to play. It just feels bad that the vast majority of players won’t have that capability, since paying $40 seems like a big stretch for some people. I doubt there will be many people paying $70. If you have the Wii version, definitely download a save to unlock those levels. It’s really worth the effort. If you have the DS version you’re kind of screwed, since as good as the levels are, they aren’t worth $40.
I don’t recommend the Wii version at all, while I highly recommend the DS one. It’s fun, addictive, and a shooter on an otherwise shooter-less platform. The only other problem I have with it, is the lack of a quick save function. I don’t like to leave my DS on sleep mode, and you really have to when you’ve gotten a gold medal and still have 5 lives left.
The design is perfect, the controls are natural (besides the hand cramping), the scoring system is innovative, the graphics are beautiful, and it’s the perfect game to carry around with you.
Geometry Wars: Galaxies (DS) gets a 9/10