Geometry Wars: Galaxies
Does Bizarre maintain its track record?
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved is one of the success stories in the early life of the 360 - it whipped up quite a lot of interest and managed to get people on to Xbox Live, just to see what the fuss was about. And what a wonderful thing it was (and still is) - scorewhore central, twitch gameplay and simple enough for any numpty to understand - YOU SHOOT THEM AND TRY NOT TO DIE - it captured the hearts of many, and still enjoys regular plays around the world.
And now we have a new version, Geometry Wars: Galaxies for the Wii, updated to make it more standalone-y with missions, rewards and a general structure to things. Oh, and - shock horror - a hastily employed and poorly-executed control scheme using the Wiimote.
Now let's just get this out of the way quickly - the Wiimote controls are awful. Awful in the sense that I really couldn't handle them in the slightest. Thing is, in complaining about that I feel like I'm involved in the round table discussion on Fox News, bemoaning the fact that I have to know how to use a pad before I can input parental controls. I feel old and stupid for admitting it, a dinosaur of the Joypad Dynasty, failing to get to grips with the control scheme that rules the new world. That, and the controls are no good. The Wiimote aims the direction you fire, and the nunchuck analogue stick moves your ship - it just feels wrong, and is really quite hard to coordinate. I certainly didn't get used to it after extended play, and soon reverted to the twin-stick controls of the classic pad. I am a relic, it would seem.
Anyway, other than the control system there is only one real difference between Galaxies and the original Geo Wars games - the mission structure. It isn't a case of 'rescue the princess from that fat bloke in a gimp costume'-type missions, more just different levels, with different shaped boundaries and different enemies, each with a different target score to achieve. And that's about it. Well - it's not like they can really mess with the formula a lot is it?
Well, they have tinkered a bit. Gone is the multiplier system of old when it would increase through kills, replaced with a 'Geom' system - players have to actively seek out and collect these little blighters to increase their multiplier. It's a decent take on a risk-reward system and one that is sure to annoy more defensive players. Not that you can be hugely defensive on Geometry Wars, but hey ho.
One other aspect that is a notable change comes with ship upgrades - you have a little pod thingy the floats around your ship, which can be bestowed with a number of different behavioural patterns. It can function as a second gun, as it does from the start, it can be made to ram enemies, it can be made to collect Geoms for you, as well as a few other settings. This adds a nice element of strategy to the game, making you consider how you're going to fight an upcoming battle, or encouraging you to return to a previously-conquered level with your newly acquired skill - all of which are purchased with Geoms, it should be added. The more you use a skill, the more it levels up and thereby increases in power/usefulness. It may dilute the 'purity' of the original Geo titles, but it certainly doesn't break things.
Multiplayer is present, but provides nothing of real interest and is only available locally - no internerd play for us today. There is also some connectivity with the DS, though all this does is unlock a new galaxy - some may call that cynical, forcing you to buy two versions of essentially the same game. So I will: that is cynical.
The feel of the game is pretty much identical to Retro Evolved, though Galaxies does look a little hazy around the edges - but that may well be the fact my eyes have been spoiled with High-Def Glory(tm). It feels right, it sounds right and it looks - just about - right. So well done there. The final two aspects that really make this a worthwhile title are, simply put: the price, which is a budget-tastic one, and the fact that Retro Evolved is included on the disc. Though it does seem harder than the 360 version, but maybe that's just fatigue from trying to use the Wii control scheme...
Geometry Wars: Galaxies is a good game - an original idea that has been added to and refined somewhat without totally destroying what made it so good in the first place. The inclusion of Retro Evolved just goes to show that the developers have respect for where the series came from, as well as a desire to add something more to an essentially brainless experience.