Pros: An addictive puzzle game, fit for quick bursts of play.
Cons: Compared to other DS titles Meteos doesn't look like much.
Since Tetsuya Mizuguchi (creator of the much loved Rez and Space Channel
5) left Sega and started his own studio Q? he's made two puzzle games.
His first game was a PSP launch title, Lumines. Lumines was what fans of
his work expected, a music based puzzle title. The second project by Q?
is totally unique and designed with the DS in mind. If I had to explain
Meteos to someone I'd say it's a mix of Tetris, bejeweled and puzzle
fighter. It oversimplifies the game, but it'll give you a good idea
Every round in Meteos has you defend a planet. Even
though you have space age technology the battle isn't fought with
lasers. Blocks that represent different elements will fall from the sky
on the bottom screen. When three of the same element are paired together
you'll create a jets that blast the blocks up the top screen. Removing
the blocks not only saves you from a filled screen, but it attacks the
invaders. Matches in Meteos are played out like a multiplayer game where
its you against an alien or a couple of aliens. While you're shuttling
blocks to the top screen you'd better bet that the other player(s) or
the computer is doing the same thing. All of the blocks shot up by your
opponent will appear on your screen on top of the regular blocks. If
you're smart enough to clear the screen, you can speed up block flow by
holding the L or R buttons. The longer you play, the faster blocks fall
from the sky. If a stack of blocks reaches the second screen, it's game
over. The whole experience is pretty intense. Blistering speed means most
matches are really fast, five minutes tops.
Building a good rocket is a challenge on it's own. There's a weight
factor involved. If you have a lot of blocks to move, the rocket will
move slower. It might even get sent back to the ground depending on the
planet's gravity, which varies area to area. To counteract a falling
ship of blocks you can match up three elements on the rocket and give it
an even more powerful boost. Some planets are designed with gravity that
forces players to chain combos just to lift a few pieces up at a time.
Differences in each area force players to switch tactics, which makes
gameplay pretty interesting. Another factor you have to watch out for is
falling pieces. If these other pieces land on you're rocket they could
weight it down or possibly provide opportunity for a combo.
While the core gameplay is essentially the same Meteos has a few
different play options. For a fast game you can pick "Meteos" mode where
you can battle up to three other opponents in a frantic battle. You can
also play this mode alone and concentrate on mastering your rocket
technique. The other quick play option is a time attack. If you play
time attack you can challenge yourself to see if you can survive a full
five minutes or see how long it takes to shoot 1000 pieces to the top
screen. If you have fifteen minutes or more of playtime there is a story
mode to play through called star trip". In star trip you start off at
planet the planet inhabiting those neon blue aliens that are all over
the Meteos box. After you win that match you have a choice of where to
go next on your trip to planet Meteos. Battling through star trip will
get your one ending out of ten or so. If you want to see more endings
you'll have to play through star trip and choose a different path.
After your star trip or a quick play game you'll earn some elements.
These elements can be spent to unlock a bunch of other stuff. You can
unlock new planets to play on. Or instead you can purchase new items,
that may drop down to help you quickly clear blocks. There is a bomb
that can clear an entire row of blocks and a giant hammer that will
pound blocks into oblivion. Gamers can also unlock new songs with
elements. Since each unlockable item can take hundreds of elements or
require a rare element like time or soul, you'll have to spend a fair
amount of time to get everything. The way the game unlocks stuff is
smart too, just when you think you've done everything you'll have enough
elements to unlock something new.
In comparison to other DS games Meteos looks simple. It's not in 3D
and doesn't have anything really jaw dropping. The aliens have a cool
style to them, looking like symbols and all. Yet, this is nothing in
comparison to other titles. Because of the lack of polish in Meteos
gamers may overlook this in favor of say Mario 64. One thing that was a
little disappointing was the soundtrack in Meteos. Rez, Space Channel 5
and Lumines all have phenomenal music selection. It's not that Meteos is
horribly bad, it's passing.
If you're not sure that Meteos is your style of game you can download
it from someone who owns it. A single copy of Meteos can be copied over
onto someone else's DS via the wireless port. The copy will disappear as
soon as the DS is turned off, but it will give gamers a chance to
experience this title. Meteos takes advantage of the DS's wireless
capabilities with a wireless multiplayer mode too. Up to four players
can choose their planets and battle it out. Wireless multiplayer also
only requires one cart, which makes this a perfect game to carry around
and play in an airport.
Meteos is defiantly an example of innovative gameplay that can be
done with a touch screen. It also makes a perfect portable game since
you can play a match with just mere minutes to spare. If you have a DS
and know someone that owns Meteos, download it from them. Play it for
ten minutes and you'll be hooked on this puzzler.
Once you get through the Japanese menus, you'll find that the game is
easy to play. Some importers may miss out on the quirky story and
understanding what they are unlocking.
Bandai is localizing this title and has it scheduled for a release in
either April or May 2005.
Meteos is a born sleeper hit. It's one of the best puzzlers in a long
time, with wireless multiplayer and plenty of unlockable features to keep gamers