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.