By Levi . December 11, 2007 . 7:29am
Anyone who read my hands-on of Geometry Wars: Galaxies for the Wii knows how much I love the game. So naturally I jumped at the chance to check out the DS version. After all, what could be better than a portable version of one of the best Wii games of the year, right? What I wasn't prepared for, however, is just how much content is crammed onto the tiny little DS card. Galaxies for the DS is a near-carbon copy of it's big brother for the Wii. I'm not going to go too far into the actual core gameplay of the game, as it's pretty much the same as the Wii version, the review for which you can check out here. Instead, I'm going to cover what makes Galaxies for the DS unique.
As I said before, I was amazed at the amount of content that Kuju Entertainment managed to put on the DS version of Galaxies. Every single galaxy, planet, drone, and enemy from the Wii version is present. You'll even get the same exact music as the Wii version (which can be a good or bad thing, depending on your feelings toward the console version's music). You even get a portable version of Retro Evolved, as well. And the Wii version's Wi-Fi leaderboards? They're here too. The game also features single and multi-card co-op play. However, the graphics have been (understandably) toned down. Going from the Wii version to the DS version kind of feels like playing Mortal Kombat for the Sega Genesis, then going to the Game Gear version of the game. Still, once you get into the game, you won't notice this all that much. Mainly because you won't have TIME to notice, as the action gets just as fast and hectic as in any other version of Geometry Wars.
The game isn't without it's issues, though. There are a few missing or otherwise altered things, most noticeably the fact that you won't see the amount of points you get pop up after destroying an enemy. Oh, it's there, but you won't SEE it. The numbers are so small, and it appears so briefly, that in all the chaos you simply won't have time to read it. Also, Black Holes are much harder to notice this time around, especially once they've become active, as they are missing the "swirling" visual effect from the Wii version. Also different are the Worm enemies. In the console versions of Geometry Wars, you cannot fire through their tails, while in the DS version your shots pass right through them. Nailing them in the head still kills them, however. You also won't be seeing the cool grid distortion effects in the portable version. The game suffers from the occasional slowdown when things get REALLY insane, as well, but this is understandable considering the hardware.
The DS version of Galaxies offers two different control schemes, just like it's console counterpart. You can choose from either D-pad and stylus controls, or D-pad and button controls. The first option has you using the D-pad for movement, and the stylus as a "virtual analog" to fire. The second option uses the D-pad for movement, and the buttons for firing, kind of like in the console versions of Robotron 2084, on all those various Midway Classics collections. There's a lot of customization available here, too. You can switch around the roles of the D-Pad and touchscreen, instead using the D-Pad for firing and the touchscreen for movement. Also, lefties need not fear, as the game has a left-handed option as well. Personally, I prefer the stylus controls over the buttons. It's much more precise to use the touchscreen for firing than trying to use the face buttons as an analog stick. However, I did notice that after a while, my left thumb started to cramp up from moving the ship so much. This is probably more of a design fault with the DS Lite, though, than a problem with Galaxies. I can imagine that the old style DS is much more comfortable to play this game on, with it's larger D-pad.
The game also offers DS-to-Wii connectivity, just as the Wii version does. However, it's only used to unlock the last galaxy in both versions. Basically all you do is sync up your Wii and DS, and you get the final galaxy. That's about it. Underwhelming? Maybe. But I really can't think of any better way to utilize the DS-to-Wii connectivity. Using the DS as a controller for the Wii version wouldn't work out all that well, after all.
When all is said and done, Geometry Wars: Galaxies for the DS is an excellent addition to any DS library. Sure, it lacks the shiny graphics of the Wii version, but that's to be expected. You're still getting all the content of the Wii version, in portable form. This is probably one of the best games you could take along with you on a long bus or plane trip. It'll keep you occupied for hours and hours, just like the console version. It's the same pure old-school arcade style action as it's big brother, only pocket-sized.