Game Review

Geometry Wars Galaxies Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Sean Aaron

A near-perfect translation of the console classic

Bizarre Creation's Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved is something of a modern classic. The wireframe graphics and gameplay consisting of firing at enemies in every direction on a closed 2D playfield are like a marriage of arcade classics Tempest and Robotron, making for some addictive gameplay. Sierra Entertainment (now part of Activision-Blizzard and no longer operating as an internal division) negotiated the rights and got Kuju Entertainment to handle the development side of things to publish Geometry Wars Galaxies for Wii and DS as an enhanced version of what was originally a downloadable game on the XBox 360.

The DS version of Galaxies is very close to the Wii version, and will be immediately familiar to anyone who has played it's big brother. Game levels are grouped into systems with a Greek letter designation from Alpha to Kappa and the original Retro Evolved is available as an extra which can be transferred to a friend's DS via the Download Play utility.

If you've not played Geometry Wars Galaxies, it's a fairly simple arcade game with great visuals and a nice electronic soundtrack loop. Players move a claw-shaped "ship" around a closed grid and must shoot various enemies composed of geometric shapes which spawn from all directions. There are bonus items called "geoms" to collect which increase your score multiplier and also act as a currency between plays, unlocking new systems for play and buying new drone types -- a sort of option or helper that peforms various actions depending on which type is equipped before starting play.

The retro-flavoured visuals look terrific on the DS -- despite lacking some of the special particle effects of the Wii version. The audio is quite good and again sounds very much like the Wii version of the game. The major difference between the two versions is the controls owing to the DS's unique interface. The default scheme uses the stylus for firing with the d-pad controlling movement. The action will display in the top screen by default, though you can choose to display it on the bottom touch screen if you desire. A graphic of your ship appears in the bottom screen which you trace around with the stylus to change the direction of your fire whilst moving the ship with the d-pad.

It's quite natural and intuitive, though long play sessions can lead to hand-cramping from holding your DS in one hand and using the d-pad; even moreso if you're using the larger DSi LL/XL. If this proves too awkward for you there's an option to use the stylus/d-pad for movement assigning the face buttons shooting duty, though this does limit the arc of fire somewhat. Whichever control option you choose the shoulder buttons will trigger the smart bomb for clearing the screen a limited number of times. Lefties can take heart that there's an option to swap movement/firing duties between d-pad and buttons as well.

Multi-player options include those of the Wii, namely simultaneous sharing a common pool of lives, bombs and score or simultaneous but with separate assets and competing scores. There's a 3rd DS-only play mode where one player controls the sending of enemies against the other and happily only one cart is required to enjoy any of these play modes with a friend. Whilst the manual does make reference to Wi-Fi connectivity for internet play, in fact the only thing Wi-Fi is used for is uploading your scores to a global ranking board, just like the Wii version.

Since this is a game developed for the DS, DSi owners need to be aware that it has the associated limitations: Wi-Fi settings need to be entered in an in-game setup menu and there's no support for any encryption beyond WEP, so you'll need to be willing to effectively do without any wireless security in order to use this feature. Our attempts to connect using open Wi-Fi access points failed, though whether this is because the online ranking boards are no longer available is unclear. Needless to say having three possible profiles and local leaderboards should provide ample incentive for replays, even without global bragging rights.


Geometry Wars Galaxies is a great adaptation of an excellent console game made even better by including Bizarre Creations original hit as an extra. The DS controls nicely mirror the Wii's Nunchuk+ Remote controls, providing a responsive 360-degree firing arc in a frantic shooting match against increasing numbers of enemies. Owners of the Wii version will find the ability to unlock a tenth system of levels for play on Wii and DS (Lambda) should provide additional purchasing incentive – as if having a portable version of one of the best arcade-style games availble to play on the go wasn't already enough!

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User Comments (24)



SwerdMurd said:

Wow! Didn't think this would work well in a DS conversion....glad I'm wrong, as I love every other version of this game/concept.



KeeperBvK said:

I love shooters and was near obsessed with the 360 original, but I was sorely disappointed by the DS adaption. When going for the medals, levels tend to be either way too easy, thus boring, or too hard, thus frustrating. But most levels are just too easy and drag on forever. I'd give this a 6, potentially even less.



Starkiller said:

I've got the Wii version, I mostly use it just to play in Retro Evolved mode. Don't know why, but I like it much better than the other levels. Using the connect to DS feature I got a glimpse of this game, and I think I like the Wii version more (not to say it isn't fun to play the DS version). The audio and graphics are much more polished on the Wii.



Altkey said:

This is the best game ever it was my second game for the DS. I wish you could battle the Wii version as a multiplayer.



Slapshot said:

@Sean.... great review. I bought this the day it released and played if for quite some time. I actually got to the point of..... well just over it, once I figured all the patterns out, but its a great game and the Touch Screen Controls are far better to me than the Wii or 360 version as you can fire you angles extremely accurate and very fast. Great installment to the DS Catalog.



Objection said:

I thoroughly enjoyed this version, getting medals on every level but the last 3....then my game cart got corrupted and I traded it in, rather than do it all over. I had no idea there was singlecart multiplayer! Anyway, I definately recommend this game.



SwerdMurd said:

no encryption supported beyond WEP = lose. Dunno why/how Nintendo limited their devices this way...esp. since DSi supports WPA, etc. but only for DSiWare and web-browsing. Nintendo needs to be on it this next generation in terms of future-proofing. Playing DS or Wii online is entirely too much of a chore compared to how effortless 360/PS3 make it.



citizenerased said:

They should seriously make a sequel to this... and add Boss Battles! Just imagine giant geometric shapes, chasing you for an epic 15 minute battle...

And also, other variety would be appreciated. Most of the plays on the theme (like the mines and the shifting blocks) don't work so well. Seriously, boss battles!



Ricardo91 said:

I absolutely adore the XBLA game (well, the demo at least), so I've really been looking forward to getting both the DS and Wii versions of this game. I haven't quite figured out why I don't have them yet.



sonic_brawler95 said:

Huh, I bought this game two years ago, but I haven't played it that much. This review is giving me an urge to play it again. Thanks Sean, and great review!



Pegasus said:

Even at less than $10 used I wasn't tempted to pick up a copy this past weekend due to its shortcomings. The Wii version on the other hand is always a blast to play.



MrPanic said:

Great game on the DS, always nice to kill some time with it when travelling.



MrMartinLee said:

Back when you could bring a DS on an airplane, this was my travelling game of choice. I used the thumb strap for firing, and of all the control options across any platform it is my favorite. Great review!



Sean_Aaron said:

Cheers for the comments all. I think I've gotten further in the DS version than the Wii version, but that might be because I try to rank silver minimum before moving on to the next world on the Wii and I'm just not playing it enough!




I own this game myself. Lovely stuff. Got it brand new for under a tenner about a year ago.

I prefer the stylus option with the pointer reticule. Good revw



VilicoBRA said:

Great review! I love this game. The DS version has de best controls, but is the easiest. Some (many) levels you can play forever. I remember playing a stage for more than 9 hours, just fo the I´ve made it!



blackknight77 said:

I first played Geometry Wars on Project Gothem Racing 2 on Xbox(yes it was hidden minigame). Normally I love these style games, but never could get into this one for some reason. Maybe I'll revisit it one day.



Starwolf_UK said:

@Swerd_Murd. The reason is when the first Wi-Fi connection game came out WPA didn't exist and the Wi-Fi connection code is part of the cartridge (so it wouldn't know what to do with WPA). They couldn't update the toolkit to support WPA in future games since the connection settings are stored on the DS itself which would cause compatibility problems with older games (mid-reading the connection settings etc).

Either way the online structure is horrid. It seems you have to submit/view each levels cause one at a time with it taking at least 10 seconds (unless I missed a way to upload/download them all in one go).

I also agree that the DS version is the easiest (digital controls are faster than analogue and you have slowdown when action gets hectic). I should really put some more time into the Wii one...



sontuk said:

If you get this game, refrain from using the stylus. It's annoying and scratches up your ds a lot.

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