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Meteos Package Art
GENRE
Puzzle
DEVELOPER
Q Entertainment
PUBLISHER
Nintendo
LOCAL WIRELESS
MULTI-PLAY
Yes
Wi-Fi/GLOBAL ONLINE
MULTI-PLAY
No
MICROPHONE
No
BUY NOW AT

Meteos

Fans of the puzzle genre are having a great year. Polarium, Puyo Pop Fever, and Zoo Keeper are respectable games, but the new reigning champ of puzzle games for the DS is here, and of a caliber that gamers of all denominations should take notice. Developed by Q Entertainment, and as a collaboration between the father of Super Smash Bros. and the mind behind Lumines for the PSP, Meteos deserves a place in your portable gaming library.

visuals

With dozens of backgrounds, tile sets, and themes, it would be easy for the combinations to feel disjointed. Thankfully, each planet remains distinct and memorable. The explosions, rocket thrusts, items, and falling blocks are all clearly identifiable from planet to planet, keeping the game unified.

The art direction is top notch, from the superb intro movie to the menus to the multiple endings. It is full of little touches, like being able to slide around the menu to your preference, have the playfield icons switch depending on whether you are left or right handed, or the sheer variety of 36 different playfields. The one complaint is that on tile sets with a lot of animation the framerate chugs a bit when the screen is nearly full (though Iím hesitant to call it a weakness, since that split second might save your bacon).

audio

Tunes are of varied genres and generally high quality. Techno, rock, reggae, country, and just plain noise will accompany you depending on your planetary choice. Your actions impact the music. For instance, clusters that do not clear the screen sink back to the ground. Upon touching down, a corresponding noise alerts you in a subtle fashion to react before the boosters turn back to regular blocks. With many such audio cues, and a wide amount of musical tunes, Meteos deserves to be played with the volume up.

gameplay

The big departure point from other puzzlers in Meteos derives from the gameplay mechanic of matching like-colored blocks and turning them into thrusters, boosting up pieces towards the top of the screen, and taking the pieces laying on top with it. Gravity can weigh stacks down, so you might not be able to lift a stack with a single thrust. Flicking spare tiles upwards can help. From there you can proceed to re-arrange columns mid-flight to create another boost or stagger another row below it to further boost it out of the atmosphere. With practice, youíll be able to have all the tiles on screen launched into space and onto your opponent. However, the size, gravity, and mass of the tiles changes from planet to planet. The number of variables keeps the game exciting, with each permutation altering the basic formula enough to make it unique.

What makes this game different from Tetris, Lumines, and other puzzlers is the constant tension of keeping your area filled with enough tiles to work with yet not so full that the screen fills up, ending your game. Your have the option to speed the tile drop rate, and the use of it is a must for advanced players. As a result, matches are fast paced and short. A ten-minute play session is a rarity on most planets. All said, the gameplay is frantic, fast, and competitive like an action game, but retains the strategy and brain power of a top notch puzzler. Add the fluid and accurate touch screen controls, stat tracking, and the loads of unlockables including additional planets and items purchased from launched blocks, and Meteos becomes a convincing package that becomes addictive once you get under its skin.

multiplayer

Multiplayer is supported for up to four using a single cartridge or multiple cartridges. On a single cart, four players compete on a single stage. Itís a good taste of whatís possible, but multiple copies of the game let gamers go head to head using their preferred home planets. One player can represent the Jeljel planet, while another is from Hevendor. A robust set of options is in place, letting you choose teams, items, stock or time matches, and other tweaks. Given the Smash Bros heritage, this is not surprising.

As far as the experience, the planets feel balanced, each type holding its own against the other. As a nice touch, you can choose to attack all players or a specific one by tapping on their icon in the corner of the touch screen, allowing an expert player to be ganged up on by a scheming pair of novices. Meteos also includes a demo mode, allowing users to download and play a limited version of the game from a friend who has it on their own system as long as the system hasnít been turned off.

overall

Meteos is an excellent game in every way. The top screen may be a little underused, but that doesnít detract from the overwhelmingly positive features. This game is one of the best puzzle titles on any Nintendo platform in years, and a strong factor in favor of purchasing a DS. Although not as quintessential as Tetris was to the original GB, Meteos is deserving of sales success. It comes highly recommended.

final score 9.3/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Matt McDaniel
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"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes"


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