For those not in the know, Geometry Wars originally started as a mere mini-game placed in a small corner of the garage in Project Gotham Racing 2. It’s short lived, score obsessed shoot-em-up nature set in place as a brief distraction as the tedium of just missing out on top spot in one particular race finally got a little too much.
It’s phenomenally addictive nature, and hence popularity, meant it was one of the first games available for download via the Xbox Live Marketplace. In fact, over 2 years since its release, it remains as one of the most player Xbox Live Arcade titles thanks to its absolute brilliance.
With the jump from token freebie to cheaply priced standalone title achieved with aplomb, it's little surprise that its finally made its way to full retail, and a more inflated price tag.
The jump to the Wii couldn’t be made simply via an easy port of the Xbox 360 version. As starved as Wii owners of some real major top quality games, there’s no doubt that they would be more than a little dejected to discover they need to pay four times the price for what is essentially a two year old game on a different format.
The same old gameplay does indeed remain fully intact. Your tiny craft still casually drifts around with ease, blasting constant streams of bullets in any direction you wish, all watched via a top down 2D viewpoint. Over time, more numerous, and more wickedly intelligent enemies start to appear on the grid, and you’re forced to spend half your time blasting them into pieces, and simply avoiding the onslaught.
The Wii does however pack in two major differences. First is the "Galaxies" mode. Where before you had a mere single level to contend with, and your sole goal was to attain the best score possible, here you have 64 different levels (or "planets") to complete.
Each planet has a little rework on the traditional Geometry Wars gameplay, be it a differently shaped grid, level specific barriers, or brand new enemies who’s sole purpose is to steal as many as your lives away as possible. Each level has a specific score requirement to reach either the bronze, silver, or gold standard. Plus, the introduction of "geoms" a substance dropped by recently obliterated enemies is utilised to up your score multiplyer, unlock new galaxies, and even upgrade the small drone that follows your ship around to help you out.
The old twin stick control method too has obviously changed. You use the Wii Nunchuk to move your ship around, with point the Wii Remote at your screen to fire in your chosen direction. At first it feels ridiculously alien, but after a period of time, it transpires to be a phenomenally precise control scheme, especially when things start to heat up. You can, if you prefer, plug in the Wii classic controller and simply use its twin sticks to utilise the same old control method.
Not that Geometry Wars: Galaxies has it all its own way however. A large portion of the sheer addictive quality of the Xbox 360 titles were solely down to the excitement of finally attaining a wickedly high score, and spying it immediately on the high score table for the entire world to see.
The Wii version however, thanks to Nintendo’s odd only infrastructure makes things much more confusing. After each bash at a level, you’re required to access the high score boards, connect, upload your scores, disconnect, and finally save your progress. A situation that requires half a dozen button presses, and lasts a good 30 seconds. The fact that so few high scores are posted at the time of writing proves that most simply can’t be bothered with this rigmarole. The fact that you can team up online to attain high scores, or compete on the same map for the highest score does somewhat help Galaxies overcome its online high score failings.
Equally as disappointing for long terms fans is the loss of HD viewing. Though at first glance an inherently simplistic game visually, the neon lines and clutter that litter the screen always made for a stunning visual experience, particularly when viewed via a HD TV. The obvious lack of power and high definition power of the Wii make for blatantly poorer visuals, with usually strict straight lines suddenly much more glitchy.
Even with those two minus points, Geometry Wars: Galaxies includes that same old addictive gameplay in spades. Yes, it may be a huge leap in price in comparison to the original, even at its budget price point, but with the addition of galaxies and the multiplayer modes, its still a heck of a bargain.
For fans of old school “pew pew” action, this one is a must buy.