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Geometry Wars Galaxies

No quarters or Xbox needed!
Bizarre Creations and Kuju Entertainment, the developers behind the Nintendo DS version of Geometry Wars Galaxies, had some interesting challenges to face when attempting to bring a game that had been console only into the portable realm on the DS. The Nintendo DS doesnít have dual analog sticks. The Nintendo DS is also a less-powerful system than the Xbox or the Wii, meaning that there are challenges in terms of what the system can handle in terms of visual output. How faithful to Geometry Wars would the DS version be, despite these obstacles?


Itís important to note that the basic gameplay modes and design for both the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS versions of Geometry Wars Galaxies are the same. The galaxies and planets are the same, the enemies are the same, and the game plays the same wayó- although there is a surprisingly subtle change in the control scheme which actually works better than you might thinkÖ but weíll get to that shortly.

Geometry Wars Galaxies is driven by its Galaxies mode, which presents players with over 60 unlockable planets (or stages) which present their own sets of challenges. Unlike the original Geometry Wars minigame (Geometry Wars Evolved is also playable in this game), each planet has its own setting and scoring parameters. For example, some stages take place around a swirling black hole which continually rotates enemies in rapid speed either towards or away from youÖ while others take place on oddly-shaped playfields while throwing a ton of enemies at you all at once. There are a few hidden planets which can only be unlocked by connecting the DS and Wii versions of the game wirelessly, as well.

Each planet pits your ship against scores of enemies, which get more numerous and difficult to dispatch and avoid as time wears on. As you pick off enemies, they drop Geoms, which are like money. As you collect Geoms, your scoring multiplier increases (up to 150x) as long as you manage to survive; however, if you lose a life, your multiplier resets and you have to start again. Keeping those multipliers high is the key to racking up high scores, which is important since high scores are how medals are earned for each galaxy. There are three medals to be earned per galaxy: bronze, silver, and gold. Each medal is earned by scoring at least a set number of points, and these numbers vary from galaxy to galaxy.

The Geoms that are collected are used for two purposes. The first use of Geoms is to unlock new galaxies and planets. There are several planets contained within each galaxy, and when you unlock a galaxy, usually only the first planet is available and the others must be unlocked with Geoms. The second use of Geoms is to upgrade the abilities of the drone that accompanies your ship on each planet. There are eight different behavior patterns that you can direct your drone to exhibit, seven of which must be unlocked with Geoms. These behaviors range from attacks to defense to acting as a satellite to collect Geoms.

The biggest difference between the Wii version of Geometry Wars Galaxies and the DS version is the control scheme. Unlike the Wii version, which has the Classic Controller option to best emulate the original dual-stick controls, the DS version allows for either button-based or stylus-based play. Stylus-based play allows you to control either your shipís movements or the direction of fire with the stylus while using the other hand for the other facet. The other option is to use the directional pad and the face buttons, which works quite well. This control feature was also used in Super Smash TV on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and emulated the dual-stick controls in the arcade game with success. This control method isnít quite as precise as using dual sticks, but thereís only a minor loss in performance and itís still very possible to score well.

Like its Wii counterpart, Geometry Wars Galaxies has a Wi-Fi component for updated worldwide leaderboards in order to see how your scores stack up against the competition. Unfortunately, thereís no Wi-Fi multiplayer capability; however, there are options for single-card and multi-card multiplayer functionality. The multiplayer here is fun, and thereís even an option to send waves of enemies at your opponent on command.

Graphics and Sound

For the most part, Geometry Wars Galaxies on the DS does a good job of emulating the Wii game to the best of its ability. There can still be a ton of enemies on the screen at once, and the vector graphics look similar. The color is a bit less vivid, but this isnít a huge loss. The frame rate is noticeably choppier on the DS, and when things get crowded on the screen, the frame rate can suffer greatly. This does tend to make things a little easier since enemies wind up moving a bit slower and you can more adeptly evade them. Itís not necessarily the gameís fault that the frame rate bogs down, but slowdown in any kind of shooter is a detriment.

The sound, however, loses nothing in the translation. The music and sound effects all make the trip from the Wii to the DS with only minor loss in quality and clarity. As mentioned in the Wii review, the music isnít all that memorable, so some players may be more inclined to play with their own music on.

The Final Verdict

Frame rate issues aside, Geometry Wars Galaxies is a great game to take on the go. Itís very easy to pick up and play for a quick session or to go back to after playing another game for a while. The control scheme works better than you might think, and thereís plenty to unlock; in fact, it probably takes about 4-5 hours to open everything, and then thereís the challenge of shooting for your place in Geometry Wars immortality and getting the top spot on the leaderboards. Thatís better than average replay value for a game thatís really a twitch shooter at heart. The DS version is also a bit more forgiving than the Wii version, so even passing fans of these kinds of games will find a lot to like here without feeling overwhelmed, making this one an even easier recommendation. This is the best shooter on the DS so far.