Geometry Wars: Galaxies

Converting an Xbox 360 game to the somewhat more humble DS is a mammoth task in itself, but it’s nothing compared to the other challenge Kuju have had to undertake. That is, to bulk up this simplistic yet cherished shooter with enough new things to justify the £24.99 price tag – which is nearly six times the amount of the Xbox 360 original. Six!

Geometry Wars GalaxiesSadly cutbacks have been made and will be evident to fans – it runs at 30 frames per second (compared to 60 fps on the Wii and 360), there are less enemies – which in turn makes it a lot easier – and the background grid doesn’t distort and flex in the majestic manner that it used to. It’s still a solid blaster though and the new additions not only work well but help expand the depth of the single-player game massively. You can also beam the full game of Geometry Wars Evolved to a friend and play the planet-jumping Galaxies mode co-op via Wi-Fi.

As before it’s a simple case of ‘if it moves, shoot it’. You can choose to aim with the touchscreen and move with the D-pad, or flip the screens around from top to bottom and use the four buttons to shoot. We went with the former – you’re constantly shooting in all directions, so having to rub your thumb over the buttons quickly becomes unwieldy.

So, what’s new? The fifteen new enemies aside, the biggest thing is that vanquished foes now drop ‘geoms’ which can be used to unlock new galaxies and also a variety of AI-controlled drones that you can take into battle. These bots gain experience points as you play, with their skill sets ranging from standard auto-firing turrets to collecting power-ups while you focus on the relentless blasting.

Each galaxy is different from the last, although not always significantly so. There’s one with a huge black hole in the middle which keeps changing direction while pulling everything towards the centre, while another features indestructible droids who drop mines. There are also levels with giant enemies that split into smaller ones when shot, and levels including giant blocks that move around the grid randomly. Of course, all of the new enemies have attack patterns to learn as well.

When tackling the later levels it’s not uncommon to start off with just one life and the amount of points required to unlock the illusive gold medals also changes from one galaxy to the next. The structure is pleasingly flexible – if you get stuck on one planet then you can simply use your geoms to unlock a new one and have a crack at that instead. Incidentally, one of the galaxies can only be unlocked by connecting with the Wii version.

Deep down we would have liked to have seen Geometry Wars make its handheld debut on the PSP – it would have looked awesome on the PSP’s razor sharp screen and the frame-rate problems present here would have probably been dealt with too. Don’t get the wrong idea though – Kuju have done wonders here, not only keeping the Geometry Wars vibe alive but also retaining its addictive qualities.

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