Whenever I mention “Geometry Wars” around my friends the typical response is “Geometry? I hate that class” but Geometry War Galaxies like all Geometry Wars is only called that due to most elements in the game being made of simple shapes. The history of Geometry Wars is odd and a little humble. What began as a minigame in the Project Gotham Racing series soon became one the most popular titles on X-Box Live Arcade with the subtitle Retro Evolved and a big franchise in its own right. That $5.00 downloadable game is now a barely-bargain $39.99 Wii game as well as a $29.99 DS game. However, Retro Evolved is just one battle. Galaxies is the entire Geometry War.
The gameplay of Galaxies is most akin to classic two-stick shooters like Robotron making Galaxies very hardcore in a retro kind of way. However, being on the Wii, Galaxies has some interesting control alternatives. First, players can control their ship with the nunchuk, aim with the cursor and fire with the trigger. It’s certainly functional and players with nothing else will be able to play just fine but the classic controller, with its two-sticks, is hands-down the better choice, especially for high-level play.
The gameplay in Geometry Wars has always been this way but Galaxies offers some new features that set it apart from Retro Evolved. First is the new multiplier system. Before players would get higher multipliers but just killing enemies but Galaxies offers them in the form of Geoms, the currency system. Geoms raise your multiplier as well as allow you to buy things outside of the game like new planets. It’s different but it raises your score much faster even though it maxes out at 150x. Another obvious new feature is the battle drone. This little secondary ship can be programmed to do many things like shooting at enemies or collecting Geoms. As you play your drone levels up and becomes very useful. There’s nothing like destroying a huge group of enemies, having your powered up collector drone gets all of the Geoms, getting a huge multiplier and getting a huge score. Retro Evolved is included as well but with all of the additions in Galaxies I can’t go back to it.
The Collector Drone is definitely the most useful
Galaxies also offers an incredible amount of content. There are ten solar systems with at least five planets each. To understand how much content that is, Retro Evolved equals one planet and each planet is basically endless. However, there are only maybe six or seven different types of stages and just several variations of them. These new types of stages are very cool. Some are based on classic games like Pac-Man and the name of the planet tells you what kind of stage it is. For example, Maseis, Masduo, and Mastris are all based on Asteroids. Those stages are my personal favorites because you can get massive multipliers by breaking up asteroids into lots of small enemies. However some stages, like the “washing machine” level are a little too crazy and almost unplayable. Geometry Wars is a game where the player gets into a Zen-like state focus and can’t be distracted by things like environmental hazards. There are also point where there are so many enemies that it’s impossible to survive without using a map-clearing bomb. Still, there are enough enjoyable stages and incentives like medals add to the almost infinite replayability. It doesn’t hurt that Galaxies looks very pretty with its simple style but excellent particles effects and psychedelic warping grids.
Finally, Galaxies offers a few features and extras outside of the main game that help round out the package. Since the game is so fast and twitch-based it’s understandable that there’s no wifi play but there are wifi leader boards. Galaxies also features multiplayer for the first time in the series which is welcome even though sharing lives in co-op is a little annoying and you can only play Retro Evolved. Galaxies coolest extra feature is something more Wii game should be doing, Wii-DS connectivity. If you just have the Wii version you can beam Retro Evolved into you DS and keep it until you turn off your DS. By the way, the DS controls work much better than the Wii ones. The stylus control is very precise and tactile. If you have the DS and the Wii version of Galaxies then the tenth planet is unlocked.
Geometry Wars is a simple game at its heart and the developer, Kuju, should be applauded for getting the most they possible could out of its concept. However, at $39.99, some people may not care about the extras because they’re happy playing Retro Evolved for five bucks. Galaxies is what it wanted to be, Geometry Wars as a full price, fully featured, complete retail game.