DS

North America

Geometry Wars: Galaxies

by Steven Rodriguez - January 23, 2008, 11:55 am PST
Total comments: 9

7.5

Geometry can be fun! Here's the proof.

The smash-hit Xbox Live Arcade game, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved, started off as a mini-game inside Project Gotham Racing 2 for the original Xbox. It's ironic that Geometry Wars Galaxies, which is a grand expansion of the original concept, has made its way to two platforms that are full of mini-game collections. Even though the game has a simple concept and there is a cheap, downloadable version of Retro Evolved available on XBLA, the new content and gameplay take the Geometry Wars formula and expands upon in the best way possible.

The DS version of Geometry Wars Galaxies is pretty much a carbon copy of its Wii bigger brother. It has the same intense shoot-'em-up gameplay, the same planets, the same progression system, and the same multiplayer modes. It's just as hardcore, too. If you want the details on game's basics, you can check them out in our Wii review of Galaxies. Of course, being a handheld game, there are going to be some differences from the console version.

The most obvious one is that the DS has two screens. All of the action takes place on one screen, while the other just displays a useless placeholder graphic. The view defaults to the top screen, though you can switch to the bottom if you so choose. Just using one screen is a lost opportunity to make up for the fact that the screen area is much smaller. It's very easy to lose track of where you are in a large, mostly empty stage. It's also not always easy to find newly spawning enemies if you can't see them off-screen. The second screen could have easily been used for a level map or radar screen to help find new targets more easily after clearing a screen of enemies.

The touch screen is used to fire your weapon. Assuming you stick to the default scheme (which is recommended, considering your hand will block your view of the action of you switch screens), a red line and cross hair will appear near your ship on the top screen. The cross hair shows your relative position from the center of the touch screen, and the red line shows the direction you are currently shooting. If you're left-handed, there are options to use the four face buttons to move around. You may also use the face buttons to shoot in their corresponding directions, but it's a pretty worthless way to play the game.

The original Geometry Wars games were designed with dual analog control in mind. The DS lacks that capability, but the D-Pad and touch screen combo is a great substitute for it. Once you get in the zone, the stylus will start to feel like a joystick in your hand. It's very hard to find fault in the shooting controls if you should make a mistake. The D-Pad controls for movement don't have the precision that you'd get with analog movement, but it's not a big deal. Once you get the easy planets under your belt, everything will feel natural.

However, dual analog control is still superior. If you're at all interested in playing Geometry Wars Galaxies, it would be hard to overlook the Wii version. The prettier visuals make a compelling case to go console over handheld, to, especially since the DS version gets moderately choppy when there is a lot of spawning and destroying going on at the same time. However, if you don't have a Classic controller (or a Wii for that matter), the DS version of Galaxies still has plenty of good qualities that makes it a worthwhile purchase.

For instance, the DS control scheme is much better than the Wii Remote pointer option in the Wii game. It feels nice to have something stable in your hand while playing. The format of the game makes it possible to play it quick bursts. That's great for people on the move with their DS, since it's very easy to play a planet or two and still get the full enjoyment out of the game. You can also keep your marathon sessions going between extended breaks by putting the DS to sleep. And you're going to eventually want to unlock the extra planets you get when communicating between the Wii and DS version of the game.

The DS version of Galaxies is just as good as the Wii version, if only because they are the same game. They've got the same awesome Geometry Wars gameplay, so they should be. They can even both send the Retro Evolved demo to other DS units. (Just don't base a purchasing decision based off of it, because the original seems tired and boring compared to Galaxies.) The major factors that will determine which version is right for you boils down to the graphics, the control, and the portability. After thinking about it for a while, I would personally get the Wii version. However, there have been plenty of times I was glad I had it on the DS.

On its own, Geometry Wars Galaxies for the DS is a fun and addictive shooter for the hardcore. The different planets create lots of variety. It's hard to tire of the game because of all the different scenarios it throws at you. Above all else, it's fun. The rush you get from tearing through endless enemies and escaping impossible situations is what ultimately matters, and you will get it in the DS version. It's impressive that developer Kuju was able to keep the feeling that made Geometry Wars so popular, then expand upon it and stuff it into a DS game card. Although the game isn't perfect, no version of Geometry Wars that doesn't have dual-analog controls will be. But the DS version of Galaxies was made as good as possible, which is impressive in its own right.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
5 6.5 8 8 8.5 7.5
Graphics
5

It would sound like a game where you shoot squares, circles, and pinwheels makes for boring visuals. But when you see what seems like hundreds of squares, circles, and pinwheels trying to kill you, you'll fear them. Little effects like sparks and mini-explosions really spruce things up visually, but when there's too much of it, there will be slowdown. It rectifies itself quickly but will usually come back with the next wave of enemies.

Sound
6.5

It seems like when you start to get tired of one background music track, a different one will play on the next level. Although the music will quickly become familiar to you, it's really there to keep you in a rhythm. It does that just fine.

Control
8

The touch screen controls feel great once you get into the zone. The D-Pad and touch screen combo doesn't match the dual analog setup of the original, but it works very well.

Gameplay
8

Galaxies makes Retro Evolved obsolete. The different planets, new enemies, drone functions, and multiplayer modes add so much to the total package that you'll wonder how you had fun with the original game.

Lastability
8.5

The variety of planets will always keep the Geometry Wars experience fresh. Shooting down wave after wave of enemies doesn't seem to get old, either. The online leaderboards will push you to improve your scores.

Final
7.5

The DS version of Geometry Wars Galaxies isn't perfect, but the bottom line is that it's fun and satisfying to play.

Summary

Pros
  • Awesome hardcore shooting gameplay
  • Game format fits well on a handheld
  • Stylus controls work great
Cons
  • No friend-specific online leaderboards
  • Noticeable slowdown with a lot of stuff happening
  • Second DS screen could have been better utilized
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

PlugabugzJanuary 23, 2008

So for someone like me who's not played either (or the original), which is the better to start with?

vuduJanuary 23, 2008

Quote

Originally posted by: NewsBot
The DS version of Galaxies is just as good as the Wii version, if only because they are the same game. They've got the same awesome Geometry Wars gameplay, so they should be. They can even both send the Retro Evolved demo to other DS units. (Just don't base a purchasing decision based off of it, because the original seems tired and boring compared to Galaxies.) The major factors that will determine which version is right for you boils down to the graphics, the control, and the portability. After thinking about it for a while, I would personally get the Wii version. However, there have been plenty of times I was glad I had it on the DS.

Quote

Originally posted by: NewsBot
You may also use the face buttons to shoot in their corresponding directions, but it's a pretty worthless way to play the game.


I thought that this was a pretty awesome way to play. Sure it's a little hard to press two buttons at the same time to hit diagonals, but once you get used to it, it can become a superior way to play, much like dual analog vs. Wii pointer. I tried it on DS Phat, so I'm not sure if it's as doable on the Lite.

thatguyJanuary 23, 2008

I like the DS's controls best, with moving with the D-pad and shooting with the touch screen. My second favorite is the Wiimote/Nunchuk combo. Then the Classic controller comes next. But that's just me. My total score, last time I checked, was about 200th on the list of the DS version, so I may not be the best person to ask.

darknight06January 23, 2008

If you're a beginner to Geometry Wars, get the DS one. If you're looking for the original difficulty and experience get the Wii version. I own both of them and they are night and day different games. The DS version has a clear enemy spawn cap that it adheres to that along with the slowdown makes some stages on there so easy that you'll only die when you've honestly had enough and just start crashing into things on purpose. On about 4 planets, I've managed to get into the top 10 and with two of those, I was third. I should also mention that the top 10 scores on the DS for pretty much every level is absurdly high compared to the Wii numbers. Between the two of them stage wise some of the score requirements are different, the enemy spawn rate ranges from about the same to far less than Wii (they definitely knocked back the black holes on DS), enemies in general are slower and not just because of the added slowdown either, some enemies are bigger for visibility reasons (mayflies and replusors), those are the main things off the top of my head even though I know a few more differences exist.



However, I don't really want to sound like I'm dogging the DS version entirely because for what it is they managed quite a lot with what they had. Some of the later stages can still get a bit frantic due to throwing harder enemies at you, and for all intents and purposes it's Geometry Wars on the go which for some people like me was worth the price of admission on its own. Stylus control works great, maybe too great for this version. The music made it over almost completely intact which was also impressive considering how it seems like most development studios throw DS audio away despite there being quite a damn bit more to work with than the GBA.

Well, let me give a different perspective. I had never played GW before I picked up Galaxies on Wii. I was earning medals within fifteen minutes and had unlocked all the drones by the end of the first day. If you typically enjoy shmups and other intense, twitchy action games, you should have no problem picking this one up. From what darknight06 says, you might be a little bored by the DS version. I noticed the reduced enemy spawning and slowdown even in the download version of Retro Evolved, and it bored me very quickly. My recommendation is to go straight to the Wii version if you have an affinity for this type of game, and make sure you have a Classic controller!

Having finally picked up the DS version, I have to say it turned out a lot better than my experience with download play from the Wii.  The spawn rate seems improved in Galaxies mode, though of course the game is slower overall.

I've also discovered the genius of virtual analog stick play.  Sure, it might seems like the touch screen was meant to be used with a stylus, but if you don't mind getting smudge marks on the screen, using your thumb works nearly as well as a real analog stick.  Since the DS simply averages out the point of contact, just putting your thumb in the center and moving pressure around is an effective means of play.  I would now say it's the superior way to play-- you don't have the digital direction problem found when using the buttons or the late response time (and cramped hand) found when using the stylus.

Quote from: MegaByte

Having finally picked up the DS version, I have to say it turned out a lot better than my experience with download play from the Wii.  The spawn rate seems improved in Galaxies mode, though of course the game is slower overall.

I've also discovered the genius of virtual analog stick play.  Sure, it might seems like the touch screen was meant to be used with a stylus, but if you don't mind getting smudge marks on the screen, using your thumb works nearly as well as a real analog stick.  Since the DS simply averages out the point of contact, just putting your thumb in the center and moving pressure around is an effective means of play.  I would now say it's the superior way to play-- you don't have the digital direction problem found when using the buttons or the late response time (and cramped hand) found when using the stylus.

This sounds like something that could make it one of the games I keep my launch DS's thumb strap on my DS lite for.

Yeah, I thought of that, but the strap nub doesn't have a deformable area like the surface of your thumb, making it hard to cover all 360 degrees with the tiny surface.

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Geometry Wars: Galaxies Box Art

Genre Shooter
Developer Kuju Entertainment
Players1 - 2
OnlineYes

Worldwide Releases

na: Geometry Wars: Galaxies
Release Nov 27, 2007
PublisherSierra Entertainment
RatingEveryone
eu: Geometry Wars: Galaxies
Release Jan 18, 2008
PublisherSierra Entertainment
Rating3+
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