Game Review

Geometry Wars Galaxies Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Paul Schreiner

A blast from the past!

For those among you who are fond of arcade classics such as Robotron 2084, you might have heard of a little title called Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved. It was one of the first premier downloadable titles for the Xbox 360, and was later expanded with the Wii/DS-exclusive Geometry Wars: Galaxies created by British game developer Kuju (now known as Headstrong). The original certainly provided plenty bang for one's buck, but it begs the question whether a full retail - and consequently more expensive - release is worth the while.

If you've played titles like Robotron or Smash Up TV before you'll feel instantly at home in Galaxies. Moving your ship while independently firing in another direction is a staple of those games, making them quite accessible but tough to master. As a pure arcade title it comes as no surprise that your goal is to achieve the highest score possible as you're continually assaulted from all directions by increasingly tougher and more numerous enemy drones. Adding to the frenzy is all the pretty and plentiful particle effects that make it ever more difficult to distinguish foe from background effects: this is one hectic game and an epileptic's nightmare. We wouldn't have it any other way.

At the start of the game you are greeted with an overview of the galaxy, containing a healthy helping of solar systems (curiously named galaxies) with a varying number of planets. It's quite easy to tell from here that Galaxies has much more variety going on for it than the single-stage-based Retro Evolved. While the game has 64 different stages - seven of which are only unlockable by linking the DS and Wii title - no two are alike. Some may share similar mechanics and all have the same goal, but they're all unique in offering arenas of various shapes and sizes and differing waves of enemies: there are maze-like stages, black holes that affect your and your enemies movements, crisscrossing meteor showers on top of your usual adversaries, teleporters, mine-laying drones whose loads only damage your enemies, stages that restrict you to a single life and no bombs, etc. While not all of them are created equal, you're bound to find some favorites in the lot, ensuring that gameplay will remain varied.

In any case, you only have access to the few planets within the first solar system as you begin. To unlock more systems and planets you will need to collect geoms. This currency left behind by deceased foes also determines your multiplier in a given stage, up to 150. It does create a different dynamic in contrast to RE, in which a determined number of kills awarded multipliers, in that you might have to be a bit more reckless to build up your multiplier as the pieces of geoms vanish again after a moment. Should you die you'll have to start again at zero.

To help you stay alive as long as possible you are given three screen-clearing bombs, more of which can be earned in most stages as you keep blasting enemies apart. This time around you also have a helper drone to make life a little easier. It can be set to one of eight different settings, which has to be chosen before entering a stage: it can attack in the same direction as you, defend your rear by shooting behind you, collect geoms, snipe enemies, sweep around your ship creating a protective shield, ram other drones, setup as a temporary turret blasting away in a sweeping 360 motion, or act as bait to draw away enemies from you. In its initial form your helper drone will seem about next to useless, but the more a specific ability is used - its gained experience is based on time spent in a stage - it will slowly level up becoming critical for you to maximize your high score for any of the stages. While some of your drone's behaviours are only helpful in certain stages, they do offer enough variety to suit your playing style. Just be prepared for it to take a while before you have all of them maxed out.

In effort to further your high scores (and geom count) you can earn medals for each stage by meeting a specific score. Gold medals, especially in later stages, are sure to offer quite the challenge. As you chase new high scores you can also compare your latest and greatest on the local score board which includes up to three different profiles. In addition, you're able to upload your scores to an online leaderboard where you'll be awed by the top players' skill.

Should you have a Classic Controller on hand you'll be able to play the game arcade-style: the left thumbstick moves your ship, while the right one chooses your line of fire. For those without, the game is still very playable with the Nunchuk and Wii Remote combo: the Nunchuk stick provides movement, while your Wii Remote's IR determines your shot. To support your aim you can use a combination of either an IR line or a reticule or a combination of both. Both control methods work extremely well, and it really comes down to user preference. We found to prefer the latter control for its more accurate aim.

While overall the colors in Galaxies may seem a bit subdued in contrast to the Xbox 360 original - easily fixed by turning up the color ratio on your TV - there has been relatively little change in the title's move to Wii, as the staple particle effects are all present to offer the series' trademark visual mayhem. No matter how chaotic the game gets or how many drones are chasing your tail, Galaxies keeps running smooth as butter. Although there are no distorted sound effects as in the Xbox 360 version, the audio department still is very much solid and the thumping tracks keep things energetic. It's great being able to discern which group of enemies just spawned as each has its own corresponding sound, although it does drown out a bit once hundreds of drones are bearing down on you.

Galaxies does have a local only two-player mode in which you can fight together, sharing bombs, lives, and high score, or play against one another for the highest score. It can offer quite a good time, but, ultimately, Galaxies is still very much a single-player oriented game, so consider the multiplayer an added bonus. Speaking of which, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved, which can be accessed from the main menu, comes included with Galaxies, and also features an online leaderboard. Lastly, you can download a demo version of RE to your DS and see for yourself how much less stellar the DS game is.

Conclusion

Geometry Wars: Galaxies is a great little arcade title that harkens back to the heyday of the video game boom, bringing with it classic gameplay, snazzy visuals, and a bundle of fun. You certainly shouldn't miss out on this commonly overlooked version, especially considering you'll be able to play the original as well. Its original price point of $40 may have been only worthy to arcade shooter fans such as ourselves, but new copies of Galaxies are still readily available for the current bargain price of $20 (with a similar price point in the UK). You'd do yourself a great disservice by not picking this one up.

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User Comments (31)

CorbsAdmin

#2

Corbs said:

I can drag any of the Geometry War games out and play them any time. And I love this Wii release. Great fun.

opeter

#3

opeter said:

I fully agree with Corbie. This game is really great. Even if you play it only for some minutes.

Pahvi

#4

Pahvi said:

This is the type of arcade game I like: simple to learn, tough to master. GW:G was definitely not the worst way I could've spent my money.

I wonder if anyone would make a Crimsonland/Notrium-clone for WiiWare...

Sean_Aaron

#5

Sean_Aaron said:

It is nice; it is also out of print I believe, though you should be able to track down a 2nd hand copy still.

SeniorDingDong

#6

SeniorDingDong said:

That game gave me headaches when played on a TV and I had to sell it. It was fun, no question, but exhausting after some minutes.

Somehow, I want to try it out on the DS again....

DazzaAdmin

#7

Dazza said:

I really love Geo Wars 2 on XBLA, it's perfect with the online scoreboards. Still this looks to be worth getting also, especially consider that it is so cheap these days!

Quality review Paul, nice work.

warioswoods

#8

warioswoods said:

Hmm, I've greatly enjoyed the DS title, and this sort of thing works quite well in handheld form in my mind, so I've not been inclined to also purchase the Wii version. Maybe I'll pick it up eventually after all.

timp29

#9

timp29 said:

If I see this for cheap I'm definitely picking it up. Thanks for the recommendation guys :)

Wolfcoyote

#10

Wolfcoyote said:

The DS version is $19.99 USD over here and has more copies available and contains more or less the same stages (yet suffers from slowdown). The Wii version can be harder to find as previously stated, mainly because Kuju/Sierra found it harder to convince gamers of it's value ($39.99) and printed fewer copies. I purchased it though, but wouldn't have kept it if it didn't have Classic Controller support.

Too bad GW 2 isn't available in some form for the Wii or even WiiWare...

Objection

#12

Objection said:

I got my copy of the DS game for $10 at the beginning of the year. Very addictive and still playing it, if only because I can only play a few stages before my d-pad fingers start to hurt. ;)

ejamer

#14

ejamer said:

I have the Wii version of Geometry Wars Galaxies and think it's brilliant. Each new level presents something fresh and unique, keeping the game fresh from start to finish. Different control schemes should provide something for everyone, although I personally feel that the Classic Controller is the best option for this game. Having Retro Evolved available for quick play and high scores attacks (w/leaderboards) is also a great way to ensure the game is instantly accessible.

However, there is one problem with Galaxies: I am convinced that it would be a better option as WiiWare, even though that would mean many of the more interesting and unique features might have to be stripped out. Geometry Wars is an incredible retro-arcade challenge, but is best played frequently in short bursts. Having to change game discs to play is less convenient than having the game always accessible directly from your console, and sometimes means the game doesn't get the attention it deserves.

With that one caveat aside, I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoys frantic action, chasing and setting high scores, or the slick retro-arcade sensibilities that this game delivers.

Sean_Aaron

#15

Sean_Aaron said:

I also thought this would be better as a WiiWare title and sold it, but then reconsidered and picked it up 2nd hand using some store credit from another game (especially once I found out it was out of print).

I prefer the firing arc provided by the pointer waving myself; it really is impressive how good an analogue interface that provides and surprising that more games don't make use of it in this fashion.

As with many games I need to put a lot more time into it as I'm still in the first system!

valleyoftheunos

#16

valleyoftheunos said:

I haven't played it but there are tonnes of new copies in my local Gamestop @ 20 Euro. I wouldn't imagine tracking down a copy would be all that tough on this side of the Atlantic.

ejamer

#17

ejamer said:

"I also thought this would be better as a WiiWare title and sold it, but then reconsidered and picked it up 2nd hand using some store credit from another game (especially once I found out it was out of print)."

Although I might prefer a WiiWare version, having it on disc is the only option right now... and having all those extra levels and features is a pretty darned good option too. Don't take my minor complaint too seriously or as a suggestion to not buy the game. :)

Geometry Wars: Galaxies was worth every penny I paid, and is a game that can be played and enjoyed indefinitely. My only regret is not playing as often as it deserves.

Sean_Aaron

#19

Sean_Aaron said:

Does anyone know if there's a way to unlock those DS-link stages without having both copies of the game?

RonF

#20

RonF said:

I am always impressed to see how many people like this game. It didn't resonate with me at all. I found it to be just dull. Well, taste varies with people.

Machu

#22

Machu said:

Got this game for about a fiver second hand and completely forgot I owned it. Had a go way back, but was a bit toasted at the time, and, well, woah! Need to dig it out n try playing it straight. :)

LEGEND_MARIOID

#24

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

I used to have the DS version. That was good. Didn't this game get a BAFTA nomination for best handheld game of the year?

jwl

#26

jwl said:

This is a great game, but also a pretty difficult game. I only have tried planets in the first 3 solar systems, and they are pretty tough with enourmous number of enemies attacking you at the same time. It is hard to imagine how one can score high points on those planets, but I guess better bot AI helps along the way.

I think both Classic Controller and the remote thingy works, but with different advantages. Using classic controller you can react faster and more precisely, however using the remote is great when there are tons of enemies on the screen and you just hold down the trigger and spread your shots at free will.

giannis

#27

giannis said:

i have a problem with game.
i can't used the classic controller because the fire button is not working,
except the bomb button(z).
can anyone give me a solution?

jwl

#28

jwl said:

There is no fire button, you use the right analog stick to fire with pointing it the direction you want to fire.

ejamer

#30

ejamer said:

@Strofan7: I know this is a late response, but it's definitely worth that price if you have any interest in fast-paced arcade shooters. The only catch is that (depending on personal preference) you might want to have a Classic Controller to allow dual analog controls -- normally I don't like dual analogs, but this is a rare exception where they work wonderfully IMO.

What a great game. Really need to play this again soon!

motang

#31

motang said:

Definitely it's better playing with the classic controller with dual analog (which I need to get used to). Fun game to a quick fix. The game includes a DS version that you can download and play which is very cool! :D

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