Most Played: Geometry Wars

Although an advocate of the original Xbox, purchasing one on launch day alongside Halo, Amped Snowboarding, and a cheap third-party controller made of the thinnest plastic imaginable, the Xbox’s second coming failed to resonate on launch. I was mildly intrigued by Kameo and Perfect Dark Zero, but these didn’t feel like system sellers on par with Halo, Super Mario 64, Sonic Adventure, and other that made me want to extract the best part of £300 from my wallet on day one.

It turned out that holding off for around a year was a smart move. The second revision included an HDMI port as standard, and more bundles were available. Of course, by this point a lot more games were out too, while the launch games were all heavily discounted.

Capcom’s zombie wrangling Dead Rising was partly the reason for eventually taking the plunge into the world of HD gaming. That, and something you may not expect. Around the same time as Dead Rising, Microsoft released Xbox Live Arcade Unplugged – a collection of XBLA games, priced more than reasonably. A combo of Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved and Dead Rising proved quite appealing, with the former still setting tongues waggling months after launch.

Geometry Wars

If you’re wondering why I simply couldn’t download Geometry Wars digitally, well, getting the Xbox 360 online with a dial-up connection (it was 2006, remember) was a bit awkward. In the absence of a router, the solution was to run an ethernet cable from a PC to create a bridge. It wasn’t long until I invested in broadband and a wireless adaptor. Looking back now, it’s amazing how tricky it was to get the Xbox 360 online. That was on top of having to pay for Xbox Live – a new concept for the time.

And so, during the early days of the Xbox 360, my time was spent playing Dead Rising and Geometry Wars in rotation. I don’t recall being too enthused with the other games available on XBLA Unplugged. Hardwood Backgammon and Texas Hold ’em, anyone? However in hindsight, I should have given Outpost Kaloki X more attention.

I can recall playing Geometry Wars most evenings for a good month or so. You’d think that I’d be pretty good at it by this point, and although I did formulate a few strategies (stay away from the edge of the screen; travel in an ‘egg-like’ shape) I only ever unlocked a few achievements. Once the sequel was released, adding a bunch of new modes while touching up the presentation, I never went back to the original. I seem to remember being fond of the DS version too, chasing scores while on the go.

Geometry Wars

Skip forward to around a month ago, and it suddenly dawned that both Geometry Wars and its sequel are backward compatible on Xbox Series. Of course, the appeal of playing Geometry Wars again lay in trying to beat high scores set well over a decade ago. Surely my twin-stick shooting skills have become honed over the years, especially seeing the incredible Bezer is one of my most played Switch games? The answer was yes. And no. I wasn’t able to unlock any new achievements during last month’s revisit, but I did beat some high scores.

Turns out I shouldn’t feel too bad for never completing Geometry Wars 100%. According to True Achievements, only 3% of players have managed to unlock every achievement – a task taking around 15 hours of toil. The early days of Xbox achievements were something of a Wild West, with no pre-conceived expectations. A bunch of early Xbox 360 sports games gave out 100G achievements for little effort, while other games – such as Geometry Wars – made you work hard.

Geometry Wars was eventually swallowed by Activision after acquiring Bizarre Creations, resulting in the early Xbox One/PS4 release Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions – which I don’t believe many people liked, despite being created by ex-Bizarre Creations staff. With Activision now part of Microsoft, it does seem reasonable to suggest Geometry Wars will return at some point. In fact, out of all the franchises now under Microsoft’s wing, this seems the most straightforward proposition; something that could be created in a matter of months, rather than years. Here’s hoping.